After 20 years at the University of Oregon, I have retired. So, I will begin posting about my new experiences here and hope you find them interesting.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Maybe Bread and Circuses would win over poorly informed townhall mobs

A friend recently wrote to me about her philosophy that each person creates their own "truth". I have observed this phenomenon often, especially lately listening to all the uproar over health care reform. The sad "truth" (my truth I guess) is that many of these agitated people don't bother to examine the policies they criticize and just spout rumor fed by self-serving interest groups like the pharmaceutical companies and for-profit health care services providers (and the Congressmen who collect from their lobbyists!). I have friends in the UK that have government-provided health care and they seem quite satisfied with the level of care they receive. Likewise I have talked with residents of Canada and Australia that also have government-managed health care systems and they are not dissatisfied either. My husband is a 100% service-connected disabled Vietnam veteran and receives quality care from the health care providers at the Eugene VA Clinic and the Roseburg VA Hospital. As his spouse, I am covered under ChampVA, another government-managed heath care program, and choose my own doctors and, to my knowledge, have never been refused any treatments or medication my primary care physician thought were needed. In fact, ChampVA functions very much like private health insurers like Blue Cross/Blue Shield except for prescription pharmaceuticals that I get totally free from ChampVA by using their Meds by Mail program.

The dynamics we see surfacing in this debate are the same tired "fear factor" politics of the extreme right wing conservatives that brow beat the poorly informed during the Bush administration. I noticed that in one of the news reports about a health care town hall meeting the other day, one of the ranting rabble rowsers had most attendees agreeing that they didn't want the government interfering with their health care decisions. The congressmen conducting the meeting then asked how many of those in the room were on Medicare and OVER HALF raised their hands! What??? They obviously were not even thinking about their own health care - just caught up in the emotional mob mentality of the situation. The ancient Roman emperors knew the secret to political power was to control the Roman mob so they bought the mob with free bread and handouts at entertainments that included gory spectacles to satisfy the mob's blood lust. Perhaps the Congressmen holding these meetings should break out the bread and shower the attendees with lottery tickets or something. I'm sure he/she would have them on the side of health care reform in no time, especially if they hired a couple of WWW wrestlers for the featured entertainment.
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