According to Webster’s dictionary, if a thing becomes socialized, the government owns or administers the production and distribution of that thing. If you look at the current plan of many in Washington to take over the production and distribution of health care, and to take more money from the taxpayers for that purpose, it sounds an awful lot like a plan for socialized medicine.
All this talk of turning America’s health care over to the government made the Observer think of Art Freeman.
Before Art Freeman died in 1981, he lived in a nice house on C Street. Art was one of Farmington’s heroes. Though a married man, he joined the Army to fight the Nazis in World War II. Art landed in Normandy on D-Day, and he was a survivor. Indeed, Corporal Freeman lived to fight with his unit all the way across France and into the heart of Germany. Eventually, of course, Art returned safely back to Farmington. He and his wife Eula raised a real nice family. You might know their son, Tom, who is the long-time employee at the Methodist Church. The Freemans lost another son, David, in the Vietnam War in September of1970.
By landing on the beaches at Normandy and fighting his way across Europe, Art Freeman participated in what, at least at first glance, would appear to be one of the greatest successes the American government has ever put together. Driving a stake in the heart of Nazism was the American government’s crowning achievement in the last century.
But it’s an immutable truth that few of our government’s endeavors have gone nearly so well, and this is especially true of non-military endeavors. From dealing with Indians to ending slavery to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, American history is an endless stream of instances where the American “government”, like all other governments, proves itself incompetent, wasteful, and overbearing.
And indeed perhaps the American government does not deserve full credit for some of its ostensible successes. If you had asked Art Freeman, for example, he would have told you that the American soldiers fighting in France and Germany were forced to overcome not only fanatical fighting Nazis, but also the inane and baroque bureaucracy of the American government. For example, while wading ashore on D-Day, Art was required to carry, not weapons for killing the enemy, but a typewriter to generate paperwork to satisfy the Army’s bureaucratic requirements. If you thought the federal government might dispense with red tape while its soldiers were under enemy fire in the midst of an amphibious landing, you’d have underestimated the government’s unrestrained capacity to evade basic common sense.
When he wasn’t fighting, one of Art’s jobs was to make sure the men in his unit had the supplies they needed — basic things like food and gasoline. But the bureaucracy and paperwork necessary to get such essentials were so incomprehensible and frustrating that the preferred method of obtaining goods at the supply stations was physical violence. Fistfights and worse broke out among men trying to secure the necessities of life for their comrades, at the expense of men in other units. Although he served our country bravely and admired the sacrifices of his fellow American soldiers, Art wrote this from Germany in December 1944, “I hate the Army and the filthy mess over here and I shan’t spend one minute over the time I’m actually needed.”
And so it was, as Art Freeman would have agreed, the courage, strength and fighting spirit of the individual American soldiers, not the ability of the government to organize war in the field, which crushed the Nazis.
It is inexplicable that we might turn our entire health care system over to the federal government — the same government that required a young Farmington man to carry a typewriter onto the embattled beaches of Normandy. The Observer hopes that the preferred method of obtaining treatment at hospitals won’t be physical violence.
The Settlement Observer is a resident of Farmington.