LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Ongoing debate is absurd
September 21, 2009 · Updated 12:47 PM
To the editor:
As a Swede now living here in America, I find the ongoing debate concerning overhauling our healthcare system pretty absurd, to say the least.
Instead of looking at hard facts, scientific studies and statistics, people seem to get caught up in whirlwinds of emotions, propaganda, misinformation and straight-out lies, to the point to where one wonders if we really want to know the truth, or just continue to live in our ignorance.
I was born and raised in Sweden, lived my first 40 years in Europe, have traveled a lot and also spent extended time periods in different European countries. Having said that, I don’t claim to know everything about the many different healthcare systems that exist in Europe (to my knowledge, all of them tax- based), but I think I have a pretty good idea of how they work.
Let me take my homeland Sweden as one example. My 30-35 percent in taxes allowed me to not only enjoy a free, modern, safe, well-organized and technically advanced society, but also benefits such as an education without any tuition fees (not even at universities), four to six weeks paid vacation, paid sick leave, paid maternity leave, unemployment pay and also excellent healthcare — wherever in the country I choose to receive it, not where the government or, as in America, where my health insurance company network tell me to receive it.
And the funny (or really sad) part is, that I pay much more for my healthcare here in the USA, and receive less than I ever did in Sweden, and on top of that have to live with the added stress and worries of not having and/or losing my health insurance coverage, paying co-payments and/or being too sick to be covered in the long run. Something is really SICK about that!
Most Americans don’t think twice about paying taxes for defense, public roads and schools, police/fire departments, libraries or even for Medicare. What is the big mental and emotional stumbling block with public healthcare?
Should the son of a Walmart greeter receive no treatment for his cancer, while the son of a CEO gets the best healthcare that money can buy? Is that the society we want to live in?
Believe me when I say that the system in Sweden is far from perfect, and has many, many flaws, but I least I could sleep at night, knowing that I — and my neighbor and the kid down the street — would receive professional medical help (and also rehabilitation, if necessary) whenever and wherever we needed it without having to sell one’s home in order to cover the costs for treatments and for medications.
For me, as a Christian, it boils down to a moral and ethical question and also to solidarity toward other human beings. Do I truly believe that what I learn in church should be practiced in everyday living, is really everybody an equally valued, loved and important son or daughter of a loving God? Or is that just things we need to worry about on Sundays?
Do I, now as an American citizen, want to strive for justice for all and also support those political representatives who wholeheartedly believe in, work for and pass bills that give every honest and hardworking American a fair chance in life? Of course I do. Would there be any other way or alternative?
I think America is a great country — I love living here — and it saddens my heart when the essentials of a life, and also a true democracy, become totally profit-driven and obsessed with money.
Our great Founding Fathers had visions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (for all), not of arrogance, greed and corruption. As a citizen, I support and think highly of those politicians who live by the Constitution — President Obama being one of them — and not merely preach about it in theory. And if it takes higher income taxes to take us out of this mess, so be it. I’m all for it as long as it is used wisely, “for the people and by the people.”