Monday, 31 March 2008

Celebrating Tommy Douglas

We finally had a chance to see 'Sicko' yesterday. I have never felt so glad to be Canadian.

While I will admit that the system doesn't work quite as smoothly as Michael Moore makes it look, and I have some other concerns, the support from Canadians for a single payer health care system is almost universal. The conservative on the golf cart interviewed by Michael is indeed typical.

The entire political spectrum here, and in most of Europe, is to the left of the USA. Mainly there is an admission that no man is an island, and rugged individualism has its downside.

Semantics plays a part here, and both McCarthy and the old Soviet Union are to blame. Totalitarian communism as practiced in the Soviet Union was not what most people in Canada and Europe call socialism these days. 

Canadians and Europeans have Social Democrats. That basically means people who believe in a larger role of the state than Conservatives or Liberals, with a strong social safety net and relatively higher taxes for the well off. They will not outlaw private home ownership or take over the entire economy, and they will leave when voted out. 

It appears that many USA residents have been so brainwashed by the McCarthy era that they can't distinguish between a communist dictatorship and a freely chosen left wing government.

Tommy Douglas, to get back to him, was a Baptist Minister who became a Social Democratic politician. Under his charge Medicare started in his home province of Saskatchewan. He is more or less revered as a secular kind of saint. When Canadians were asked to vote for The Greatest Canadian, they picked Tommy Douglas.