Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I Got Your Socialized Medicine Right Here

How can anyone explain this rationally and still think Canada's health care system is one we should emulate?

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is set to undergo heart surgery this week in the United States.

CBC News confirmed Monday that Williams, 60, left the province earlier in the day and will have surgery later in the week.

The premier's office provided few details, beyond confirming that he would have heart surgery and saying that it was not necessarily a routine procedure.

I don't know much about tennis, but I think the appropriate statement here is "game, set, match."


mazenko said...

Not arguing that we should emulate it - but clarifying the issue:

The Canadian system - which is not socialized health care - pays for the health care of its citizens who are treated by private sector medical professionals. That includes paying for medical care abroad. Numerous American citizens also travel abroad to receive medical care when it is unavailable or too expensive in the States. We buy drugs online from Canada and we travel to India for surgery.

No one argues that we have the best doctors and treatments - the problem is too many people can't afford it.

Far from "Game, set, match," your de facto conclusion is a better example of the warning:

"Beware the dangers of crackpot realism, while avoiding the pitfalls of utopian idealism."

Darren said...

If the government is springing for some social benefit for it's citizens, that's "socialism".

mazenko said...

Uhm, nope. It's really not.

But that's why you're teaching math, not social studies or vocabulary.

Darren said...

You must have some esoteric definition, if it's not the government providing social programs for the public.

mazenko said...

It's not. Really.

Not my definition - it's history's.

Donalbain said...


• noun a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

— DERIVATIVES socialist noun & adjective socialistic adjective.

allen (in Michigan) said...

I think Mike must have some less-then-obvious requirement before he'll declare a national health care system to be socialized.

So what is it Mike? Does "Internationale" have to be sung ahead of every vaccination before you'll unbend enough to hang the awful sobriquet of "socialism" around the neck of the system? "Das Kapital" consulted for the political ramifications of a surgical procedure? Doctors and nurses address each other as "comrade"?

Look, it's a socialized system if medical care is paid for out of the public purse. ERISA makes the U.S. system a socialized system because tax payers are defraying the cost of medical insurance for UAW and other workers who get an employee-sponsored medical benefit. Variations on a theme don't change the underlying facts so when you come up with some artful dodge that allows the citizenry to enjoy the illusion that we're still in charge of our own medical care but aren't, it's a socialized system.

As to the PM of Newfoundland seeking medical care in the U.S., the only reason that makes much sense - there being no reason offered by the PM that the media has related - is that there are political ramifications to having the procedure done in Canada.

If he jumps to the head of the line, as his political office might allow him to do, all the folks who've been waiting for any proceedure will set up a howl from one end of Canada to the other. If he waits his turn then however long he waits becomes an indictment of the Canadian system which he obviously and whole-heartedly, you should pardon the expression, supports. But by coming to the U.S. he avoids the protests of people who've had to wait and doesn't provide the direct indictment of the system that a prolonged wait would result in.

It's the politically best choice among all the poor choices from which he can select.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Whoops, I missed this:

But that's why you're teaching math, not social studies or vocabulary.

Someones getting a trifle upset I think.

Easy there hoss. Bad manners are the inevitable result of confirming your brilliance on the basis of poor evidence.

maxutils said...

Potayto, Potahto. Technically, socialism requires that government own and control the means of production. Working on a reimbursement system may avoid the stict definition of socialism, but if doctors rely on government reimbursement for the majority of their income, the difference is semantic only.

mazenko said...

The problem is the "-isms."

"A person should not believe in 'isms." A person should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, 'I don't believe in Beatles, I only believe in me.' And he was the walrus."

When people don't understand the isms, they tend to misinterpret far too much, making rash judgments that are oversimplified, especially in terms of society and public policy. A "social program" is not "socialism." And more troubling is people who mistakenly use the title of conservative to express contempt for government.

Conservatism is not a philosophy based on spending and taxes. It's not primarily economic, and it doesn't reject authority. Conservatism is a philosophy devoted to the establishment and governing of an ordered society.

With that in mind, true conservatives from Edmund Burke to Benjamin Disraeli to Irving Kristol to Russell Kirk to Whittaker Chambers to George Will have long acknowledged that "social programs" are not at odds with conservatism. In fact, they are integral to conservatism. Of course, the uncontrolled expansion of them and establishment of dependency are not. Thus, the conservatives of today look for effective management of "governing," which includes pragmatic acknowledgment of social concerns which could lead to a de-stabilization of society which threatens the "idea" to which the philosophy, and this country, is dedicated. Conservatives are dedicated, in the words of Will, and to a lesser degree Posner and Douthat and Brooks, to the practice of "Statecraft as Soulcraft."

On the other hand, the "conservatism" of the contempt for government and governing is actually libertarianism. And it's morphed today, in the GOP, into a confused stance of "libertarian populism." That is, of course, a problem for the society and for the GOP. It's not productive, and it leads to much of the disagreement on blog discussions like this.

However, a desire to develop the conversation is why I regularly visit here, and it's why I discuss conservatism and challenge the leaders of the GOP on my blog.

By the way,

Allen, you seem to have misinterpreted a little collegial chiding on my part, though it wasn't aimed at you anyway. Darren and I have made harmless comments like this numerous times on each others' blogs. Maybe if I put a little emoticon you could have understood. I guess, perhaps, you've projected a bit of your own angst onto someone else's conversation.

You do make me laugh, though. But you also make me think.

MikeAT said...

mazenko, I guess that’s why you teach vocabulary and not history or government….or mathematics for that matter

First let’s start on the same sheet of music.


Pronunciation [soh-shuh-liz-uh m]

1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

2. procedure or practice in accordance with this theory.

3. (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.


Now let me show you the critical part, “…control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole…” Agreeded the medical system in Canada is not “owned” by the government…that is the doctors are not government employees. However, he who pays the piper calls the tune. The government pays the bill (for the most part), sets payment schedules and therefore controls the supply of medical personnel and facilities. And for that you get basic medical treatment…however if you want/need critical care, that may be a bit of a problem. It often takes months to get to specialists, or get a CAT scan or MRI.

Unless you are a high up federal bureaucrat like the man Darren refers to.

I’m not arguing over the good/bad of the Canadian system vs. the US system…but if you don’t want to call it socialist you really gotta get some more oxygen up there in CO.

Darren said...

Government need not own the means of production for socialism--that would be communism, no? Otherwise I agree with maxutils.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Mike, if you want to hold forth on the various 'isms in all their endless variety knock yourself out. I'm not all that interested since all I want to know is whether, under that system, am I a chattel or sovereign citizen?

Whether it's socialism, communism, Maoism, fascism, a monarchy, an oligarchy, a theocracy or a tribe is the aggregation, the social unit, circumscribed by a construct of law, some foundational document that limits on the power of the society over the individual or is the social unit paramount? If it's the latter then I'm not terribly interested in delving further because my most important question is answered.

Like I've written before, I don't have to be a herpetologist to know I don't want to be bitten by a rattlesnake and I don't have to have a PhD in political science to know I don't want to live in a society in which my freedom is a privilege extended at the convenience of those with the power to do so. Therefor I'm deeply suspicious and very likely to be opposed to any policy that moves society in the direction of turning my freedoms into privileges no matter how artfully the case is made and, with a very few exceptions, no matter how compelling the rationale.

To get back to particular cases, I provided a couple of thoughts why the PM of Newfoundland might want to ditch the Canadian system in favor of the American.

Why do you think the Newfie PM did what he did?

maxutils said...

Socialism -- means of production owned by government

Communism - means of production owned by the people . . . hence, The People's Republic of China -- at least technically.

The fact that it never seems to work out that way is another testament to it's unworkability. Most alleged communism is actually socialism . . .