Some thoughts on the news of the day — a story in USA Today is headlined:
Health care law too costly,
but poll plurality sees benefit for system
It seems when you get past the crazies who are threatening and even doing violence over the thing the public at large has mixed feelings.
Up until now, even though health care costs continued to escalate there was a built-in check on overall cost in that so many people were left out by the natural rationing through the fact they had no money and no insurance, government or otherwise.
If you seek to cover everyone there is no way to keep the overall cost from escalating.
Another factor leading to the ambivalence among the public is that whether they admit it or not, a majority (I think) of people expect to get care if they really need it regardless of whether they can pay for it. But at the same time they object to higher taxes the government must raise in order to pay for assistance to those who cannot afford health insurance. A contradiction there.
Another conflict that seems nearly insoluble is who should make health care decisions when it comes to money. While doctors and their patients are the best ones to decide on treatment issues when it comes to the need of the individual, if the public at large or a private insurance company is footing the bill, those parties are going to demand the final say — how do you get around that?
I fault the medical community as a whole for not facing up to the moral obligation of trying to figure out how to offer the best care to the public, keeping in mind the imperative of controlling costs. Instead, doctors, in particular, have tried to stay above the fray, claiming it is not their responsibility to get into such matters — they just want to be compensated for their work. But the problem is, doctors and other members of the medical community are the only ones who could really solve the problem.
Too late for this, I suppose, but I am thinking that the best solution would have been to continue with our hodgepodge of private insurance (group and individual policies) and at the same time implement an expansion of government insurance. But the government insurance would be of a relatively minimal nature.
Let the marketplace decide the cost of health care and let consumers know it is up to them to plan for their own protection, with the only saving grace that there would be a government safety net.
The other approach is to decide that health care is a right. But if you do that you are saddled with an inflexible bureaucracy — and we probably already are.
And as far as this health care is a right thing, I think maybe morally is should be. How in fact can we have such advanced medical technology and procedures and then deny them to our fellow human beings over money?
There will always be the problem in society of getting everyone to live up to his and her responsibility in making the most efficient use of finite resources and paying his or her own way. But do we punish society a whole for the failings of others? And for all of you extreme right wingers, with so many of you professing to be devout Christians, where is your sense of forgiveness and charity for those who have failed in their moral obligation to take care of themselves? I know, the Lord helps those who help themselves.
And if there ever was an incentive for personal responsibility: have you ever gone to the zoo that is your average public health clinic?
And now that I have written all of this, I recall that when the health care bill first passed Wall Street stocks for the health care industry shot up. With more people to be eligible for health care it looks like a bonanza for the health business. So why are right wing, worship money and private enterprise and hate socialism of any kind (except Social Security, perhaps) types so against health care for everyone?
And why didn’t the business community at large support health care reform or even a government take over? Why do employers want to be saddled with the responsibility of offering health plans (well many do not offer them)? Guess there must be a tax advantage.
Not that anyone cares, but I would have preferred straight socialized medicine.
And that leads me into my next issue: While I think social programs, such as Social Security, are worthwhile, I believe in the capitalist, private enterprise system for the economy as a whole. It seems to work. Even the Communists have gone capitalist in their own economies.
And that is why I cannot figure out why we had to bail out Wall Street. I have no way of really knowing what would have happened if we had not, but somehow I think we could have muddled through quite nicely. Capitalism is a gamble. Wall Streeters made big bets and lost. But does the gambling casino bail the gambler out? No. It could not. The whole system would be ruined.
Should underwater homeowners be bailed out? No. In the last several decades, through speculation and the advent of home equity loans, homes became cash cows, rather than a long-term investment. The bubble burst on the speculative market. But bailing people out will skew and probably ruin the market entirely. Who wants to sacrifice and be a responsible mortgage payer when his next door neighbor can default and then get bailed out by the government?
The very idea that the economy would be irrevocably ruined without the Wall Street bail out seems preposterous to me.
I note a story I saw in the business section of the Arizona Republic. It said that American corporations are flush with cash, citing a study by J.P. Morgan indicating that corporate America is sitting on $ 3.2 trillion in cash.
My personal theory is that when the government gets too involved in the economy and too involved in bailing people and banks and corporations out, it confuses the marketplace. Capitalists don’t know which way to move when the rules keep changing.
And if no one could lose, no one could win.
The government is needed in the area of oversight of the economy and enforcing rules of fair play. Its lack of oversight is what led to the economic collapse. When investors and individuals can borrow money and leverage investments with no money down and no demonstrated ability to pay something will give eventually, and it did.
Wall Street could fail without taking everyone with it. There is capital elsewhere and it is useless unless it can be invested. Just as the individual makes no money by hiding it under his mattress, the capitalist makes no money by just holding onto cash forever.
And now to the tea party movement. A story I read said that members of the informal group or movement seemed to give off mixed messages. On the one hand they want the federal government out of their lives, but on the other hand a survey indicated a majority of them thought that the federal government should do more along the lines of job creation. First I don’t think the tea party folks have any coherent message, save for they feel that the government is far too big and seems to represent the interests of politicians, big money (Wall Street, not Main Street) and not average Americans. In that I could agree. But what I think would happen is if they got the people they want into office — Sarah Palin? — they would find the same conflicts would continue. But the tea party certainly has a right to make its voice heard and to get into the political fray (in a non-violent fashion, though).