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Vol. 81/No. 31      August 21, 2017

(front page)

Workers discuss way out of capitalist health care disaster

HAYESVILLE, N.C. — “Even if you have health insurance, it’s still overwhelming, when you have to pay $2,000 or $3,000 out of your pocket anyway,” Joyce Bryson told Lisa Potash and other members of the Socialist Workers Party outside the high school here Aug. 4, where a free medical clinic was underway. Potash is the SWP candidate for mayor of Atlanta.

The clinic was sponsored by the Clay County Health Department under the aegis of the Defense Department’s Innovative Readiness Training program, with most of the medical personnel provided by the military.

Similar clinics around the country are one of the ways some working people get medical care. This fair ran for one week, free to all. “First come, First served, Prepare for potentially lengthy wait times,” said a county health department flyer.

Medical, vision and dental help were offered, and veterinary care for people’s cats and dogs.

Bryson, who works part time as a nurse’s aide, was waiting for her husband Jimmy, a retired construction worker. He was getting some teeth pulled and hopefully some glasses. “When you’re not old enough for Medicare, the elderly are left out. If something major happened to us, they would just let us die,” Bryson said. She was especially interested in the Militant’s coverage of the Nevada ranchers’ fight against Washington’s attacks on their right to graze cattle on federal land, and got a copy of the paper.

“Workers need health care, not insurance companies,” Potash said. “They’re parasites who do nothing but rake in billions for their owners. Health care should be free and available for all. Workers need to fight to expropriate the hospital corporations and drug companies and run them to benefit the entire working class. In Cuba, where workers and farmers made a revolution, the social surplus is used in part to make health care available to all Cubans, from the cradle to the grave. That shows what workers in power can do.”

Potash and several campaign supporters came here after learning that the medical clinic would be held Aug. 2-10. A similar clinic in 2014 drew 8,000 people and 2,600 pets. But such military medical fairs every three years won’t meet workers’ health care needs.

Potash and other SWP members discussed this and other political questions with workers, active and retired, coming in and out of the clinic, and knocking on doors in area neighborhoods for three days. Dental care and glasses were in high demand. Some were looking for help with alcohol and drug addiction.

The SWP campaigners went door to door in nearby Murphy. Almost everyone we spoke with who voted in the last election said they had supported Trump. Most welcomed the chance to talk with the SWP about the party’s proposals on how to unify the working class and begin building a fighting movement of millions that can organize and educate toward workers taking power out of the hands of the capitalist rulers.

Some hoped that Trump would be able to make some positive changes, but everyone was concerned that not much would improve on health care.

‘We work but can’t get health coverage’

“Insurance is way too high for anybody to afford,” Marie Mcrae, a disabled longtime garment worker, told Potash and SWP supporter Linda Joyce at the medical fair. “We work, but can’t get health coverage. Affording medicine is even worse!”

“Many liberals are furious about Trump, and they’re working overtime to try and get him indicted or impeached. They really fear you and me, the working class, saying we’re all stupid, racist and prejudiced against immigrants,” said Potash. “But working people are less racist than ever. The civil rights struggle had a big impact on workers of all backgrounds and we’re more united than ever before.”

Mcrae agreed. “Where I worked there were a lot of Hispanic people and some became my friends. They are just here trying to survive,” she said, picking up a subscription to the Militant.

Guy Roberts, 33, who needed glasses, works at a mental health group home and came to the clinic with a co-worker and several family members.

After discussing what the SWP had to say, Roberts decided to get a copy of The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record, a book by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes, and share a subscription to the Militant with his fiancé’s parents who were there. He was especially interested in Potash’s description of Cuba’s role in combating the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, an act of internationalist solidarity made possible by the socialist revolution there.

Cole Goffeg, 31, a self-employed landscaper, said he and his mother came to the clinic for dental work. “When your teeth go bad, there’s no money to replace them,” he said. “I didn’t really like either candidate in the last election, but voted for Trump because he wasn’t scared to go against the politicians in Washington. I didn’t like him as a person, though. People who voted for him wanted a change.”

Millions of workers voted for Trump because he said he would “drain the swamp” in Washington, Potash said. Many of them had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, looking for change.

Goffeg got a subscription to the Militant and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record.

“The Democrats and Republicans are all in a mess,” Angela Smith, 43, told Potash when she knocked on her door Aug. 3. We agreed on some things and disagreed on others, but she was intrigued with SWP members knocking on doors to discuss the need for workers to fight to take political power.

She decided to get a Militant subscription and The Clintons’ Anti-Working-Class Record. She pointed to the party’s work taking their ideas and proposals to workers’ doorsteps, saying, “Sometimes the biggest changes start out small.”

Janice Lynn from Atlanta and Linda Joyce from Hayesville, North Carolina, contributed to this article.
Related articles:
Workers face health care crisis under capitalist rule
Workers need health care, not health insurance!
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