July 23, 2004

Operation Coffeecup

I know it's about a month late, but this is my tribute to Ronald Wilson Reagan, may he rest in peace. He was not a "libertarian" in all aspects, but he truly loved liberty and believed in the American experiment.

I offer for your consideration a wonderfully-preserved example of pre-Internet, multimedia political opinion, produced and distributed by the American Medical Association and deployed via the "Women's Auxiliary" (not the Spouse's Auxiliary): Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine:

Coffeecup Cover.jpg

Enclosed in this record, I found a letter addressed to my grandmother (actually, to "Dear Auxiliary member"):

woman's auxiliary

April 15, 1961

Dear Auxiliary member:

The Woman's Auxiliary has been charged with the most important assignment in its history.

Physicians have asked doctors' wives to assume full responsibility for OPERATION COFFEECUP, an all-out effort to stimulate as many letters as possible to Congress opposing socialized medicine and its menace as proposed in the King bill (HR 4222).

OPERATION COFFEECUP hinges upon use of the enclosed record, "Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine" in informal groups in individual Auxiliary members' homes to stimulate friends and neighbors to write their congressmen.

Instructions for OPERATION COFFEECUP are printed on this record jacket. Informational literature is also enclosed. When you receive this package, don't waste a minute. Follow through with your part in OPERATION COFFEECUP at once. To be most successful, this record must be kept moving.

When you have finished with it, please complete as many of the enclosed report forms as you need and mail them to the Woman's Auxiliary headquarters, 535 N. Dearborn Street, Chicago 10, Ill.

American Medicine has given the Woman's Auxiliary this opportunity to prove its value as helpmates in this vital campaign. Let's demonstrate we can accept this challenge and meet it successfully.


Mrs. William Mackersie, President
Mrs. Leo Smith, Legislative Chairman
Mrs. James Morrison, Vice Chairman

Much more in the extended entry:

Open the cover to this vinyl album and see:

Coffeecup 2.jpg


Here are ten good suggestions from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on how to write your Senators and Representative.

1. ADDRESS THEM PROPERLY--don't confuse a Senator with a Representative.

2. BE LOCAL--tell them how a national question affects your business, your industry, your community.

3. BE BUSINESSLIKE--if you're for something, say so, and tell why. If not, don't hedge, but tell why not.

4. BE SPECIFIC--make your letter brief and to the point.

5. BE POLITE--members of Congress deserve respectful treatment.

6. BE REASONABLE--ask only practical action.

7. BE YOURSELF--use your own letterhead and your own letter style.

8. REQUEST ACTION--your representative is elected to do something.

9. ASK FOR AN ANSWER--you've told him where you stand and why. Now ask him where he stands.

10. BE APPRECIATIVE--thank him for good votes, compliment his better speeches, and praise his staff, too.

Good advice still, I'd say.

Coffeecup 3.jpg

In case you can't read the text in the picture:


Coffee and conversation with friends and neighbors about a crucial issue facing America today.

The legislative chips are down. In the next few months Americans will decide whether or not this nation wants socialized medicine . . . first for its older citizens, soon for all its citizens. The pivotal point in the campaign is a bill currently before Congress. The King bill (HR 4222), another Forand-type bill, is a proposal to finance medical care for all persons on Social Security over 65, regardless of financial need, through the social security tax mechanism. Proponents admit the bill is a "foot in the door" for socialized medicine. Its eventual effect--across-the-board, government medicine for everyone!

Medicine and its allies must stimulate as many letters as possible to Congress opposing such legislation.

To the Woman's Auxiliary American medicine has assigned complete responsibility for OPERATION COFFEECUP.

It is the Auxiliary's major part in this campaign to defeat socialized medicine.

Will you help launch it today?


On the enclosed record film star Ronald Reagan effectively expresses his own views about the dangers of government in medicine. This new, thought-provoking record is the property of the Woman's Auxiliary. It can be the instrument for eliciting thousands of letters opposing the King bill and similar legislation.

Here's what you can do:

As soon as you receive this package, listen to Reagan's record. You can play it on any 33 1/3 monaural phonograph. Then, read the enclosed literature and learn as much as you can about the King bill and why it is "bad medicine."


Invite some of your neighbors and friends in for coffee and play the record for them. Tell them briefly why you want them to hear the record. From the enclosed leaflet, "Medical Aid for the Aged," you can draw information to state the case against legislation like the King bill. You can also point out that Reagan volunteered to make this record because of his own strong personal convictions. He was not paid to do so.

Remember--this record is especially created for playing to informal groups in homes of individual Auxiliary members.

When your visitors have heard the record, discuss the issue thoroughly. This means that you'll have to do your homework on the King bill and others like it before your friends arrive. They'll raise questions you'll have to answer.

Out of discussion should come action--in the form of letters from your guests to congressmen in your district and senators in your state. These letters should express personal opposition to socialized medicine in general and to the King bill (HR 4222) in particular.

Make letter-writing easy. Provide guests with stationery, pens and stamped envelopes. Don't accept an "I'll do it tomorrow" reply--urge each woman to write her letters while she's in your house--and in the mood! Advise your guests that letters should be short and to the point, objecting to the King bill (HR 4222) and giving reasons for opposing it. Each woman should write her own letter in her own words, not merely copy a stereotyped form. See that each woman addresses her own letters to her own congressmen on the spot. You can mail them all later. A list of congressmen, with instructions for addressing letters to them, is enclosed.

Start all over again with a new group of friends. Use the record as often as you can. When you've played it to the women in your circle of friends and neighbors, pass it along to another Auxiliary member. Every moment counts . . .

Each letter you help send off is a step along the way toward stopping socialized medicine. So join the COFFEECUP CORPS today!

And now, in mp3 format, the Great Communicator on Socialized Medicine:

Intro -- The recording opens with humble and self-deprecating comments about Reagan's show-business background. He quickly (around 45 seconds into the program) summarizes his theme, using the enemy's own words, in this case from American Socialist Norman Thomas: "The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

Part 1 -- Having established the theme, Reagan now moves the topic to medical programs as being particularly suited to the goal of getting the socialist camel's nose under the tent. He covers the history of attempts to introduce socialized medicine. The Socialists and labor unions approve of the approach. Again, using the socialists' own words: ""Once [this medicare bill] is passed this nation will be provided with a mechanism for socialized medicine capable of indefinite expansion in every direction until it includes the entire population."

Part 2 -- The call to action. After summarizing the legislative background, Reagan offers a heartfelt ode to the framers who created a system that protects the rights of individuals and minorities from encroachments by the majority. He emphasizes that the American people must write their Congressmen and Senators in opposition to socialized medicine, and closes with this appropriate quote from James Madison: "Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think.

Posted by JohnL at July 23, 2004 12:01 AM


I took a quick listen to part 1. I'll play the rest later. First thoughts are that it's great. The sound quality is much better that one might expect from an old album.

Also, It's amazing how relevant it is still. When I have time and less child generated noise to contend with, I plan to thoroughly enjoy it all.

Thank you.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at July 23, 2004 04:46 PM

Huge thanks for this delightful gem! As someone
whose British cousins routinely warn of horror story after horror story within their National
Health Service, I am keenly aware that if free-
market advocates don't start clearly explaining
their solutions quickly, we will be forced to
accept the inevitable misery that full government
control will unquestionably bring.

I strongly believe President Reagan was, at heart,
a devoted Milton Friedmanite, but he was daily
savaged so badly by the opposition running Congress, and most of the media, that he felt forced to cut back on some of his goals
domestically. His admirers can best show their
fondness abd respect for him by carrying on his
message, and concretely trying to implement the
liberating reforms necessary for a freer, more
dynamic country.

Posted by: Chris Ashworth at July 26, 2004 02:10 AM

Thank you for posting this.

Posted by: Rtfm at July 27, 2004 11:40 PM

Thanks for posting this.
I sent the link to a friend and client who leads a county medical society.
I consulted with their Alliance several years ago when they were at a crossroads in their history. It was clear then as it is now that their mission was both providing leadership in their community related to healthcare, and, relatedly, working to strengthen the community of physicians and their families. They became energized and within two years were recognized as the top Alliance in the state.
What you post is the sort of thing that Alliances can do.
My friend has already taken this, circulated amongst his staff, and MS leadership, are have begun the discussion about how to act on this model of Alliance activism. They are in particularly looking at how to employ the Coffee Conversations and Pres. Reagan's list in the arena of liability reform.
Thanks for posting this.

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