Hating socialism but loving Medicare?

Published 8:00 pm Friday, August 30, 2019

Bernard is a retired corporate executive

I recently received a flyer with Rep. Ferguson’s picture on it from a shadowy group called “stopMedicaretakeover.org,” saying that liberals are planning to “bring socialism to America,” resulting in a “devasting bureaucratic takeover” of Medicare.

If these folks were not serious, their pamphlet would be hilarious. “Socialist” Medicare was established by liberal Democrats and Republicans over 50 years ago. 

Seniors love Medicare, run by government, much more than private insurance. Plus, Medicare overhead is 2 percent versus 12 percent for private insurance.

I’m a capitalist who worked for decades as a VP and SVP for national healthcare corporations. My business success enabled me to retire in a large house on a lake very comfortably at 55. But I also worked for government, both as an employee and fiscally conservative Republican elected official, before and after going into the for-profit world. 

I have many acquaintances in Coweta County and elsewhere in Georgia who are Trump supporters. They thoroughly dislike that horrible word “socialism” and government being in our lives. However, strangely enough, many are/have been government employees.

Hypocritical law enforcement personnel, public school/college teachers, military people etc. say they’re against government expenditures and socialism. Public schools/colleges are by definition “socialist.” So are state and local police departments, as well as our well-funded military. 

They work for government, salaries coming from your tax money. They don’t acknowledge this obvious fact.

In reality, all democracies are a mixture of free enterprise and socialism. FDR and LBJ were not traditional socialists, nor was Congress in the 30s and 60s. 

But some of the most popular “socialist” programs we now have were proposed and passed by FDR, LBJ, the Senate and the House. These programs include Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security which all passed with significant GOP support, although some conservative politicians (like Reagan) said they were socialistic. 

These are now among our most popular governmental programs.

Let’s look at national income inequality in democracies using well accepted OECD data. What we find is that we have much more inequality than any of the European nations. Only five OECD countries, including South Africa and Turkey, have more inequality.

What these figures tell me is that we should at least consider more social programs rather than less.