The Wall Street Journal, the largest paper in circulation in the United States today at 2.4 million copies, has created a new section of its paper entitled, “The Experts.” This section of the paper contains editorials from people who are an “exclusive group of industry, academic and cultural thought leaders who weigh in on the latest debates in The Journal Report.” Included in this list of “experts” are people such as Pat Sajak, Morgan Fairchild, and Suzanne Somers. According to the WSJ and Somers, she is an expert on healthcare due to having written “24 books mostly on health and wellness and by using my celebrity to get to the best and brightest doctors, scientists and medical professionals in the alternative and integrative health-care world.” As such an expert, the WSJ thought it would be a good idea to ask Somers to answer the question: “What will the Affordable Care Act mean for retirees?” Her response: The Affordable Care Act Is a Socialist Ponzi Scheme.
As one can guess, the rest of the article plummets downhill faster than Somers acting career. Not only does Somers title her article with simple lie (The Affordable Care Act is neither socialist nor a Ponzi scheme. Funny how Somers never defines how the ACA belongs to either category…), but she continues her blatant misuse of information throughout her editorial.
Somers begins by sharing anecdotal stories of the Canadian healthcare system, in which her Canadian husband’s cousins serve as medical professionals. According to Somers, the Canadian healthcare system is flawed because 1) A cover of a Canadian magazine from 2008 stated that “Your Dog Can Get Better Health Care Than You;” 2) Canadian doctors are leaving Canada to come to the United States in order to make more money; and 3) Her sister-in-law had to wait to receive medical care.
First, let’s look at the magazine example. (It’s important to note up-front that the WSJ had to run a redaction stating that Somers had originally put a horse on the magazine instead of a dog, showing her lackadaisical approach to actually looking up her sources.) While the magazine article may have been true, Somers does little to elaborate on why dogs are receiving better healthcare except for the fact that veterinarians can make more money than doctors. One could guess that Somers is equating higher pay with better quality healthcare. However, according to a recent Gallup poll, 52% of Canadians are satisfied with the healthcare they receive, as opposed to 48% of Americans. Lie #1 of Somers’s article debunked.
Next, let’s turn to Somers’s second claim – Canadian doctors are defecting and coming to the US in alarming rates. According to a recent study performed by The Commonwealth Fund, since 2003 more doctors have been returning to Canada than leaving. Not only that, but Canadian doctors experienced more satisfaction with practicing medicine than doctors in the US, and also had a more positive view toward the healthcare system than American doctors. Lie #2 busted.
And honestly, who cares if Somers’s sister-in-law had to wait to receive services. Everyone waits; her case was not unique. To add even less credence to Somers’s argument, in a report released by The Fraser Institute, a conservative Canadian think-tank, one of the authors stated that “It’s time Canada adopted some of the policies that allow nations like Australia, Switzerland and Sweden to provide more timely access to quality universal care.” What does the Affordable Care Act offer Americans in order to provide freedom of choice? Oh yeah – access to private health-insurance alternatives.
Somers’s then goes on to make some pseudo-arguments about how the Affordable Care Act will not actually be affordable. For brevity’s sake, let me just point to this chart which shows that Canadians spend less than half, per household, of what Americans currently spend on healthcare coverage per year. Yes, that is the same county which Somers believes is plagued with enormous healthcare issues.
Perhaps the most egregious error committed by Somers in her article, though, is the fact that she misuses two historical quotations. Well, not misuses, but rather makes them up completely. According to a WSJ redaction, “An earlier version of this post contained a quotation attributed to Lenin (“Socialized medicine is the keystone to the arch of the socialist state”) that has been widely disputed. And it included a quotation attributed to Churchill (“Control your citizens’ health care and you control your citizens“) that the Journal has been unable to confirm.”
There are many reasons as to why the first quotation has been disputed, mainly because the world’s leading experts on Lenin cannot find anything remotely similar to that utterance, and the policy encouraged in this quotation goes against Lenin’s actual actions.
The creation of the Churchill quotation is even more confusing. Churchill essentially set-up the national healthcare service that Britain currently operates under, but he was not in power whenever that system was put into place. In fact, it was the rival party, the democratic-socialist Labor party, who actually implemented the socialized healthcare system. When Churchill once again became Prime Minister following his brief departure, he decided to keep the national healthcare system instead of abolishing it due to a study which proved the system to be highly effective. If Churchill wanted to control the masses, wouldn’t he have taken the initiative to install the system himself?
Perhaps Somers should have used a different quotation to express her true thoughts: “Those who control the present, control the past; Those who control the past, control the future.” — George Orwell, 1984. By blatantly creating false quotations to make her article more rhetorically savvy, Somers attempted to alter history. By creating a fabricated view of the past, Somers hoped to influence the future of US healthcare. Big Brother could not be more proud.
Image via Facebook