Monday, October 6, 2008

Something "NEEDS" to be Done

Believe it or not, this post was not inspired by the Dastardly Bastardly Bailout and BS bill that our government has kindly saddled us with, including the soon-to-be trillion dollar price tag. I mention it here mainly because it while it wasn't the inspiration, it's definitely going to get covered.

No this one was another nationalized health insurance political ad. I forget who flung it out there, so I'll blame the AARP (Liberal Senile Citizens Brigade). YOu'll recognize it, I'm sure. In it someone young (because the greatest generation is dying and the target audience hates the baby boomers (thier parents)) is talking about the medical procedure he had to get and how it bankrupted him. And the tagline (which I heard Friday so I may not be accurate) was along the lines of, "Or politicians should do something about this."

Now of course I have sympathy for anyone who gets buried by medical costs or loses their ass because the companies they sunk their savings in went belly up because of stupidity or criminal activity, or the senile citizen who has to choose between food and the dozen pills their doctor prescribed them to fix all the things that are going wrong (although I have an opinion on that too). I especially have sympathy for at least one of my regular readers who faces the challenge of coming up with cash for her meds. I freely admit I don't have all the answers and there needs to be a solution here.

But it's the idea that these solutions, be it health care or the political abortion that is the DBB&BS bill or any other thing to "help people", have to come from the government that is the problem. In political parlance, it's called socialism.

Now this brings to mind something I read a few days later (after having this post in mind over the weekend). It's a statement of purpose for the America's Socialist Party: "Our aim is the creation of a new social order, a society in which the commanding value is the infinite preciousness of every woman, man and child."

One of the inherent flaws of this is how to value the individual. Do we value the individual, including ourselves, when we provide services and security? Because if the standard for doing something is that it will help people, then it's easy to say we'll give you cradle to the grave health care, jobs, financial security, and so on and so forth.

However, having been a recipient of a portion of this government largess (including Medicaid for the younglings), I have personally discovered the dehumanizing aspect of it.

One of the principle ways in which we define ourselves and our value in this world is by what we do. A measure of this is money. There are other things (respect, attention, spiritual reward) that factor in, but the most easily quantified comes in the form of a check (or direct deposit, or cash). When that check comes from the government in a transfer, it has the cash value, but no more than that.

In our rush to "help," politicians on both sides have taken up the cry of "something needs to be done" without a guiding principle to limit them, without the thought necessary to decide what is right, and too often with a desire to empower themselves. And we, sheeple that we are, take the rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and include every benefit that can be justified under the guise of "helping" people. The results of this we see in the news, including health care only a few can afford and another infamous bailout that did everything but address the problem.

Now to clarify, I'm not saying we should immediately cut everyone off, say "tough shit, you're on your own," and strip the country to the Full Darwin (or Monty, if you prefer), but the solution to so many of our problems can't lie in enslaving more people and companies to dependence on a government. It has to be in empowering the individual to excel, to become great, to discover their own "infinite preciousness."


Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

Someday, if the handouts ever stop, all the irresponsible corporations and individuals will have to fend for themselves - the hard way, just like the rest of us. Hopefully that day will come in my lifetime.

Toad734 said...

So you feel enslaved when your kids get Medicaid?

Patrick M said...

PCC: We're almost at a point where Uncle Sam needs an intervention. He's addicted to growing.

Toad: It's the danger of depending on government to send you money or pay for stuff I'm talking about. If you've never filled out all the paperwork, sent it in, waited for those official letters and jumped through hoops to take care of needs you should have found a way to pay for but didn't, then you don't know what you're talking about.

The short answer is yes.

Toad734 said...

So wouldn't you rather just not have to pay anything instead of waiting for a reimbursement? Or wouldn't it be nice if health care was actually affordable in the first place and you didn't need to ever worry about it? Wouldn't it be nice to cut the insurance companies out of the mess and all the drug company lobbyists out as well?

Patrick M said...

Or wouldn't it be nice if health care was actually affordable in the first place and you didn't need to ever worry about it?

That's where we really need to get. And the way you drive the prices down is not to have the government force it through price controls, or make insurance affordable, or have government throw money at it.

The way you reduce prices is to introduce some real competition, cut out the things that add no value but add costs, and return to the old days where you went to the doctor and paid for it. Then instead of a bureaucratic government apparatus or an impersonal cost-cutting insurance company, each individual that walks into the doctors office is in charge of deciding whether some procedure or some drug is worth it.

That's not to say we should eliminate the safety net completely, but we started to lose control of the prices when we stopped paying for things.

Toad734 said...

How would the government forcing price caps not work? It works in Europe. Do you really think they would just stop making medicine if they could only make millions per year as opposed to billions?

All you have to do is look at every other country in the world and know what you just said isn't true.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

each individual that walks into the doctors office is in charge of deciding whether some procedure or some drug is worth it.

Your average individual doesn't know whether a procedure or a drug is worth it or not. That's why they're in the doctor's office: to find out what they need.

Medicine isn't an exact science. The best they can give you is odds. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

People don't have the knowledge to make these decisions, therefore they go to the doctor to tell them what those chances are. Now, even after hearing this, these people have to decide whether this procedure or drug is more important to them than paying rent, buying groceries or ensuring that the electricity doesn't get shut off.

That's the real problem.

Patrick M said...

Toad:How would the government forcing price caps not work?

Because if the lions share of the profits disappear (and they would), so would the R&D. Then the government has to subsidize it. Then we pay for it in taxes. Right now, the rest of the world does it, but the big consumers of these drugs is us, and that's where the money is really made. Eliminate the profit motive to produce the drugs and it becomes another government program.

Saty: I don't see a better option. I know there will be people that may end up making those kinds of decisions. And there will have to be some other things worked out. But the direction we're going in is, in the words of The Marxist (Obama), to make health care a "right." The problem with that, though, is that to give a person health care, we have to take freedom from someone else. And when the freedom is being taken from doctors, there will be fewer (and dumber) doctors who want to be forced to follow their government-mandated rules. Removing the selfish motive from any profession is the surest way to ensure mediocrity. And when you're dealing with odds, you're going to want the best, not the average.

The way to get the greatest number of people the best possible health care is to lower costs. So the goal is to reduce the overall costs by taking the padding that the doctors and drug companies add to deal with bureaucratic bullshit. In addition, there would still have to be some kind of safety net for those who really couldn't afford their medical care.

I know I don't have all the answers to this problem, but that's why I apply the same principles to both health care and the financial mess. It gives a direction that can be built upon to provide the comprehensive solution. In addition, it requires less research, which means I get to go to sleep.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

Why is it that the rest of the civilized world realizes that a healthy population is a happier population and a more productive population and manages to give health care to its citizens, with the overall result that the US ranked last in a survey of preventable deaths in 19 industrialized nations?

We love to talk about how "bad" socialized medicine is. Obviously, they must be doing something right. What could it be?

By giving the public PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE they reduce costs. This works like this: If Larrimore gets a routine colonoscopy, we can spot the cancer early and get it fixed with much less intervention and cost than we would if he had no idea he had colon cancer until he was on the floor in pain and his intestine completely blocked, with probable metastasis throughout his body.

By taking on the $1800 cost of the scope, the $100K cost of treatment for an advanced stage of cancer can be eliminated. The patient's quality of life is a million times better. Mortality decreases. The sun shines.

A huge part of our problem that hasn't been mentioned (except indirectly in "doctors' padding) is the outrageous malpractice insurance costs doctors are forced to pay. This, of course, is because our society is unbelievably litigious, and why is this? Because every third commercial on TV is some lawyer encouraging people to file a lawsuit about some medical thing or other. This will have to be addressed in any healthcare reform package.

But yes, healthcare is a right in a civilized nation. The amount of money a person earns should not determine whether or not they receive healthcare.

A healthy population benefits the overall society due to increased productivity.

Keep the proles healthy and you can work 'em harder. Does it sound more appealing when I phrase it that way?

Patrick M said...

Saty: I agree on the lawyers and the preventative medicine. Especially the lawyers. Strangely, more lawyers end up in congress than any other profession. Maybe that's the real problem.

But that health care is a right?

I'll do a post on it later (because this is the important part), but what's your definition of a right?

Perhaps then we can get things straight.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

OK, been a long day, hopefully this is coherent.

45 million Americans are uninsured. The vast majority of these people are low-income. Many are children and/or senior citizens.

Middle and upper class people have the resources to obtain healthcare either by paying cash or by having some form of insurance.

A system like this that leaves the poor without access to healthcare impacts mortality and chronic illness rates.

To reduce this to very simplistic and basic terms: this would imply that more poor people die needlessly than middle and upper class people, because they can't get the care they need.

This has a definitively Malthusian stink on it.

Malthus, in his essay on population, advocated just this sort of thing in order to eradicate the poor and useless bits of society. Deny them food. Deny them housing. Deny them healthcare. They're unimportant. They don't contribute: they're useless mouths, a non-refundable drain on our resources.

To quantify a person's relative value (and by that quantification grant or deny them access to basic necessities of life) based on their net worth, or for lack of a better term, 'what have you done for ME lately?' is dehumanizing at best and at worst brings reminisces of Nazi exermination of the mentally retarded and disabled.

The basic difference is in fundamental thought: ME vs WE.

We ALL deserve the same treatment, the same opportunities, and the same chances to succeed, to be productive, to be happy and to be a viable and valued member of society-valued not for the amount of dollars we contribute to the GNP, but for our inherent worth as a human being.

Apologies in advance for any incoherency in this Concorde of thought I'm riding tonight.

Patrick M said...

Saty, you're almost always coherent (despite the 12+ hour days), even if you dodge the question.

The problem we have is confusing the duties and responsibilities of a just and good people with natural rights. Again, I'm working on that post for Monday. Because we, as a society, choose to provide a safety net for those that otherwise fall short does not mean that it is ascribed as a right.

This has a definitively Malthusian stink on it.

Only if the goal was to eliminate the unproductive parts of the population. The goal is to enable as many people as possible to provide for themselves, allow the charitable organizations to cover the needy, and only then have government with a safety net.

Really, this comes down to the difference between a benefit and a right. Until you can define what a right is, we're going to keep going back and forth on this.

Satyavati devi dasi said...


Minds more brilliant than mine have spent hundreds of years trying to examine what is a "right". I bow to their superior intelligence to define this nebulous and contentious term.

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 25
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

From the US Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men...

Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

From the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:

Article 12 of the Covenant recognises the right of everyone to "the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."[40] "Health" is understood not just as a right to be healthy, but as a right to control ones own health and body (including reproduction), and be free from interference such as torture or medical experimentation.[41] States must protect this right by ensuring that everyone within their jurisdiction has access to the underlying determinants of health, such as clean water, sanitation, food, nutrition and housing, and through a comprehensive system of healthcare, which is available to everyone without discrimination, and economically accessible to all.[42]

Article 12.2 requires parties to take specific steps to improve the health of their citizens, including reducing infant mortality and improving child health, improving environmental and workplace health, preventing, controlling and treating epidemic diseases, and creating conditions to ensure equal and timely access to medical services for all. These are considered to be "illustrative, non-exhaustive examples", rather than a complete statement of parties' obligations.[43]

Amnesty International writes that "The United States signed the Covenant in 1979 under the Carter administration but is not fully bound by it until it is ratified. For political reasons, the Carter administration did not push for the necessary review of the Covenant by the Senate, which must give its “advice and consent” before the US can ratify a treaty. The Reagan and Bush (Sr.) administrations took the view that economic, social, and cultural rights were not really rights but merely desirable social goals and therefore should not be the object of binding treaties. The Clinton Administration did not deny the nature of these rights but did not find it politically expedient to engage in a battle with Congress over the Covenant. The current Bush (W.) administration follows in line with the view of the previous Bush (Sr.) administration."[55] The Heritage Foundation, a critical conservative think thank, argues that signing it would obligate the introduction of policies that it opposes such as universal health care.[56]

Patrick M said...

Saty: My post-in-progress references the first two of the three items you cite. But I think I can clarify it further then.

Plus, I think I'm at least as smart as all them bastards.

Satyavati devi dasi said...

I'm waiting with bated breath. Don't make me wait so long I turn blue.

And in the meanwhile I am developing my theses on "hidden" Malthusianism.

PS. Aren't you impressed that I even know who he is?

Patrick M said...

Aren't you impressed that I even know who he is?

Considering I'm taking you word for it because I didn't look it up.... :)