Monday, October 26, 2009

"America's Priorities," by the Beltway elite.

Speaking as a Brit, and as someone who enjoys free healthcare, I must admit that I am always astounded that various American governments get away with not giving the US what every other industrialised nation gives it's citizens as a matter of course.

The arguments used to justify this are usually blatantly false, with Republicans routinely claiming that the US enjoys better healthcare than Britain or Canada.

This is simply untrue. The truth is that the US is ranked by The World Health Organisation at a lowly 37, with Canada at number 30 and the United Kingdom at 18.

Glenn Greenwald touched upon the logic that the beltway journalists employ to enable them to argue that this fundamental failing to meet US's citizens medical needs continues.

A reader asked The Washington Post: "Why is it okay to finance wars with debt, asks our reader, but not to pay for health care that way?"

The Post's response is startling.

All this assumes that defense and health care should be treated equally in the national budget. We would argue that they should not be . . . Universal health care, however desirable, is not "fundamental to the defense of our people." Nor is it a "necessity" that it be adopted this year: Mr. Obama chose to propose a massive new entitlement at a time of historic budget deficits. In contrast, Gen. McChrystal believes that if reinforcements are not sent to Afghanistan in the next year, the war may be lost, with catastrophic consequences for U.S. interests in South Asia. U.S. soldiers would continue to die, without the prospect of defeating the Taliban. And, as Mr. Obama put it, "if left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al-Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans."
As Greenwald points out, a study by Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance recently showed that "nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance" in America.

So, the Post's logic makes utterly no sense. Unless one is arguing that a resurgent Taliban and al Qaeda are going to kill 45,000 Americans every single year then the Post's priorities are way out of kilter.

If their real concern is keeping as many Americans alive as possible, then healthcare should actually, based on the figures cited, be a much greater priority than even the war on terror.

So according to The Washington Post, dropping bombs on, controlling and occupying Afghanistan -- all while simultaneously ensuring "effective governance, economic development, education, the elimination of corruption, the protection of women's rights" to Afghan citizens in Afghanistan -- is an absolutely vital necessity that must be done no matter the cost. But providing basic services (such as health care) to American citizens, in the U.S., is a secondary priority at best, something totally unnecessary that should wait for a few years or a couple decades until we can afford it and until our various wars are finished, if that ever happens. "U.S. interests in South Asia" are paramount; U.S. interests in the welfare of those in American cities, suburbs and rural areas are an afterthought.
It says something about how militarised the US are as a nation that a national newspaper can seriously put forward such a fact free argument, which disintegrates the moment one pulls on the tiniest string.

Military objectives matter more than the welfare of ordinary citizens. Even when it is known that more Americans die from a lack of health insurance than al Qaeda could ever hope to kill.

That strikes me as astonishing. And yet that is seriously the argument being put forward by The Washington Post.

Click here for Greenwald's post.


daveawayfromhome said...

It's quite simple, really. Military ventures make money for people in the military industrial complex. The Health Industry as it is now makes money for Insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and various other medical-related industries. National healthcare (done properly) would make less money for all these people and so is less important to our "leaders".
What's Good For Business is Good For America, or at least for the wealthier people in America who are all that apparently matter anymore.

Kel said...

I get what you are saying, Dave. But why don't the people rise up and demand change?

How are the Republicans allowed to get away with spewing these spurious arguments?

They are talking utter bullshit, so why aren't they being called on it?