My daughter’s history teacher, when pressed by her students about Sunday’s health care vote, couldn’t keep her mouth shut. (Keeping her mouth shut would have involved saying, “This is a history class, not a politics class. You should ask your parents these questions.”) Instead, she blithely opined that “all civilized societies have universal health care.”
Fortunately, despite years in the public school system, my daughter is still amenable to logic. In the face of her teacher’s certitude, I challenged my daughter with a few facts and asked a few questions.
Her: We live in a really rich place, don’t we. [I should add here that our family doesn't live in great wealth, but, living in Marin, we are definitely part of a very wealthy community.]
Me: Yes, we do, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to stay wealthy.
Me: Because that new health care plan has to be paid for. How do you think they’ll pay for it?
Her: They’ll get money from somewhere.
Me: Yeah, but where will they get the money?
Her: [Blank silence.]
Me: Taxes. They have to tax people. And look around you — these are the people they’re going to tax. Also, they’re going to tax these people’s businesses. So here’s a question for you. If the government takes more money from a business in the form of taxes, that means the business has less money, right?
Me: And what happens when a business has less money?
Her: It can’t pay people.
Me: Bingo. And people who don’t get paid, don’t pay taxes — so you have to tax the reach rich people and businesses even more, since they’re the ones that still have money. But you tax them enough, and they stop having money too.
Her: Oh. I hope we don’t become poor.
Me: I hope so too. By the way, your teacher said “all civilized countries” have this kind of universal health care, right?
Me: Did she mention some of the countries that have it?
Me: Did she tell you about North Korea?
Me: North Korea is possibly the most repressive country on earth. They have universal health care because everything comes from the government. Also, do you remember when Daddy and I told you about Cuba, a country that’s like an island prison? People get on rafts on shark-invested oceans to escape it. Cuba has universal health care. So did the Soviet Union, another country that was a giant prison that people tried to escape. Under their universal health care, doctors were at the bottom of the pecking order. Patients were in rooms with 20 or 30 other patients. The beds were filthy and had no sheets. People’s relatives had to bring linens and clean and take care of them. That was also universal health care.
Her: I didn’t know that.
Me: I bet your teacher didn’t either. In Canada, it’s not so bad. They have clean beds and good medical practices. The problem is the waiting. Take a hip replacement (which her grandmother had, twice). In America, once they decide you need one, you can have the operation in a few weeks. In Canada, it can take years. Also, if someone is really old, even though that person is in good health, like your grandmother, they might be refused the operation entirely, because it’s a “waste” to do it on an old person.
Her: That’s so unfair.
Me: Well, that’s the kind of decision a government has to make when it has to provide health care for everyone, and the citizens are running out of tax dollars. Right now, a lot of Canadians have been coming to America for these operations, because they can’t or don’t want to wait.
Me: In England, they also have “universal health care.” They also have one of the highest cancer death rates in the Western world, endless waits, hospitals that are death traps, and a pretty unhealthy population that the government keeps trying to bully when it comes to eating and exercise (since the government is paying for everyone’s health care). Healthy people don’t mind the system, because they don’t use it. People with emergencies sometimes get good care and sometimes get bad care, so they’re kind of neutral. Sick and old people, the ones who get told by the government that they are using up too many resources, hate it.
Her: That’s awful. How can they do that?
Me: Let me ask you yet another question: If you get bad service at Nordstrom, what do you do?
Her: Go to Target.
Me: That’s right. Or you go to Macy’s or Gap, or a hundred other stores. Here’s the next question: If you get bad service from the government, what to do you do?
Her: Nothing. There’s no place to go.
Me: Right. And if the government is the only provider of something, and has no competition, do you think it has an incentive to do a good job?
Me: Do you think it’s its employees have an incentive to try hard or give you good service?
Me: Okay, here’s another question: Do you think people spend years and years, and work incredibly hard, go hugely into debt at medical school to make lots of money or little money?
Her: Lots of money.
Me: What do you think is going to happen if the government says “We’re not going to allow you to make lots of money?”
Her: People won’t become doctors.
Her: Stupid Obama!
UPDATE: This story, of a public high school arranging for a girl’s abortion entirely behind her mother’s back, seems entirely appropriate for the above post. Also, I’m not the only one struggling to stem the indoctrination tide.