Did you know a Canadian was known as the “Father of Medicare”? Many years ago, in 1947, Tommy Douglas, a Baptist minister and Premier of Saskatchewan, achieved a historic accomplishment. His government made it possible for everyone in the province to have health insurance and access to health care. The results were so positive that this Medicare-type program soon spread across the country, and single-payer health insurance became—and remains—the right of every Canadian.
Today the United States, which likes to think of itself as one of the most advanced countries in the world, finds itself embroiled in a debate over health care. The current proposal by the Republicans would remove 22 million from health care coverage. You don’t have to look far to hear stories about how such a move would endanger the lives of the young, elderly, and disabled, as well as all people. On the nightly news, you can see mothers in tears, pleading for the care needed by their disabled children. The situation is dire and urgent.
What motivates this insensitive initiative that would remove access to health care for the poorest and most needy among us?
It an economic system that does not favor the equitable distribution of the fruits of the Earth. Rather, it is a system that favors increasing tax cuts for the wealthiest. In my view, this is an approach that is neither needed nor just. It lacks basic compassion.
The driving principle behind this is political ideology, simply stated, is “He who governs least governs best.” The result that logically follows is a laissez faire system that prioritizes opportunities to accumulate a maximum amount of wealth. Such a system inevitably results in winners and losers, with a worldview that is expressed by the bumper sticker slogan “He who dies with the most toys wins.”
Now the vote on health care has been delayed. But the issue is far from resolved. I think of Tommy Douglas and I think of the mother I saw the other day speak from the bedside of her disabled child, and lend my voice to the rising chorus of Americans calling out to the highest heavens, “Our economic and health-care systems need to be based on greater compassion!”