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Health Care, Palin and the Authors of Hysteria
Friday, 28 August 2009 05:58
by Robert Fantina

Just when the United States seems poised to elevate itself out of Third World status in terms of health care, Republican scare tactics are escalating to doom it to failure. President Barack Obama has often stated the obvious: 47,000,000 U.S. citizens without access to health care is simply unacceptable. He has proposed remedying this problem, and a number of bills are working their way through the Congressional morass required before anything becomes law.

However, in the so-called democracy that is practiced in the U.S., many citizens seem to believe that acceptable debate means shouting at their elected representative and interrupting him/her so only one side can be heard. And what, one may ask, is the cause of the anguish and anger that currently leads participants in ‘town hall’ meetings to shout, sob and bring firearms to these events?

A look at one area of concern says much about the lemmings who follow the Sarah Palins of the world. The former Alaskan governor, who rocketed to fame when Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain made one of the biggest political blunders of his spotty career by plucking her from the obscurity of Juneau and naming her as his running-mate, has stated categorically that the Obama health plan will include ‘death squads,’ political appointees who will determine who is a sufficiently productive member of society to deserve medical attention. She refers to this as ‘health care rationing.’ The fact that there is no truth to this does not deter Ms. Palin from proclaiming it repeatedly.

Where, one wonders, could such an idea have originated? One of the provisions of the health care package being proposed includes counseling about ‘end of life’ issues. This would enable doctors to be paid for counseling patients about hospice care, pain medication, organ donation and other issues of concern to people with terminal illness. Such counseling does not include information about euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Perhaps Ms. Palin believes that there is only so much health care available in the United States, and if the 47,000,000 people without it were to be offered it, there would be less for the rest of the population (those with insurance). After all, if those 47,000,000 people are managing without health care, why should Mr. Obama ‘share the wealth’ (another ‘socialist’ concept attributed to the president) with them?

An Associated Press story of August 14 raises some interesting questions. It appears from this article that Ms. Palin has changed her mind dramatically regarding end-of-life counseling. The article reads, in part: “As Alaska governor, (Palin) signed a proclamation making April 16, 2008, Healthcare Decision Day with the goal to have health care professionals and others participate in a statewide effort to provide clear and consistent information about advance directives.

“The proclamation noted that only about 20 percent of Alaskans, and 50 percent of severely or terminally ill patients, have an advance directive. ‘It is likely that a significant reason for these low percentages is that there is both a lack of knowledge and considerable confusion in the public about advance directives,’ it said.” The former governor says there is no comparison between that proclamation that she signed, encouraging end-of-life counseling, and the Obama plan to encourage end-of-life counseling. She did not bother to explain the difference, which does not appear obvious to the casual reader.

As a result of the hysteria surrounding this provision of the health care bill, it has now been removed. So while Ms. Palin and her irrational cohorts run around the country, telling all and sundry that with ‘Obamacare’ their elderly relatives will be marched in front of a government tribunal to determine their eligibility to receive health care, these same relatives will be left without the knowledge necessary to make important decisions about their own health.

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During her quixotic campaign for vice-president, Ms. Palin repeatedly condemned the press for focusing on her family, all the while parading them around in front of the cameras. Now she is using her handicapped son as an example of those who will face non-existent death squads. She seems to see only her adoring minions recoiling at the thought of a government bureaucrat deciding her vulnerable child is unworthy of health care, while the rest of the world disdains spending money on him. Such arrogance and hypocrisy is astounding. It is Ms. Palin and her followers who are leaving countless vulnerable children without health care, not the government officials who seek to expand coverage.

In today’s media-saturated society it is often the freak show that garners the most attention. A 33-year-old woman with 14 children gets a reality TV show. The death of Michael Jackson mesmerized the world. And an hysterical, uninformed woman who managed to serve part of a term as governor of one of the least populated states in the nation is given a national forum, her every word listened to as if she had something worthwhile to say. She is allowed to tell whatever lies come to her small mind and, even after they have been plainly discredited, she adheres to them, dragging her followers along with her.

In a democratic society, one might expect reasonable debate based on facts, leading to consensus, followed by action. But in the sound-byte society of the United States, shouting down one’s opponent with the most outlandish lies seems to pass for debate; witness the fact that the end-of-life counseling provision has been removed from the health care plan.

One looks in vain for statesmanship among Congress’s members. They rush to explain to their constituents that they will not support a bill that will increase the deficit, apparently forgetting the bills they racked up destroying Iraq. They remove perfectly reasonable provisions (like end-of-life counseling) from health care legislation, giving in to the hysteria that has surrounded their town hall meetings. Their goal seems to be what it has always been: getting reelected and keeping their high-paying, low expectations jobs.

It appears that Mr. Obama is trying now to take the offensive; he somehow didn’t see that expanding health care coverage would be such a threat to the very vocal right wing. This should not have come as a surprise. The corporations that control the United States government will not easily surrender their profits, and they have learned how to lead the lemming-like citizens off whatever cliff they choose, conveniently stepping aside just as the first wave goes over.

Will Congress finally measure up? Will its members show some backbone, an attribute that has been missing for generations? While we might all be surprised, only the hopelessly naïve could expect such an astounding turn of events. If Congress lives up to its record of ‘achievement,’ 47,000,000 U.S. citizens, 15% of the population, will continue to live without health care, and the U.S. will continue to rank close to the bottom in health care throughout the world. And an American tragedy will thus continue.

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