Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Health in the US: Goin' Down Slow

I get a fair few hits from the US on this blog, and I don’t want to convey the impression that I’m anything but an outside observer of conditions in that country. However, I’m totally bemused by the furore that has erupted over Obama’s plan to improve the health system. Nearly every advanced capitalist economy has some form of universal or public health system, yet the rabid right paints this entirely acceptable-to-capitalism measure as a form of socialism or…God forbid!.....communism.

But wait a minute! Wasn’t it that socialist text, the Bible that advised Christians “If someone takes your coat, give him your cloak as well; if he makes you go a mile with him, go with him two”?

Yet what we’ve seen is a pack of fundamentalist white Christians saying that they don’t want to pay taxes for a public health system because the main beneficiaries will be the poor, the Latinos and the blacks.

Gotta love that…the most selfish and unchristian nation on the planet. What was that about camels passing through the eye of a needle…..

Reminds me of the way Mance Lipscomb (left) commented on his rendition of St Louis Jimmy Oden’s 1941 record “Goin’ Down Slow” when he played it in 1972. The dying narrator of the song is left to fend for himself, even by his doctor. There was nobody to go the extra mile for him or help him out with his medical costs. By the time he gets a message to his mother, he is already dead and gone.

Some of those opponents of Obama’s health reforms still have that mentality: if you’re poor, that’s your own fault, and if you can’t pay up front for medical help then too bad….die for all I care!

(You can get onto Youtube and search for Going Down Slow and find Mance doing a different version, as well as versions by other blues artists.)

Yes I done had my fun,
If I don’t get well no more
I done had my fun people,
Don't get well no more
My health is failing,
And I'm goin' down slow

Want you to write my mama,
Tell her the shape I'm in
Please write my mama,
Tell her the shape I'm in
Tell mama to pray for me,
Forgive me some my sins.


Mama don’t send no doctor,
He can't do no good
Mama don’t send no doctor,
He can't do no good
It's all my fault mama,
I didn’t do the things I should

Next train south
You can look for my clothes on board
Next train south mama
Look for my clothes on board
You don’t see my body mama
All you can do is moan

(Spoken) My ma had to moan…

Mama don’t you worry
Cos this is all in my prayer
Mama please don’t worry
This is all in my prayer
You know your son is dead
Goin’ out of this world somewhere

(Spoken) Well that’s as true a song as I’ve ever played. It’s a story about a confession of a boy that was sick and he done strayed away from home and didn’t let anybody know where he was at until he got down and had TB and so he had to see a doctor. The doctor told him he had to send for somebody to get him theirselves. “Well,” he said, “I got a mother. I can write her and tell her the shape I’m in.” All the verses are as true as I’m looking at you.

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