Politics

Here's What's Wrong About This Viral Election Meme

The American healthcare system is a hot topic right now. Premiums for Affordable Care Act health insurance plans, also known as Obamacare, are going up in most states next year.  Also, as ATTN: reported earlier this week, a tweet of a hospital bill revealed the exceptionally complicated nature of healthcare costs in the U.S. 

People are fed up with the healthcare system, and the internet channeled that frustration in the usual way; someone made a meme. 

Meme about healthcare.

The meme, which was shared by the social activism page The Other 98%, has been shared more than 410,000 times in the past two days. It's meant to critique the amount of money the U.S. is spending on this election, in light of the fact the country still doesn't have a free, universal healthcare system. 

As of last week, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had raised $1.3 billion for her campaign, according to The Washington Post. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had raised $795 million. Presumably that is the $2 billion the meme references. 

However, it's missing an important point: Money spent on political candidates' campaigns is an investment in supporting (or hampering) important issues, including healthcare.

First of all, there is no giant pool of money. No one is taking money from healthcare system and putting it into political campaigns. Those are many distinct pools of money.

Obamacare is paid for by a mix of taxes, federal money, and premiums set by private companies.

Campaign donations come from private individuals and organizations who want to support a candidate. Although there is no direct relationship between the amount of money spent on political campaigns and a candidate's success, it can influence support in an election. 

"So gold doesn’t always glitter in politics — but you better have some of it, and sometimes, sometimes, having the most can matter the most," Robert Shrum, a senior fellow at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a former campaign advisor, told the Freakonomics blog in 2012. 

Many wealthy people who invest in a presidential candidate's campaign do so because they are hoping to save money down the road. Maybe a business owner believes a contribution to an anti-Obamacare candidate might result in future savings because that candidate has promised to kill an employer mandate provision in the law. 

Lobbying is another investment that creates change.  

Corporations and organizations spend millions of dollars to lobby politicians. In a recent study on lobbying, researchers examined the return on investment companies get for their lobbying money. The companies studied reportedly earned 22,000 percent back on their original contribution. In other words, for every dollar they spent on lobbying efforts they got $220 back from things like tax breaks, according to NPR. 

So why is it that $2 billion can be spent on an election, but we still don't have universal healthcare? Simply put, some people would rather invest their money in killing a healthcare bill than on supporting it through taxes. 

RELATED: Hospital Bill Explains What's Wrong With Healthcare in the U.S.