Sunday, December 6, 2009

Healthcare... Yet Again

Cheeses, are we still going with this crap? Seriously? OK, let's debunk the myths one more time:

"government takeover" - No, fail, wrong. The bill currently being debated does not comprise a "government takeover" of anything. Now, I don't think a government takeover would be all that bad. I live under government healthcare here in Britain and, occasional headline-grabbing scandal aside, it's pretty damn good. But this bill doesn't amount to anything like that. All it amounts to is government creating another insurance option, just like Medicare. Medicare currently has a funding problem but that could be easily solved by, for example, the enrollment of lots more people. No-one is claiming that Medicare is perfect but it is a hell of a lot better than no option at all. And no-one would be forced to take out the government option. Under the current Bill, you would be forced to take out insurance of some kind (and I agree, that part is extremely dodgy) but the legislation does not specify what form of insurance you must take out.

"socialism / communism / fascism" - We'll do these together since they amount to the same thing. First off, fascism is an ultra-right political ideaology which has no common ground and is entirely incompatible with the other two. Anyone telling you that fascism is a left-wing ideaology is just plain lying to you. Now, the accusation of socialism is based on a very American misunderstanding of what the word means. The US is using the term to mean any sort of collective risk or responsibility. That is not what the word means. The word means that the government has sole ownership of the means of production and distribution. Would there still be competing private interests? Yes? Then it's not socialism. The US also misuses the word "communism". The idea that a communist would want to grow government is directly opposed to the basic tenets of communism. The only reason anyone in the US believes this crap is because of the Cold War and Stalin's insistence on calling his regime "communism". Stalin's regime was Soviet Communism which is a hell of a lot closer to beurocratic despotism than to Marx's vision (this should not be taken as approval for Marx's unworkable utopianism). Actual, real Communism, also known as Marxism, is much closer to collectivist anarchism than anything the Soviets came up with.

Also, what's so terrible about socialism? The US tends to treat socialism like it's some kind of virus; like if you allow even the slightest hint of socialism, the entire country becomes 1958 Moscow. It doesn't work like that. Socialism is a system of economics, you decide how much to have.

"government is inherently inefficient/corrupt" - This is complete bollocks. It only persists because the right, through it's ownership of the media, has spent thirty years telling the public that government can't do anything right, highlighting the ocasional abuse that will occur in any system as an example of the whole and the public, being deeply stupid, believes them. The US government is more inefficient than most, largely due to your system of unlimited amendments being tacked on to every bill. However, every other nation in the civilised world manages to do this without it turning into a black hole of resources. Your media, advancing the cause of the right as always, has flat-out lied to you about how bad those systems are. For the most part, they're pretty good. Yes, the ocasional scandal or outrage occurs. Does anyone honestly believe that those things do not happen in the private insurance system? And finally, if the public option would be so bad, why would anyone choose to take it? No, they're not being forced to, see my first point.

"everyone has access to healthcare" - This is both true and false. The true part is that hospitals are under a legal obligation to treat anyone who needs treatment. However, where it becomes false is that, firstly, a horrifying number of doctors disregard their Hipocratic Oath when it comes to non-insured people (there is a reason that "oathbreaker" is the worst insult in many ancient cultures). Secondly, "treatment" doesn't necessarily mean the best treatment. It's easy to find tales of people who really should have been admitted to hospital but weren't because they lacked insurance. This is by no means rare. Thirdly, according to statistical studies, an uninsured person is 40% more likely to die of any particular illness than an identical person with insurance. Because if you do not have insurance, a frightening number of doctors will do only the bare minimum to treat you (please note, I am not suggesting that such doctors are the majority; merely a worrying minority). Finally, emergency room care is the single more expensive way of delivering care. It's a lot cheaper to deliver care in the normal fashion.

"illegal immigrants will be able to use the program" - Point 1 is that this is flatly untrue. Standing law forbids illegal immigrants from taking part in any federal healthcare program and the only part of the bill which could be read to cover illegal immigrants also includes language to specifically prevent that. Point 2 and entirely seperate, so what if it did? If an illegal immigrant pays their own money into the system and gets care because of it, why is that any harm to you? No, they wouldn't get any kind of money to cover them, that's specifically prevented by language in the bill.

"death panels" - Die in a fire.

"private insurance won't be able to compete" - Again, several points to make here. Firstly, how is that your problem? How does it harm you if private insurance can't compete with the public option? Secondly, despite having a single-payer system here with full coverage from cradle to grave, we still have private insurance companies and they still make a profit. Thirdly, this one is predicated on the presumption that the public option insurance would be so cheap and so good that private insurance wouldn't be able to compete. Well, A) that's completely incompatible with the idea that government can't do anything right and B) again, how is that your problem? Now, at this point, some people might start going on about a sixth of the economy going bust. Except it won't. And it won't because the doctors, nurses, x-ray techs, etc don't work directly for the insurance companies, they work for the hospital or for themselves. They're still there, they're just claiming their fees from a different insurer than before.

"Rush / Beck / O'Reilly says..." - Anything these three say can be presumed to be a lie sight unseen.

"the bill is 1092 pages long" - So what? Really, what difference does that make? Is there some inherent connection between the length of a bill and it's quality? Of course not. Besides which, have you ever actually read a bill? They're written in very technical legalese, larded with clauses, subclauses, sections and sub-sections and loaded with "theretofore"s, "but to"s and once-in-a-lifetime exceptions. Lawyers spend four years (US) or six years (UK) studying to learn how to understand this crap. This is not layman's language, this is a very specialised, archaic dialect spoken only by lawyers and legislators. And this is why the demand to post the bill online is also pointless. The general public doesn't have the training or tools to understand the bill even if they managed to make it through the whole thing. It's not to do with intelligence (although I feel that much of the general public is dumb as a post), it's to do with a very specialised language. Law and medicine are probably the only professions where the layman feels he can blunder in and do better than the experts. People don't go up to engineers and say "you've put that bridge up wrong", they don't go around telling architects how they should design houses. Only in law and medicine does the general public feel that they know better than the experts on no more basis than their own arrogance. If you have enough knowledge to ask sensible questions, do so. Otherwise, shut the fuck up and leave it to people who actually know what they're doing.

Look, the current bill is not perfect. In fact, it's far from perfect. But it is better than what you currently have. Because it might take a fraction of a penny away from profits, the Republicans and their corporate puppetmasters are going all out to halt this but for Lord's sake, don't let them kill this. This is probably the only chance you're going to get for the next fifteen to twenty years to do something about your abomination of a healthcare system.

By the way, your blogger has given in to the Dark Side and joined Twitter. You can follow me as EbonBear if you feel like it.

1 comment:

  1. Another brilliant dissection of the RRRW bullshit.

    And I'm following you on Twitter now. :-)


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