Public-radio host Garrison Keillor isn’t just convinced that NPR saves the lives of outraged right-wingers in heavy traffic. He also believes that socialists are the forces of Christmas, and for conservatives to oppose the nationalization of health care is just like opposing the message of Christmas. His latest anti-conservative screed appeared at The New York Times website:
Christmas is one of the bulwarks of Life As We Know It, and in these parlous times we cling to its classic truth, which is: Rejoice, be not afraid, and show mercy to the poor and outcast, for it was through such people that Jesus came into the world. Dickens' ancient novella, written in a big rush because he was low on cash, is on the silver screen again, and Scrooge is moved by the Spirits to share the wealth with his downtrodden clerk.
Meanwhile, the truth of Christmas is tested in Washington as we move toward some sort of semi-universal health care against the near-unanimous opposition of Republicans. Given the chance to be shepherds or angels, they chose instead to be Herod. Spooked by the victory of Barack Obama, they decided to fight him on all fronts, even though Americans will die as a result.
Keillor then trotted out the favored liberal estimate from the American Journal of Public Health that 45,000 people die each year from a lack of health insurance. From there he mocked "Saint Ronald" for insisting government is inferior to the free market in providing services:
The big lie that Republicans have inflicted on us, starting with St. Ronald, is that government is a morass of inefficiency, and private enterprise is the Enlightenment. (Republicans have practically disappeared from the Snow Belt. I just point this out.) My own experience is that when I go to get a new driver's license in St. Paul, or deal with the city inspector when a sewage line breaks, or walk into a post office to mail letters, or talk to the police when our house alarm goes off, I find public employees to be cheerful and competent and highly professional, and when I go for blood draws at Quest Diagnostics, a national for-profit chain of medical labs, I find myself in tiny, dingy offices run by low-wage immigrant health workers who speak incomprehensible English and are rude to customers and take forever to do a routine procedure. An hour in a Quest office will ruin your whole day.
If the government took over this miserable operation, paid the people decently and trained them to smile and speak softly to the clientele, civilization would be advanced. If we simply extended Medicare to anyone who wished to sign up for it, the vast Kafkaesque bureaucracy of for-profit insurance would come crashing down, and the public would be healthier.
Instead, Democrats fashioned a patchwork plan, trying to meet the objections of Republicans, who then opposed it anyway as socialistic. As long as any sort of reform is going to be attacked as socialistic, why not go ahead and be socialistic, just as Social Security is. It is Big Government and runs pretty well, and I don't see many Republicans calling for it to be privatized. Mr. Obama needs to learn that it is a foolish goose who attends the foxes' church. Don't worry about bipartisanship, please. Just do what's right.