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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
And while I'm on the topic of "socialized medicine"... 
18th-Aug-2009 09:44 am
As somebody who is gearing up to experience British "socialized medicine" firsthand for the next few years--ironically because the very same college home to Stephen "My country is killing me (not)!" Hawking is giving me a scholarship--I must say that the difference in discourse btw. the UK and the US is fascinating:
University Literature (verbatim): All overseas students (including spouses and children) on a course lasting longer than six months are entitled to free medical care under the National Health Service (N.H.S.).
Me: Okay, so what sorts of monthly payments, premiums, co-pays, incident maximums etc. is that going to involve?
University Literature (in spirit): What part of the word "free" do you not understand? Do you speak English where you're from?
Me (in spirit): Ha.
Technically, it's not actually free. It's paid out of taxes. But as an impoverished grad student, I'm not going to be paying much in the way of taxes, so in practice, it's close to free. Here is the unspoken compact, ideally anyway, that is being made: When you need help, the community takes care of you--and when others need help, you, as a member of the community, come to their aid to the extent that you are able. Furthermore, a healthy community (one that includes overseas students and their immediate families) benefits everybody. This discourse is utterly absent from the American health care debate, and we are, I think, much poorer for its lack.

Still, I do think that Bob Herbert does a fabulous job at getting to the heart of why the Obama administration's idea of "reform" isn't in today's column.
18th-Aug-2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
I completely agree with you about universal health insurance. In my research, I learned that this U.S. discourse against "socialized medicine" started in the 1910s/1920s when the medical field began coalescing as an industry/profession. Many people (including Michael Moore) attribute this backlash against universal health care to a later period -- historical amnesia.
18th-Aug-2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
Having lived in Europe all my life, every time I read "socialised medicine" as a description for our way of handling health-care a smile comes to my face - socialism being defined quite differently in political terms when used by politicians over here.
However, everyone here seems to agree that currently the various governments are trying to cut down on just this universal health-care because it's becoming more expensive (for example in Germany money paid by working people into the government-overseen retirement accounts was used to speculate and finance stuff which didn't bring profit. Resulting in the fact that the current younger generation - me - is paying for their parents benefits and since birth rates are not keeping up with the demand and medical science makes people live even longer, there's already clear instruction from the government that when I retire my retirement account will not completely finance my retirement and I had to buy additional retirement insurance for that.

My parents didn't have to do that, they only had life insurance in case something happened to the earner (my father) in the family.

My grandmother lived quite well from her war-widow spouse of a civil servant money (my grandfather was a state forester).

I think it's very healthy for weighing my current living situation, to read about a western country that for whatever reason has never implemented universal health-care and retirement-care for its people.
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