Nick Santoro: Universal health care, and other things we need now

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This commentary is by Nick Santoro, a resident of Rutland.

With the deathly mess American government and the privatized medical industry have made with their Covid slapdash strategy, it seems a wee bit timely to design a universal health care system for those who need it (most of us), in conjunction with existing privatized health care for those who want it.

Some 150 million Americans have health care tied to their jobs. Just imagine yourself choosing to work at a job and not having your choice determined by co-pay medical coverage. 

What universal health care means is the security of knowing you can see a doctor for treatment. It also unleashes a person and his family from an employer's undeniable grip over one's life, as governments have done in Europe and around the globe. Universal health care is about freedom of choice as well as a kind of camaraderie with the rest of the developed world.

We are all aware of someone in the health care field who has been terribly dumped on and overwhelmed with stressful Covid responsibilities, fears, exhaustion, sickness and death. A longtime lack of sufficient funding and terrible planning between the Siamese twins of privatized health care and private enterprise never came close to addressing a problem known to be waiting in the wings since SARS, with the tragic embarrassment of excessive deaths and suffering for Americans. 

It is an indictment of our privatized numbers-oriented leadership for pursuing the enchantment of profit figures over our existential needs.

Our priorities are misshapen. A zillion cheers for overwrought medical personnel for doing their best with the skewed management and planning choices beyond their control. 

Rather than the kind of privatized medicine that has fallen prey to Wall Street dreams of riches, the pandemic has revealed that we must return to a community-centered model that serves everyone with some bit of equality. The medical industry needs to reopen its closed hospitals and build new ones; we need more schools to train doctors, nurses and medical personnel to serve our physical, psychological and social welfare needs. 

American people need our tax money put toward reliable public health planning for future epidemiological disasters. In the most recent year, an "extra" $25 billion was provided by the two political parties to the Department of Defense during this Covid crisis. Why wasn't that money put toward Covid and redesigning our health care system? What's wrong with our leaders? 

Eight hundred thousand Americans are dead already. Who do these two parties work for? It's the same old chant, "The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming," and now the Chinese are coming too. Somehow, in spite of that old paranoid war buzzard James Forrestal's famous 1949 pre-suicide quote, we're still here. 

We need a health care system that works for everyone without servitude to one's employer or to the defense industry's vocal apostles who gladly raid our pocketbooks with notions of impending rampage from all corners of the globe.

This is 2022; Covid is now exponential. The post-World War II 1950s ideas of limitless exploitation of our earthly paradise and the American exceptionalism our leaders still blibity-blab about are outdated and have exhausted their vitality and cannot but fail us in the present moment. We used to drive Corvairs, too, until it became common knowledge that those vehicles had life-shortening designs! 

This is a brand-new era with its digital reconstitutions of our lives, its spectacularly challenging climate contingencies, and its Covid mind-blowing reappraisals of everything under the sun. In light of the virus' global impact, new dreams and paradigms are formulating in human minds so we can continue to be here. 

The past choices are not bad per se, just old and worn out like a favorite shirt that needs to be replaced. It's time. The future is now. Tempus fugit — time flies. 

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