How Congress Created Socialized Medicine — In 1798

02-john-adams-12644Is Obamacare a communism-flavored slap-in-the-face to our Founding Fathers? No, it isn’t — Forbes points out that the wigged ones were closet socialists. In 1798, Congress created the first taxpayer-funded, government-run hospital, and mandated health insurance for all sailors — moves that seemed to predict health care in Europe and Canada today:

In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed – “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

Keep in mind that the 5th Congress did not really need to struggle over the intentions of the drafters of the Constitutions in creating this Act as many of its members were the drafters of the Constitution.

And when the Bill came to the desk of President John Adams for signature, I think it’s safe to assume that the man in that chair had a pretty good grasp on what the framers had in mind.

Realizing that a healthy maritime workforce was essential to the ability of our private merchant ships to engage in foreign trade, Congress and the President resolved to do something about it. The law did a number of fascinating things.

First, it created the Marine Hospital Service, a series of hospitals built and operated by the federal government to treat injured and ailing privately employed sailors. This government provided healthcare service was to be paid for by a mandatory tax on the maritime sailors (a little more than 1% of a sailor’s wages), the same to be withheld from a sailor’s pay and turned over to the government by the ship’s owner. The payment of this tax for health care was not optional. If a sailor wanted to work, he had to pay up.

This is pretty much how it works today in the European nations that conduct socialized medical programs for its citizens – although 1% of wages doesn’t quite cut it any longer.

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  • Liam_McGonagle

    Yes, this is very interesting. But it ignores several salient facts:

    1. The United States is a considerably older and less dynamic nation in 2011 than it was in 1798. We have an intensely perverse cultural bias against innovation.

    2. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries were next to non-existant in 1798, and therefore their malignant influence could hardly be brought to bear upon the destruction of an eminently sensible resource pooling strategy, as is de rigeur today.

    3. The typical American of 2011 is a self-centered, pig-ignorant goatfucking slave slobbering over the jimmy of America’s most repulsive plutocrats on Wall Street, whereas the vast majority of Americans in 1798 lived in relatively isolated self-sufficient farmsteads that thrived on intense involvement in public institutions like town and regional asemblies. Our ancestors had a natural bias, almost ingrained disgust, at the parasitic workings of big finance.

    Ah, for the good ol’ days. . .

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Yes, this is very interesting. But it ignores several salient facts:

    1. The United States is a considerably older and less dynamic nation in 2011 than it was in 1798. We have an intensely perverse cultural bias against innovation.

    2. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries were next to non-existant in 1798, and therefore their malignant influence could hardly be brought to bear upon the destruction of an eminently sensible resource pooling strategy, as is de rigeur today.

    3. The typical American of 2011 is a self-centered, pig-ignorant goatfucking slave slobbering over the jimmy of America’s most repulsive plutocrats on Wall Street, whereas the vast majority of Americans in 1798 lived in relatively isolated self-sufficient farmsteads that thrived on intense involvement in public institutions like town and regional asemblies. Our ancestors had a natural bias, almost ingrained disgust, at the parasitic workings of big finance.

    Ah, for the good ol’ days. . .

    • Payrollpinky

      So does tha make you a self absorbed, pigfucking slave owner that got his ass kicked by one too many Americans. Bottom line we Americans can still kick your ass assuming you’re not American. Slow your role boy, you obviously only know about the televised American on the media and not me or my neighbor, because that language wouldn’t be tolerated for one second and would get you a fat lip.

      • Liam_McGonagle

        I’m more American that you, apparently, could ever aspire to be.

        If you’re ashamed that Americans claiming to be stalwart defenders of the Republic and to value freedom above all else voted in faux populist douchebags like Ron Johnson and kicked out guys who utterly refused to participate in imperlialist wars of aggression or bailouts of incompetent banksters, as Russ Feingold did, well you ought to be.

        http://thegreatamateurhour.blogspot.com/2010/11/populist-dissatisfaction-with-economy.html

        Face facts: The average American is a fat, impotent moron whose primary form of exercise consists of patting himself on the back for his great-great-great grandfather’s achievements. Time to put up or shut up.

      • OMGsocialism

        Wow, really? You actually used ‘slow your role boy’ in a sentence. Just. Wow. I’m not sure it’s possible to embody the dipshit American stereotype any more than you have, ‘Payrollpinky’. Where do you live, Georgia circa 1860?

      • Bud Bundy

        first off, fairly sure its “slow your roll”

        second, take the noose off after your done with your autoerotic asphyxiation. its cutting off the blood to what passes for your brain and makes you say ridiculous things on teh webz.

  • Guest

    >So much for the claim that “The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty….”

    Umm, the Forbes article does not indicate what specific Constitutional provision was cited in support of the Adams legislation. Rather, the Forbes article makes an appeal to authority (ie., the health care law was passed by the writers of the Constitution, therefore it’s constitutional).

    The ‘reasoning’ in the Forbes article goes like this: since Adams forced a small percentage of Americans to do something in the 1700s, it is okay for Obamacare to force *all* Americans to do something far more sweeping and costly in the 2000s.

    does-not-compute.

  • Guest

    >1. We have an intensely perverse cultural bias against innovation.

    O RLY?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_inventions

    >2. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries were next to non-existant in 1798, and therefore their malignant influence could hardly be brought to bear upon the destruction of an eminently sensible resource pooling strategy, as is de rigeur today.

    Appeal to ridicule.

    >3. The typical American of 2011 is a self-centered, pig-ignorant goatfucking slave…

    Appeal to ridicule.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Look, this is not complicated: People need regular medical care or they die prematurely. That’s it. Not some fancypants Frank Luntz thinktank bullshit, just common sense.

    Medical care is not optional for the human being. Either you make responsible provisions to spread the risk, or you waste vast amounts of resources in dealing with the results of failure.

    I should think the self-proclaimed ‘business geniuses’ of the Republican party would be able to muster enough braincells together to wrap their heads around that fundamental economic reality.

    Guess not.

  • WhiteRose

    Sick “seamen” maybe they should learn to withdraw…..

  • WhiteRose

    Sick “seamen” maybe they should learn to withdraw…..

  • Anonymous

    Guest, I’m not asking you to BUY a clue–I’m giving you one. Three actually. Actually read what I’ve written.

    1. The full text of my original quote which you unsurprisingly applied selective mis-editing to:

    “The United States IS a considerably older and less dynamic nation in 2011 than it was in 1798. We have an intensely perverse cultural bias against innovation.”

    So if you’re gonna try to counter me, you’re gonna have to give me a link more impressive than a Wikipedia article listing Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.

    http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/faculty/dean.html

    But I’m sure your credentials in being able to cut and paste a wikipedia discussion about the invention of a steam powered butter churn has much more cred than the Dean of the engineering school at Dartmouth.

    2. If your primary reaction to the perverse influence of big insurance and big pharma should be laughter rather than horror or nausea, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.

    3. Facts are facts. They don’t change simply because you don’t like them.

    Interesting that you didn’t bother to actual provide any countervaling factual information relevant to 2011 rather than some warmed over story of our great-great-great grandparents’ glory years.

    America can’t tolerate this lazy ignorant lying on its laurels any longer. Younger more dynamic countries like India and China are undercutting us and making us laughing stocks. Or rather pig-ignorant American goatfuckers are ALLOWING America to be made a laughing stock . . .

  • Payrollpinky

    So does tha make you a self absorbed, pigfucking slave owner that got his ass kicked by one too many Americans. Bottom line we Americans can still kick your ass assuming you’re not American. Slow your role boy, you obviously only know about the televised American on the media and not me or my neighbor, because that language wouldn’t be tolerated for one second and would get you a fat lip.

  • Anonymous

    I’m more American that you, apparently, could ever aspire to be.

    If you’re ashamed that Americans claiming to be stalwart defenders of the Republic and to value freedom above all else voted in faux populist douchebags like Ron Johnson and kicked out guys who utterly refused to participate in imperlialist wars of aggression or bailouts of incompetent banksters, as Russ Feingold did, well you ought to be.

    http://thegreatamateurhour.blogspot.com/2010/11/populist-dissatisfaction-with-economy.html

    Face facts: The average American is a fat, impotent moron whose primary form of exercise consists of patting himself on the back for his great-great-great grandfather’s achievements. Time to put up or shut up.

  • Xorphial

    Wow way to add to the stereotype you fuckin idiot.

  • OMGsocialism

    Wow, really? You actually used ‘slow your role boy’ in a sentence. Just. Wow. I’m not sure it’s possible to embody the dipshit American stereotype any more than you have, ‘Payrollpinky’. Where do you live, Georgia circa 1860?

  • Wrxfan420

    Hey, Liam_McGonagle, why don’t you go fuck yourself. You are just as Arrogant as all those other Democrats out there who think they know what is better for me than I know myself.

    If you want to hype this article up as the big middle finger to the Republicans who are against a government mandated insurance plan, you might want to pay more attention to the article you hoist as your argument. The second to last paragraph, last two sentences pretty much says it all.

    “The payment of this tax for health care was not optional. If a sailor wanted to work, he had to pay up.”

    That is all fine and good. If you want to force something on someone, at least do it in a fair manner. If a person did not want to be a sailor, they were not required to have insurance. This is no different then many professions out there where you have prerequisite requirements for employment. Anyone that has a dangerous job is generally required to also have insurance.

    This mandate would not apply to your average Retail employee who would be forced to purchase insurance or pay a fine based on the Obamacare offering.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, Insurance is an important thing to have, but by no means does our government have the right to force it on every citizen in the country.

  • Anonymous

    Genius, if you don’t have insurance and you get seriously ill, you go bankrupt.

    I know your MBA classes may not have covered this, but I’ll make it simple for you:

    1. The purpose of insurance is to prevent catastrophic economic failure by spreading risk. It is an essentially “socialistic” undertaking meant to provide a cushion of resources so that accidents, etc. don’t totally whipe out part of the economy. If you don’t think people are integral to the economy, you’re an idiot. If you think you have the “wisdom” and moral “right” to decide which individual people aren’t worthy of participation in the economy, you are also an ass.

    2. The profit motive is essentially anti-social. It is essentially hoarding. Take in more than you give out–the rest is profit. “Give me mine–fuck the rest.”

    Get the point, Einstein? Insurance is a fundamentally “socialistic” endeavour, and trying to structure it as a profit-driven enterprise is begging for failure.

    And, dumbass, getting sick is not an “option” you can pick or choose. It’s an unavoidable risk of life.

    Why are all the so-called fucking “patriots” so keen to weaken the United States?

  • DeepCough

    If I were a sailor back in 1798, fuck it, I’d be thrilled to have healthcare, government supported or not, especially when living on the high seas still had the potential to give you scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) in those days.

  • DeepCough

    If I were a sailor back in 1798, fuck it, I’d be thrilled to have healthcare, government supported or not, especially when living on the high seas still had the potential to give you scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) in those days.

  • Bud Bundy

    first off, fairly sure its “slow your roll”

    second, take the noose off after your done with your autoerotic asphyxiation. its cutting off the blood to what passes for your brain and makes you say ridiculous things on teh webz.

  • Lordbutt

    Withholding from sailors pay for “…the sick and hurt” goes back over a thousand years in most every society, in most times. Both naval personnel and merchant seaman were required to contribute. That is, it was withheld from their pay. I don’t know how it came about that the law was passed in the U. S. Might make a good doctoral thesis. Strange, isn’t it, how sailors were the first to have health insurance?

  • Lordbutt

    Withholding from sailors pay for “…the sick and hurt” goes back over a thousand years in most every society, in most times. Both naval personnel and merchant seaman were required to contribute. That is, it was withheld from their pay. I don’t know how it came about that the law was passed in the U. S. Might make a good doctoral thesis. Strange, isn’t it, how sailors were the first to have health insurance?

  • Reason

    What is dying prematurely? Do you have a set amount of time before you die? Medical care is absolutely optional for the human being. Most people make choices to eat things they know are bad for them, many people have habits that are known to kill them or at the very least make them sick. You act as if health insurance is a human right for all people paid for by some. If you are feeling generous then sell your possessions and give them to insure the poor. By the way, McDonald’s offers health insurance, so if you know someone without health insurance then have them quit their job and go to work for a fast food joint, it doesn’t pay well but it does have health insurance. Now, problem solved. What other ignorant statements would you like to make?

  • Reason

    Answer this honestly, you love to hear yourself talk don’t you? Go ahead and admit it. By the way, China is about 4,000 years old, unless you are talking about “communist China”. It is western influence and capitalism that is growing China and India. Your point was about health care but you point out two countries that are “doing better” than America but have terrible health care systems. They are trying to implement capitalism and it is growing their economy. We have capitalism and are trying to implement socialism and can’t figure out why our economy isn’t responding.

  • Andrew

    A “death” is “premature” when the human resource was still capable of generating magic tokens at the time it broke down.

  • Aggie

    Reason – ‘Medical care is absolutely optional for the human being.’ – yeah, good luck giving birth without any medical care. Yes, I know people managed it in the past but they also tended to die like flies. As for the issue of healthy eating and so on its perfectly true a number of illnesses are preventable, but many are not. Do you think you’re immune to TB, or flu or any number of other infections? Maybe your daughters new boyfriend has picked up something nasty down at the club. Or perhaps a homeless person coughs on you as you walk past. Maybe the guy you sit next to in First Class on that 747 is breathing his bird-flu viri around the plane… One good reason for public healthcare is self-protection. You might be fortunate enough to have private coverage, but the people who don’t might end up spreading their diseases into the general population. Hence treat everybody and the overall disease risk lowers. This has been recognised time and time again in history (google the ‘great stink’ for example) and yet it seems these days the health debate revolves around the weirdest of anti-government beliefs. I find it amusing the right-wing anti-gov types tend to love big government when it comes to military spending (i.e. killing people) but hate it when its used for making their own countrymen live a better life. Seriously, WTF people? Aren’t we supposed to be a nominally Christian nation? Could you see Jesus talking like the right-wing church-going fucktards in Congress?

  • Aggie

    Reason – ‘Medical care is absolutely optional for the human being.’ – yeah, good luck giving birth without any medical care. Yes, I know people managed it in the past but they also tended to die like flies. As for the issue of healthy eating and so on its perfectly true a number of illnesses are preventable, but many are not. Do you think you’re immune to TB, or flu or any number of other infections? Maybe your daughters new boyfriend has picked up something nasty down at the club. Or perhaps a homeless person coughs on you as you walk past. Maybe the guy you sit next to in First Class on that 747 is breathing his bird-flu viri around the plane… One good reason for public healthcare is self-protection. You might be fortunate enough to have private coverage, but the people who don’t might end up spreading their diseases into the general population. Hence treat everybody and the overall disease risk lowers. This has been recognised time and time again in history (google the ‘great stink’ for example) and yet it seems these days the health debate revolves around the weirdest of anti-government beliefs. I find it amusing the right-wing anti-gov types tend to love big government when it comes to military spending (i.e. killing people) but hate it when its used for making their own countrymen live a better life. Seriously, WTF people? Aren’t we supposed to be a nominally Christian nation? Could you see Jesus talking like the right-wing church-going fucktards in Congress?

  • CherylCole

    ‘We have capitalism and are trying to implement socialism and can’t figure out why our economy isn’t responding. ‘ – so let me get this straight; most of the American innovations of the past century were either funded by the taxpayer (i.e. via military spending – satellites & GPS, arpanet, large computers, nuclear technology) or heavily subsidised (for example the government buying so many Hollerith tabulators for the 1890 census or in modern times the vast amounts of cash dished out to companies like Boeing) by the public. Yet I didn’t see many people screaming in the 60s/70s/80s for the end of this ‘socialism’. When America landed on the moon did you (or if you’re young your family) say ‘Fantastic, we’re number one!’ or did you say ‘State-funded tax-burning bastards, let’s overthrow the government!’

    Its also kind of amusing that America became a middle-class nation after the war and a big reason for that was the GI bill. Instead of letting the soldiers – which comprised a large chunk of the male workforce – make their own way in the glorious free-market the government provided subsidies for training, home loans and even unemployment benefits. Can anybody point out how many at the time complained about this act of Republican-written life-improving leftist tyranny?….

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Look, this is not complicated: People need regular medical care or they die prematurely. That’s it. Not some fancypants Frank Luntz thinktank bullshit, just common sense.

    Medical care is not optional for the human being. Either you make responsible provisions to spread the risk, or you waste vast amounts of resources in dealing with the results of failure.

    I should think the self-proclaimed ‘business geniuses’ of the Republican party would be able to muster enough braincells together to wrap their heads around that fundamental economic reality.

    Guess not.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Guest, I’m not asking you to BUY a clue–I’m giving you one. Three actually. Actually read what I’ve written.

    1. The full text of my original quote which you unsurprisingly applied selective mis-editing to:

    “The United States IS a considerably older and less dynamic nation in 2011 than it was in 1798. We have an intensely perverse cultural bias against innovation.”

    So if you’re gonna try to counter me, you’re gonna have to give me a link more impressive than a Wikipedia article listing Eli Whitney’s cotton gin.

    http://engineering.dartmouth.edu/faculty/dean.html

    But I’m sure your credentials in being able to cut and paste a wikipedia discussion about the invention of a steam powered butter churn has much more cred than the Dean of the engineering school at Dartmouth.

    2. If your primary reaction to the perverse influence of big insurance and big pharma should be laughter rather than horror or nausea, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.

    3. Facts are facts. They don’t change simply because you don’t like them.

    Interesting that you didn’t bother to actual provide any countervaling factual information relevant to 2011 rather than some warmed over story of our great-great-great grandparents’ glory years.

    America can’t tolerate this lazy ignorant lying on its laurels any longer. Younger more dynamic countries like India and China are undercutting us and making us laughing stocks. Or rather pig-ignorant American goatfuckers are ALLOWING America to be made a laughing stock . . .

  • Reason

    What is dying prematurely? Do you have a set amount of time before you die? Medical care is absolutely optional for the human being. Most people make choices to eat things they know are bad for them, many people have habits that are known to kill them or at the very least make them sick. You act as if health insurance is a human right for all people paid for by some. If you are feeling generous then sell your possessions and give them to insure the poor. By the way, McDonald’s offers health insurance, so if you know someone without health insurance then have them quit their job and go to work for a fast food joint, it doesn’t pay well but it does have health insurance. Now, problem solved. What other ignorant statements would you like to make?

  • Reason

    Answer this honestly, you love to hear yourself talk don’t you? Go ahead and admit it. By the way, China is about 4,000 years old, unless you are talking about “communist China”. It is western influence and capitalism that is growing China and India. Your point was about health care but you point out two countries that are “doing better” than America but have terrible health care systems. They are trying to implement capitalism and it is growing their economy. We have capitalism and are trying to implement socialism and can’t figure out why our economy isn’t responding.

  • Andrew

    A “death” is “premature” when the human resource was still capable of generating magic tokens at the time it broke down.

  • CherylCole

    ‘We have capitalism and are trying to implement socialism and can’t figure out why our economy isn’t responding. ‘ – so let me get this straight; most of the American innovations of the past century were either funded by the taxpayer (i.e. via military spending – satellites & GPS, arpanet, large computers, nuclear technology) or heavily subsidised (for example the government buying so many Hollerith tabulators for the 1890 census or in modern times the vast amounts of cash dished out to companies like Boeing) by the public. Yet I didn’t see many people screaming in the 60s/70s/80s for the end of this ‘socialism’. When America landed on the moon did you (or if you’re young your family) say ‘Fantastic, we’re number one!’ or did you say ‘State-funded tax-burning bastards, let’s overthrow the government!’

    Its also kind of amusing that America became a middle-class nation after the war and a big reason for that was the GI bill. Instead of letting the soldiers – which comprised a large chunk of the male workforce – make their own way in the glorious free-market the government provided subsidies for training, home loans and even unemployment benefits. Can anybody point out how many at the time complained about this act of Republican-written life-improving leftist tyranny?….

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