RE: Socialized Medicine in the 1960s (multiple responses)

Sat, 7 Jun 1997 00:19:48 -0400


From: "Mike Bennett" <>
Subject: RE: Socialized Medicine in the 1960s (was: Re: Query: Go Ask Alice)

As I was a communist in the sixties, naturally health care was considered a
part of the program. Most of us were under thirty and did not get sick often.
I knew no one who was unable to get health care. There were lots of good
jobs and health care was cheaper. I had benefits on every job I had. most
jobs in San Francisco, then a solid union town, had benefits. Hospitals and
emergency rooms did not ask for ID, so theoretically were "free". the Public
Health Hospitals ( I prefer to go to VA hospitals and clinics today rather
than corporate HMOs) served the Merchant Marine, military dependents and other
federal employees. The railroads had their own medical facilities for
workers. Many medical people provided free services for those involved in
peoples' struggles. I don't remember anyone being turned away from treatment.
We even had psychiatric facilities run by the state then. The cities had
neighborhood clinics for minor injuries and illnesses.



From: Marc <>
Subject: Sixties Amnesia

At 02:43 AM 5/31/97 UT, you wrote:
>I don't know how anyone could say that the country is better.

I'll tell you how: Thirty years ago was anybody struggling against
cuts in federal health care? No, because there wasn't any federal health
care. That's an improvement. From social programs to civil rights to
women's issues and environmental protection, there *have* been improvements.
Of course they're all under attack now, but their popularity is no secret.

It is also because of 60's culture that Americans can look at their
history more honestly: America's orgiginal sin -- for example -- the
extermination of the native population. You are absolutely right that in
the economic sphere, which is fundamental to anyone's quality of life,
things have deteriorated for the general population. But that's also part
of a global phenomenon: the catastrophic spread of corporate capitalism. The
point is that it is a better *culture* today (with not surprisingly,
reactionary counter-tendencies -- it's always a struggle.)

> Had I been able to see the future, I would have spent
>the five years somewhere other than in the movement for social change. It was
>a waste of time and effort. Americans are too self-centered to make change.

History refutes you at virtually every turn.

I don't know what activities you were involved in
(I've already mentioned several successful fights) but let's take the peace
movement -- I myself would consider any mitigation of a brutal and criminal
war on
peasant populations to be an important success. And this is precisely the
effect the peace movement had. Why was the government never able to declare
a national mobilization or anything close to that? Because of the domestic
resistance, obviously, of which the peace movement was an important part.

Sixties activitism and culture has (very fortunately) carried over
-- note the spontaneous Central American solidarity movements that sprung up
in the 1980's, or the enormous demonstrations against the Gulf War BEFORE
the war even started. In the 60's, it took years of organizing before this
level of awareness was reached. Or consider the environmental movement of
the 70's bringing protective legislation. This is a *vast* improvement in
culture. Was anybody talking about the right to a workplace free of sexual
harassment 30 years ago?

I could go on. The general improvement in culture has been
hysterically denied by the powers-at-be for obvious reasons, but it's real.
Unfortunately, it is also true that these cultural improvements have been
accompanied by an economic assault on working people -- in part, a conscious
reaction to popular movements -- in part, related to changes in the
international economy.



From: Tom Condit <>
Subject: Re: Socialized Medicine in the 1960s

There were more clinics available to poor people in metopolitan areas than
there are now, with less red tape. On the other hand, there were ten
counties in South Dakota where there wasn't even one R.N.! (This is the kind
of statistic which will stick in your mind.)

I remember standing outside an American Medical Association convention in
New York (1960?) selling copies of Rob Tucker's pamphlet "The Case for
Socialized Medicine", published by the Socialist Party. In two days, we sold
65 copies at $1 each, but one think which was notable was the number of AMA
delegates who were afraid to even be seen talking with us, for fear that
they would be blacklisted by the local county medical association and denied
hospital "privileges".

I would contest the statement that the Democratic congress defeated it
because it didn't go far enough. The Democrats were part and parcel of the
whole corrupt system, and they defeated it because it wouldn't generate
enough patronage jobs the way Nixon proposed it.



From: Joe Williams <>
Subject: Re: Internet Message


The book you are apparently referring to is 'Love Needs Care' by David
Smith, M.D. He's the founder of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic. It's an
account of the early days of the Haight and its medical problems. I might
have a copy for sale around here somewhere if you would like it quoted.


Joe Williams, Bookseller
Specializing in the 1960s

At 02:55 PM 5/29/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Thank you for the book information. I will definitely see if I can
>locate a copy. I read a book entitled "Summer of Love" in the late
>70's or early 80's, a nonfiction account of the 1967 drug and medical
>experience in the Haight-Ashbury district. As I can't remember the
>author, (I think he was an M.D.), or the publisher, I have been
>unable to locate a copy of the book to reread. Do you or anyone out
>there know where I could get my hands on a copy? Again, thanks for
>your help.