Saturday, November 7, 2009

What is the sound of one hand clapping?


What do this:

and this:

have in common?

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let me say that I'm reserving judgment for a single reason. If the Democrats are right, this is a good thing for all of us. On the other hand, if the Republicans are right, it's a real travesty. Cause here's what I've figured out. Effective politics today has much less to do with morality than we'd all like to think, and more to do with how we're defining reality. In other words, we believe what we believe based on the information that's found its way into our brains. And while some may disagree, let me say that everyone--EVERYONE wants more healthcare, better healthcare, cheaper healthcare. Republicans want it. Democrats want it. Independents want it. Only time will tell whether this plan is really gonna work or not.

ADDENDUM (11/9/09)

What I meant by everyone wanting better and cheaper healthcare is that Republicans and Democrats alike want it. In other words, no one's arguing that healthcare isn't expensive enough, or that we should be providing worse healthcare.

The House bill doesn't argue for a single-payer system--just a public option. But Republicans have two primary concerns, as far as I understand. First, they believe the national budget can't handle it, and that the U.S. has too much debt already. Second, they believe that government-run healthcare would be inefficient. References are frequently made to the inefficiency of other government systems, and the analogy is often made that it could be like trying to get illnesses treated at the DMV (or DPS if you're in Texas).

I'm not saying those are necessarily my concerns. What I'm saying is that if the Republicans are correct in their assumptions, it would be a travesty to implement such a plan. I, for one, don't want to go to something like the DMV if I get sick or injured.

On the other hand, if all the Democrats say is true (and I think we're more familiar with their arguments), to stand in the way of this bill is to favor the profits of insurance companies and lobbyists over the health of children.

If Republicans are telling the truth, there's only one logical recourse. If Democrats are telling the truth, there's only one logical recourse. That's what I meant when I said effective politics today have less to do with morality than reality.

Like I said, I'm really trying to reserve judgment, but I think it's only wise to enter into what could possibly be the most significant national legislation in my lifetime with a little caution.


  1. hey! So CNN wouldn't let me see the video cause I'm not in the country. Rude! Just wondering what your major concerns are? As far as whether or not it's good for the country.

    And I'm not positive that "everyone" wants better and cheaper healthcare. Everyone in Congress, that is. I know pretty much all Americans want it. And living here, with universal healthcare...I gotta tell you, is pretty dang good. Just sayin'. ;)

  2. Amy,

    I wrote this really long response, and then just added it as an addendum to the original post. Both you and Julie pointed out that I was sort of unclear.

    Ok, back to thesis now.


  3. I see your point. And listen, I am politically out of my depth here, but I guess I don't see what the problem is with offering an OPTION for people. You know? And even though I agree with Republicans about some moral issues, it seems to me that they often oppose ideas/programs that seek to make assistance (health or otherwise) more accessible. Social Security, for example. Or Civil Rights. Ok, sure they may argue that this health reform bill is too expensive, but I don't really see anyone on that side taking leadership and offering a viable alternative that would really be a change for anyone. Anyhoo.

    And hey--thanks for that prompt addendum! See, if YOU worked at the DMV, we wouldn't have those types of problems. Not that I'm saying you will work there, cause I'm sure you'll get into a good PhD program. Oh dear. Did all that come out wrong? I'll go now.

  4. I'm out of my depth too, and I surprised I haven't been flamed yet.

    As for the public option, it again is more an issue of reality than morality. Conservatives will say that a government subsidized option has such an unfair advantage in the marketplace that no other option can exist beside it. They're also arguing that the bill's solution to the healthcare problem is that it makes it illegal to not have healthcare.

    Again, just what I'm hearing from John Boehner and others.

  5. I think it's true that almost all Americans--Republicans, Democrats, and Independents--want health care for all but not true that all politicians or industry representatives want it. Any way we slice it, health care for all would require some kind of change to the way insurance companies do business, which they will not like. For instance, they don't want to be told they suddenly have to cover people with pre-existing conditions or can't place a cap on total benefits.

    Second, the formula for providing quality affordable health care for all--like the formula for ending poverty in America--is not a mystery. We know exactly what to do. It's just a question of political will. Many (maybe most?) Americans must believe that to gain universal health care we would have to give up something even better. So its part misconception about costs and part unwillingness to sacrifice for the common good.

    We need to create a "single-payer" system or something that at least points in that direction, like the rest of the developed world has done. The Democrats' plan is at least a small step in that direction. The Republicans aren't really offering a different direction, because, again, we know which way to go for universal health care. They're really just trying to convince us it's not worth it and watering down the Democratic legislation, so that when it passes it will be an even smaller step forward.

  6. Hello my friend,

    I'll start with a bi-partisan remark: There are both democrats and republicans who are looking out for their own interests, and not what is best for the American public.

    The impact of not having health care plays a huge role in both life expectancy and infant mortality rate. The U.S. is seriously lagging in both of those statistics.

    To have a productive country with a productive workforce, you need healthy citizens. Although a large part of health is linked to behavior, healthy behavior is not the norm in the good ole U.S. of A.

    Two-thirds of our population is overweight or obese. That is disgusting. So, Americans can not keeping up their healthy behavior, "primary prevention." Because of this, we now have to look at secondary and tertiary prevention, which are much more expensive options. However, if individuals do not have health coverage, they cannot go in for health screenings, and typically are given a diagnosis in the more "expensive" stages of treatment, and then are unable to afford the treatment.

    If we look at the examples of other countries, many European nations follow a public/private model. All citizens are required to buy insurance (just like all Americans are required to buy car insurance). Low-income people are subsidized by the government, and rich people can buy “more” insurance, above the standard. This allows people to go in for treatment and screenings, and also allows competition with a private market, as well as public market.

    Canada is the only nation with a true single-payer system in which individuals are not allowed to buy any supplemental insurance; this guarantees everyone is treated equal; surprise, surprise, rich people don’t like this because their money can’t buy them extra perks.

    One big issue that you mentioned was our huge deficit. Guess who gave us this deficit. I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t Obama. When Bush took office, there was a surplus. S-U-R-P-L-U-S. He blew that with huge tax cuts to the wealthy and then started a war based on false pretenses which cost trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of American lives. Again, why did you think he was a “pretty great” president??

    Moving on, our health care system is over 16% of the GDP. In Taiwan, it is only 5%. We need to drive these prices down to about 8%. The best way to do this is with a public option, and the government negotiating the prices.

    The biggest “fear”, I mean “complaint” I have heard from republicans is that the “government takeover” is going to take away our choice of doctors, yada, yada. Guess what? We don’t have “free” choices right now. Insurance companies give you a list of “acceptable” providers who are in the network. A lot of these providers “double team” and also accept Medicare and Medicaid patients. This means your same doctor, who you love and is covered by your insurance, will most likely be on the public option plan as well.

    If you’re still feeling uneasy about the “government takeover” check out the following documentary: Sick Around the World. It aired on PBS. There is also another one called Sick in America.

  7. Thank you both for your intelligent comments.

  8. Flame on!

    John Boner think health care bad.

    Me think health care bad.