US Healthcare: The Cat is Out of the Bag

Wednesday, 16th September 2009 at 12:03 UTC 7 comments

The internet, and the media in general, seems to do some very weird things. For instance, when its politically dangerous to say something, and then one person comes close to saying it, suddenly you find everyone running out to state said opinion. And so it was that last night I was relieved to hear the BBC’s Mark Mardell hinting candidly that all the Free-Healthcare-hating in America might, just possibly, be racist

Suddenly the damn has burst, the cat is out of the bag, the elephant in the room has been named loud and clear, and we’ve got everyone from President Jimmy Carter to a whole string of bloggers (example) saying it loud and clear: its about race.

Of course, it needs to be said that its about more than just Obama’s race. As Mardell states, and it needs to be stated loudly, its as much a perpetuation of racism in wealth distribution as it is racism towards Obama personally. We would expect a Black President to have more compassion for those he grew up alongside, we all do, and we all make decisions and set priorities based on our personal experience. This racism, if it exists, is towards all black Americans.

When slavery was abolished, every slave was supposed to be given 40 acres and a mule. This barely started before the remuneration was dumped and slaves were simply cast aside penniless. Since then, White America (and White Britain is little better) has perpetually abused its position, reinforced its sense of privilege, and exploited those who serve them.

Looking at the demographics involved in the protests, its basically the people who’ve made their money, got their health insurance and really really don’t want to give up a single cent of their wealth if they can’t help it; they’re white and well off. It is a reinforcement of the structural racism that dogs American society today.

Even if this isn’t all about Obama’s skin colour, that’s got something to do with it. Surely its time the Black population of America had its day of privilege? But those who hold the wealth are, perhaps understandably, fighting tooth and nail to avoid giving it up. And some of them are quite open about what they fear: a friend tells me a placard appeared on similar protests a few months ago that read “shouldn’t we call it the Black House now?”. One wonders how it took this long to get the words “its about racism” out into the open.

I’m starting to find myself feeling physically sick watching some of the Obama healthcare debates. They remind me of what horrible beings humans can turn into. I’d like to see some kind of goodness in the other side, but increasingly, its harder and harder not to put the categories of Good and Evil on the two sides of this debate. Where are the hearts of these people?

I could say much more. Some of it would involve swearing. Some of that would be entirely gratuitous. Anyhow, I think I should leave it here for now.


Entry filed under: America, Barack Obama, Health, News, Politics, Racism.

For SCM: Vision and Mission The American Right Shows its true colors

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hippieprof  |  Wednesday, 16th September 2009 at 12:26 UTC

    Excellent analysis, Graham – you are exactly right.

    My own blog post a day or so made exactly the same point – and you wouldn’t believe the flack I have been receiving for it.

    One insidious characteristic about modern racism is how subtle it is. There isn’t much cross-burning going on these days – just a lot of hatred and disdain boiling just beneath the surface.

    — hippieprof

    • 2. Graham Martin  |  Wednesday, 16th September 2009 at 13:04 UTC

      Its certainly reassuring to have someone else write something like what you’re thinking. Hang in there.

  • 3. andii  |  Wednesday, 16th September 2009 at 12:47 UTC

    “its basically the people who’ve made their money, got their health insurance and really really don’t want to give up a single cent of their wealth if they can’t help it”
    Of course the irony is that, according to comparative studies, these very people are paying more and getting worse outcomes for it. See . Also

  • 4. hippieprof  |  Wednesday, 16th September 2009 at 13:05 UTC

    andii – you are exactly right. My fellow Americans are under this illusion that we somehow have great health care here – when the facts are that we pay more and get less compared to other developed nations.

    The other irony is that the people who seem most angry and who are protesting the loudest – those at the lower end of middle class – are the ones who stand most to benefit from reform.

    This is in no small part due to the intense disinformation campaign being waged by the private insurance industry.

    — hippieprof

  • 5. Betty  |  Thursday, 17th September 2009 at 8:24 UTC

    Have you read The Return of the Economic Naturalist? He makes everything seem so obvious. He presents very convincing economic arguments for free healthcare, that not taxing the rich doesn’t trickle down, for a high VAT type tax plus a package of rebates for poorer people, that a high tax on fuel would decrease consumption etc etc etc without any “Oh but they are poor we should be nice” or “let’s all love the planet” sentiments.

    • 6. Graham Martin  |  Thursday, 17th September 2009 at 11:30 UTC

      This is my big problem, I guess. Economics tends to be a real turn off for myself, and many other people. Whilst I worry that we can end up going with the flow and making everything about money, its such a part of life that it can’t be ignored completely.

  • 7. Betty  |  Thursday, 17th September 2009 at 16:24 UTC

    Exactly, he talks economics, but you’d probably agree with him on a lot of points. So, when you have to talk to some who gets all economic on you, you can reply.


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