"If a Slave lives four years, he has earned his Purchase-money, consequently you may afford to work him to death in that time."
Connecticut Courant — March 30, 1767
Yeah, I know.
Talking about slavery makes folks uncomfortable. It was so long ago, I know. And doggone it Frank, what do you mean doing what you are about to do: proclaim those jilted Republicans as acting out a slave-era legacy in their opposition to the Supreme Court's ruling that found "Obamacare" constitutional.
Yeah, I know. The very mention of slavery is so anti-politically correct that I can just hear the tongues cracking like a whip in protest.
But think about it. During slavery, health care — meaning doctors, medicine and care — was for those who mattered the most.
For those who mattered least, in terms of their value as human beings, there was little to no care for their health. It was better, cheaper and efficient to let them die and purchase more slaves rather than feed them well and invest anything meaningful into their health.
And if the slave somehow managed to survive to old age?
Here's an account from the Connecticut Courant on Aug. 15, 1791: "There was no care taken of Slaves superannuated and past labour. They were turned adrift. … An old woman, past labour, told him she was set adrift by her master, to shift for herself. He saw her about three days after, lying dead in the same place."
Those who had the least suffered the most when it came to health then, just as they do today. Life expectancy for the poor — And who was poorer than a slave? — was far below that of whites. Life expectancy for blacks today remains and has always been lower than whites. Infant mortality is high, too.
Making this comparison, however, is not to suggest that acting out the slave-era legacy of health care is consciously targeted against Americans of African descent, or that it affects solely those of African descent. The legacy of slavery effects everyone in America: whites, Hispanics, Asians — everyone.
It's the legacy that says it is OK, all right, acceptable, that a significant segment of the population gets inequitable treatment because they have no health care.
More than 15 percent of Americans are without health care — nearly 50 million people. According to theU.S. Census Bureau's report, "Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S. 2010," 23 million of those without health care are white, 15.3 million are Hispanic, 8 million are black, 2.6 million are Asian.
Still, although whites have the greatest number without health care, they have the lowest ratio. Three of every 10 Hispanics, 2 of every 10 blacks, nearly 2 of every 10 Asians are without health care, in comparison to 1 in 10 whites.
According to the World Health Organization, America ranks 37th among all nations in health care. France is No. 1; Slovenia and Cuba rank right behind us,. How is it that America ranks 37th considering the nation's resources?
It's simple. Those resources are not allocated to all Americans. If you're poor, under-educated, under-employed or unemployed, your health is compromised and your life expectancy shortened. This is particularly true if you are black or Hispanic.
Good health and longevity should not be contingent upon wealth, race, education and employment. It should be a right for all Americans.
With the Supreme Court's ruling, universal health care is the law of the land. There is a mandate that everyone must have health care, meaning everyone gets covered.
What is so wrong with that?
We are talking about healthy Americans.
It will benefit those who need it most. It will make for a healthier society. It will make for a stronger nation.
What is it then that Republicans and their supporters are so against?
In the 2008 campaign, the right jumped all over candidate Barack Obama's head when he said to Joe the Plumber, "Share the wealth."
It's 2012 and Republicans seem determined to rally their supporters against health care like the Confederacy rallied its citizens against the North's efforts to destroy their slave-based way of life.
"Share the health? No way!" they say.
Their tongues crack like whips.