Who would Jesus insure?

August 16, 2009 | By | 42 Replies More

Who would Jesus Insure?

That was the slogan on a placard that stole the show at a tea party attended by Michael Krantz yesterday:

[T]he Medicare recipients who want nothing to do with government-run health care [were] one of the more amusing right-wing cliches of this long hot August. There were no doubt plenty of them yesterday among a crowd that was predominantly older, overwhelmingly white and, I’d wager, heavily evangelical, a combustive demographic that didn’t exactly cotton to the gutsy girl who kept pacing around trying to yell “Health care for everyone!” loudly enough to drown out the repeated death threats and off-topic anti-abortion catcalls that greeted her homemade “Who Would Jesus Insure?” sign. Her question, in fact, was quite a bit more piquant than the ones I was asking.


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Category: Health, Medicine, Social justice

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (42)

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  1. Nothing's wrong with that, Karl, but it's highly unlikely. But just because we can't (probably) do that is no reason we shouldn't do other things that might be efficacious. What, if you can't have Boston Cream Pie you don't want any pie at all?

  2. Karl says:

    And why do you think this cannot be done?

    If the POTUS gave the order to trace all forms of individual compensation related to these matters for say the last 6 to 10 years he might get a fairly large portion of the redistribution he claims to want and the people would have sufficient justificsation for allowing these as governmental and tax payer investigation of graft and the like.

    Honest ethical people on any side of this issue shouldn't complain. if the matter is of course investigated equiitably.

    For every "conservative" one "liberal" gets investigated. For every "progressive" a "libertarian" gets investigated. For every insurance executive some one who won an insurance claim gets investigated. For every democrat, a republican gets investigated. For every current politicial a former politician gets to come clean. For every lobbyist the recepient of the lobbyist fees gets investigated.

    Anyone that made money off of a sinking ship deserves to have their earnings confiscated. That's how I see it.

    Be it General Electric, Al Gore, or any relative, close friend or lobbyist of a member of Congress.

    If people care about the country they shouldn't complain when called upon to give of their gross incease at public expense.

    All kinds of officials from all kinds of publically benefitted companies would have to come clean or be fined just for the sake that the public debt is going to be crushing upon the nation.

    The people who have nothing to hide would be willing to have their books and corporate policies examined, those who don't want it done will be evident by their opposition to the matter.

    Few new tax revenues would be needed if this plan were announced and people were made accountable for what they have done in the past 6 to ten years. The money lost wasn't all paper assets, some of it was for sure but much of it was graft no matter how you look at it.

  3. Karl writes:—"Anyone that made money off of a sinking ship deserves to have their earnings confiscated. That’s how I see it."

    I'm with you in sentiment, but in this country it will never happen. You can go all the way back to the Marshall court and there is one thing in this land that is more sacred than anything else—the contract. From time to time, in individual instances, contracts have been overridden by public policy, but in the main a general overturning of the basic inviolability of The Contract will never be questioned in any real sense. You'll see Madoff's go to jail, but those who actually made profits from his schemes will pretty much go untouched.

    Not that I find this right—it just is.

    The only way to circumvent it is to change the underlying system upon which contract parasitism thrives, and that can be done. But it requires seeing past the sanctity of consumer capitalism.

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Karl, it may seem odd to you, but the administration's investigating many of the corporate executives for the first time in history, Swiss Banks are agreeing to inspection of accounts held by Americans.

    In past years, many of those getting those million dollar compensation packages while their tax returns often show less than 250,000 adjusted income. Often, through donations to "Charity" foundations that funnel most of their money to lobbying firms, some of these millionaires pay little or no taxes.

    The problem in the past few years has been one where removal of oversight from the wealthiest have resulted in new lows of greed and corruption.

    Corporations have pushed for tort reform that limits corporate liability awards to people and families injured maimed or killed by shoddy products. and health insurance companies increase their profits by denying care to those that need it most.

    Most frivolous lawsuits are filed by corporations engaged in litigation as a business strategy, abusing the legal system for commercial gain.

    All for the love of money.

    I often listen to the main talk radio station here in Nashville, and recently after Nashville pundit Phil Valentine repeated a claim that no one has to show proof of citizenship to collect public assistance. He received a call from an employee of the Tennessee Dept of Human Services, who explained on the air in some detail the process of verifying citizenship and legal alien status along with a concise breakdown of who did and did not qualify for specific public services.

  5. Karl says:

    So it seems that when individuals see their balance sheets wiped out by insider trading and cooking of the books some individuals might get caught – even though they signed agreements contracts.

    When the public revenues and outlays are squanndered however no one seems able to make anyone accountable. That is pure and simple political graft and corruption.

    These contracts could easily be voided and parties held accountable if charges were filed. The problem is no one wants to the work pro-bono and many of the attorney general offices should themselves be under investigation.

    The problem is moral relativism. When one considers the depth of the corruption who can say they aren't guilty themselves?

    This is why the political system goes after those who would try to do something about the ongoing travesties.

    Why do you really think Sarah Palin got pulled down by the fiscally alloof and influential members of the socially and morally aloof?

  6. Jay Frazz says:

    Hey Niklaus, it may be of interesting note that I used to live in Nashville and was the board op (I ran the sound desk) that broadcast Phil Valentine so I've listened to multiple life times worth, of course I was paid to listen. This also allowed me to study the flow of information through the right wing echo chamber quite a bit.

    Basically he reads these webpages all day and regurgitates the information into a frame of contemporary events.

    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/ http://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org/

    Just thought you might be interested, read it and then listen and it will all become very clear.

  7. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Interesting Jay.

    That explains something I've been wondering about. It seems to me that he often contradicts himself during his show. He also comes across as being more in line with Libertarian views than Conservative Republicans.

  8. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Karl, as Mark noted above, in most cases contract law trumps everything else in this country.

    But it is different in other countries. One thing I've seen abused a lot is the inclusion of non-dislosure agreement in situations where such agreements could be used to punish whistle-blowers.

    For example, the dentist I visited before I moved to Nashville, showed me the contract for a Dental Maintenence Organization, and I am not a lawyer, but it basically garanteed patients to the dentist in exchange for certain concessions.

    The dentist would be issued a guidebook that listed the specific treatment for specific conditions. The dentist was to go by the book and in situations not covered by the book, the treatmen desicion was to be made by the DMO, The dentist was not allowed to accept out of network patients while under contract to the DMO. The contract was for 2 years, but it included a non-disclosure clause which seemed disturbing to me.

    During the term of the contract and for 7 years after termination of the contract, the dentist was to pay a penalty of $100,000 if he disclosed the terms of the contract, any information about about the guide book, or information about who was deciding treatment. The dentist had not signed the contract.

    It seems to me that NDAs of this sort are specifically designed to protect the guilty by punishing the innocent.

  9. Jay Fraz says:

    Niklaus : You would be correct on contradicting himself. Despite my left leanings one of my best friends in Nashville is a hardcore conservative/libertarian who got me the job, I even remember him often rolling his eyes at the stuff Phil said and saying 'he is not the intellectual type' the first day I was on at the station.

    After a good year their one thing I have found is most conservative rhetoric is built on rightwing-libertarianism's language. 'Free Market' is such a powerfully framed word with so many assumptions that you can selectively justify practically anything with it and make it sound good even with much internal contradiction with an argument. Of course if you want to study 'free market' and debate Lakoff has done a much better job laying out the power of frames/words in this context.

  10. Karl says:

    Just because the good old boys have either a written or nonwritten agreement doesn't mean that agreement can't be found in violation of the good of individauls and corporate good of the public at large.

    A problem is too much of law in the country is based upon protecting the rights of the corporations and not the rights of the public corporate. Not too many people see and value in bringing down the greed of the public acting in cloisters.

  11. Jay Fraz says:

    Karl: The great irony is that these companies now have hordes of people that will argue on their behalf that they are NOT powerful enough. Probably a huge part of our getting into this mess.

    And for double irony, many of these people are convinced that giving them more power is the best way to oppose them cause everything will just 'workout'.

    My head hurts.

  12. Nikilaus Pfirsig says:

    The subversion of the legal system and legislative process in favor of the corporations is really more of a symptom than the cause.

    The cause is that all the people scream "The Free Market will self regulate!!" have absolutely no clue exactly what a free markert is.

    They have been misled into believing the word free in "free market" means without government control. It means without any control. This is the utopian environmental setting for theoretical supply and demand. In this scenario, every buyer has equal access to every seller, every seller has the same product, and the price is determined solely by what the buyers are willing to pay. In such a scenario, goods and services are commodities, and the availability and quality of such comodities (the supply) should tend to self regulate.

    As an example, consider a farmers market. A lot of people like tomatoes, and during the harvest season, lots of good quality tomatoes are available. The consumers like tomatoes and there are more than they can use at the market, so each vendor lowers his price to sell more tomatoes. But when the tomatoes are out of season, There are fewer quality tomatoes and the vendors with tomatoes can demand a primium price that will be paid by those who can and are willing to pay more. Those who cant afford the higher prices do without. If a vendor is not selling tomatoes fast enough (because they will go bad and become worthless, his tomatoes are not as appealing ans someone elses)he will lower his prices and more people will buy from him. And if there is profit to be made, some vendors will import tomatoes from other regions for sale which will make more tomatoes available and shift the control of the price back to the buyer.

    But, people can live without tomatoes. Consider, instead of tomatoes, the commodity is water.

    Health care in the US is not a free market. If it were a free market, patients would deal directly with hospitals, clinics and physicians. If you get sick you choose the doctor or hospital, get treatment and work out some payment method with the doctor or hospital. If you need medication, you deal directly with the pharmacist who often would be able to compound the medication based on a recipe (which is what the Rx symbol on a prescription stands for ). If you can't afford treatment, your friends and family raise money to help out, and various charities may chip in. This actually happens in many parts of the world. A frined of mine who has a Filipino wife, once told me that his mother in law in Manila, needed $2000 to pay for surgery to remove a brain tumor. The cost of living at the time in Manila would have translated to approximately $100, USD.

    The US healthcare system is a captive market model. The health insurance companies contract with our employers ( for the most of us, anyway) and in most cases the employee get to choose between one to three plans or no coverage at all. If you are unemployed, you have no insurance or you have some type of minimal public coverage (medicaid, medicare, whatever).

    You have a trade off between lower premiums and a larger anual deductable, or copayments that are determined by the insurance company. You may be given very limited choice or no choice at all in some situation concerning who you will see or where you will go for your treatment because often the insurance company contracts with the physicians and not only restrict howmuch the helath care provider is paid, but also limits competition between the providers. In addition, the insurance companies require paperwork for proof of compliance by the providers that is so comples, they have created an entine specialised accounting industry for medical billing. The system is incredibly complex and convoluted. Why?

    Because the insurance companies profit by taking in more money than they pay out. They've had decades of experience in finding ways to do this.

    Generally this would not be a problem if the insurance companies re run as not for profit business. But since most are publicly traded corporations, where the busniess success is based on the value of it's stocks, it must show ever increasing profit margins to keep the stock value inflated an avoid bankruptcy. And of course a few people get disgustingly rich in the process. But the incentive in the insurance company is to deny health care, to assume every claim is fraudulent until proven other wise, and to find as many ways possible to not pay for services render by the providers. Short changing the providers then forces the health care cost upward in a vicious cycle as corporate execs live in lavish luxury bought by denying payment of medical bill.

    Now imagine a different system. One where everyone pays premiums to a non profit organization ( non profit does not mean charity, employees get paid a reasonable salary, but no million dollar compensation packages). You get to visit the doctor or phycility of your choice as long as they have the proper professional credentials and licenses. The provider is in competition for your patronage, and the non profit refunds excess money back to you by a formula that considers how much you paied in and how much health care you've needed.

    The non profit does not determine treatment, you and your doctor decide. If you decide wisely and stay healthy you get a dividend. but if you get sick, you're covered.

    his is the basic concept of a single payer system.

  13. Karl says:

    This is where moral relativism takes you.

    Everyone has the right to do what they want regardless of how it really affects groups of other people, all the while claiming that what they do doesn't really affect other individuals directly.

    There is no irony, this is chosen self will and blindness to the real problems we face.

  14. Karl, I agree with your sentiments completely. I see this also as a consequence of maintaining the "corporate citizen" fiasco, behind which incompetent, greedy, amoral people do despicable things under the protection of the corporate cloak. You cannot hold someone accountable when there is no some One who can be prosecuted.

  15. Niklaus Pfirsig says:


    I would not call it moral relativism. It is the result of seperation of authority and responsibility. The corporations then to take on a collective personna and when they can not or are not held responsible for unethical behaviour that rewards them with profits, they become like spoiled children.

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