Betsy Robinson, author of funny literary stories about flawed people, is a perpetual seeker of truth.

From books to music to theater and fine art, from online TV to DVDs, this blog takes a look at current culture through a spiritual perspective — with a touch of humor.

Materials under the "review" tag are a mix of free review copies (books, DVDs, etc.) in exchange for a review, to library copies, to materials and tickets I've paid for.


A Really Bad Hair Day (Feb. 13 blog)

The Art of Collapsing (Feb. 6 blog)

Life is only temporary says Evan Handler (Jan. 28 blog)

The New World of Finance (Jan. 28 blog)

All about growing up in a cult (April 16 blog)

Fierce Giving (Jan. 8 blog)

(Copyright © 2008-2014 Betsy Robinson. All rights reserved)

Notes from a Crusty Seeker

Socialized Medicine, Compassion, and Life — Oh No!

June 12, 2009

Tags: compassionate wisdom, healing, Cost Cutting, review

Last night I watched Sicko, Michael Moore’s documentary about our health-care system. A guy at the grassroots Health Care Organizing Kickoff meeting last weekend referenced it a few times, and since I missed it when it was in theaters, I got it at the New York Public Library. This required asking for it, receiving an email when it arrived at my local branch, strolling over, showing my library card, and walking out without paying any money. This is because the public library is a government-funded social program, allowing even unemployed people like me access to free information. It seems to work awfully well.

A block up from my library is my local fire department. They are a government-funded social program that seems to work awfully well.

Last weekend, a guy on my block had a very loud party late at night. I dialed 311 and a courteous government-paid employee took my noise complaint and dispatched a member of our socialized law enforcement department to quell the din. It worked awfully well.

I’d thought Sicko was going to be a diatribe about our lousy heath-care-if-you-can-afford-it system, and I was quite surprised to see that the majority of the film showed compassionate doctors and satisfied patients in France and the UK and Canada. When asked how much money care cost, they either laughed or looked befuddled and then responded, with polite horror, that they wouldn’t want to work or live in a system that allowed people to die if they couldn’t afford to pay.

Although it seems like yesterday, many years ago my beloved hometown switched from subway tokens to Metrocards. Lots of New Yorkers said that the change was too big; it wouldn’t work. We survived it quite well.

Today our entire nation is switching from analog TV to digital. I’m guessing we’ll survive it.

Socialized medicine, a one-payer plan, compassion for all human beings — whatever you want to call it, I have a sneaking suspicion we could survive it very well.

P.S. What if the fire department asked for a credit card before they would come put out a fire?

What if we got a bill from the police department after we were rescued from a mugging, and when we protested the amount, we were told "Well, you didn't have pre-approval; had you notified us ahead of time, we would have covered half the fee."

Now in that context, consider that when we call for an ambulance, we are then presented with a bill, and if we protest it, the insurance company, which requires preapproval, says ...


  1. June 14, 2009 8:30 PM EDT
    Betsy, how dare you speak plain common sense, let alone simple moral truth!? Science fiction couldn't be as weird as the thinking of the Right on this subject. There truly are different breeds of human, and I hope for the sake of future generations that we eventually outnumber the aliens (Obama's election gave me hope, but there's still so far to go...).
    - Brent Robison
  2. June 16, 2009 1:59 PM EDT
    Thanks, Brent. For you, or anybody who's interested, the Organizing for America people (Obama's grassroots organizing arm) is asking for a "Health Care Day of Service" on June 27th. You can do anything. The idea is that it will be a display of caring, rather than trying to combat anti-reform energy with anger. You can learn more at the link at the top of this blog.
    - Betsy Robinson
  3. June 17, 2009 1:06 PM EDT
    What I love about Betsy's piece is that it points out all the things we already depend on government for and are mostly pleased to do so. It's fashionable to say, "Who wants the government handling that?" But the real question is what makes for a livable society.
    - ROS
  4. August 1, 2009 1:14 PM EDT
    Paul Krugman does his usual job of making sense of a complex and misunderstood (misrepresented) topic in today's column:
    - ROS
  5. April 22, 2010 12:46 PM EDT
    I understand that there was a lot of screaming "Socialists! Commies!" when Social Security was started. One of the problems is that we are so blind (by choice) & ignorant. Most Americans don't know what Socialism or Communism theory is - it's just something to be hated & feared. The socialism in our own government, as Betsy has pointed out, WORKS! And we should be grateful. Thank you for your thoughtfulness in your posting.
    - Melodie

Selected Works

Big Moose Prize-winning novel
a funny, sometimes sad, story of negotiating life without a clue

New on Kindle--a funny book for foodies who are committed to self-change through self-awareness
an epistolary memoir ... sort of
A funny and moving little book for anyone who's had a mother or struggled with being human.
anthology of stories and plays
includes Darleen Dances and stories below

1-act play

short story
the problem with worrying about the future

true story
Why I don't believe in death.

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