The S-Word

THE S-WORD….Ezra Klein, practicing for his career as a TV talking head, responds to a question about whether national healthcare is “socialist”:

We should stop running from that moniker. If we’re going to call what Canada, France, Germany, England, Japan, and essentially every ? actually, not essentially, just every ? other industrialized nation offers socialized health care, but they cover all of their citizens with better outcomes and lower costs than we do, then I’m happy to associate myself with that.

OK, it was only a training session. But still. Can I suggest something a wee bit different?

“Socialist” is a scare word conservatives use when they’ve run out of serious arguments. But national healthcare isn’t socialism any more than Medicare is. It’s just a practical and efficient way of providing medical treatment for everyone in the country, the same way that interstate highways are a practical and efficient way of providing roads for everyone in the country.

The facts are simple: A well-designed national healthcare plan gives you greater choice of doctors, it’s less expensive than private insurance, it helps rein in spiraling costs, it keeps you covered even if you temporarily lose your job or have a preexisting condition, it helps out small companies that can’t afford to provide health coverage for their employees, it helps out big companies like GM and Ford that are nearly bankrupt because they do provide health coverage, and it covers everyone all the time.

And best of all, it gets rid of the bureaucratic hodgepodge we have now: Medicare for the old, employer coverage for people who work for big companies, 50 different versions of Medicaid for the poor, emergency rooms for the destitute, and no coverage at all for people who are unlucky enough to work for Wal-Mart. It’s an expensive mess that drives doctors nuts and provides most of us with mediocre care.

Or something like that. In any case, the basic answer to “Is national healthcare socialist?” should always be no, not yes. We are not in favor of command economies, ownership of the means of production, or state control of doctors, and that’s what most people think of when you say “socialist.”

And that’s Kevin’s media training for the day.