Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Health Care Debate Condensed

We are delighted to write blank checks to pay for pointless invasions of other countries on trumped up pretexts. We are happy to keep writing blank checks to pay for our continuing presence in said countries to fix whatever it was that we broke.

We write gazillion dollar checks out from the public treasury with hardly a second thought to save the financial industry, and the global economy, from the consequences of years of foolish greed and criminality.

We thought nothing of cutting massive tax breaks again and again to the wealthiest while the wages of most other people stagnated or declined for years. Those basic government services that primarily serve the middle class (like road maintenance, college financial aid, and Medicare) went underfunded and were allowed to wither.

And now, financing the health care of as many citizens as possible (not all of them) brings out the fiscal scolds. Daddy lectures us about being "responsible" only after we bought the expensive hand bag, not after we wrapped the brand new Jaguar around a telephone pole on the way home from the dealership.

We write blank checks to unaccountable mercenaries ("government contractors") to do our imperial bidding overseas.

We cut billion dollar checks to the financial industry to fund more outrageous bonuses and perks for the over-privileged legacy-admission ivy league gangstas who created this mess.

But God forbid that the taxpayers should spend a penny for a gall bladder removal in Schenectady, or childhood immunizations in Tulsa!

The ever better informed and articulate Digby basically agrees with me that a little bit of something heading in the right direction is better than betting (and losing) the whole ranch on single payer or any other health care plan. That little bit of something we can always expand and build upon later. And it wouldn't really be that small of a something either. It would be the end of a 75 year old logjam on this issue.


June Butler said...

Counterlight, I posted along this same vein, but I mostly strung together quotes. You did original writing. Your post is better for that. Now I'll go read Digby.

toujoursdan said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

August 7, 2009, 8:13 pm
Weekend Opinionator: A Sick Debate
By Tobin Harshaw

12. August 8, 2009 1:57 am Link
I have lived in Europe, the USA (NYC and FLA) and currently live in Canada. I am a reasonably well-informed financial executive. I make my living as a capitalist.

I wouldn’t know where to begin re: the health care debate but I will make a couple of observations:

1. The USA has the finest health care in the world — bar none — provided that you have a no-limit gilt-edged money is no object health plan. Or you are rich. In my experience the 2 go hand in hand.

Failing such insurance or such boundless wealth how any rational human being with an IQ over 75 and an income below, say, $250k (forget the social compassion argument) could defend the existing system is beyond comprehension.

2. The outright lies — yes lies — that critics of health care reform spew is disturbing. The intentional misrepresentation of the Canadian and European models is outrageous. The Canadian model is flawed. There needs to be greater access to ‘private-delivery’ alternatives (which currently exist in some fields.) Having said that, since I returned to the province of Ontario in the late 1990’s until now the improvement in standards and care is staggering and in most cases matches anything I witnessed or experienced in NYC. Yes, health care is rationed here (hence a need for ancillary private care) but it is rationed everywhere — including the US. The exception being as per point #1 above. Per capita Ontario spends approximately 65% of what the consumers/taxpayers of the US/NY spend. However Ontario delivers 90% — or more — of the US standard. That is one very big financial/efficiency/productivity gap. That money gap goes to the US insurance companies, doctors, malpractice lawyers and lobbyists. The common canard about Canada etc is that “faceless bureaucrats make life or death decisions” (as opposed to, say, faceless HMO clerks). The truth is that in Canada the ‘gatekeepers’ who allocate critical care are the physicians themselves — the specialists.

3. Aside from private-payment plastic surgeons it is true you will not see many doctors in Canada driving a Rolls Royce. But you will see an awful lot driving a Benz or a Jag. Doctors here work hard and are well compensated. What we lack here is the concept that a medical degree should be attributed Venture Capitalist returns.

4. Lastly, a general observation/question (again, I really am a capitalist). Why is it that in the USA (a country I genuinely love) millions of people who barely make a living or are working class and/or just holding on to the ‘middle class’ are the most vocal — hysterical wouldn’t be an exaggeration — in defending the privileges of the rich and the corporate? Against their own self-interest I might add. Anywhere else in the western world the existing US health care tyranny would have people in the streets demanding reform — not ‘debating’ it.

— jon c

Anonymous said...
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Health Care Debate and Tommy Douglas, Greatest Canadian of All Time

Few Americans may realize that a Baptist minister is recognized by Canadians as the “Greatest Canadian of All Time.” Tommy Douglas, who died in 1986, is one of history’s most influential Baptists that few outside of Canada know. And here in the summer of 2009, Douglas’ legacy is extremely relevant to the biggest issue facing Americans: health care.

Tommy Douglas, you see, was the man who brought about Canada’s universal public health care system, a health care system which Canadians for several generations now have chosen to pay extra taxes to operate and maintain, and a health care system which 91% of Canadians today view as superior to America’s health care system. Furthermore, Douglas set Canada on the road to universal health care during the Great Depression, while here in America today President Obama is seeking to do the very same thing during the current Great Recession.

Douglas, a minister turned politician, first became personally aware of the moral imperative of health care when as a child he almost lost his leg to a disease because his family could not pay for treatment; only by the good graces of a doctor, who offered his medical services for free, was Douglas’ leg saved. Influenced by the Christian principles of the Social Gospel while in collge, Douglas pastored for several years before entering politics during the Depression in 1935, becoming the Premier of Saskatchewan in 1942. He remained a leading politician in Canada for many years, consistently advocating for universal health care and basic human rights. Under his leadership, the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights was enacted. And while securing public health care for all citizens, Douglas paid off government debt and created a surplus.

Although today most Americans want a public health care option, we as a nation are slow to the table in responding to the moral imperative of basic universal public health care (although a number of presidents, beginning with Teddy Roosevelt, have personally supported public health care). If we as a nation this year do manage to place human life above the greed-driven free market health insurance industry by enacting a public health care option, we have Tommy Douglas to thank, one of the greatest Baptists of the past century.
Posted by Bruce Gourley at 7:00 AM
Labels: baptist, government, greed, health care, insurance, Teddy Roosevelt, Tommy Douglas