I'm busy writing stuff, so let's see if I can't get you all to generate a bunch of content for me in the comments.
So I'm spinning the Wheel of Contentious Topics, buzz buzz buzz, around and around it goes, it's slowing down now... "gun control", "abortion", "religion", "Kirk or Picard"... and it's stopped on "health care in the USA"!
The previously-mentioned TechSkeptic just wrote an excellent post about the bizarre US health-care-reform situation. In brief, opponents of real reform are standing next to their rusted-out AMC Gremlin and insisting that all it needs is a lick of paint and some new seat-covers to be as good as any other car in the world today. And you shouldn't believe what people from other countries tell you about the cars over there, because that's all Communist propaganda.
I'm on the other side of the planet, and so don't actually spend a lot of time thinking about the plight of sick Americans. But I do watch The Daily Show, and the US health-care situation is an interesting example of a common problem.
I wonder if the USA will ever find its way out of this mess, where elected representatives choose talking points that are blatantly counterfactual, safe in the knowledge that a bunch of right-wing authoritarian voters (I strongly recommend Bob Altemeyer's book The Authoritarians, which is a free download) will believe them. This "authoritarian follower" population gives the cheerful promulgators of all sorts of lies guaranteed support from that ironclad 30% of the US public that never gave up on Dubya. And, often, a lot more than 30% of the US voting population fall into line.
(The 2008 presidential election had a very large voter turnout, by US standards, but almost four out of every ten eligible voters still didn't care enough to turn up. Here in Australia we probably have just as many people who don't care who gets elected, but we make them
vote at least pretend to vote anyway, if they want to avoid a small fine.)
I don't mean to suggest that purest BS raining from on high upon a grateful populace is a phenomenon limited to the USA. The whole world has always had this same problem. But mass acceptance of definite and objective governmental lies seems to me to have reached its fullest flower during the Dubya administration, and it hasn't died back much now that he's finally gone.
(While I'm recommending books you can read for free, allow me to point you to Harry Frankfurt's much-less-frivolous-than-it-sounds On Bullshit. Every modern human should also own a copy of How to Lie with Statistics, but I'm afraid you'll probably have to pay for that.)
Right-wing authoritarians, as described by Bob Altemeyer, do actually understand the concept of being lied to, and also understand that their chosen authorities are often motivated to lie to them. But, often, authoritarian followers simply ignore this knowledge when they're listening to their chosen authorities.
This is the same sort of compartmentalisation that allows so many Americans to be perfectly fine with food stamps, bank-deposit insurance, unemployment benefits, Social Security and the threadbare safety net of Medicaid - especially if they're the beneficiary - but vehemently opposed to "socialism". The broadness of the definition of socialism that people use in these arguments makes pretty much every taxpayer-funded, universally-available government service technically "socialist", and therefore presumably abhorrent. Nobody seems to have a big problem with fire brigades, garbage collection, highways, bridges or public libraries, though. But, just as a segment of the US population would be perfectly happy to be ruled by a king (or a Bond villain, for that matter) as long as he wasn't called a king, many Americans are perfectly happy with "socialist" policies as long as nobody calls them socialist.
Apply no "socialist" government controls to any market you like and the result will invariably be corruption, cartels and frank fraud, giving rise to endlessly repeated boom-and-bust cycles, a minor example of which you might just possibly have noticed recently.
(On this subject, Upton Sinclair's classic The Jungle is another free book you might like to read. See also Charles Mackay's even older Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.)
There's a lot more behind the weird American authoritarian hatred for anything-called-socialism than mere common-or-garden cognitive dissonance, though. Bob Altemeyer has, for more than 40 years now, been doing psychological research on why authoritarian followers and their usual leaders, "social dominators", behave in the way that they do. He's ended up with a very large stack of evidence of far higher quality than is usual in the social sciences, and discovered some very surprising things. Once again - read the book. I found it entirely fascinating, and often blackly hilarious.
Aaaaanyway, getting back to the subject of the USA's adoration of dreadful health care, it is obvious that the USA could randomly throw a dart at a list of other countries in the developed world (and a few less-developed countries...), adopt the health-care system of whatever country they hit, and have a guarantee that it'd work better than what they've got. Provided, that is, that the USA actually managed to implement the new system properly. All bets are off if the new system turns into one of those military-industrial-political boondoggles the USA is so good at, where Congressmen and Senators secure re-election by making sure that every state gets a finger in every pie. The EU bows in awe at America's ability to add such amazing amounts of open avarice to every kind of normal bureaucratic friction.
To people in other countries, like for instance Australia where I live, it's difficult to even believe that for a significant fraction of the US population, the best health-care option available is to join the crowd in the hospital emergency room - whether or not your condition actually constitutes an emergency, of course - and hope for the best. We foreigners are similarly staggered by the fact that for an even larger segment of the US population, contracting a serious illness makes it probable that you will end up bankrupt.
We Aussies have a pretty standard underfunded-but-more-or-less-functional public-health safety-net. We pay half as much per capita for health care as the USA, and outlive you by around 2.8 years. I don't think it's just the Vegemite that's responsible for this.
The UK's population only outlives the USA's by a bit less than a year, but despite that segment of the UK's population who use the free ambulances as taxis, their National Health Service only costs them about 41% as much per capita as Americans pay.
And the list, of course, goes on. And on. And on.
So, despite what I now know about authoritarian believers, I'm still staggered by the sheer balls of the legislators and other talking heads who claim that the US health-care system is actually a good one.
It's as if they're standing up and baldly declaring the USA to be a Buddhist nation, and all of their buddies are going along with it.
Hmm. It's possible that my "get readers to write stuff so I don't have to" strategy has gone slightly awry. Commenters may have some difficulty in out-rambling the above.
Do, nonetheless, feel free to try.