[T]he administration and its allies, without being candid about what is afoot, are trying to put the nation on a glide path to a "single-payer" — entirely government-run — system.
— George Will,
"Reconciliation's Slippery Path"
Obama’s campaign to overhaul or “reform” the medical industry is being carried on with extremes of demagogy, propaganda, and bullying rarely seen in our history. They do however have precedent in demagogic campaigns of the past. Autocrats run true to form, and tend to resort to the same tricks, gimmicks and maneuvers time after time.
The drive for ObamaCare closely resembles Stalin’s
campaign for the “collectivization of agriculture” in the
Although the program was designed to affect all peasants, Stalin in particular sought to eliminate the wealthiest peasants, known as kulaks. Generally, kulaks were only marginally better off than other peasants, but the party claimed that the kulaks had ensnared the rest of the peasantry in capitalistic relationships.
Much as Stalin used the kulaks, Obama and his minions have used doctors, insurance companies, drug companies, and other elements of the medical field as scapegoats to justify their “reform,” meaning, a complete takeover of every component of the medical field.
Advantage of scapegoating
One reason Stalin relied on a scapegoat was that the ordinary citizen could relate more easily to such a struggle than to abstract notions of economics and Marxist theory:
[T]he naming of the kulak enemy satisfied the Marxist [i.e., anti-capitalist] preconceptions of the Party activist. It presented a flesh-and-blood foe accursed by history; and such a target made for a far more satisfactory campaign than mere abstract organizational change.
Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow. 1986.
Similarly, the identifying of capitalist enemies presents a flesh-and-blood foe for proponents of ObamaCare, who consider that such a target makes for a far more satisfactory campaign than mere abstract organizational change:
Our ability to put the extremists into perspective helps us frame our narrative. We should be prepared to respond to the other side, but we don’t need to . . . feel pressure to answer their accusations point by point. Instead, we should treat them as agents of the insurance lobbyists who want to maintain the status quo. — http://healthcareforamericanow.org/site/fight
Who are Obama's chosen kulaks? The Chamber of Commerce, Fox News, and others, but mainly:
Doctors were the first scapegoat chosen by ObamaCare proponents, soon followed by insurance companies. Some examples of Obama’s scapegoat rhetoric :
Right now doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that’s out there. So . . . you come in and you’ve got a bad sore throat or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, “You know, what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out."
Let’s take the example of something like diabetes . . . [I]f a family care physician works with his or her patient to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they’re taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that’s 30,000, 40, 50,000 dollars immediately the surgeon is reimbursed.
Well, why not make sure that we’re also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation? Right? That will save us money.
· Insurance companies
Insurance companies are demonized for denying medical insurance to people who are already sick (“pre-existing conditions”) and for charging some people more than others based on their demographic data. Harry Reid, that silver-tongued orator, called the insurance companies “evil-mongers.” Democrats like Pelosi have kept up a barrage of rhetorical attacks:
I’m very pleased that (Democratic leaders) will be talking, too, about the immoral profits being made by the insurance industry and how those profits have increased in the Bush years.”
It’s almost immoral what they are doing. Of course they’ve been immoral all along in how they have treated the people that they insure. . . They are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening. — http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE56T4CZ20090730
So has Obama:
The insurance industry is . . . filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.... It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus.
It’s bogus, man. In fact, it’s “fishy.” That kind of juvenile rhetoric is the argument of a crank or demagogue, someone with an axe of his own to grind. In fact, it is the rhetoric of a nutty “Seinfeld” character:
The Seinfeld faux doctor says:
See, unfortunately, the medical establishment is a business like any other business. And business needs customers. And they want to sell you their most expensive item, which is unnecessary surgery. . . .
You see it’s in the best interest of the medical profession that you remain sick.... You’re not a patient, you’re a customer.
The Crisis Mentality
A ruler seeking to overthrow a fundamental aspect of a people’s way of life needs a proportionately drastic pretext. The proper crisis lays the groundwork for identifying a scapegoat, creating an atmosphere in which the people are more willing to accept upheaval in society. Stalin’s designated crisis was a shortage in grain procurement by the State.
At the beginning of 1928 there came a grain crisis – or rather what appeared in the minds of the leadership to be a grain crisis. In fact, it was no more than a temporary disequilibrium in the grain market, easily correctible if normal measures had been applied. (Conquest p.87)
In other words, there were agricultural difficulties, which were in themselves manageable, but which could be hyped and escalated into a crisis to serve propagandistic purposes. Stalin took the opportunistic attitude, “Never let a crisis go to waste”:
[Stalin] added . . . that the blame lay primarily on the ‘kulak’, and that ‘the solution lies in the transition from individual peasant farming to collective, socially conducted agriculture’ and a ‘struggle against the capitalist elements of the peasantry, against the kulaks’. (Conquest p.89)
That is, the solution to his manufactured problem was the policy he had wanted all along – a transition from the private market to state-controlled agriculture.
Similarly, we have a crisis in “spiraling health costs” and the uninsured ill:
We are told the uninsured are dropping like flies:
More than 44,000 Americans die every year - 122 every day - due to lack of health insurance.
That’s the startling finding of a new study - Health Insurance and Mortality in U.S. Adults - that appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
According to ObamaCare proponents, the blame lies primarily on the insurance companies, and the solution lies in the transition from individualistic medical care and insurance to collective, government-provided medicine, accomplished by a struggle against the capitalist elements of the medical industry. In other words, the solution is just what our leftists have wanted for decades.
In blaming his crisis on the kulaks, Stalin was undeterred by one glaring fact: the kulaks scarcely existed. As Conquest notes,
In the first place, the kulak in the sense of a rich exploiting peasant against whom the rest would make war, was by  a more or less mythical figure. (Conquest p.45)
The kulaks were the villain in a trumped-up class war fought over a phony crisis. Stalin attempted to stir up enmity between the poor and middle peasants on one side, and the putatively rich, greedy kulaks on the other. Conquest quotes Bolshevik leader Sverdlov, speaking to the Central Executive Committee:
We must place before ourselves most seriously the problem of dividing the village by classes, of creating in it two opposite hostile camps, setting the poorest layers of the population against the kulak elements. (Conquest p.46)
A specious class war is also being used to advance ObamaCare. Opponents are smeared as operatives of the insurance industry and members of the upper, oppressive classes. Barbara Boxer and Chris Matthews agreed that ObamaCare opponents were disgustingly middle-class:
Matthews: Everywhere a congressperson holds a meeting, apparently, these people show up. Well-dressed, middle-class people in pinks and limes if you will. . . . They’ve been called the Brooks Brothers Brigade.
. . .[T]hese people look pretty well-off. They don’t look like rich people but they certainly are not poor people demanding health care. Apparently they have what they want, they don’t want it touched. . . .
Boxer: The last time I saw well-dressed people doing this, was when
Al Gore asked me to go down to
Matthews: Do you think the health insurance companies that have made money for years on health care are the bad guys here? Do you think they’re behind these . . . Brooks Brothers attacks on these congressional meetings?
Scapegoats, a phony crisis and a trumped-up class war are being used to facilitate a pre-selected policy. That parallels collectivization, where
Far more than the class struggle, the central issue was by now the abolition of the peasant’s right to sell his grain, and the battle simply to seize it in the name of the state. (Conquest p.46)
This confirms the real logic of the collective farm as that the peasant continued to perform the labour of agricultural production, but no longer had even temporary control of his output. (Conquest p.183)
The criterion [i.e., objective], in fact, was merely the abolition of market relationships. (Conquest p.48)
In our country, the central issue is the abolition of the doctor’s and insurance companies’ right to sell their services, and the battle simply to seize their work in the name of the state. The purpose of ObamaCare is quite simply, the abolition of market relationships in medical care.
One last example of the exercise of total power: in order to force peasants into the collectives,
Every form of pressure was applied
to them . . . at the
That’s the kind of leverage total control gives the State.
Obama and Stalin
Stalin didn’t care what the people thought; his ideology ordained that there could be no “individualist” farmers, and he was determined to bring that about. Similarly, our Congress and Obama don’t care what the people think; their ideology or orthodoxy deplores “individualist” medical workers – all must be collectivized, enlisted in the state collective effort. No more than Stalin are the Democrats willing to take No for an answer.
But there are differences between collectivization and ObamaCare. Obama doesn’t have the total power, nor the bloodthirsty ruthlessness of Stalin. There will be no Gulags for opponents of ObamaCare.
But Obama has, if not a thug mentality, a finagling and manipulative mentality. He intends to put one over on the American people, and get what he wants by deceptive rhetoric and bullying tactics. He’s not a murderous autocrat like Stalin, but in his own realm, and to the extent of his powers, his mindset is the same.
Part 2: A selection of secondary parallels
Controlling the press
It's easier to put your policies over and create the climate of opinion you want, if you have a monopoly of the media. Stalin certainly had that, dating from the earliest days of the U.S.S.R. The state had complete control over Pravda, Izvestia, and other state-controlled media.
To really manipulate the populace, a unified voice with no niggling dissent or voice of sanity is best. Obama can only aspire to such a happy state. David Limbaugh gave a brief rundown of administration attacks on Fox:
Obama singled Fox out as "entirely devoted to attacking my administration." Rahm Emanuel said it's "not a news organization so much as it has a perspective." David Axelrod said, "It's really not news; it's pushing a point of view." Axelrod implored ABC's George Stephanopoulos and his network "not to treat (Fox) as a news organization." [emphasis added]
— David Limbaugh, "Barack's Enemies List"
"The reality of it is FOX News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party.... What I think is fair to say about FOX, and certainly the way we view it, is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party.... And that's fine, but let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."
– Anita Dunn, Obama’s Communications Director
Obama attempted to ban Fox News from "pool" reporting, until other the networks resisted. But when questioned in an NBC News interview about his anti-Fox maneuvers, Obama brazened it out: he tried to change the subject and then simply reiterated his accusations:
I think the
American people are a lot more interested in what we're doing to create jobs,
or how we're handling the situation in
I think that what out advisers have simply said is, is that we are going to take media as it comes and if media is operating basically as a talk-radio format, then that's one thing, and if it's operating as a news outlet then that's another. But it's not something I'm losing a lot of sleep over.
People demonstrating against ObamaCare in what are called “Tea Parties” have also been attacked, in remarks like this:
is funded by the high end; we call it AstroTurf, it's
not really a grass-roots movement. It's AstroTurf by
some of the wealthiest people in
— Speaker Nancy Pelosi
And Obama issued a generalized proscription, gag order, or instruction to shut up, to anybody who might oppose his plans, in these words:
"But I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking."
Obama is probably the first President who felt justified in just telling all his opponents to shut up.
Promises, Promises: The Rosy Scenario
Another parallel to collectivization is the outlandish, unfounded claims made for the ostensible cure. Stalin and his henchmen made unwarranted optimistic predictions about what collective, socialized farming would accomplish. Apart from being "the Marxist way," collectivized agriculture was held to be the efficient way:
[A] most important justification runs that small-scale farming is unproductive, so that either large-scale socialist farms or large-scale capitalist farms are inevitable.
— The Harvest of Sorrow.
Stalin was insouciant about the difficulties peasants would face as a result of appropriations of grain. He said,
Are the peasants capable of bearing this burden? They
undoubtedly are: firstly because this burden will grow lighter from year to
year, and secondly, because this additional tax is being levied . . . under
Soviet conditions, when exploitation of the peasants by the
But the rosy scenario soon wilted, and in fact collectivization never had a chance of improving output:
Collectivization destroyed about 25 per cent of the productive capacity of Soviet agriculture. . . . There seems little doubt that the main issue was simply crushing the peasantry at any cost. One high official [said] that the 1933 harvest 'was a test of our strength and their endurance. It took a famine to show them who is master here. It has cost millions of lives, but the collective farm system is here to stay. We have won the war.'
— The Great Terror
Nor was it merely a matter of economics. A whole way of life had been destroyed and replaced by one felt to be vastly inferior.
— The Harvest of Sorrow
(Here’s hoping we won’t have occasion to say the same thing, sometime post-ObamaCare.)
Our rosy scenario is a set of mutually incompatible promises: care for everyone, better care, no tax increases, lower costs:
For all the chatter and the yelling and the shouting and the noise, what you need to know is this. . . If you do have health insurance, we will make sure that no insurance company or government bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.
– Obama, speech
needs the carrot as well as the stick, to put a policy over. Here are some of
the lies or optimistic promises used by Obama's administration, as enumerated
in "What Are Liberals’ Broken Promises on Health Care Reform?" The
Heritage Foundation (www.askheritage.org),
· There will be transparency in the law-making process.
· The bill won't add a dime to the deficit.
· If you like the coverage you have you can keep it.
· The bill won't cut benefits for seniors.
· The bill won't raise taxes on those earning less than $250,000.
· It will save American families $2500 a year.
· The government plan won't cover abortions or illegal immigrants.
A Simple Solution Was Available
In The Harvest of Sorrow, Conquest reports,
Regardless of the form of agriculture, there seems little doubt that output could have been raised by fairly simple methods. Steel plows substituted for the five million wooden plows still in use;the better use of seed; and similar measures taken in other countries, would have proved very effective.
I.e., Stalin didn't need to uproot the whole society; simpler, easier solutions to the "bread crisis" were always available. But Stalin just wanted that particular upheaval.
Similarly, we don't need a complete government takeover of the medical industry; Obama and his cohorts want it, and have always wanted it. This is a chosen, discretionary class war.
There are common sense health care reforms we can agree and will not cost the taxpayer a thing. We don't have to have the government take over the whole system to fix what is specifically wrong with the system. That is like pulling all of your teeth when you have a toothache.
And this dialog took place on
the “Rush Limbaugh Show,”
Rush: We could. . . . [T]he real number of people who want health insurance and can’t afford it is 12 million. We could insure those 12 million every year for thirty-five or forty billion dollars. So the question, Why not do that? Because that’s not what this is about. That’s how they’re selling it. . . . But that’s not what this is about. This is about seizing one-sixth of the private sector and putting it in control of liberal democrats. Health care, national health care is the simple fastest way to regulate every aspect of everyone’s life in this country.
They could take a Section VIII approach to the uninsured or un-medicated – give vouchers, and don't just take over the entire housing industry.
Bracket Creep Among Scapegoats
The class war against “kulaks” inevitably was expanded to repress the peasantry at large, since the goal was to force them all into collective farms. The peasants saw it coming:
Poor peasants too, as official reports tell us, would say . . . 'now they are confiscating bread from the kulak; tomorrow they will turn against the poor and middle peasant.'
The Harvest of Sorrow, p.98
And as reported in The Gulag Archipelago:
Subsequently, after 1917, by a transfer of meaning, the name kulak began to be applied . . . to all those who in any way hired workers, even if it was only when they were temporarily short of working hands in their own families. . . .
But the inflation of this scathing term kulak proceeded relentlessly, and by 1930 all strong peasants in general were being so called—all peasants strong in management, strong in work, or even strong merely in convictions. The term kulak was used to smash the strength of the peasantry. . . .
Similarly, the ranks of “the rich” who will be taxed to pay for ObamaCare are already starting to expand. For one thing, people whose employers provide so-called "Cadillac insurance plans" worth above $8000 (for single person) will have a 40% tax levied on them. This tax on "Cadillac plans" will inevitably catch more and more people in its net. Here's Neil Cavuto interviewing Senator Lieberman on Fox Business Channel:
Cavuto: Do you think that the real eye-opener for a lot of your colleagues, Senator, was this so-called Cadillac-plan tax feature, where, turns out that if you're driving a Camry you're stuck with this. In other words, that you don't have to have what you think is a wealthy plan, to be considered having a wealthy plan.
Lieberman: It's very interesting that although this may have come up with the idea of getting the rich people, who have the so-called Cadillac plans, some of the biggest opponents of it are labor unions, who have fought for and won pretty good health insurance plans for their members.
So union factory workers will be included among those with “Cadillac” plans.
Iatrogenic Disease: They Break Your Legs, Then Sell You Crutches
Another parallel between the collectivization of agriculture and our collectivization of medicine is that the original "problem" or crisis was caused by the government to begin with. The grain crisis was supposedly not only a matter of low production, but also of grain hoarding by the peasants – that is, the peasants were supposedly refusing to turn over the stipulated amounts of foodstuffs to the State, an act of rebellion. But it too was largely a concocted story; the "temporary disequilibrium" had been caused by the state itself, by its appropriation of the fruits of the peasants' labor:
In fact the peasantry was simply reacting normally to the market situation, to the unrealistically low grain process set by the state. . . .
For the party was seizing grain which had been produced for profit under supposedly guaranteed market conditions. The seizures provided the state with the grain it wanted. But it demonstrated to the agricultural producers that market conditions could no longer be relied on: so the economic incentive to produce, already shaken, was largely destroyed. . . .
But the more prosperous peasants had indeed taken fright. Some planted less, others sold up their property. For by now prices did not even cover the cost of production. . .
— The Harvest of Sorrow
Similarly, prices paid to doctors and hospitals by Medicare, often don't cover their “cost of production,” their labor and overhead. The payment schedules of government bureaucracy have created "disequilibrium" in our medical field.
Another parallel is the brute-force tactics that have been used against insurance companies. Various state governments have driven up the cost of insurance by ordering insurance companies to insure the already-sick ("guaranteed issue") and to insure everybody, regardless of their personal characteristics, at the same premium rates ("community pricing"). In addition, they have imposed mandates that insurance companies cover a host of specific illnesses and treatments.
In short, they have forbidden medical-insurance companies to operate as actual insurance entities, working by the genuine insurance business model, based on actuarial statistics and calculated risk. Now the companies are just surrogates of the government, in business to provide medical care at government behest. As Michael Arnold Glueck said (in regard to another government stipulation on insurance companies):
Plans [working under such rules] are basically prohibited from following the principles of insurance; that is, they cannot price their coverage according to risk, but must force low-risk individuals to subsidize those of higher risk. Such plans are truly not insurance, but rather a type of welfare benefit. The means of financing is not correctly called a "premium." A mandatory payment is properly called a "tax."
Jewish World Review, "Time to say goodby to AMA,"
Having driven up the cost of insurance, now those same government entities cite the crisis of high insurance costs as a reason to nationalize medical care. Our government "breaks your legs, then wants to sell you crutches."
The Real Reason For Opposition: Freedom
The "common people," those who will be affected and disrupted by the policies, instinctively see the threat to their freedom. As regards the collective farms, one peasant is quoted as saying,
"[W]hat a life in the kolhoz,* always under someone's orders! Yesterday, for instance, I did no work. I just wanted a rest so I took one, and I ate more than I usually do, five times as much. . . . Yes, I had five meals and there was nobody to say me nay. It was nobody's business. I was my own mistress. But in a kolhoz, how could I take a rest when I want to? I'd have to wait for the blessed bell before I could have a meal, and I could not have five meals unless the bell rang five times. That's the position. " — Maurice Hundus, Red Bread, p.176
"Yes they will have everything on the kolhoz, big cow stables, big piggeries, big incubators, big silos, big machines and maybe big houses. But people won't have any independence, won't have any happiness. They'll be like the pigs and the cows – in stalls and in stanchions."
Red Bread, p.246
* kolhoz = collective farm.
Similarly, people who oppose ObamaCare likewise understand that their freedom of choice is being taken away.
If you have a mother who needs a heart operation or a child with some dire medical condition, how free would you feel to speak out against an administration that has the power to make life and death decisions about your loved ones?
will ultimately always come down to competing visions of
Government Health Care Keeps Falling In The
Polls," by Arthur C. Brooks, Wall
Just as the collectivized peasants spoke of kolhoz life as a “second serfdom,” so ObamaCare promises to reduce doctors to serfs, taking orders from government bureaucrats and dependent on them for a meager wage. It's not "hate and fear" that motivates the opponents of ObamaCare, nor yet racism. It's freedom.
The Problem Better Than The Cure
Just as private, un-collectivized farming was more productive than the Soviet collective farms that replaced it, private, un-collectivized medical care undoubtedly produces better medicine than ObamaCare would, despite their rosy scenarios. There may be disparities in care, as there are between other aspects of the lives of rich and poor in this country; but even our poorer citizens get better care than the wealthy in other countries.
Euro-Canadian socialized health care is in essence subsidized by American taxpayers. So if America then goes down [the collectivized] route . . . it means in effect, there will be worse health care for certain parts of the world because America will no longer have the money to do, for example, the research it does into new diseases. [T]he Centers for Disease Control for example… essentially serves as the research institute of last resort for the entire planet. If a kid comes down with something wacky in some African village, and his country doesn't know what it's in [sic], they put it in a test tube and ship it over to the Centers for Disease Control.
In other words, why, if
the American system is so bad, and so embarrassingly bad compared to
Mark Steyn, "The Rush Limbaugh Show,"
But the reason
that people in
— "Why I Oppose National Health Care," by Megan McArdle, The
The advances that have been made in medicine and surgery weren't achieved under the orders of government overseers and bureaucrats giving commands to their serfs, but by free people engaged in voluntary interactions. Freedom and opportunity produce better results in all fields; "a rising tide lifts all boats" in the medical arena just as much as in economic matters generally.
In the villages, agents of Stalin, sent to collect the grain levies, were sometimes met with open rebellion – beatings, pitchforks, and guns. Of course these uprisings were brutally repressed.
Congressional advocates for ObamaCare were often met at town-hall meetings with harsh words and raised voices; and there were “tea party” protests, where the people voiced their opposition to the plan being foisted on them. This was a legitimate grassroots uprising, a rebellion of sorts, though Nancy Pelosi called it “AstroTurf,” not real grassroots opposition. The administration and its sycophants in the media are intent on repressing this rebellion as well.