Understanding America

Every so often I play a little game called “try to understand America”. Not so much a game as my attempt to put headline American issues into perspective. The “game” demands I remain undaunted by logical dead ends. Rookie game play led to bouts of snippy remarks, indignant preaching and knee jerk tirades. Age has mellowed this opinionated Canadian – thankfully allowing objectivity be heard – even for the briefest of moments. Reaching a point where temperance dictates a “I understand why it’s like that” rather than ” are you out of your freakin’ mind”  – a game move I hope leads to higher levels of understanding.

Take Obamacare for example. I can’t possibly know all the ins and outs – I’m Canadian. My understanding is limited to these observations – Hospitals and insurance is “for profit” in America – “big medicine” likes things just the way they are. Big medicine, big insurance, big pharmaceutical companies have big money at stake. The Koch brothers backed Americans for Prosperity has spent upwards of 30 million dollars on anti Obamacare ads. In July of last year Kantar Media reported ad campaigns for and against were on track to reach a billion dollars by 2015. No surprise is lop-sided distribution at five to one spending by “anti” medicare interests.


America has a deep seated fear of Communism – any idea deemed remotely socialist sends propaganda mills into overdrive. Ad campaigns worthy of cold war hysteria warn of “socialized” government run health care. Perish the thought – a nation where each and every citizen received equal treatment! The horror unleashed if medical care was available to all, regardless of income – followed by laughable comparison to the Veteran’s Administration – Americans asked if they wanted to be treated like the soldiers fighting for their country. Holy crap.

Media stories warn of social medicine catastrophes in Canada and the UK. Dire tales of government bureaucrats dictating when and where citizens receive treatment, long waiting times for scare or limited treatment – absolute hogwash. Sure, we might have to wait a while for non life threatening surgery. That said, cancer treatments, chemotherapy, heart specialist – no problem. Canadians can even register on line to receive results from blood or urine lab tests  at the same time as your doctor. Socialized medicine isn’t perfect, nor is it a detriment to anyone other than profit driven egg heads – there’s a reason why busloads of Americans cross the border to fill prescriptions – costs are controlled.

Attempting to understand health care in America is depressing – money spent on advertising, lobbying and mud slinging alone could finance a small nation. Fear mongering plays directly to the heart of American psyche – I get it. I get it and understand “profit” is king. The Obama administration never stood a chance, the American political structure binds the hands of change as fear, spin doctoring and misinformation muddy the waters.

This Canadian understands. This Canadian is proud to list Tommy Douglas – the founder of Canadian social medicine as one of her heroes. Douglas, a Baptist minister who left the church over their troubling obsession with “life after death”, in favor of politics – a place where he could help people before death.




35 thoughts on “Understanding America

  1. Wonderful post, in that it comes from a perspective that I have long sought…a Canadian. The US system is broken and it is well understood by everyone that it needs fixing…but in a capitalist system where money talks, well you said it. It’s depressing.

    The worst of it is the banter between Democrats and Republicans…I had a friend of mine a while back ago mention to me why Obama care cannot work, using the argument you mentioned above “social medicine catastrophes in Canada”. Glad to hear otherwise 🙂

    • I turn green every time American media “reports” the evils of “social” anything. On what planet does people over profit equal the demise of capitalism? America is bat shit! Too few pull the strings of too many – I doubt America capable of understanding the purpose of a middle ground. Truly depressing 🙂

  2. I wonder if it goes farther back then fear of communism. Americans for centuries left poverty or socially strained “homes”, leaving everything behind, leaping into an unknown future on a promise of fair opportunity for happiness and wealth. Those imigrants certainly had to fight to get there and once they arrived, they had to fight to survive and succeed.

    To be American then, is to have fought and won that battle. If you start giving equal opportunity to all, treat the sick, winner and loser alike, than you negate that American heritage of fight to win.

    In Europe we fought poverty and social ills by teaming up and creating equality (Égalité, Fraternité, Liberté). This led to socialism and those that went it alone, ended up leaving for the New World. Canadians are, I think, somewhere in between. Not seekers of gold but Europeans needing more land.

    So in the World According To Genetic Fractals, anti-Obama care makes perfect sense. Although Americans no longer fight harder for success than anyone else, their identity is not to be negated.

  3. So simple to understand…

    The problem is finding the right words to express this thought provoking opinion.

    God (where ever he is right now) bless America… They need it NOW!

    • I try ever so politely to temper my opinion ( I really do) the problem being – it’s practically impossible to say it without harsh undertones (which I’ve been told creep forth, making me come across as preachy – which in turn torments me because I’m a really nice person) Argh!

      What would it take to strike a “yikes” nerve in America’s conscience?

  4. Not sure why you think a Canadian should understand our nation… not sure half of us who live here do?

    I know I sure as heck don’t understand it!



  5. Don’t ask me – I live here, and I don’t understand us either.

    I lost an Australian friend to cancer last month – she told me that the time she had left, had been doubled from the original expectation, due entirely to the quality health care she got (though I suspect that the fact that she was a feisty, stiletto-tongued little minx that just refused to be rushed, may have had a lot to do with it) – she said that part of the service, was that they even sent someone out to clean her house once a week. When I try to envision that happening here, it just boggles the mind!

    • My mother beat stage 4 ovarian cancer – at one point given only a few weeks to live – in no small part because of exemplary health care. I had surgery a few years ago and once a day a community health nurse came by the house to change my dressing. Anyone with cancer automatically has “Pharmacare” pay for prescriptions – the government also has the “Handi-Dart” program – anyone who needs transportation to and from chemotherapy, dialysis or what have you, is picked up at their door and returned safely to the front step after medical treatment. The system isn’t perfect yet strives to deliver “universal” care no matter who you are are how much money you make. 🙂

  6. I guess you never read the bill? All 600 pages? The one we had to pass “so we could all see what’s in it?” I read it and what absolutely astounded me at the time was that it has nothing to do with healthcare. Nothing, nada, zip. We Americans here are slowly waking up to that fact as we face unaffordable policies with huge deductables, subsidized premiums that exceed our incomes, huge invasions of our privacy, identity theft, and complete breaches of our financial records.

    What really boggles my mind is how easy it was to unload this piece of garbage on the American people. We are surprisingly empathetic and compassionate towards the less fortunate, so this never ending mantra about helping the uninsured worked wonders. Never mind that it was a complete lie, it still triggered our support.

    • Unaffordable policies and huge deductibles smack of “for profit” rather than “universal” health care – the very point I was trying to make as to why it was doomed from the start. How identity theft, invasion of privacy or breach of financial records enters the mix is unclear in my mind. I may be dead wrong yet suspect those fears stem from the millions spent on “attack ads” by big medicine.

      Obviously I haven’t read all 600 pages of the bill. That said, I find it highly improbable health care doesn’t come up once or twice.

      Hearing that Americans are “surprisingly empathetic and compassionate towards the less fortunate” does little to boost my confidence. What exactly is surprisingly compassionate? Is it Neil Cavuto on Fox News aghast that welfare mothers might use food stamps to buy disposable diapers – demanding they “swaddle” their babies in cloth because it was good enough for Jesus? Is it the 2.50 – 3 dollars an hour wage for food service workers who might receive tips? I would truly appreciate your perspective as a means to understand “Compassion”.

      In Canada a family of 4 pays around $160 a month for health care. A single person pays around $45. Any family or individual earning less than $18,000 for the individual or 24 -36 thousand a year for families (depending on the province) pays no insurance premiums whatsoever. A single mother on welfare is given the same care as corporate CEOs. We have private “user pay” facilities for people who want an MRI tomorrow – our hospitals, clinics and labs are strictly non-profit.

      What you call a piece of garbage is sadly an unattainable reality in America. I find it depressing to think a country founded on freedom and justice has strayed so far from the path. I don’t believe the intention was anything other than sincere. To call it a complete lie is sadly testament to the power of greed. Obamacare was doomed from the start simply because it threatened the bottom line of a thoroughly entrenched and profitable system.Far from lies – more like effective spin doctoring ad men and lobbyists.

  7. This was a superb post. As an American, I feel confident in saying that America is history. You nailed it regarding $$$. I will leave a link with you — a new study — but not news, really. We’ve know this for quite sometime. Estimates are that we will be at 3rd World status by 2023. I think we are already there based on other research I’ve read.

    The study will appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics. It found that the US is not a democracy, but instead an oligarchy, hence why there’s a war on the ACA.


  8. As a socialist, I would say “Obamacare” is not socialism, but universal healthcare sure is. Here in Finland we have universal healthcare, but it is not for free. We pay it by taxes.

    To me it seems, this is a question of what are people ready to pay for and what does the nation expect from itself. Is the purpose of the nation to feed very, very expensive military, or provide for the citizens? US citizens seem to hate the taxes and expect their super expensive (and less than effective) military protects them from threats, that seem to be results of using that military for the benefit of big corporations and their shareholders, but not to provide proper education, or universal healthcare for all.

    But when literacy is very low, then a nation is ready to pay for what ever is advertized to them by the rich, who want to exploit the taxpayers. Advertisement has more effect on the ignorant. There is a reason why US citizens are so suspicious about their government. Their government (both parties) have been spending their money on personal gain of very few people for generations.

    • To say America is complicated is the king of all understatements. The divide between haves and have nots is enormous. Toss in religious fundamentalism, crumbling infrastructure and education, powerful big business lobbyists, organizations like the NRA dictating policy while operating as a tax free non-profit organization, bloated military, prisons and hospitals run as profit driven business, gun slinging “militia” propagating anti government nonsense and hate crimes -it’s a wonder full out civil war hasn’t erupted.

      I admire Obama – a visionary who didn’t stand a chance against the “old boy” network and back room deals. Derogatory advertising is part of the problem. As are so called “news” networks like Fox – opinion taken as truth by those unable to separate the two.

      I wrote these posts on the subject if you’re interested…




      There are plenty more ( I tend to speak my mind) but will spare you any more links. Thanks for your comments 🙂

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