Americans die needlessly from lack of health-care coverage. Medical errors kill thousands of Americans a year for lack of health-care reform. A staggering 46 million Americans - the entire population of Spain - have no health coverage. An estimated additional 100 million-plus Americans - one-third of the population - are inadequately insured. More than 10,000 Americans drop their health insurance every day due to unaffordable premiums. Catastrophic illness is the leading cause of U.S. personal bankruptcies. America alone among industrial nations lacks the universal health care that Britons have enjoyed for 64 years.
What's standing in the way of enactment of the U.S. health-care reform proposals under careful negotiation on Capitol Hill is an orchestrated campaign of disinformation by the medical-industrial complex. These profit-seekers stand to lose their fat profits, and be subjected for the first time to genuine competititon and accountability, if the proposed healthcare reforms become law. As they have in Britain, France, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Japan, Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland, where medicine is not regarded primarily as a business but as a fundamental human right.
And where, overwhelmingly, do those Americans most likely to believe the lies get their "news"...
...that reform means a government takeover of healthcare (under the proposed reforms, if you're happy with your doctors and insurance, by all means keep them, your circumstances won't change an iota)
...that government will decide who lives and dies (actually, it's private insurers that do that, by denying coverage, as do doctor-owned hospitals, by charging exorbitant fees for bedpans to heart surgery that patients' families ultimately cannot continue to pay for; the proposed "public option" would remove money from these traumatic decisions),
...that government will provide free healthcare to illegal immigrants (not a chance; no one has proposed this),
...that the commonplace ritual of end-of-life consultations are "death panels" (something else hospitals charge for - the privilege of talking with your dying mother's medical team, which the reforms propose to have Uncle Sam pay for instead of you, the total extent of proposed government involvement in that gut-wrenching decision)
...that the wildly popular U.S.-government-run Medicare is not actually a government program ("Keep the government's hands off my Medicare!" is a common refrain among seniors at the recent town-hall meetings - yes, there are Americans who don't know that Medicare, Medicaid and the VA, all vastly more cost-efficient than private care, are government-created and run)
...that "Obamacare" will bankrupt the country. (The absence of Obamacare will bankrupt America. Healthcare costs account for 16% of U.S. GDP, only 10% in Canada, even less in Japan, and average health outcomes are better in every nation with universal care than in the U.S. Among his few directions to Congress, Obama has required that the reform bill he signs must restrain costs, now soaring toward 18% of GDP within a few years, and 50% by mid-century, a grisly scenario in which taxes will soar and government services, including even spending on the military and national security, will have to be drastically cut.)
Where do the tragically misinformed get their "news"?
They get it from the Fox News Channel.
Sure, the dangerous myths are spread by G.O.P. lawmakers. By Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and the other multimillionaire yakkers of Hate Radio. And by the same crazed libertarians who wish to destroy government in all its forms in the U.S. - the Timothy McVeigh crowd.
But most Americans, like most Canadians, still get the bulk of their information from traditional TV network news. And in the case of self-identified Republicans and the looney right, that's Fox - conduit for every fresh falsehood and wacko notion that comes down the pike or that Fox can conjure up on its own.
Rachel Maddow of Fox rival MSNBC has the stats that tie the wilfully misinformed to Fox, courtesy of recent independent polling commissioned by the left-wing Daily Kos, among the most venerable of political websites. There aren't many dots to join here, folks. Especially when you see the same untruths fed daily to readers of Murdoch's New York Post.
Murdoch is an American by convenience (he would lose his lucrative U.S. TV licenses otherwise); an Aussie by birth, breeding and choice well into late middle age; a Londoner by cultural preference; and a longtime kissing cousin of Communist Chinese apparatchiks in order to retain his profitable Asian satellite franchises. He's no man to be heavily influencing the outcome of America's most important public-policy decision of modern times.
Why does Murdoch counsel Americans against their own best interests? Is he an extreme right-wing, anti-government idealogue?
Not at all. Murdoch was an early backer of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. That was when she was the "prohibitive favourite" and Murdoch did what business does, take a pre-emptive financial stake in the presumed winner with whom they'll have to deal later.
No, Murdoch does it for the money. Fox and its News Corp. parent maintain an iron grip on what H.L. Mencken described as the "booboisee," from which it milks immense profits. Which leaves the competition fighting among themselves for a slice of the rest of the audience. It's the Rovian approach to media riches: identify a niche, cater relentlessly to it, ignore everyone else - everyone else happening to be the majority of Americans, three-quarters of whom tell pollsters they want universal health care. But even conservative Democrats listen to the Fox-fuelled voices of protest, and are unduly swayed by them.
Here's the damning video: