June 2, 2020

A far-fetched letter of 25 years ago!

By John Guy LaPlanteIMG_20160517_094900-2

Written by me on Jan. 5, 1991. A quarter of a century ago! Extraordinary in its content. And I had zero memory of it! It surprised me. I believe it will surprise you, too. Here it is.

Jan. 5, 1991     To:Letters (Editor), Sunday Journal Magazine, Providence, R.I. 02992

I’ve just come upon (your) Magazine with the very worthwhile piece. “Schoolmaster Henry Barnard” (Dec. 31) on the beginnings of universal public education in Rhode Island more than a century ago.

I couldn’t help musing that in another century there may well be a parallel article—on the beginnings of universal health care.

The setting, it now seems, will be Massachusetts rather than Rhode Island. And at that time health care for everyone will seem as natural and undeniable as education for everyone is today.

And I signed it and gave my Worcester, MA address.

Imagine that. I quote myself, “… I couldn’t help musing that in another century (we may see) the beginnings of universal health care.

And here we are in a new century, in A.D. 2016. And universal health care is a hot subject. How about that?

I was thunderstruck when I uncovered the letter. I had no memory of it. I came upon it while going through a lot of my scribblings over the years in preparation for another book I’ll be publishing.

A bit more background: The Sunday Journal Magazine was a section of the Providence (RI) Journal-Bulletin, a fine paper then and now.

I had written a number of articles for the Journal as a free-lancer, so I was known to them. Plus I had deep Rhode Island roots. I was born and grew up in Rhode Island right next door to Providence, had done graduate work at Brown University, and I visited often.

Since then, of course, Obamacare was born. It was a compromise, yes, not care for one and all, but only because only such a compromise would get enough votes.

I mentioned it was likely to debut first in Massachusetts, a very blue state. And nine years later, that’s where Mitt Romney, then the governor, presided over the first big universal care law in the country.

And right now, as we so well know, presidential hopeful Bernie Sander is rallying millions of supporters by making universal health care a key part of his fight for the presidency. And who, by the way, is also pushing for universal free higher education (pioneer educator Henry Barnard must be applauding wildly!).

And the more centrist Hillary Clinton has been forced to move farther and farther left by the enormous pressure from Bernie. She’s now telling us maybe people in their ‘50s, say, might “buy in” to Medicare!

Progress advances slowly, sometimes discouragingly so. It gets nudged forward, and nudged and nudged. I am confident that a few more nudges and universal health care—already a fact in numerous advanced countries, and so long overdue for us—will become the law of our land.

Your children will see it, and so will my grandchildren.

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