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Short Stories

SHORT STORY: Suicide By Socialism

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Guest post by William B. Scott

“What do you mean, ‘No heart surgeon’s available?’ That’s totally unacceptable! Do you know who I am?” the red-faced patient screamed, spittle flying.

A tall, fifty-something nurse calmly patted her face with a tissue, while staring intently into the livid patient’s dark eyes. “Of course I know who you are. Every man, woman and transgender working in the medical field knows you’re the brilliant, attractive socialist, who sold the American people—and your Washington sycophants—on Medicare for All. Your crowning achievement was ramming through the Universal Healthcare Act. And now you’re out here in flyover country, stumping for the presidency—again. Your second shot at the Oval Office, after you and old Joe lost to the Trump Tsunami in 2024.”

The patient dismissively flipped a well-manicured hand. “Cut the crap, nursie! I demand that you get on that phone and tell your hospital’s best cardiac surgeon to get his butt down to this emergency room now!” the woman bellowed. Shoulder-length dark hair matted her sweat-streaked brow and cheeks, framing sharply defined facial features. At the moment, they matched a shade of wallpaper paste. She suddenly grimaced and clutched her breast with both hands, as a shot of searing pain stabbed her upper torso. “Oh, God!” she squeaked.

“What’s your level of pain, dear?” the nurse asked, moving to a stainless steel tower of IV bags linked to the patient’s arms.

“Ten! God! More than ten!” the woman muttered, curling in pain. The nurse nodded, checked a rack of electronic monitors and opened a small valve, increasing the flow of powerful fentanyl painkiller through a plastic tube and needle inserted into the patient’s inner arm.

Momentarily, the woman relaxed and took a deep breath. “Better, thanks,” she mumbled. “Now, get that surgeon…”

Nurse Donna White’s palm sliced horizontally, silencing the patient. “I’ve told you three times. There are no heart surgeons in this hospital. Or at any other hospital in this entire state. Surely your staff’s keeping you informed about the devastating impacts your UHA has had on the healthcare industry!” She glared at the woman lying before her, vaguely noting that the Democratic Socialist presidential primary front-runner radiated an unpleasant body odor.

“Of course!” the patient huffed. “Over three-hundred million Americans now have access to first-class healthcare, thanks to UHA-2025! And it’s free to everybody.”

“Right. Including eighteen-million illegal immigrants,” the nurse clipped. She sighed and tucked a strand of gray behind her ear. “Nothing we can do about that tonight. Here are the facts that affect you. Right here, right now:  Based on the scans we did, you are in critical need of quadruple bypass surgery. All of your coronary arteries are hopelessly clogged, and your heart’s electrical system is going haywire.”

“That’s impossible,” the woman huffed. “I’m too young to have old-people heart problems! You’ve made a terrible mistake. I mean it! Get that cardiac surgeon in here ASAP!”

The patient was sweating profusely, Nurse White noted. She really is hurting, poor dear, the nurse thought, softening. Yes, the patient was a stereotypical arrogant, self-absorbed politician, but still a human being in desperate need of medical care. At the moment, she also was a scared little girl, not the cocky, once-cute ex-VP who had mesmerized a generation of Millennials, an equally clueless news media and countless Silicon Valley millionaires with promises of all-green energy, gun confiscation and free college for all.

“Dear, I honestly wish I could rustle up an experienced heart surgeon,” White said quietly. “There simply are none available. Zero. Nada.” She raised a palm and tilted her chin, halting an imminent patient outburst. “The harsh truth is this: Your Medicare-for-All philosophy literally and thoroughly decimated America’s healthcare sector. Thousands of doctors, nurses, technicians and support personnel have had to abandon the work they love, because they could no longer make a living taking caring of patients. In the name of cost-cutting, thousands of your Medicare bureaucrats arbitrarily decided what a physician was worth. His or her specialty didn’t matter. ‘Here’s your government-determined salary, doc. Take it or leave it.’ Around here, ninety-plus percent chose to leave it. That’s why we don’t have a cardiovascular surgeon.”

The nurse paused to check the young woman’s vitals. “Not good, dear. Not good.”

“What’s not good? My law? You got that wrong, nursie!” the patient slurred, eyelids drooping. Painkillers were taking effect. “Everybody in America is finally covered by the best healthcare in the world!”

White shook her head and shot the patient a look of disgust. “I meant your vital signs. In simple terms, your heart’s losing its ability to pump sufficient blood to keep your vital organs functioning. Unless you’re in surgery tonight…. Well, you may not be here in the morning. Sorry, but that’s the bald-faced truth, honey.”

The patient blinked, mouth open in disbelief. “That’s not possible. No way! You’re not qualified to make that assessment! And I’m….” Her jaw slammed shut, before the thought—too important— escaped as irretrievable audio.

Nurse White stifled a laugh, knowing very well what the arrogant politico didn’t quite spout. “No, that’s out-of-date information. Was the best healthcare system in the world! No longer, thanks to your UHA, girlie.” White’s face flushed.

What the hell. Let the little twerp have it! Nobody else has the guts to tell her the truth! 

“Madam vice-president, you really are hopelessly stupid and clueless! That law you’re so proud of has destroyed thousands of lives and decimated the American healthcare system, which was world-class—before your law took effect. In the last year alone, hundreds of hospitals have closed. Thousands of doctors and nurses have given up and gone to other professions and jobs. We’re down to a skeleton staff, and I expect this hospital will be forced to close within weeks.

“The best heart surgeon in the state once served here. He’s now selling real estate, barely getting by. And that guy is madder than hell! He spent a huge chunk of his life in med school and residency, and had finally paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational loans. He and his beautiful wife—another doctor, pediatrics—were able to buy a house and were about to start a family. Those two kids had lived on beans and noodles for a decade, and were finally top-notch physicians, making good money! All their hopes and dreams came to a screeching halt, when your damned UHA law clobbered them! We lost two wonderful doctors, because all-knowing federal bureaucrats decided they only deserved a pittance of a salary. Two lives totally disrupted and lifelong dreams ruined, thanks to your UHA.”

“That’s impossible,” the stubborn patient hissed, flicking another dismissive wave. “The law specifically requires physicians and other important healthcare professionals be adequately compensated. Maybe they can’t buy a new BMW every year, but they’re getting a fair salary! And the law substantially cut healthcare costs by eliminating unnecessary tests, hospital stays and treatments.”

White bit her lip. “Good God, lady! You really don’t get it, do you?”

“Get what? I had the best academic minds in the U.S. designing UHA-2025!”

“And not a single one of those professors had ever worked in real-world healthcare. They couldn’t have, because they totally ignored the ‘M Factor.’ They were writing doomed-to-fail legislation from their world view, a fantasyland of naive ideas and feel-good theories, not the reality of patients and practical science!”

The patient managed a thin smile. “The ‘M Factor’? That an insider term you medical elitists made up?”

“No, we definitely didn’t,” White shot back. “It’s a term no Socialist or Democrat could possibly understand. It’s precisely why every experiment in socialism has been an utter, complete failure.”

The patient bristled. “You’re mistaken, nursie! Socialism was never implemented correctly, that’s all! Our American version is working! The UHA proves we got it right this time!”

Nurse White scanned the bank of monitors, trying to control her temper. The patient’s EKG was becoming more erratic. Blood pressure and pulse rate were steadily deteriorating. White had seen this combination before. If she goes into ventricular fibrillation….

“So, what’s this mysterious ‘M Factor’?” the woman persisted.

“Motivation,” White said absently, focused on adjusting an IV drip, then typing a note into her computer. “Socialism always destroys motivation. Why should a young man or woman beat their brains out for decades, gaining the knowledge and exquisite skills necessary to perform a delicate procedure on a human heart—sometimes while it’s beating—or your child’s brain, or your husband’s shattered leg, after a skiing accident? Why go into staggering financial debt, if the only reward is a biweekly government paycheck substantially smaller than that of a plumber or software code-writer?”

Lyjng in bed, the woman stared silently. She seemed smaller, as if shrinking into the bedding. “But socialism is far more fair!” she wailed. “It’s not right that some people have so much money and others fight to simply survive! Besides, doctors don’t need so much money! They can get by on much less! They don’t deserve to make more than their maid and barber!”

“That’s total bull, madam VP!” White snapped. “This nation was founded on the principle that every citizen has the opportunity to become whatever he or she wants to be. No assurances, just an equal chance to achieve a goal. If you’re willing to work hard, you have a good shot at not only a satisfying career, but also real wealth. Those who achieve difficult goals do deserve to enjoy the fruits of their efforts. Nobody is guaranteed a particular outcome, only an equal opportunity. And that system has built the richest, most powerful nation on Earth.

“You’re a smart lady,” White continued, folding her arms and leaning on the bed’s rail. “Or so the ga-ga media keeps insisting. But I’ll bet big bucks you’ve never read a little book written by Mary Elise Sarotte, entitled, The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall.

The patient shook her head and smirked.

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“Of course not,” White sniffed. “So you’ve never read a stunning passage in that book, a quote by the leader of East Germany, Gunter Schabowksi. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, he said, ‘Socialism doesn’t work.’ It’s never worked, because no human being will work his tail off, only to receive the same pay as the dork who sits on his butt and never lifts a finger. Socialism offers absolutely no incentive to work—and kills motivation. No M-Factor.”

The lady looked away, choked and pressed a fist against her lips. A tear slid down her cheek. She took a ragged breath, cleared her throat and softly said, “I’m not going to make it, am I?” Nurse White shook her head, unable to answer.

“Give me something to write on,” the patient whispered. “And a pen….please.” White handed her both and turned back to the bank of sophisticated equipment, intently studying jagged squiggles marching across screens, flanked by columns of ever-shifting figures.

“Here. Take this.” The patient waved a folded slip of paper pinched between a thumb and forefinger. “I want your hospital administrator to call a press conference. He or she or you will stand before the cameras and read this. For me. Got it?”

Nurse White slipped the folded sheet into a smock pocket. “Of course, dear. But you’re the hot little presidential candidate. You should deliver this message.”

The patient snorted. “Like hell I will! I’m not long for this world, and….” Her voice trailed off in a faint squeak. Finally, she murmured, “I don’t want to die! Why won’t you find a doctor to help me?”

White fought tears for a long moment. “Because there are no doctors to find. None who can help you. They’ve all…left. Because they couldn’t make enough to take care of their families or themselves.” Gently, she took the patient’s hand and held it. The two women stared at each other for a long time. Nothing more was said, because there was nothing more to say.

At 4:39 a.m., the passionate Socialist Democrat presidential candidate passed away, a victim of uncontrollable ventricular fibrillation. The hospital administrator issued a brief press release announcing the lady’s shocking, untimely death. It also alerted news organizations that more details would be provided at a press conference scheduled for 9:00 a.m.

Standing before blinding lights, a forest of microphones and myriad TV cameras, the hospital’s chief executive patiently walked through medical details related to the candidate’s demise. In essence, a rare genetic condition had doomed the woman to heart problems and a short life. No, he couldn’t explain why it hadn’t been caught before. Yes, with the proper intervention—delicate surgery, which only a few physicians were trained to perform—she might have lived.

Shouted questions evoked blunt, shocking explanations about how quickly the former VP’s Universal Healthcare Act had devastated the entire American medical sector, driving critical-care physicians, nurses, technicians and other professionals from the field. Disbelieving reporters kept hammering away, refusing to accept what the administrator was espousing. In frustration, he called Nurse Donna White to the podium, introducing her as “the professional who took care of the former vice president throughout her final hours.”

White ignored the reporters’ howling and indignant gotcha questions, while slowly unfolding a slip of paper. Holding it aloft, she said, “Last night, my patient asked that I relay this handwritten message to all of you.” Slipping on a pair of glasses, she read:

“‘To my fellow Americans: I am humbled by your trust and faith in me and my message. With all my heart, I believed that message was true. But tonight, I have learned a very hard lesson. I was wrong, terribly wrong. Socialism and Medicare-for-All are doomed to fail. Socialism does not work!

“‘Bernie, Alexandria, Nancy, Chuck and all my other dear colleagues, please honor my sole, dying request:  Repeal the Universal Healthcare Act. It is directly responsible for my death. Rebuild America’s once-great healthcare sector. And please, please accept my sincere apologies for destroying it.”The nurse paused, held the page face-out to the cameras, and said, “Signed, Kamala Harris, former Vice President of the United States of America.” 

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