A Poker Run for Danny, 10 am Saturday as a form of Socialized Medical Care.

The name has been intentionally altered.

The name has been intentionally altered.

There seems to be a number of  willfully misinformed people who continue to insist that Socialism is solely a political system. A system imposed by an Authoritarian structure. Well, in its most complex incarnation that is a completely factual assessment.

But socialism (small “s”) fundamentally, is a group in which each person contributes what they can, so that all are supported as necessary.

By way of example: When Widder Walkins needs a barn raised, because her man was crushed dead felling trees for lumber; her neighbors get together and do the job for her. They don’t do it because they benefit directly. Some might. But most do it because it is the human and humane thing to do.

And as part of the social contract (which is the part that seems to be getting lost in the shuffle, so to speak) the good Widder will do her part in the future, when Gladys Mays needs help with that new baby’s teethin’ or Macon Tally comes down with the influenza and needs some chicken soup delivered to his bedside.

If these people don’t help each other, by neglect or by refusal, eventually they will all stumble and fall. Some, if not all, will perish. They will fail to thrive individually and as a community, because there are too many hardships for each to bear alone. Without a loose communal or tribal support structure to help them in times of need, they will, without question or exception, come up short somewhere along the line.

So lately, to satisfy my own morbid curiosity, I have been taking a loose count of the number of local requests for help with medical expenses through individual and community actions. These would include: Poker Runs, Cycle Runs, Bar-B-Que Dinners, Church fundraisers, Bake Sales, plastic jars on the counters of locally owned gas stations, posters on store windows and so on. This, by the way, does not include formally organized requests (i.e. recognized charities or non-profits) or those found in the newspaper or on the Internet.

In my very small range of territory (20 miles or so) I estimate that there is at least one fundraiser every 2 miles in any direction within a 360 degree radius. Now granted we are not talking an infinite number of points leading outward from me. (See, I’ll even admit I’m not the absolute center of the universe). But yesterday I took note of two local stores, a church, a fire station and a fruit stand all within 4 miles of me. There were 6 requests. That’s on 2 roads. I live in a very rural area, in one of the least populated parts of this county.

As I see it, allowing someone a little more savvy and organized than Henry Lee down at the Stop and Shop to manage and distribute that money allows for a number of positive things to occur:

  • Henry Lee can go back to shilling for the Stop and Shop instead of working for Suzie’s parents, keeping track of the money bucket, taking phone calls, answering questions and the like. He can work for himself as a shop keeper, rather than working for every underinsured or uninsured family in crisis.
  • Suzie’s parents can go to one place to request help. They don’t have to rely on the generosity of their neighbors who may be in worse shape than they are. They won’t have to worry that Henry Lee won’t keep an eye on the till so that drunken lout George Sacks, can’t pilfer through it and drink away the last hope for their daughter’s treatment.

There are some who are so set against any entity larger than a gas station collecting and using their money for the common good that they would rather cut off their noses to spite their faces.

Following this masochistic path to its logical conclusion, let’s say if these folks don’t want to participate they should be allowed to opt out. They will pay no more monies (taxes, surcharges, user’s fees) that are collected and utilized for a collective good. (read also as: lower costs for everyone participating because greater participation lowers costs)  In doing so, most will opt out of use of systems and lifestyles that utilize:

Fire departments

Water and sewer use and maintenance

Trash collection

Postal delivery

Police protection

Clean air

Clean water

Meat inspection

Paved roads

Traffic signage and signals

Structurally sound buildings with safety features like emergency egress and fire suppression, along with handicap access.

Public education

Elevator safety and inspection

Driver’s licenses

Public libraries

Public hospitals that treat everyone, regardless of ability to pay

So in the end, these folks suggest, by logical extension, that they can live in a poorly built shack with no lights, air conditioning, refrigeration, or running water. They will use an outhouse, heat and cook with wood, walk to get food from their garden or the nearby woods (as available), hunt their meat, burn or bury their waste, never travel on paved roads to any towns or cities and be utterly illiterate, uneducated and unemployable.

I can see that working out for them.

Interestingly some of the people I hear howling the loudest about creeping socialism are Medicaid recipients or have parents on Medicaid or Medicare and who literally could not survive without government assisted prescription coverage. Some work for state, local or county governments or the postal service, have cushy jobs and sponsored benefits like health insurance. Benefits and jobs that my taxes pay for. Go figure.

Some folks will say that they will gladly chip in and help others in need; so it’s not the collectivistic aspect that bothers them. They claim the problem is having a government run program. All the while failing to consider that our government is made up of people who elect representation to develop, run and maintain these very programs.

As long as we are a Democratic Republic we are a collective of people who run the country through representation. If we were simply a Democracy, them with the most votes would get their way. But we are not a democracy. Our system is designed to consider those who are so weak and so powerless that their voices get lost in the crowd. Like Suzie’s parents, who need help paying for her medical treatments. Or like Margaret in Hospice or Wanda with lymphoma or the half a dozen folks whose names, faces and personal tragedies are plastered on plastic buckets in the Stop and Shop or on a 5 foot sign in front of the local volunteer fire department that reads: Poker Run for Danny, starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday.