Another liberal myth which is widely spread in the Russian society is that strange conviction that only things that you pay for can be of good quality. That is, a truly good education can only be obtained through money, private healthcare is better than free healthcare etc., which brings us to the conclusion that if you pay enough money, you will get cured, and if you don’t – you will unavoidably get misdiagnosed and mistreated. The same thing goes for all other social benefits and even products – if you have to pay for it, they are by definition better.
If you think about it, that is complete nonsense. There is no logic in this, because quality is not and cannot in any way be connected with being free or not free.
What is quality? Quality is an ability of this or that particular service or thing to satisfy certain human needs better and more fully than other similar services or things,
What does quality depend upon? Upon the stage of development of the society itself, upon the development of production, science and technology, which allow to accomplish a better result than before. That is, if the social production cannot yet create the medicines and treatment against cancer, then neither the paid nor the free healthcare is going to help patients with cancer.
Now onto another part of the issue, paying for social benefits, services and products.
Whether you have to pay or you don’t have to pay for something is determined by the economic relations in the society. The way people cooperate with each other in the production process is going to determine the way the society works. That is, the manner of production of material goods determines the laws and goals of this or that society. If the goal of the material production is the extraction of profit, then the entire society is going to obey to that goal, along with all of its economic and social spheres. This kind of society will try to extract profit even out of things which were previously considered to be freely available for everyone, for example, it will try to make people pay for the air they breathe, for rain, for drinking water, for going for a stroll in the woods, for fishing in the river and so on. Free social benefits become impossible in this kind of society, while they are fully natural in a society of a fundamentally different type – in a socialist society. Because the main goal of the socialist society is the fulfillment of material and spiritual needs of all of its members, while profits do not interest anyone.
Here we have to clear up a possible objection from our opponents, the one that everyone is familiar with since the Perestroyka. “There is no free stuff” – is the favourite argument of liberals, which they would bang on about non-stop, trying to convince the Soviet people that they never got anything for free from the Soviet government. Many people back then did not recognize that liberal arguments rest upon demagogy. To this day this misconception is quite well spread in our society.
What is the root of the misconception? The root of it lies in the fact that all products, benefits and services do not fall from the sky. Before they become free or paid, they have to be produced or provided. That is, in order for them to become available to people, human labour has to be applied first. And this is where liberals transmit the realities of the capitalist society onto the socialist society, claiming that free apartments in the USSR were built by other people, not those who lived in them. According to this logic, the citizens of the USSR used someone else’s labor, just like the citizens of capitalist countries, where indeed some people build apartments and houses and then entirely different people live in them. But in the Soviet society absolutely all its members lived in accommodations provided by the Soviet government for free!!! People built them and people lived in them. The same way they got education and medical help. You build a house for me and I treat you from diseases or teach you – we just exchange the product of our labour without any money, which becomes a redundant link in a society that aims at the prosperity of all of its members. But if the main aim of the society is profit, as it is under capitalism, then such mutual exchange of labour becomes impossible, because in that sort of society each person tries to use the hardships, misfortunes, problems and miseries of others for their own benefit. In this sort of society, if a person needs something urgently, then the price for that product is immediately raised drastically and the person has to empty their pockets.
In a socialist society, money is not the universal treasure, the sphere of its influence is always limited and always temporary. In the USSR, the bulk of the economy was non-tradable, that is, the major part of the manufactured products did not appear on the consumer market. For example, the means of production weren’t on sale in the USSR, meaning all the things without which the production is not possible – factory machines, equipment, buildings, structures, land, resources, etc. All these means of production were public, not private, and they were used for the benefit of everyone and not for the benefit of the few.
That’s why the socialist society provided their citizens not only with living space, but also a great number of the most important and vital necessities such as education, healthcare, the opportunity for cultural and physical development, etc. Even the most basic needs could be satisfied absolutely for free in the Soviet Union. Those who lived in the USSR and still remember it, know that every street had well-rooms with clean drinking water. In villages there were public wells and water taps all over the place, which were carefully looked after. If you wanted to have a drink, you were free to do so! No one would even think of selling drinking water. And you couldn’t die of hunger either – all public canteens had free bread lying on a big plate on tables, along with salt, pepper and vinegar, and that was completely cost-free!
All this is completely impossible in capitalist countries, where every human need is converted into money. Under capitalism, paid services (or social benefits) contain a major and irremovable flaw – they are not available for everyone! The price for services is the cutoff mark for those who can consume them and those who can only dream about it. And the latter are plenty in capitalism. For example, in the most developed (in capitalist terms) country in the world, the USA, almost a third of the population does not have access to medical services!
Basically, the standard of living in a society is determined not by the size of salaries, but by the presence and the amount of free social services which this or that society can offer to its members. Only the standard of living of the lowest layers of the society can show whether it is indeed socially oriented and whether it is comfortable for living. As for the bourgeois index of the so-called average standard of living, when miniscule earnings of the poor are being added to the colossal earnings of the richest, and as a result it all looks very good on paper – that is intentional deceit and fraud, which bourgeois governments engage in on governmental scale, in order to hide the parasitic nature of the capitalist society.
Some of our misled citizens, who lived in late USSR, think that paid healthcare is better than free healthcare, because in those couple of times they went to a Soviet doctor, they didn’t experience the level of comfort they wished for. They had to sit in line, doctors were not friendly enough with them, doctors’ offices and hospital wards were simple-looking, hospitals had no disposable syringes, etc.
You listen to them and think: do these guys have any shame or any brain at all? Seems like they don’t. It turns out that luxurious designs of hospital wards and artificial smiles of doctors, who in fact feel completely impartial to the patient, is more important than being under constant surveillance of the government medicine that closely monitors your health since the first moments and until the last days of your life. These people failed to notice the emergency medical aid in the USSR with its unique sanitary aviation, that could assist anyone in any corner of the country; they failed to notice the system of occupational safety and the prophylactic measures against professional diseases, used for restoring the health of millions of Soviet citizens involved in hazardous occupations and for preventing them from developing illnesses; they failed to notice the rehabilitation system (sanatoriums, centers for preventive medicine, fitness dispensaries, etc.) or plenty of various specialized medical dispensaries where patients with open-lung tuberculosis (a highly contagious disease!) did not walk the streets without a care in the world like these days. They don’t want to remember the unique Soviet system of health check-ups (disease prevention) of the entire population, from the youngest citizens to the oldest; they don’t want to remember the system of protection of the mother and child’s health, through which Soviet doctors were constantly on the lookout for the wellbeing of women and children since birth. They also forgot the wonderful system of epidemiological monitoring, which for many decades allowed Soviet citizens to put extremely dangerous epidemies behind them, while time and again they pop up in places where capitalism exists, taking away hundreds and thousands of human lives. The sanitary-epidemiological monitoring did not allow to sell poison while camouflaging it as food products and intoxicate people with various rubbish, making huge profits off of people’s health and lives, like it is done in contemporary Russia.
And what about sports clubs even in the most run-down little towns all over the country, a huge amount of stadiums, swimming pools – in other words, the mass sport, without the development and universal availability of which good public health cannot be obtained? Why do they not remember these things?
That’s why the people who accuse the Soviet healthcare of lack of quality never needed any treatment. That’s why they never felt sick, having visited the doctor’s office only twice or so in several decades. It was all there in the USSR and they enjoyed it all, without even noticing! And it was all there because it was the product of labour of all Soviet citizens! And every, every Soviet citizen enjoyed these benefits to full extent!
The free Soviet medicine was of very high quality, that’s why Soviet citizens didn’t fall ill as often as the citizens of capitalist countries do. Since the job of healthcare is not so much as to treat the disease as to prevent it! You know you have high quality healthcare when people don’t get sick!
While paid healthcare, as well as paid education, because of their very essence, cannot be of good quality, since their only aim is the profit. Paid medicine as well as paid education are a type of business. It means that sick people bring profit for paid medicine! For only when people are sick, the businessmen will be able to extract profits! Capitalism doesn’t need healthy people, you can’t make money off of them. Everything else comes as a result of that – fabricated medicines, fake treatment, intentional contamination, etc.
A person who supports paid healthcare is either a minion of capitalists or a madman, unwilling to see past his own nose. In 25 years of Russian capitalism we have had plenty of opportunity to see that by becoming pre-paid, our Russian healthcare system did not become better, on the contrary, behind the attractive shell of private clinics hides their vile essence – they aren’t made for curing us, our health does not interest them. The most important thing for them is to extract money from us, as much of it as possible. Whether we’re sick or not, whether we will get better from their treatment or not, that does not interest private doctors. In fact, the more we get sick, the better: it means we will come to them constantly, since we don’t have any other choice! And that’s not because doctors are scumbags and scoundrels, no, it’s because the laws of capitalism force them to act this way, otherwise they will not survive, they will go bankrupt.
Yes, under capitalism there are such medical centers which have accomplished considerable success. But their success is more a result of good marketing and PR campaigns than actual unique medical treatments capable of helping people. And very few people actually have the money for being treated in such centers, the majority of citizens in capitalist countries can only dream about such treatment. Whereas the healthcare system in socialist countries, which we talked about previously, was available for all people and had just as many unique methods of treatment, if not more. There was a time when the USSR was one of the world leaders in medical science.
As for disposable syringes, which are often remembered by our misled citizens describing the false benefits of paid Western medicine, those are needed in countries where drug addiction is widely spread! In the USSR, where people didn’t know anything about this phenomenon, such syringes were simply not needed. Besides, they are extremely wasteful, like any disposable object – unnecessary waste of materials and human labour. Reusable syringes in this case are much better. In those areas where disposable syringes were indeed required, for example, by insulin-dependent diabetics, they had been around for ages.
Interestingly enough, we have to “sell” the inarguable advantages of free medicine to those Russian citizens who only lived in the USSR for a short while and who didn’t really have the chance to get acquainted with the everyday life in it. They have absorbed all bourgeois myths that were forcefully imposed on them during the Perestroyka, that’s why, to them, capitalism is not something which exists in the real world, but is a kind of utopian fantasy that has formed inside their heads.
In contrast, Western citizens that are unfamiliar with socialism, know very well all the “advantages” of paid medicine, having experienced all of its “benefits” personally. A friend of mine from the Netherlands has shared a story which really says it all: a couple of months ago she had to undergo a serious operation, which she will have to pay for for 5 years straight now, practically giving all of her salary away in order to pay off the debt. When she got dismissed from the hospital, not only she couldn’t go through a rehabilitation course and had to immediately go back to work, but she now also has to clean her wealthy neighbor’s apartment, in order to pay for the rent and groceries. And this friend of mine is not some kind of manual laborer, she has a University degree and a rare one, too – biochemistry science! And the medical insurance, with the idea of which some of our unreasonable citizens like to play with, trying to pass it for a type of free healthcare, didn’t help her in the least, as we can see. The limit was quickly reached and she found herself deep in debt destined to last for many years.
Free social benefits provided by a socialist government also have a political aspect to them, which often goes unnoticed. Free social benefits is one of the real signs of equality that the humankind is striving to have. And whereas capitalism provides this equality only on paper, socialism provides it for real. It means that the future belongs to socialism.