The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the movie version of the novel by John Godey is currently enjoying a cinematic revival at the American Box Office. Modern moviegoers are once again thrilling to the story of armed men who hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for ransom. The original film premiered in November of 1974 with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw in the starring roles. The present incarnation of the film features John Travolta as the just-released-from-prison, mastermind felon named Ryder, who engineers the hijacking. Denzel Washington plays the part of Walter Garber, an everyday dispatcher who is drawn into the drama by chance and is forced by Ryder to play a pivotal role in the chaos.
The drama of a subway system hostage crisis under the streets of New York is compelling but it pales in comparison to the drama of a government taking a nation’s healthcare system hostage in the halls of Congress. Make no mistake, we are being held hostage by a manufactured “healthcare crisis” with the ransom being whatever we are willing to pay in order to transfer the control of our healthcare from our personal choice to public ownership. The steps involved in this takeover are painfully simple…. as simple as, well, 1 2 3.
1. Create a crisis by magnifying the flaws in our current healthcare system. No system as large and diverse as the American healthcare system will be without problems. For example, healthcare costs are exorbitantly high and millions of Americans (although I have serious doubts about the “47 million uninsured Americans” number that has been widely circulated) are without adequate coverage. But these are problems that can be addressed without dismantling what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called, “the finest healthcare system in the world.”
However the Obama Administration, under the guise of healthcare reform, is actually seeking healthcare restrictions that will eventually depend on complete government control. To reach this goal, the administration has presented horror stories about the current system, presenting isolated cases of mismanagement that play on the emotions and whip people into a class envy frenzy and fuel our fears by presenting images of healthcare being withheld in order to pad the pockets of doctors, “big pharmaceutical companies,” and “big insurance corporations.”
2. Exaggerate the urgency of the crisis to justify the passage of a bill in short order so people won’t realize what they are sacrificing until it is too late. It worked with the stimulus package so why shouldn’t it work with healthcare? We were told the stimulus package had to be passed quickly or unemployment would reach eight percent. There was no time for reasonable debate or even to read the bill. Speed was everything if the economy was going to be saved. Well, here we are almost six months later with close to ten percent unemployment and an economy that is still sputtering.
The same tactic is being used to pass the healthcare takeover bill. President Obama and those in Congress who “feel the need for speed” know the more the American people find out about this bill the more difficult it becomes to gain their permission to take over one seventh of the nation’s economy. The ship of healthcare reform took two torpedoes this past weekend when the National Governors Association questioned the unfunded mandates they rightly fear would eventually bankrupt their states and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the House healthcare bill revealing an additional quarter of a trillion dollars that would be added to the national debt. Seeing the defections in his own party, President Obama has now backed off his original deadline of passing healthcare reform before the August break. He is now trying desperately to patch up the holes in the plan and get a bill passed by the end of the year.
3. Depend on a sympathetic national media to wholeheartedly support rather than express healthy skepticism about the plan. Earlier this month, ABC laid aside all pretense of objectivity and ran a two-hour commercial for President Obama’s plan. When Republicans asked for time for a response they were rejected. When concerned organizations requested rates to buy airtime during the healthcare show to allow the presentation of an alternate plan, they were refused. People who give voice to legitimate questions and points of debate about healthcare reform are pilloried in the press. Voices raised that question of the severity of the crisis and warn about the serious threat of complete government control over healthcare are compared to the voices that deny the holocaust.
Is the taking of our healthcare system by an already bloated, control hungry federal government a done deal? Not if we refuse the ransom that is being demanded by encouraging lawmakers to reform the current system rather than destroying it and then rebuilding it in the image of Uncle Sam.
Dr. Tony Beam is Vice-President for Student Services and Director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University in Tigerville, South Carolina.