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Heard on a Plane

Recently returning from Tejas, the apotheosis, in many ways, of American bullheadedness, I was listening to two stewardesses discuss their other jobs. One acted as a nurse in addition to her lily-pad hopping on planes. But she found that she could no longer support herself fully doing that — a result of the “socialized medicine” we have now in America. This took me aback: we don’t have “socialized” medicine in the States. Not at all. The bogeyman that haunts most people’s — most lower and middle and upper middle classmen — conception of healthcare goes by the name socialism but in reality is nothing more than the thirst for profit. America has no “socialized medicine”; we have bloated, bureaucratic HMOs that deny services as they plumb the depths of the bottom line. That is why nurses are more and more overworked with lower pay; doctors are less and less engaged with an expanding roster of patients; and care less frequently and more thinly applied. We don’t have socialism in medicine. We have capitalism. That’s what it is when the driving force of activity is to increase profit. It’s the very definition of efficiency in business. Sure, we may have some ass-backward ways of doing things in the States, and well shucks a couple poor folks might have a mouth full of rotten teeth, and people might die of preventable disease. But look at our profits!

So here is this (ex)nurse-cum-stewardess, who works two jobs to support herself, who is complaining about socialized medicine. The level of self-deception, unawareness, in this double-thunk depiction of the situation is striking. This is, of course, part of the goal of the healthcare industry itself, as they craft their media campaigns conjuring the monstrous face of fictive socialized medicine. That way you can maintain a ridiculous, shameful system that lets people get sicker and sicker, then denies them care when they need it, even as they work two jobs to support themselves.

Categories: Anecdotes.

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2 Responses

  1. the irony here is that the segment of society the ex-nurse represents, doesn’t mind the government stepping in to subsidise gasoline prices, banks, the gas guzzling automobile industry etc - and the “s” word isn’t mentioned but mention health - even the watered down version of obama’s - and you’d think that we had bypassed sweden and were on our way to resurrecting the ussr.

    bayman-townie9 April, 2009 @ 7:16 pmReply
  2. The “s” word does a lot of work in many conversations. Another trope is how “government” is almost universally maligned. I was talking to a family member about the Geithner plan to bail out the banks, and he kept saying that he thought it was bad because he thought “government should stay out of business.” I got pissed about this and stressed the fact that government does not exist; it’s not an entity that acts in the world. What Geithner’s plan will do will not act in the interests of some collectivity, “government,” but it will act according to associated wills of a group of people sharing a specific interest, as it has been crafted to do. But it is not an act of “government”; and the reason it has the structure it does cannot be because it is “government intervention.” It’s the result of a bunch of folks enmeshed in a certain set of capacities using them to do what is in their interest. Calling this “government” mislays the blame.

    Words words words.

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