Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson’s podcast Citations Needed is one of my favorites; they never fail to illuminate their topic, and their research appears to be impeccable. I also like the slightly unsophisticated un-slick audio and editing; podcasting is metastasizing into a big business full of well-funded corporate drones that milk advertising opportunities, so it’s refreshing that there are a few hold-outs that stay resolutely old school. They’re just about the information.
This one episode I’d like to highly recommend. It was mind-blowing for me in a lot of ways, because I knew the basic framework of the situation, but not the details of how we got here.
Almost every wealthy country in the world has some type of universal healthcare system–except for the United States. With over 170 million of its citizens left to fend for themselves in a sprawling and complex maze of Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, tax credits, child care subsidies, co-pays, deductibles and cost-sharing, the U.S. has not only the largest uninsured population, but also the most expensive system on Earth per capita.
Why America doesn’t have a universal healthcare system has historically been explained away with a reductionist mix of pathologizing and circular reasoning. “America hates big government,” “we love choice,” “Americans distrust anything that reeks of socialism.” And while this is true in some limited sense, it avoids the bigger question of why has American so-called “democracy” rejected the numerous proposals to enact a single payer or other forms of universal healthcare?
The episode is here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/citations-needed/id1258545975?i=1000518075917
Since it’s about history, should I do “spoiler” alerts? I think not. The main take-away from this episode, for me, is that:
- Americans are stupid
- I have a new villain! I did not realize that the American Medical Association (AMA) was not just concerned with regulating medicine for good outcomes but is, rather, a monopolistic group that existed to create the hyper-extractive capitalist medical care system that the US endures
- The system is constructed and maintained in part so that employers retain leverage over their employees. It’s just another way capitalists fuck everyone over: we are all forced to be hyper-concerned with employment because it is tied to medical coverage. If you lose your job you may lose your life.
Nima and Adam are fairly calm as they deliver all this information, but it’s mind-blowingly rage-inducing, “pitchforks and torches” kind of stuff. But, no, we’re not going to grab the pitchforks and torches because we can’t afford to get fired for protesting, because we’d lose our medical coverage.
Give it a listen, please.
Nima and Adam do not belabor the point, but: one of the primary ways oligarchs reward themselves under the US system is by getting private medical care. So they don’t have to endure the completely bollixed-up shit system the rest of us do. Every congressperson and president that has failed to go to bat for the citizens’ rights (“you wanted medical care? well, I got you F-35s instead!”) has government-provided medical insurance. You know, the “socialist” stuff that they complain so much about. I’ll believe a god damned republican is serious about medical care when one of them forgoes the congressional plan and goes on medicare or Obamacare. Or, “pay as you go” – except that’s not a bad option for multimillionaires.