Friday, October 31, 2008

Poisoned Public Perceptions of Government Leave Public With No Where to Turn For Health Care

So how’s that Republican-trickle down, unregulated corporate economy going so far? According to the polls, around 90 percent of the people asked, say it’s going in the wrong direction.

But there’s one big problem: If people don’t trust government (and want to make it smaller), who’s going to make things better? Can we ask business, the ones who created this crisis, or rely on our vilified and incompetent government to rescue our country? Sorry, there are only two choices, unless you think we should all just fend for ourselves. The following researcher from the University of Wisconsin looked into these very questions.

UW Badger Poll on health care and the economy

Katherine Cramer Walsh, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor, an expert in how people form political opinions, has spent some of her time the last 18 months traveling the state and listening to Wisconsinites talking casually in their own terms, in their favorite spots and among people they usually meet. "Health care was one of the top three concerns for every group I spent time with," says Walsh, who is the faculty director of the University of Wisconsin Badger Poll. "When we talked about the changes people would like to see in the health care system, almost every group expressed skepticism toward state and federal government."

Walsh says that even those who supported a government organized, single-payer health care system expressed doubts about the government's ability to deliver and maintain such a system. Walsh used the responses to help craft questions in the latest UW Badger Poll on health care and the economy. "Among people on the lower end of the income scale, skepticism toward government was expressed as part of a worldview in which they were skeptical of a broad array of institutions of authority," she says, noting their wariness also extended to health maintenance organizations (HMOs), corporations and the university.

"Among upper-income people, however, skepticism toward government was voiced in terms of particular people," she adds. She encountered a "stark feeling of distance" from state government across many types of people. "It is clear that many Wisconsin citizens feel left out of the policy process," she says. "Even local public officials whom I listened to expressed skepticism toward the government. Those attitudes, often expressed over a cruller and washed down with coffee, Walsh says, "stand as a major challenge to support for government-centered health care reform."

My Response:

I agree with the research, but lament the lack of reasons for the public perception of government.

Through a massive conservative ad campaign, starting with Reagan, government is the unwelcome guest at the table even though it represents the people. The Joe averages out there have been convinced, through the constant drumbeat of waste and corrupt government officials, that it can't do a good job of managing our money. Instead of holding their representatives to a higher standard, they blame the supposed separate entity, "government," as responsible.

This negative campaign has succeeded in making people wary of government, just like the campaign of voter fraud is being pushed to call into question the results of our elections.

It's a marketing ploy used by other governments in the past, to create suspicion and division.

The proof, that a single payer system of health care can work, is ignored because of the negative influences of big business and small government advocates. The fact that all systems have flaws and weaknesses is no reason to believe that tweaks aren't ever necessary.

It appears the other side needs to convince people responsible government officials can get the job done. That's true representation.

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