For more by Scott Martin, visit Conservatism Today.
There are plenty of good reasons why socialized health care would be a disaster for America that have been covered by many people. From lack of choices, to poor quality, to waiting lines, to increase in government control over our lives, and on and on. I'd rather illustrate my biggest reason for opposing socialized medicine with a personal story. To me, socialism of any kind kills the American spirit.
Six years ago, a series of events changed the course of my life. I am fully convinced that I would not be the person I am today had they not occurred, and had I not responded to them the way I did. Let me start somewhere near the beginning.
I was 26-years old and working as a bill collector in 2001; I was pretty good at the job and made a good living, but I hated it. In the past few years I had gone from being a GM at McDonald's to the same job with Arby's to a short-lived stint in financial planning to this. I had done well at every job I had ever had, but had eventually set all my bridges ablaze like General Sherman on his march. It was at this time that my wife and I made the decision that I should go back to college to do what I always should have been doing, which is writing for a living.
What does this have to do with socialized medicine? Hang with me a minute. When I quit my job to go back to school, I lost my health insurance. I went to my old financial planning company (which was affiliated with AIG, of all places) and got an application for health insurance. And then I signed up for classes. And that application sat on my desk. And it sat. And it sat.
I went back to school, and was enjoying my learning like never before. And still that application for health insurance sat on my desk. Why? Certainly not because my wife didn't remind me to fill it out and send it in often enough. Perhaps, because as someone highly suited for the (now deceased) field of journalism, I don't do anything until a solid deadline is looming. Perhaps because I was young and felt good and saw no reason to waste money on something that I wasn't going to need in the near future. Either way, on my desk the application sat.
Eight months after losing my insurance as an employee, I awoke in the middle of the night. I couldn't move. I had this godawful pain in my stomach, and even breathing hurt. I awoke my wife, and it took us about 20 minutes to get me in the car to go to the hospital. I will never forget the pain I experienced for the rest of that night, nor the lessons that were to come from it.
At the hospital, we learned I needed to have my gall bladder removed. It was the size of a baseball, the doctor said. We told him I had no insurance, and since this is America, I was treated anyways. He told us we would be looking at around $10,000 for the procedure, and we were in no position to decline. 10K was not something we could readily afford, but in this case we would have to liquidate my wife's 401K. We would make it. And we had no choice.
I'm not sure exactly when we got the final bill, but the $10,000 figure had somehow become $32,000. I do remember laying in the hospital, recovering, and hearing Sean Hannity on the radio talking about socialized health care.
In my vicodine-addled state, I still recall thinking for a fleeting moment that if only we had socialized medicine in the United States, I wouldn't be worried about having to quit school and get a job. In this drug-induced state, I was tempted by the illusion that is socialism of any kind, and that, more and more, is found in today's liberalism.
But almost immediately my mind found release from the temptation. I asked myself some questions:
Who's fault is this? Clearly, it was my fault, and only my fault, that I was not insured. I had put off something in favor of spending the money on something else. I had made a choice. And a bad one, indeed.
Why should the American taxpayer pay for my stupidity? Why should the doctor? Why should anyone, involuntarily? There was no rational answer to these questions. I needed to pay it myself, or I needed some voluntary help.
What country did I live in? The good-old US of A. We Americans are known for overcoming difficult situations, for our goodness to those in need and for the opportunity we have to make of our lives whatever we are able to freely do. I had no reason to despair. This would be a minor setback at worst.
So I made a plan. As a former bill collector, I began negotiations with the hospital, and learned that I should be able to get the bill cut in half. With my abilities and knowledge of the system, I should actually be able to do more. I prayed a lot to find a solution. Through the whole process, my wife and I continued to give above and beyond the Biblical tithe (more than 10% of our income) to charity, as we had done for a couple of years. We never stopped believing that there was a better way out.
After a few months, I thought I was going to be able to settle my bill for about $14,000. That seemed a small price to pay for my mistake, and was almost exactly what the hospital would have received had I been insured. (Insurance companies pay far less than the actual billing cost of any procedure.) But, at the last moment, the hospital suggested I apply for a financial hardship.
Let me tell you, there was no hardship, other than my own stupidity. My wife earned enough money that I could afford to go to school and not have to work. Yet our savings didn't reflect my wife's new-found increase in income. But, believing we had been given another shot at this, I filled this application out immediately. Less than one week later I was notified that a private charity, a church I was not affiliated with, had paid our bill in full. It was, literally, a gift from God.
And I saw that my wife and I had helped bring it about. We never wavered in our belief, we never stopped being charitable, and we never gave up on our conservative ( personal freedom-based) outlook on life. In that fleeting moment where I considered succumbing to the easy secuction of socialism, I nearly lost what made me a free human being. I nearly lost my belief in God as the gaurantor of my prosperity and my well-being, and gave it over to man. But I didn't. It made me stronger when I rejected it. And God gave me the way out of my problem when I trusted in Him.
And this is where the Hillary's and the Obama's and the Biden's don't understand what is unique about America. They preach community, and a giving spirit, but they believe government should do this, not themselves as free people. They would, either unknowingly or out of thirst for power over our lives, destroy community in America.
We have seen in the past week that Obama and Biden talk the talk, but even though they earn 2-3 times more than my family does, they give 20 times less than we do. They don't walk the walk. That's what socialism does to people, it tells us that government is our master, and that government meets needs, not free people under God.
But they are wrong. The United States of America is the most giving country in the world, because of our freedom. That would die forever with the adoption of socialized medicine.
Alexander Hamilton once said, "A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one!"
This realization has changed my life. I took control of it, and began planning to be more than I thought I could be. When I graduated this Spring, I resisted the easy choice of getting a job at a newspaper making a minimum salary and working for a master who would control what I could express. I'm an American, and my rights come from God, as established in our founding documents. I can make it myself, with God's help, and while doing so I can give to help others who truly can't make it by themselves. And so I have.
Socialized medicine might be OK for the Brits and the French and the Canadians. Their Constitutions don't guarantee freedom under God. They have spent most of the last century preparing themselves for a master, and they are well suited for one.
But it is my belief that Americans are not yet pussified enough to think that they need government to make them whole. The American spirit, that gift of God and of a mostly-free country, is alive and well. And I trust and pray that we will prove that to the rest of the world once again, and reject the rest of the world's desire that we bow to a government under the leadership of an Obamessiah who promises to right all our wrongs, but doesn't explain how it will be the destruction of us as a free nation. Instead, we will continue to not-so-bitterly cling to a government of and for the free people of the United States of America, under God.