Friday, August 7, 2009

The Devil We Know

Either a healthcare system is designed to make all people healthier or it’s designed to make a few people wealthier. One is a public welfare system and one is a private system. All the arguments being hurled around about cost and bureaucracy and capitalism vs. socialism and free markets and free loaders and people who had acne 20 years ago aside, our current private healthcare system’s only goal is profit maximization. Big fat “Duh” everyone. Capitalist ventures are first and foremost profit seeking ventures.

It’s pathetic to watch as the country rips at its collective bodice over this when the privateers make absolutely no secret of their motives: charge as much as the market will bear for the least amount of care and let the money trickle up. It is insanity to buy a goat and then berate the goat for being stinky and chewing on things and defecating everywhere. It is a fucking goat!

I have knocked around the idea that Americans aren’t as dumb as the media makes us out to be. So much for that idea! No one in possession of even a tenuous grasp of the nature of capitalism could listen to big pharma and the insurance industry talk about what they are going to do enact real reform in healthcare without laughing out loud or injuring one of those bald faced lying son of a bitches. No one who understands the words “campaign donation” could give credence to the “Kill Granny” shitstorm of misinformation coming from representatives who oppose the public option. Shouldn’t a senator with $3 million healthcare industry dollars in his pocket have to recuse himself from this debate? And no one who is on Medicare should get to say one single word about this to anyone. Ever.

As for the insurance industry asshats who cry about being put out of business by the government. Fuck em! They did a horrible job! They work every possible angle to deny coverage so honest people who paid their premiums lose their life’s savings, their homes, their marriages, their sanity and many of them just die. We wouldn’t be here if they didn’t totally suck at health insurance. The insurance companies in Nazi Germany insisted on paying the claims of the victims of Kristallnacht because they valued their reputations. Our insurance companies won’t pay for breast cancer treatment if you forgot to tell them you once had an ingrown toenail.

For the love of god America, NOT EVERY SERVICE NEEDS TO BE PROFITABLE. Sometimes good things that make us happy and well and better off as a society can’t be provided by free markets. How many times can we lose and lose and lose again before we wake up and see that our laissez- faire religion serves us poorly? It’s ok to take care of each other. It’s ok to be compassionate and non- judgmental. It doesn’t have to be a race with winners and losers on every front of every issue every day.

Cooperative behavior always produces better overall outcomes than competitive behavior. Always. Why do we deplete ourselves and stack the deck against our children to create a fat man who will never be us?

Similar sentiments

This is Reform? By Bob Herbert


  1. I wish I could make my capitals more capitalized for this: RIGHT ON RIGHT ON RIGHT ON MAMA!!!!!

  2. I don't have anything to add to the discussion, just that I'm here, reading and agreeing.

  3. EXCEPT... Who is going to run the system? I trust the government to run a health care system about as much as I trust them to do everything else they do.

  4. Once again, I agree with what you say. I wish others weren't so f****** blind and/or stupid. :)

  5. Ernest,

    The government does an adequate job with vets and with medicare/medicaid. It would certainly be a massive improvement on the system we have. As for how much faith I have in government to do right by regular people, you need only read a bit more into this blog especially Got Oligarchy? and Can't see the forest for the trees.
    On another note, I am surprised that we haven't heard mention of the incredible entrepreneurial incentive single payer healthcare would provide by untethering folks from employers. I imagine the stimulus to small business growth would be enormous. Too bad we couldn't give a shit about small business in the country.

  6. Remember the quote from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:

    Who are those guys?

    Well, WHO are YOU, and how do you think and write so well? You need a bigger stage.

  7. Juliet do you think that small companies are going to get out of paying for employee health care by going to a "single payer" system? What's going to happen is they're going to have a choice between paying a tax for the health care plans they provide OR just pay a single amount to the government to have their employees opt out and go to the government plan. So either way I don't see any savings at all for small businesses.

    I don't think that the VA hospitals and Medicare are examples of government run programs that are operated in an efficient manner. Indeed Medicare is partly to blame for the rising costs we now see.

    I agree 100% that the biggest problem for cost is the fact that HMO's and PPO's are run by insurance companies that are making huge profits at our expense.

  8. "do you think that small companies are going to get out of paying for employee health care by going to a "single payer" system?"

    Nope, I don't. That wasn't my point. Many bright and inventive people stultify at meaningless jobs rather than put out their own shingle because they can't get/afford insurance on their own. I was contemplating how many folks would leave their jobs to pursue their dreams if they could get reasonably priced insurance without an employer.

  9. Ahhh, Well that is a good point Juliet and one of the unforeseen consequences of the HMO Act of 1973. Like most government programs it was thought to be a pancea and ended up with terrible results. Or it may not have been unforeseen at all but a scheme by the insurance companies to line their pockets.

  10. As I recently said to a freind who expressed concern about me seeing conspiracy everywhere; conspiracy is an unfairly maligned term. To think that a powerful group of people with the same interests/goals would not "conspire" to achieve them is kinda naive, no? Greed doesn't make mistakes.

  11. Juliet I'm not so sure that it started out as a conspiracy to wrest control of the industry by the insurance companies. But they certainly did see the opportunity to make huge profits after it was passed and took advantage of it.

  12. There is no conspiracy, just “business as usual” in corporate America. The fundamental fact is that it is corporations, through their control of campaign finance and other methods of “owning” politicians that produces the detestable circumstances were are now observing in horror. As Woodward and Bernstein put it, when you want the answer to any question about politics, “just follow the money.” Some years ago Bill Maher made the same point, “the democrats are beholden to interests that are only slightly less scary than those that control the Republicans.” Until we take the money out of politics, and until we destroy the corporate control of the media, until we restructure our economy so that corporate interests cannot wield their economic power with impunity, there will be no democracy in the United States. Moreover, until we disprove Winston Churchill’s remark that the “best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” there will be no progressive change in the United States. We are still our own worst enemy. As my 7th grade social studies teacher Mr. Dawson always lamented, “ignorance is a terrible thing.”
    Of course our ignorance is manufactured, again by the corporate-funded “think tanks” and “Astroturf” campaigns funded by public relations firms (professional liars) that misinform the ignorant and the gullible, and play on the anger, fear, superstition (religion) racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia altogether too common among the latter and too many others.
    Obama and the Democrats failed to get the significant reforms needed to control Wall St. As long as these financial giants are “too big to fail” they will continue to wreak havoc on the economy with their predatory, irresponsible ways. Moreover, as long as Democrats take billions in contributions and “perks” from Wall St. nothing is going to change? Right Chuck? Little wonder the credit card bill was a sham.
    They also failed us on climate change. The cap & trade system is actually regressive. It gives away about 85% of the allowances, mostly to the electric power industry, and, despite a Supreme Court decision to the contrary, it exempts carbon dioxide emissions from the Clean Air Act, thereby hobbling the ability of the EPA to use regulation to reduce carbon emissions. This climate bill is “lose-lose” legislation for climate change.
    And now we are shocked when we don’t get health insurance reform? Come on dig your heads out. The proposed reform is a bonanza for the health insurers and drug companies who will get 45 million new customers. True, the insurers won’t be able to deny people coverage due to pre-existing conditions, but all the other ways of screwing them, especially retroactive denial of claims is still there. As for the drug companies, the legacy of that Blue Dog Democrat, Billy Tauzin, who now commands Pharma, the drug company trade association, the non-negotiation of drug prices for Medicare Plan D is still present. And, of course, the public option is history. I urge you listen to Rachel Maddow’s excellent summary of this situation ( see the link on this blog).
    There is no conspiracy, only the corporations looking after their interests using their first Amendment right (free speech) to bribe politicians with campaign contributions. Obama sold democrats, independents, and some progressives a bill of goods. He sold “hope” to the desperate and the hopeless. I never believed that “reform” was even a good idea – making an irrational, exploitive, cruel and heartless system cause a little less harm is not my “utopian” vision. Hoping that the corporations would somehow yield to his “goodwill” and participate in the conversation was either naïve rhetoric of pure demagoguery . I think the latter. Obama and the Democrats are a bought-and-paid-for-fraud.

  13. I work for one of the biggest non-profit health insurance companies in the country. I am also a well-educated person on health care. Nothing we do will solve every problem, but single payer is the only way to take the waste out of the industry and control costs.

    And it would put me out of a job. But, like Juliet pointed out, I would have a very nice entrepreneurial incentive.


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