Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

On health care, the GOP’s POV is BS

The American political system seems to operate under the assumption that there are two sides to every issue, and that each side has a legitimate position that should be heard, given weight to and respected. This is not an incorrect or flawed premise in most cases, since it is only fair to presume that a political party’s stance is logical and credible, regardless of one’s personal opinions.

However, sometimes a group’s stance proves to be neither logical nor credible. Sometimes a debate between two groups stops being a matter of difference of opinions and becomes a matter of right versus wrong. When a group begins to rely on lies, deceit and slander to support its position, we should not have to continue to acknowledge and respect their point of view as legitimate.

This is the case with the current health care debate being waged in Congress and throughout the nation. Throughout August, Republican leaders have been railing against the proposed Democratic health care legislation through use of misleading rhetoric and outlandish remarks. Many prominent voices within the GOP have contended that the proposed single-payer health care option is socialist and dangerous.

Former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, wrote on her Facebook page on Aug. 7, “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.”

Since then, Palin’s remarks served as the rallying cry for many Republicans. Her representation of the proposed legislation, however, is completely fraudulent. Nowhere in any of the proposals is there talk of government run “death panels” or a system in which a panel of bureaucrats decide who will be insured. Palin’s Orwellian depiction of an America with universal health care is loosely based on an end of life counseling provision which was intended to help the sick or elderly by allowing them to consult their physicians about living wills and other “end of life” arrangements and decisions.

It is this sort of wild extrapolation that is beginning to bring down reform efforts. Though outlandish, such claims and scare tactics used by Republican leaders have struck a chord with a part of the American population that has come to view government as a dark conspirator in their lives.

In a report in 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the United States’ health care system thirty-seventh in the world, behind countries such as France, Canada, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica. In July 2008 the New York Times reported that roughly 75 million people in America lack adequate health insurance or have none at all – a figure that is more than double the entire population of Canada. And despite the fact that U.S. health care is the most expensive in the world, it still pales in comparison to systems in many other industrialized nations – many of which have a universal system.

Given all of this information then, why is the prospect of a government-regulated insurance option so, as Mrs. Palin put it, “evil?” One argument is that a government-run health care system would be socialist, and that it would hurt insurance companies. But these aren’t mom & pop health care companies. These are the multi-billion dollar corporations whose high prices and limited care have left millions of Americans vulnerable.

And as for this system of “socialized medicine” flying against what our country stands for? Let’s a take a look at some of the government-run, “socialized” services that we now take for granted: the United States Postal Service, police departments, fire departments and our national defenses. Yet Republicans aren’t out blasting these things, in fact you’d probably have a difficult time finding anyone who is against those things.

Even Medicare, which in recent town hall meetings people have called for the government to “keep their hands off of,” is a government-run program. So much for the idea that a government-regulated health care system would be ineffective and faulty.

It is good and healthy for there to be debate over health care reform. But when slanderous remarks and fear-mongering are used to turn the public against something that has the potential to do so much good and help so many, we have passed the point of a sensible discussion with respectable views on both sides.

When talk of death panels and government-aided euthanasia are used as reasons to oppose health care reform, it isn’t an opinion – it’s a fallacy. We have to stop pretending that nobody is wrong in these kinds of debates. When this kind of warped reasoning enters the equation, there is such a thing as “wrong.”

Throughout the past month we as a nation have let the GOP scare us into opposing health care before we’ve given it a fair shake. It’s time that we see the far right’s argument for what it is – wrong.

Dan Rahrig is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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