Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Department of Defense & Health Care?

I've made several posts listing examples of ways the government has made enormous contributions to the well-being of our society. Just since WWII, the federal government has provided an interstate highway system, satellite technology, and laid the foundation for the Internet. One can only imagine what our lives (not to mention our economy) would be like without these interventions. And I've also made the case that renewable energy spending & health care would also benefit from government intervention (and in fact already have to a large degree). But it occurred to me recently the connection between most of the interventions that are widely recognized as successful by most of society--they were nearly all connected to national defense.

The interstate highway system was justified in the name of national defense because it would allow us to quickly move weapons around in time of war. Perhaps if the case had been made that the increased mobility and ease of moving goods would provide economic growth that would far exceed the costs, free-markets fundamentalists could have shot it down by arguing if the highway system could really be so valuable, private investors would fund it. Satellite technology was developed as part of the space race to militarily control outer space. The Internet was developed on the rationale of having a robust communications network that would be nearly impossible to wipe out. In all cases the economic benefits proved to be far more valuable than the military benefits, but the programs could not be sold on economic grounds.

While talking with a right-wing ideologue, I mentioned the Internet as an example of wise government investment. She thought that was nonsense and I must believe that Al Gore invented the Internet. When I explained the actual history of the Internet (DARPAnet, etc.) and how it grew out of a military project, suddenly she said that OF COURSE military projects were good government spending. In her mind the military is the only branch of government that deserves funding and can be trusted to spend our tax dollars wisely.

After being shocked at the notion that the only branch of government some people trust is the branch with all the weapons, it occurred to me the way we really need to sell universal health coverage in America. We have to make it a national defense priority!! Put a national health system under the defense department nominally. Sell the benefits of universal health coverage in terms of maintaining a healthy population in case of a draft. Sell it in terms of being more capable of detecting a biological threat early if terrorists use bio-weapons. I don't care what lies are used (since the lies used to justify wars never seem to really matter either), the way to win massive support for universal health care from right-wing ideologues is sell it in the name of national defense. As we have seen over and over in the national health care dialog, fear trumps reason over and over again. And fear for our "national security" seems to be the most easily exploited fear in America. Let's exploit it for something positive for a change.


Post a Comment

<< Home