George Graham

A Matter of Life or Death

As I remember it, Jamaica had public hospitals when I was growing up there. They weren’t fancy. But they were free.

These hospitals were funded by the government – the British government because Jamaica was then a colony. And some of them dated from Queen Victoria’s time. I don’t think Queen Victoria was a “socialist,” do you?

Now, living in America so many years later, I wonder why the world’s richest country still balks at providing health care for its people.

Throughout the civilized world, governments routinely provide free health care. But not here.


One reason is the fear of “socialism” in America. A deliberately created propaganda machine has convinced Americans of the virtues of a “free market.”

And there’s a lot that’s good in a free-market economy.

But health care is not a commodity like sugar or oil. Health care is a matter of life or death.

In my view, it is obscene for private companies to profit from our illnesses, leaving those of us who cannot afford to pay for care to sicken and die.

Some Americans apparently agree with that view. Bernie Sanders is one. He is proposing a government operated single-payer system to provide affordable health insurance for all.

In the current political environment, Bernie’s proposal is a non-starter. Instead, the Republican controlled Senate is likely to adopt a slightly less venomous version of the Trumpcare monstrosity approved in the House.

Surely, America is better than that? Surely, Americans must realize by now that talk of “socialism” is just verbal fog generated to obscure the real issues?

Nobody that I know of is suggesting the government take over America’s mines and factories. But health insurance is a different matter entirely.

At the very least, the government should let everyone enroll in Medicare, while allowing health insurance companies to provide competing plans.

If the government is as inefficient as the free-market trolls insist, the private companies should have no problem competing against a government-run plan. Right?

Anyway, I think the Republicans are inviting a massive backlash with their health care approach. I look forward to their defeat in the mid-term elections and a return to a Democratic Congress.

Perhaps this time, government health insurance will have a chance, and mighty America will catch up with the Jamaica of my childhood.

The Trumpcare horror

Bernie’s proposal

More on Jamaica’s health care

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for