Words Socialist Madness

Why does universal health care scare so many otherwise rational people?

Why aren’t people more scared that the worker slapping the bun on their burger makes minimum wage, doesn’t have health insurance, and can’t afford to stay home from work when they have a cold or the flu?

Why don’t U.S. citizens feel they deserve healthcare, mandated maternity leave, universal childcare, free college tuition and a clean environment? These programs are routinely expected in most other developed countries. The U.S. is the outlier, with a small group of elites convincing the population that the necessities of life must be purchased in a market economy rather than part of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

People in the United States are comfortably sandwiched in between a friendly Canada, a (semi) friendly Mexico – despite President Donald Trump’s xenophobic attacks – and two massive non-hostile oceans on each side. The vast majority of residents speak just one language and have had only the limited option of choosing between the same two major political parties since 1864.

The prevailing elitist propaganda people hear throughout their lives is that they live in the best-est most powerful, freest, fairest country in the world. However, other than U.S.’s military prowess, the other assertions are not factually borne out. Comparative politics and policy analysis are not subjects mandated or embedded in our general education, so it’s not that surprising that some people are scared of ideas that seem foreign or unattainable.


When it comes to proving healthcare for its citizens, the United States is a stark anomaly in the world. According to studies, 27.5 million U.S. individuals are uninsured and 29 percent of those with health insurance are underinsured.

Of the 200 or so nations on Earth, there are only nine that fail to provide universal healthcare. The United States is the wealthiest and most prominent among them. Three of the nine – Egypt, India and Indonesia – will soon be transitioning to universal healthcare.

Most people are aware of Canada’s universal health care system. Universal means that every person in the country is covered. In fact, this author used to travel to a Windsor, Ontario mall across from Detroit as a poor graduate student. They gave me free allergy treatments, no questions asked.

Universal healthcare systems are not “socialized medicine.” The United Kingdom provides universal healthcare, but the government owns the hospitals and pays the doctors in a “socialized medicine” system. The U.S. Veteran’s Health system also operates this way.

This year’s Democratic Party candidates’ who advocate for Medicare For All propose a “single-payer” health insurance system, where the government is responsible for paying for health coverage, but not owning the hospitals and paying medical staff.

The nations providing free healthcare do so because of the belief that it is not a commodity, but a human right.

Paid parental leave

According to, the U.S. is the only developed nation that does not mandate paid time off for women after they give birth. The Pew Research Center ranks the U.S. last in paid leave for new parents. Finland ranks highest, with 161 weeks of paid maternity leave. Hungary gives 160 weeks. The second lowest amount of paid maternity leave is Mexico at 12 weeks, and the United States offers zero weeks of paid maternity leave.

In many European countries, fathers receive paid paternity leave as well. Finland fathers get 54 days paid paternity leave, plus an extra 158 days that can be used by either the new mom or dad. Norway and Sweden join their Scandinavian neighbor with Norway providing 70 paid days and Sweden offering 60. In Iceland, fathers receive up to 120 days and are paid 80 percent of their normal wages. Denmark, Belgium, France and Spain also provide paid paternity leave.

Numerous studies, including one by Human Rights Watch, found that “workers face grave health, financial, and career repercussions” as a result of taking unpaid parental leave. The report found that among new parents in the U.S., “many who took unpaid leave went into debt, and some were forced to seek public assistance.” Some women said that “employers biased against working mothers derailed their career.” Same-sex parents are often denied unpaid leave, particularly males.

The first years of a child’s life are a critical period for healthy growth and development. Research shows that “a mother’s absence during the first year of life could disrupt mother-child attachment and deprive the child of the stimulation that promotes cognitive development.” Research also reveals that paid parental leave increases early childhood checkups and immunizations.

Universal childcare

In the United States, full time childcare runs around $16,000 a year. According to CNBC, the cost of U.S. childcare has tripled since 1990, far higher than the rate of inflation.

Countries that provide universal childcare are Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Netherlands and Finland. If a child gets sick in Sweden, the government pays the parent 80 percent of their salary to stay home. In Canada, daycare is subsidized. Parents can drop their children off at a childcare center from 7am to 6pm and on average, and only pay out of pocket between $7-$20 a day.

Free college tuition

A general assumption in a post-industrial high-tech society – where most workers are professional, managerial or technical – is that the smarter your workers are, the better society becomes. More college educated workers may result in more productivity and higher-salaried taxpayers.

Few people in the U.S. (except perhaps Betsy DeVos) fear the United States’ socialized kindergarten through twelfth-grade public school system. Extending free public education to college makes sense as society requires more and more skills and knowledge to be functional. It is also positive to have educated people around so they can look up the statistics on what countries have what policies.

Free college tuition is available in twenty-five countries: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Morocco, Norway, Panama, Poland, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Uruguay. Some nations like Slovenia offer a free education in English for English-speaking students.

The environment

“Averting the climate disaster will save $2.9 trillion dollars over 10 years and $21 trillion over 30 years,” states David Swanson. A United Nations (UN) Climate Change report notes that by investing $1.8 trillion to prevent the effects of global warming, there would be a savings of $7.2 trillion dollars that would need to be spent to mitigate the results of climate chaos like hurricanes, wildfires, floods and tornadoes.

The progressive path for the world is to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels and invest in renewable energies. Although many countries pledged to eliminate fossil fuels by 2030, Costa Rica is the only one so far to ban all fossil fuels. Countries that completely ban fracking are France, Bulgaria, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Uruguay and Brazil. Those with a current moratorium are Denmark, the Netherlands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, South Africa and Australia.

Even some U.S. states ban fracking, including Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Maryland. New York has a moratorium.

The United States comes in 10th of all the countries leading the way in renewable energies behind Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Japan, Turkey and Australia.

If they can do it, why can’t we?

Many of the same nations show up on the lists over and over again as providing basic human rights. Some are Scandinavian and northern European nations that all have mass democratic socialist, social democratic or labor parties. The U.S., as the policy outlier, instead celebrates its “American exceptionalism.” The U.S. is the only long-standing democracy that doesn’t have a mass anti-corporate-capitalist major political party. U.S. citizens get frightened when they contemplate their country adopting what are common policy practices in the rest of the democratic world. This serves the interests of the super-rich who are allowed to hoard the wealth that they didn’t produce.

Another factor that sets the United States outside the norm is that it has signed, but not ratified, the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The ICESCR is a 1966 multi-lateral treaty signed by 170 nations that commits governments to work toward the granting of labor, health and educational rights and an adequate standard of living for all its citizens. It includes: the rights of workers to labor under “just and favorable conditions”; paid parental leave; adequate food, clothing and housing; and the “highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

So please don’t fear the common practices enjoyed by millions of people all over the planet because your country is controlled by elite millionaires and billionaires threatened by these ideals. Just know that the U.S. is capable of doing what other similar developed democracies have been doing for decades.

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