Elise Stefanik Doesn't Want Socialized Medicine Ruining Her Socialized Medicine!

Healthcare

Once upon a time, right-wing lunatics in tricorn hats marched through the streets carrying Gadsden flags and signs reading "Keep the government out of my Medicare!"

Today, New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik echoed that great wisdom, tweeting, "Today's Anniversary of Medicare & Medicaid reminds us to reflect on the critical role these programs have played to protect the healthcare of millions of families. To safeguard our future, we must reject Socialist healthcare schemes."

To be clear, both Medicare and Medicaid are socialized health care. Duh. They are both socialist programs. Obviously. She's right about one thing though — they have played a critical role in protecting the health of millions of American families. Which is exactly why some of us think it would be great to extend that to everybody!


Almost sadder than Stefanik's initial tweet, however, were the people in her mentions trying to explain that because they paid for Medicare and Medicaid with their taxes, they are not socialism ... despite that being exactly what socialism is.

"Medicare and Medicaid are not socialist schemes or programs. We pay for those programs monthly, mine is $150 per month out of my SS check and paid into them every month of our working lives. How in the fuck is that socialism?" asked one very smart person who definitely knows what socialism is.

This is understandable. Over the last 100 years, politicians and pundits have distorted the actual meaning of socialism to suit their own needs, trying to make it an all-purpose scare word with which to garner support for the Cold War, or to excuse all of the messed up shit we did during the Cold War, or to scare people off from voting for candidates they don't like. According to these people, socialism usually requires an evil dictator who won't let people be individuals or think for themselves or even own their own toothbrush because of how there is no private property. Now, sure, some of that literally happened under the closest thing the world has ever known to a purely capitalist society.

Am I talking about the United States here? I am not. I'm talking about Chile under Pinochet. The United States is not a purely capitalist society, it is a mixed economy and has been for a very long time now.

Nearly all developed economies in the world are mixed economies, which contain elements of both socialism and capitalism. The United States is less of a mixed economy than most developed nations are, but we're not purely capitalist either. The small social safety net we do have? That's socialism. Medicare and Medicaid? Socialism. Public schools? Socialism. Unemployment insurance? Socialism. Farm subsidies? Socialism. The military? Socialism. The police? Socialism. Fire Departments? Socialism. None of these things are handled using the "free market."

And because we are taxed based on our income, we largely pay for these things according to our ability and we use them according to our need.

Or we would, if billionaires actually had to pay their taxes.

In fact — insurance companies are already a form of socialism to some degree. Everyone pays into a pool which is then used to fund health care for whoever needs it. Some people need it more, some people need it less. It's not like you pay into a direct fund and then take out your personal money when you need to go to the doctor. That's not how it works.

Any time we, as a country, a state or a city, pool our money together and get something in return, that is socialism. If it were capitalism, it would be very different. We pay for the fire department whether or not our houses ever burn down. In a purely capitalist society, either we would pay competing fire departments when they put fires out or we would pay a monthly or yearly bill and if we didn't pay it, they'd just let it burn.

Handling health care with a capitalist system is almost as stupid as a laissez-faire fire department. A house catching on fire affects more than the people living in that one house and a person getting sick with a contagious virus affects more than just themselves and their immediate family. That is something we should have learned in the last year, what with there having been a pandemic and all.

But you know what? Perhaps this is all a word choice thing. Perhaps if we called Medicare for All something like Free Market Capitalist Health Care That Just Happens To Be Distributed To Everyone Via Their Tax Dollars, we could get them to go along with it.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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