The current Democratic-back health care legislation has induced more rhetoric, emotion and disinformation since the Swift Boat Campaign. A very apt comparison since there’s about as much truth in the opposition in both. “Death panels” please! Like a politician would do something so utterly guaranteed to lose votes.
Beyond the baying (of both side, by now, to be sure) are hopefully some truths.
Spending in America on health-related goods and services is growing at a painful rate. Pundits have said we’ll soon be a nation of burger flippers and baristas but I think the more accurate forecast is for a nation of doctors, nurses and billing office clerks. And the government bureaucrats who regulate them.
Second, people without health insurance cost the system a lot more than people realize. Under current law hospitals generally must care for someone without concern of his or her ability to pay so the uninsured wait until they’re too sick to deal with it themselves and show up at the emergency room.
Who exactly do you think pays to make up for this?
One consequence of this waiting is that uninsured sick people are far more likely to spread any infectious disease. This is the same thing as a sick co-worker showing up because she’s “too dedicated.” Next week half the office are ill and productivity is shot; plus this effect follows on as the co-workers infect family and others with whom they interact.
Working uninsured people are far more likely to have jobs that pay by the hour and if they can’t afford insurance, how can they afford to miss a day’s work/pay?
So directly and indirectly allowing nearly 50 million Americans to be uninsured is a mistake, costing the rest of us money and our own health.
Let’s not forget about the moral component of the issue. Most of the opposition to the public option seems to be coming from conservative Republicans and these people overwhelmingly self-identify as deeply religious. All of their Bibles (and Torahs and Korans) speak of the need to show compassion, to care for a brother in need.
I’m not claiming that the current bill is a panacea. Written by politicians and lobbyists, that would be impossible and anyway I’m no expert to suggest a better solution.
What I do know is that the current environment, with politicians and pundits making up whatever nasty shit they think is needed to defeat a major Obama initiative regardless of how good or bad it might be for the country, is sad and self-defeating.
Our current culture is like some spreadsheet model where the analyst is trying optimize every variable. Tweak, tweak, a little more extreme here, a little more extreme there. Boom, you have AIG, Lehman and the economic meltdown, where no common sense at all was allowed to intrude. Bam, you have national politics where where every issue must be won or, most aptly, every opponent must be defeated.