Monday, October 22, 2012

"The Case Against Socialized Medicine" (from 1949)

The last thing you'll find me doing here is getting political.1

But, on the day of (mercifully) the final debate prior to the 2012 United States presidential election, here's a book that, coincidentally, I stumbled across recently — "The Case Against Socialized Medicine."

A screed against our current president?

Nope. It's from 1949.

A brief history: In 1943, the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill was a proposal to provide government health care for most U.S. citizens. This caused many Americans to enter a state of apoplexy.2 No action was taken on the bill. New versions of Wagner-Murray-Dingell were reintroduced in 1945 (at President Truman's urging) and in 1947. It was during this heated battle over what, to some, was "socialized medicine," that a non-profit lobbying group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, was formed.

And it was during this period that this 54-page book by Lawrence Sullivan3, with its garish purple cover, was published. Here are some verbatim excerpts from the book and its dust jacket:

  • This book presents in two-minute chapters the historical background of Socialized Medicine, as now advocated in the United States. It is a book of far-reaching significance, for if American medicine can be taken over by the Government, then every other activity also may be socialized under a gigantic federal bureaucracy.
  • During the early years of Hitler's regime, the government's medical program was looked upon by many observers as one of the greatest props of the totalitarian state.
  • Careful studies revealed that the average time spent by the German panel physicians in making a diagnosis is "from three to four minutes."
  • Nobody would be permitted to select his own physician.
  • The campaign for socialized medicine in the United States stems directly from Kremlin Communism.

If you haven't already guessed, this book does not represent a balanced look at the pros and cons of a national health-care plan.

Interestingly, this copy still includes some of its original ephemeral inserts, including a card with details on ordering additional copies. Here is a look at some of those inserts:

1. And the next-to-last thing you'll find me doing is getting gussied up in a brazzle-dazzle way, like this.
2. A condition which requires health care.
3. According to the dust jacket, Lawrence Sullivan was a former Northwestern University student who had been a journalist for more than 30 years. The "about the author" text concludes with this actual sentence: "He writes from the throbbing corridors of Capitol Hill." Um.

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