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Friday, October 4, 2013

Is Obamacare Socialism or Communism?

With all this hubbub about 800,000+ employees being furloughed because of Tea Party Republicans' absolute hatred for Obamacare (which is also, unbeknownst to many Americans, called the Affordable Care Act), I took to the social media and began asking folks why they dislike Obamacare. The answers ranged from "It's socialism" to "it's communist," with a mention or two of "death panels."

I like to think of myself as a reasonable person, and sometimes I'm even nice, so I decided to not embarrass the folks I asked and call them out individually, and to embark on a brief exploratory investigation as to whether or not these folks' hatred is founded.  I turned to the common denominator of definition, Google, and went about defining 'socialism,' 'communism,' 'capitalism,' and 'corporatism,' taking the definitions as granted. Insodoing, I did not aim to support or to deride Obamacare, but aimed instead to simply answer this simple question: Is Obamacare Socialist, Communist, Capitalist, or Corporatist? 

(As a side note, I am leaving the answer to the death panel question by linking to Politifact's Lie of The Year, 2009.)


The answer, then, is that Obamacare is neither socialist nor communist, but corporatist capitalism.

"Wait a tooth-pickin' second," you're screaming at the screen, "where did you get the idea that private insurance companies were largely in charge of writing Obamacare?" 


Good point, and while that was probably not the best language to use, it is essentially true. 

But, just so you guys know, here's how the insurance industry has influenced the debate with Obamacare, according to OpenSecrets.org:


Yes, that's right, 1248 unique organizations that lobbied on this bill. 

Long Term Trends of Insurance Spending at the Federal Level.






Essentially, the Affordable Care Act was an industry bill designed to keep the industry floating as it was on the brink of collapse.  Before the healthcare debate in Congress, many Americans were constantly talking about the completely terribly healthcare system and how it was continually screwing them over.  Even people from the GOP were going nuts over $1,000 premiums (per month) and $10,000 deductibles.  So, the industry lobbied hard to get a bill which would maintain profits, but prevent Americans from bankrupting the health insurance system by opting out.  In my view, it was a pre-emptive bailout of the healthcare industry, an attempt to make it relevant when the rest of the industrialized world is adopting single-payer healthcare systems, seeing their overall spending on healthcare decline, and the number of individuals worrying about medical bills reaching closer and closer to zero.  The Affordable Care Act is a typical US response to a mounting crisis which would have either bankrupted the American public or destroyed the legitimacy of the health insurance industry.  We do it again and again and again and again (Glass-Steagall was an attempt at the same when the banking system was about to lose relevance in the United States.)

I am always open to rational debate, but we must be able to agree on our terms.  If you cannot define socialism or communism, do not argue that a piece of law fits into that category, and do not deride systems which you have not learned about.


Do some reading, and not from politicians. I don't go reading through Obama's speeches to learn about Obamacare, I go to non-biased sources, such as the text of the law itself, and learn about it.  That's what you should do, too.

10.4.13

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