The World Watches as Americans Make Fools of Themselves

How can the richest country in the world look so dumb? There used to be a saying, “If you’re so smart why ain’t you rich?” Today a more relevant question would be, “If you’re so rich why ain’t you smart?”

debateI am sure that many Americans are intelligent. Renowned universities abound in the USA, and American scholars frequently win international awards. Besides, American CEOs make hundreds of millions of dollars. How dumb is that? But when it comes to public debate, the United States is the laughing stock of the world.

Even the most illiterate “countryman” in the backwoods of Mocco Mountain would laugh out loud at the “health care debate” under way in America. I would like to see one of those PR geniuses in Washington try to convince the most unschooled Jamaican that government-provided health insurance would be a bad thing, and that it would result in “killing off old people.”

And I can’t see Jamaican politicians holding those ridiculous “town hall” meetings where the PR companies can stage bizarre “made for TV” protests. Well, maybe the first town hall meeting, but not the second or third. You know what they say, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Even the most simple-minded creatures learn by experience.

With their weird costumes, swastikas, devil’s horns and nonsensical placards, the “protesters” look like characters in a pantomime. How can anyone take them seriously? And how can anyone not laugh at the outlandish charges by conservative “commentators” who claim that the President of the United States is a racist, a Nazi, the reincarnation of Hitler and a Marxist all at the same time?

With the absurd non-arguments and total irrelevancies cluttering up the health care “debate” in the United States, it’s a refreshing change to read a calm and dispassionate assessment written by an outside observer. And I recommend this column by Keeble McFarlane (photo below) in today’s Jamaica Observer:

Here’s a brief excerpt from McFarlane’s column:

keebleNow that the legislators have begun the task of coming up with a solution, the usual suspects have swung into action. And the picture is not pretty. For the health insurance industry and Big Pharma – the popular description of the drug industry – the status quo is just fine and they have opened the financial taps to make sure it stays that way. They have hired former legislators and legislative staffers to lobby members of Congress against breaking up the dolly-house. Over the years they have shoveled millions upon millions of dollars to finance the campaigns of many of those self-same representatives and senators they are now lobbying. They are laying out millions more to campaign in the media and elsewhere against any meaningful change in the US health care system.

The techniques are the same ones they have employed every time the question has been raised, and they trot out the same old bogeymen to frighten off the unenlightened. The favorites include the specter of ‘socialism’, ‘government control’ and ‘bureaucrats coming between you and your doctor’. The TV ads negatively compare the health care systems of France, Britain and Canada, among other places, which have public health care systems. They trot out examples of people who have to wait for elective surgery or expensive modern treatments like MRIs or CAT scans. These people are not above employing grotesque distortions and even outright lies in their take-no-prisoners campaign.

If – sitting in his office in Jamaica – McFarlane can see through the razzmatazz so easily, why do so many American media commentators seem befuddled?  Is it that they don’t want to recognize the truth? Or is it that they have an interest in confusing the public? Does confusion build TV and radio audiences and sell newspapers?

Or do their corporate bosses insist that they “tell the other side of the story” however absurd and untrue the “other side” might be?