Bernie Sanders’ campaign fires up memories of living under socialism. Which I did for eight years in my twenties.
Socialism had points good and bad. Like any system. On the good side we received many benefits, oh boy. Dollars from the government for kids. Free healthcare. Food made cheap by subsidies. Low-cost mortgages. Subsidized by government. Virtually free universities.
But we paid a price for this. We paid heavy taxes. Really heavy taxes. If we were ambitious and worked harder we paid even heavier taxes. For instance if we worked two jobs we had to hide our second job. Otherwise the government confiscated most of that second income. It penalized us for ambition.
Maggie Thatcher said socialism is a great system until you run out of other people’s money. The country where I lived ran out of other people’s money. So it turned capitalist and free-market. It broke up monopolies run by many government companies. It sold those companies to the public. Issued shares. It even privatized the post office. Since then that post office has made hundreds of millions. It no longer sucks up taxpayer money every year. It now pays, pays taxes to government.
I understand why some people love Bernie’s socialism, I do. Let’s say you don’t want to have to work too hard. Socialism may appeal. Perhaps you want government to take over some of your responsibilities. You will like socialism. Maybe you don’t mind that various services get delivered as per Motor Vehicles Department. Socialism may work for you. Think VA hospitals for healthcare.
Government healthcare. Socialized medicine. On the plus side, no cost to have our first baby. Two weeks in a maternity hospital for my wife. Ahh, but the baby was sick. The medicos did not discuss much with us. They rushed the baby to another hospital.
For weeks I appeared at the new hospital. Nurses told me the baby was under observation. Could I speak with a doctor? No. Could I discuss possible diagnoses? No. Could we look at different options? No.
In reality the government doctors had taken possession of the baby. They made all decisions. Without consulting us, the parents. The attitude was that they knew best. And besides, they controlled all the medicine in the country. So they would deal with us at their convenience. And there was nowhere else we could turn.
When I insisted, one doctor took five minutes from his rounds to chat with me in a hallway. About our infant. Who might be dying. Nice of him. To him we were a number, baby included.
Was it good medicine? Perhaps excellent medicine. And it was “free”. Was it humane? You be the judge. It was like the treatment you get in some Motor Vehicle offices.
Here is a more common complaint with socialized medicine. I was diagnosed with a sinus condition. The doctor put me on the list for surgery.
I waited seven years. Seven years for surgery to stop a recurring infection.
Finally the day came to meet the government surgeon. I happened to have terrible flu. But I dragged my sick and aching bod to his clinic. Because if I missed that appointment I might still be on his list today.
The surgeon checked me out. “You smoke,” he said. I did. “Then I don’t want to waste government’s money on you. I won’t do the surgery.”
And that was that. I had no recourse. I had waited seven years for a government doctor to spit in my face.
So Bernie, I hear you rave about free this and free that from government. I know how nice it was to get all that free stuff when I was young. And living under socialism. But I also know we paid a price. And the price was not always calculated in money.
Surprise! There was no free lunch. Nor is there one today.
From Tom...as in Morgan.