Watching the Vietnam films on PBS, it struck me that an effective strategy for bringing about change in our society was provided us by Richard Nixon when he ended the draft and began the lottery. The draft allowed for all kinds of deferments which went mostly to upper and middle class men who could afford to go to college or pay a doctor or lawyer to find legal avenues to avoiding service. I was, to some extent, one of those men though the legal reason for my not being drafted had much to do with a self-inflicted medical condition that led the family physician to say that recurrence of the problem was possible without mentioning that it would only reoccur if I did to myself what I had done before which was a pretty stupid thing to do and very easy to avoid ever doing again.
The lottery, invented by the Nixon administration to deal with claims that were so obviously true to hide, that those who were fighting and dying in Vietnam were disproportionately poor and of color, was conceived to change the balance by making the selection process a random one, almost every boy attached to a number in a tumbler in a barrel from which would be drawn the next batch of potential war heroes.
Up until this point, the anti-war protest was relatively weak, who was dying in Vietnam and why not of much concerns to broad portions of the American public. Those dying for whatever the cause may have been were reflected in statistics that were not attached to faces of any real consequence; the vast middle class was not feeling the pain, its parents and children were not being made to suffer.
The lottery, more or less, evened the playing field, the battle field casualties coming to be of more familiar faces and, thus, concern for the results of war and for the reason for the war grew to monumental proportions. The protests became louder and louder as the death toll and the numbers of those injured now rose to include more white members of the American middle class.
For those who currently have access to good medical care, it seems, especially those who get the best care, there is but little concern for those who suffer without it. I know people who can afford to go to the Mayo Clinic, for instance, and of people who go to the emergency room so their sick children can receive minimal care. I know of some who receive no health care at all even when they are badly in need of it. I have always gotten enough when I needed it and even something more even if it wasn’t necessarily the best available.
I am not proposing a lottery for health care, but such would be a better, more democratically equitable system than what we have now. What I do think we must have is a system that affords all access to good health care.
Those who do not insist on good health care for all really have not right to that they are willing to deny others. So, maybe the way to end their resistance is to make it very difficult for them to get what they allow others to not have. (An article on medicine for the very rich).
Instead of fighting against the all to numerous attempts to do away with what now stands as the health care system’s access for the many (and that is not enough–only all is enough–let’s make it impossible for those WITH to access what they have that others don’t! Make them feel the pain.
Protests should focus on keeping those who have away from what they can get that others cannot! Block the entrances to their clinics and their doctors and, if public resources, police and so forth, are used to clear the path, ask loudly for whom it is that these public servants work.