Saturday, May 30, 2009

On Bad Healthcare and Bad Government

A friend recently sent me an article describing how the new President’s campaign promise of healthcare reform might be far more expensive than previously thought. The tone of the article clearly reflected its author’s stance with the opposition. I saw nothing new in the article’s arguments, warning as it did about the “perils of socialized medicine”. Actually, I have seen little new from either side in this debate, for many, many years.

I think the President is bumping into an ugly reality on this issue. The choices appear to be to put bandages on the existing employer/insurance-driven system, or go to a government-run system. I disagree. Although I do not know what they might be, I feel very strongly that there must be some other choices available.

It will take “thinking outside the usual political box” to resolve this issue successfully for the American people. However, just as in years past, everyone is entrenching into their two opposed traditional positions, and no one anywhere is approaching this problem with the open, inquiring mind that is required.

One of the two positions seems to be to maintain the existing multi-provider health-for-profit system, with the pharmaceutical corporations and the malpractice lawyers making a very corrupt “killing”, and multiple insurance companies with their duplicated overheads unable to make a killing unless they cheat.

They cheat by defeating what was for us the point of insurance at all: a big pool to spread costs. These insurance companies are so horribly inefficient that they are only profitable if they carefully pick their pools (read that as covering only those who never get sick). The byzantine rules and out-of-control premium costs effectively deny adequate coverage to something like 1 in 4 of us, if not more.

The other position is "single payer", a euphemism for the British system of fully-socialized, government-run "health care" that is really merely rationing in a completely dis-incentivized environment. Others point at the Canadians, but they use exactly the same system as the British. In either country, health care delivery for all but the most routine things is usually bureaucratically delayed until the patient dies. Effectively, that is really how costs are cut to tax-supportable levels.

As far as I am concerned, both approaches are abject failures!

I do not know exactly what the Scandinavians are doing, but I do know these four things about what they do:

(1) everyone is covered,

(2) the total of their taxes is comparable to the total of all our taxes at all levels of government (both totals are about 65% when you include Social Security in our total, which goes into the general fund, and has for decades; that's effectively a tax),

(3) on the average Scandinavians live 10 years longer than Americans, and

(4) their oldsters are healthier later into life than ours, so that old age there is much pleasanter than old age here has become.

With respect to point (2), let me add: those three countries also maintain large, well-equipped, and formidable military establishments, comparable to ours in a per-capita sense. I know of the military endeavors of the Swedish and the Norwegians from my days in the defense industry. I presume the Danish are similar, although I never had any dealings with them.

As I already said, I do not know exactly what they are doing in those three countries to provide health care for their peoples, but those four items I just listed above, make a powerful argument to go look. Maybe there is something they do that we can adapt and use here.

We ought to at least look!

Here is the only reason that I can see, as to why this possibility has been excluded from our debate here in America: the “very loud-talking” money of the entrenched special interests. In this case that would be the gigantic (and international) pharmaceutical corporations, the trial lawyers groups, and the big insurance companies themselves. These giants have enough “petty cash” to have bought almost all of Congress. We the people are nothing but a disposable source of income to them.

A representative owned by these giants will vote against the interests of the people every time the issue comes up. Further, as a group, they will hide this pattern by cloaking the debate in terms of opposing ideological positions that are in fact logically ridiculous. And that is exactly what has been going on for over 20 years on this issue.

This happens on a lot of issues critical to the American people, not just health care. And it is about to happen again on healthcare.

And THAT is why I recommend voting against all incumbents, unless one can personally verify that an incumbent did more good than harm while in office. VERY FEW qualify, in my book. (I found only three out of all the choices at all levels on the last ballot, although I have now identified a fourth.) It does take time for a freshman representative to put down roots into the “good-old-boy” corruption system. Therefore, that garden requires frequent weeding. And we-the-people have NOT been doing our weeding.

And THAT is why we have bad government.

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