Things I Learned About National Healthcare--
40 Years Ago

Nearly a quarter century ago, there was a song called Ned Ludd. While it wasn't a great hit on the charts, it is amazingly relevant today.

They said Ned Ludd was an idiot boy
That all he could do was wreck and destroy, and
He turned to his workmates and said: Death to Machines
They tread on our future and they stamp on our dreams.

Most Americans are oblivious to Ned Ludd. However, if you lived in England, you would know him. It is thought that he was from Anstey, which is very close to Leicester. Ned got upset one day in 1779, because of his being lazy or some other infraction. So he went to a couple knitting frames and took out his anger upon them by destroying them. Ned's overreaction was the explanation anytime a knitting frame was damaged, someone would say, "Ned Ludd did it."

By 1812, those that intentionally destroyed knitting frames used Ned Ludd as their spiritual leader. They called themselves Luddites after Ned who a generation before took out his anger upon a couple knitting frames. In this generation, the Luddites were taking out their anger at the Industrial Revolution, which was putting individual weavers out of business with the new-fangled industrial machines.

The Luddites hated progress and feared that the future would be bleak because of the Industrial Revolution. They wanted to go return to the more pastoral lifestyle of hearth and home not the technological machines of the future. The fear of the future caused the Luddites to want to revert to the good old days before the days of change.

In the two centuries since the Luddites were the terrorists to the automated weaving machines of the Industrial Revolution, the Luddites are not breaking up and destroying weaving frame anymore. They have turned their fear of change to the healthcare issue swirling not across England but America.

The level of insanity regarding the health care debate is even more ridiculous than it was when the issue was weaving frames. America is so proud of itself. We are the only developed nation in the world without a national healthcare program. Why can't Congress give America what Congress enjoys as far as healthcare? After all, they are the ones in charge of protecting us from enemies overseas and here at home. Some in Congress are the Luddites of the 21st century. Don't change anything; we like it the way it is.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), we spend more than 15% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on our health care. That is a lot of dollars. Ironically, it is higher than any other UN member spends on health care. Okay, to be honest, we are the second biggest spender. The Southeast Asian island of East Timor spends a little more of their GDP than we do.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has broken down some interesting spending statistics on healthcare. For example, France spends 11%, Switzerland spends 10.8%, and Germany spends 10.4 % of their Gross National Product (GNP) while America spends more that 15%.

If those figures don't concern you, these will. America is the richest technologically gifted country, and we spend more for medical care than any other country...except for East Timor. However, the actual healthcare that we get by our healthcare system is behind the much of the Western world. One would think that if you spent more, you would get more. Nonetheless, we are not getting health care bonuses for all the bucks spent. We rank 20th in our life expectancy and 27th in infant mortality when compared to the rest of the industrialized world.

In addition, according to the Commonwealth Fund's statistics, 54% of Americans don't utilize seeing a doctor as often as they should and/or getting prescriptions filled compared to the 36% of the people from other countries. This is due to the cost of health care.

America, with the largest amount of money spent on medical care ranked 45th on a list of countries or territories of nations longevity. Men will live to an average of 75-years, women to 81 or an average of 78-years. The people of Macau live longer than any country or territory. Men live 6.27-years longer than Americans males and women about 6.5-years longer. The European Union (EU) is 38th on the list of longevity. It should be noted that the EU is made up of 27-countries with 500 million vs. 300million people in the States.

It is estimated that 40-50 million Americans are presently without health insurance. Who pays for these many millions when they go to the emergency room for health care? We aren't saving any money without covering those without healthcare. Those with insurance pay indirectly for the uninsured by paying more for healthcare. Estimates are that in 10-years, the number of uninsured will rise to 65 million...and our insurance rates will skyrocket. Nevertheless, the Luddites have returned. They claim, like their predecessors, that we needn't make changes...this time to our healthcare system.

Speaking of health insurance, I was interested in finding out what CEOs of health insurance firms make. So I Googled and found the following:

  • Ronald A. Williams, Chair/ CEO, Aetna Inc., makes $23,045,834 annually.
  • H. Edward Hanway, Chair/ CEO, Cigna Corp, makes $30.16 million annually.
  • David B. Snow, Jr, Chair/ CEO, Medco Health, $21.76 million annually.

While it is true that an average person has a hard time getting his or her mind around what millions of dollars are like for a yearly income, breaking an annual salary down to an hourly rate makes easier to understand. Mr. Williams makes $11,079 per hour, Mr. Hanway makes $14,500 per hour, and Mr. Snow makes $10,461 per hour. That means that Mr. Hanway will make $580,000 per week. If he gets paid on the 15 and the 30 of each month, which means his payroll check would be before taxes, $1,256,666.60 twice a month. Old Ned Ludd and the Luddites were not quite as fortunate as these 21st century Luddites are for their health insurance companies.

Luddites are out attempting to sabotage the president's health care program with their death panel debate. Obama is going to set up this Auschwitz like situation so that we can cull through those that are older and suggest that they let nature take its course and die. Luddite, Sarah Palin, said, "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society' whether they are worthy of health care."

While there are not death panels planned by the Obama administration, there are death panels already that kill about 16,000 people who are without insurance. Had they had healthcare many would have survived.

Why do the political Luddites, members of Congress, relish their healthcare insurance but won't share it with those that elected them? Am I the only person that sees an ethical question about this?

Over 40-years ago, I finished graduate school in 1968 and took an additional year of study in Scotland. I wanted that extra year of graduate schooling and where else would a Campbell go...other than his great, great grandparents' homeland? So it went to school at the University of Edinburgh. However, before I attended my first class, I had to register with a physician. Mind you, this was over 40-years ago. Great Britain had a nationalized healthcare system then and still does. So like an obedient overseas student, I went to a local doctor near the university. I filled out a couple of forms and then sat and talked to the doctor.

The doctor explained their system and told me that I was covered. I quickly corrected him. I told him that I was only going to be there for two semesters as a student. I further explained that I did not have a job while going to school in Scotland and was not paying taxes for healthcare from my wages. I assured him that I wouldn't be covered and wasn't asking to be. After I expressed myself, he said that we needed to talk about it.

The doctor first corrected me. I was under their healthcare system. I told him again that I was just there for the academic year of 1968-9, and that I was not even working in Scotland while in school. He was quite affable but blunt. It didn't matter. I was in Britain, and I was covered. He talked about their responsibility and duty to all that were within their shores. He talked about my human rights to health care at an affordable price. After his friendly but firm little talk, I left confused. I was studying overseas in a foreign nation, but they were responsible to provide for me just like they do for their people.

It took weeks for me partially to fathom my Scottish doctor's lecture. He was talking as if this issue was a moral responsibility to care for people. Period. My mind mulled over my mental discomfort attempting to process this strange idea about healthcare. They believed and still do that healthcare was for all who lived there. It was exactly how we feel in America about the right to vote or freedom of speech. It was for them a given...all people in their country have the right to affordable health care. I don't know if this is good to bring up considering most Americans' opinion of illegal immigrants-I don't think they'd say that just because they're in our borders, they should be covered. It seems like it's such a stretch for people to think all citizens should be covered-this throws an even more questionable issue into the mix.

Ned Ludd and the Luddites are amassed in America, but the times are a changing. They can't stop progress. The Luddites of the past didn't win, and neither will these new age Luddites who wish to stay and not change.

The last thing my doctor said was that he knew that coming from the States, I wouldn't pick up this insight quickly, but that I and the rest of America needed to understand healthcare sooner or later. It did take me weeks to grasp the notion that healthcare was for them an inalienable right like freedoms we view the freedom of speech, worship, vote, etc. Since 1968, I have been totally convinced that he was correct and I, along with the rest of America, was wrong. While I woke up, many in America are still wrong-even with four decades to think about it correctly.

Finally, we have a president that is courageous enough to deal with this issue head-on. I was convinced that Obama was going to be nominated as the Democratic Party's candidate and that the American people would elect him as our president. I am equally convinced that he will sign a healthcare act for the American people...for those with ever increasingly costly health care insurance and for the 40-50 million without health care insurance. Congress, a place with their own healthcare insurance, will pass it.

And we can all once again sing the song, Ned Ludd, while remembering the bad old days of the old system and the present-day Luddites:

They said Ned Ludd was an idiot boy
That all he could do was wreck and destroy, and
He turned to his workmates and said: Death to Machines
They tread on our future and they stamp on our dreams.

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Obama Signing the Affordable Care Act

Visit the Obamacare page to read more about this topic.

Forrest Gump Film Poster

Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does."

Visit the Stupid is As Stupid Does page to read more about this topic.