Just A Question Or Three

August 20, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More

Just a couple of what seem to me like obvious questions.  (I know, I’ve been writing a bit on the health care debate, and I’ll try to do some other things after this, don’t want to bore anyone, especially myself.)

I see a lot of protesters waving signs that contain something like this:  HEALTHCARE REFORM YES, GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER NO.  TORT REFORM NOW!

Something about that doesn’t quite add up.  If health care is to be reformed, who is going to do it?  The industry isn’t, not without a threat.  Which means there will have to be something outside the industry doing the threatening.  What might that be?

Hmm.  The government?

And the nature of the reform, if it isn’t to be entirely self-serving on the part of the industry, will have to be devised by a somewhat disinterested party.  Who might that be?

The government?

And tort law…well, that’s, as it says, Law.  Which is legislation.  Which is—wait for it!— the government!

So what is being asked for here?

That the government enact reforms that do not involve the government, do not make use of government authority, do not engage government offices, and will not grant the government any power to enforce.

So how will that work exactly?

Or is there some third party out there we haven’t been told about capable of doing all this reforming?

Oh, the market! Which basically is consumers, which is, well, all of us.  The people.

But wait…isn’t the government supposed to be the duly elected voice of the people?  So if the people are demanding reform, how are the people supposed to both express such a desire and then implement said reforms?

I guess, through their duly elected voice—the government.

But if the government is not to be trusted, I guess that means the people aren’t to be trusted.  The people don’t know what they want, what is good for them, or how to go about managing the reforms they’ve demanded and, somehow, achieved.  So there will have to be an appointed body of presumed experts who do know how to manage all this to act on the people’s behalf…

Who might that be?

The industry?  Hmm.  Well, since it’s the industry that needs reforming and the people who have demanded reform, handing management of the reform over to the very thing that needs the reform would seem, well, not to put to fine a point on it, stupid.

So I guess we’d have to elect a representative body to manage the reforms.

Oh, wait, don’t we already have such a body?

Yeah, it’s the government.  So by demanding reform of an industry, it would seem reasonable that we not trust the industry (that already doesn’t do what we want it to do) to reform itself.  It would be silly to create a whole other body to oversee all this when one already exists that has over two centuries of expertise in doing exactly this sort of thing.

So how is anything is going to change otherwise?

Just wondering, you know, because some of the demands sort of don’t make any sense.

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Category: American Culture, Consumerism, Culture, Current Events, Health, ignorance, Law, Politics

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (3)

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  1. Erika Price says:

    Actually, I don't see a total inconsistency in that particular type of protest message. Assuming the literal meaning of the sign, reform can be enacted by the government, and this can include tort reform and larger alterations, without massive changes that would approach "government takeover". Someone could conceivably oppose an entirely government-run health care system without totally abhorring government interference. A protest message such as the one you described seems like a perfect example of that.

    I believe that people who hold that particular qualm with health care reform have a valuable place in the discussion (assuming they actually believe in the literal meaning of their message). Such people would hopefully welcome the concept of government-run reform while still disapproving of "socialized" medicine. There are plenty of reasonable value systems that might lead to such a view- belief in market determination of pricing efficiency, the notion that competition breeds innovation, whatever. These value systems might be based on false assumptions about capitalism- or not- but they aren't the crazy, paranoid, anti-government screeds that have unfortunately taken the forefront.

    If a truly massive reform of the system were to take place, I would hope that a loyal, reasonable opposition would arise that would give the process a slow, deliberate thoughtfulness. I think there really are some opponents of health care reform who fit this need. Too bad they are drowned out by nut jobs.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Now we have numbers. How many people are dying per year because they lack insurance? The NYT reports the numbers:

    Scores of well-designed studies have shown that uninsured people are more likely than insured people to die prematurely, to have their cancers diagnosed too late, or to die from heart failure, a heart attack, a stroke or a severe injury. The Institute of Medicine estimated in 2004 that perhaps 18,000 deaths a year among adults could be attributed to lack of insurance.

    The oft-voiced suggestion that the uninsured can always go to an emergency room also badly misunderstands what is happening. By the time they do go, many of these people are much sicker than they would have been had insurance given them access to routine and preventive care.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/opinion/23sun1….

    These are people that "the market" doesn't care about in the least. For those who talk about the market, we need to remember that the market is simple the aggregate of a lot of people buying and selling things, many of them short-sighted regarding the long-term or wide-ranging consequences of their purchases and sales. The "market" does a good of stocking consumer gadgets onto shelves, but "the market" truly doesn't care about many of the things that committed, empathetic and informed people care about.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    According to Paul Krugman, "Government is bad" is winning the day:

    Washington, it seems, is still ruled by Reaganism — by an ideology that says government intervention is always bad, and leaving the private sector to its own devices is always good.

    Call me naïve, but I actually hoped that the failure of Reaganism in practice would kill it. It turns out, however, to be a zombie doctrine: even though it should be dead, it keeps on coming.

    Why does this idea flourish? Krugman answers:

    So why won’t these zombie ideas die? Part of the answer is that there’s a lot of money behind them. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something,” said Upton Sinclair, “when his salary” — or, I would add, his campaign contributions — “depend upon his not understanding it.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/24/opinion/24krugm

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