It is pretty damned obvious that more often than not I'm going to disagree with Matt McCarten, this week using smears and distortions to spread the typical leftwing lie of American healthcare bad, socialised healthcare good. Simple concept. I'm sure it's one that the vast majority of New Zealanders agree with. Most have heard the propaganda about Americans dying in the streets without healthcare, turned away from hospitals and being ruined because of the high cost. Most of it is nonsense of course, but it suits the vested interests who profit from a state controlled and taxpayer funded system. What? Profit? Yes. You see that's one of the many points Matt gets very wrong. So what did he say?
"You only have to look at the United States to see what a nightmare it is when you mix profiteering with healthcare" Really Matt? So when healthcare worker unions go on strike demanding more pay from people who are unable to choose whether or not to take their money and go elsewhere, that isn't profiteering? Or is it ok for employees to engage in rent seeking from taxpayers? Perhaps you could look at Singapore, Australia, the Netherlands or others that have significant private sector involvement? Oh no, doesn't fit with your binary view of private sector untrustworthy, bad, rips people off vs public sector, benevolent, efficient, kindly, does it?
"Given that tens of millions of American citizens have no healthcare" Really? Nearly 85% of Americans have health insurance. Of the 15%, over a third live in relatively wealthy households (US$50,000 per annum plus), so prefer to pay for healthcare directly rather than through insurance. Let's bear in mind that all of the elderly and the very poor are covered.
So 10% of Americans have no healthcare. Bear in mind that in New Zealand (and the UK), healthcare is not always available when you need it too. Matt somehow thinks a majority will throw away what they have, but he forgets, a majority of Americans don't trust the government like he does.
"Seemingly ordinary people are mobilising noisily to oppose reform and keep their overpriced, inaccessible, ruthless health system. None of this universal, open-access health coverage for them. Apparently that's socialism" Yes Matt, maybe they know something you don't? Maybe the fact that this high price happens to deliver some of the best health professionals, leading edge procedures and technology in the world? Maybe because there isn't queuing?
Yes Matt, forcing everyone to pay for a monopoly state provider than you cannot demand service from IS socialism. You embrace socialism, are you scared of the word?
He says it is because "they've never known anything else so they can't imagine what it might be like not to live under a fear-based system". Of course Matt hasn't either, ignorant he just assumes the people campaigning are stupid. He also forgets that there is a fear based system in New Zealand as well, such as fearing when you'll get the operation you are queuing up for, when you are in pain or it is life threatening. No, forget that.
Then he completely misrepresents capitalism, describing democracy instead "a good chunk of Congress has been bought and paid for by the interests that stand to lose the most if Americans were to change their system. So it's not madness at all, it's just capitalism doing what it does best - fighting hard, and dirty, to protect its interests" Capitalism doesn't involve using the state to give privilege, no that's rent seekers, moochers, seeking state force to get what they can't get from persuasion.
However, Matt isn't into persuasion, he is into using state force to promote interests. Yes, the greatest corruption of government ARE those who use state force to get their interests - hardly surprising that health providers would do it. They do it in New Zealand, through monopoly associations and unions, but Matt thinks that's just fine.
Now he is right that some claim Obama's socialist ideas are about compulsory abortion or euthanasia, yes there are some wingnuts, but he uses that to smear the lot.
"US is becoming more a negative than a positive role model. And we can learn a lot from it, about things like keeping corporate money out of politics, about defending what we have and opposing the encroachment of the private profit-makers into matters that involve the public good." Well of course it's ok to have union money in politics, and confiscating private money for so called "public good". He loves the public good, but when it fails individuals they should just shut up and stop being selfish - I mean it's only health right?
"There's an argument that another even less savoury element underlies the screaming and yelling in America - racism. The mad-dog "birthers" who deny Obama is a natural-born citizen are its most obvious face, with those who labelled the new Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor a racist." Yes the birthers are mad, but Sotomayer DID make a racist comment, but in the world of leftwing doublespeak a Hispanic woman saying someone of her race can make better decisions than a white man - but if it was the other way round, McCarten would shout racism.
However, in the end Matt offers nothing of substance. Nothing to suggest what is wrong with the US other than it isn't government provided for all - he can't even conceive that it isn't a free market because he thinks businesses rip people off, but unions and governments are benevolent and always give good service to those who pay.
You see there is reason to have concern about costs in the US system, there are enormous distortions that privilege employer provided insurance over individually purchased insurance, costs through litigation that has become increasingly non objectively based, and the government provided medicaid and medicare systems are facing significant inflation. However, Matt has an ideological opposition to private provided healthcare, or insurance based models, even though many universal systems are dominated by private providers and insurance. Have a quick look at wiki, Singapore for example is virtually entirely private, with the government only topping up care for the poor.
Though you wouldn't expect a former Alliance Party President to spread that sort of information would you?