gilbert-raiford-web.jpgConservatives have succeeded in making healthcare a commodity, a service bought and sold in the same manner as legal services. Those who can afford the best receive the best and the converse is also true. While this practice is consistent with capitalism, it is totally inconsistent with commonsense and common morality.

If they are allowed to have their way, Medicaid and Medicare will be abolished and people who cannot afford life-saving medical care will suffer dearly.

Yet, commonsense dictates that we cannot have a healthy society if segments of that society are unhealthy. Simply, the best healthcare in the world will not insulate us from airborne diseases carried by an unhealthy neighbor, associate or others in public areas.

Healthcare is a national issue, not just a personal one. It is an issue in which everybody has an important stake. Moreover, the immorality of denying healthcare to less fortunate Americans is inconsistent with our democratic and espoused religious values. It is also inconsistent with nation-building and nation-maintenance. Other countries seem to understand this.

In fact, universal healthcare is a right in every industrialized nation in the world – but not in the U.S. Once the world’s highest ranked nation in life expectancy, we now rank 38th. The island nation of Martinique ranks among the top 20.

America has some of the best healthcare specialists in the world (if you can pay for their services), yet our overall healthcare system rates lower than those in Costa Rica, Chile and Columbia.

Conservatives get away with their damaging immorality because Americans are easily misled. We live and thrive on clichés and illusions. Perception has become more important than truth.

Contrary to the evidence, we still believe we are number-one in every category relating to standard of living. The average citizen has never traveled to another country or researched and examined the quality of life in other nations. Furthermore, the average citizen is not interested in foreign news and even fails to pay close attention to national news and, thus, knows little about the world around us.

Conservatives take advantage of this ignorance and lack of exposure. For example, they succeeded in convincing Americans that universal healthcare is bad for the country, bad for our sense of individual freedom, claiming President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan forces them to buy insurance. At the same time, they fail to recognize that their paycheck stubs show they already pay for insurance. Did they agree to this? It happens and they accept it. Did Americans have a say on the mandatory automobile insurance we are forced to buy? It happens and quietly we pay it.

Americans need to know that Medicare is not welfare. It is insurance, an insurance all workers are forced to buy, even working teenagers who do not qualify for Medicare, no matter how sick they become, before age 65.

Cutting Medicare would be tantamount to reducing the benefits without reducing the premium, which would be both illegal and immoral.

Someone once said, and I thoroughly agree, “In a Democracy, people get the government they deserve.” Think about it.

Gilbert L. Raiford is semi-retired after a career in teaching and working for the U.S. Department of State. He may be reached at