Posts Tagged ‘Health Plutocracy’

Money Does Not Care

March 19, 2012

And Those Who Follow It Don’t Either

PHILOSOPHY SAYS OBAROMCARE WILL NEVER WORK

***

Paul Krugman wrote an editorial Hurray For Health Care, in the New York Times lauding the effort of Obama on health:

“Now, the “Affordable Health Care Act” — known to its foes as Obamacare, and to the cognoscenti as ObamaRomneycare — isn’t easy to love, since it’s very much a compromise, dictated by the perceived political need to change existing coverage and challenge entrenched interests as little as possible. But the perfect is the enemy of the good; for all its imperfections, this reform would do an enormous amount of good. And one indicator of just how good it is comes from the apparent inability of its opponents to make an honest case against it. “

Yes, maybe, but another interpretation is possible, and it’s much more sinister. Indeed the “entrenched interest” is a code word for the extractive, exploitative right wing. Krugman just said the “Affordable Health Care Act” was about challenging the “entrenched interests”, that is, the health care lobby, as little as possible. So the opponents cannot make a honest case against it because, deep inside, they are delighted by it. As simple as that.

Krugman situates the problem:

The fact is that individual health insurance, as currently constituted, just doesn’t work. If insurers are left free to deny coverage at will — as they are in, say, California — they offer cheap policies to the young and healthy (and try to yank coverage if you get sick) but refuse to cover anyone likely to need expensive care. Yet simply requiring that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, as in New York, doesn’t work either: premiums are sky-high because only the sick buy insurance.

The solution — originally proposed, believe it or not, by analysts at the ultra-right-wing Heritage Foundation — is a three-legged stool of regulation and subsidies. As in New York, insurers are required to cover everyone; in return, everyone is required to buy insurance, so that healthy as well as sick people are in the risk pool. Finally, subsidies make those mandated insurance purchases affordable for lower-income families.”

Well that should  look good on paper, for the naive idiots who, apparently, Krugman believes his readers are.

“Affordability” indeed depends upon the health care plutocracy seeing the light and showing some restraint. Because nothing forbids it to keep on squeezing those who can pay, until everybody is poor and needs subsidies, themselves obtained through taxes or borrowing from the rich against interest. In other words, nothing prevents the runaway plutocratic train to keep on rolling ever faster. This is the likeliest economic development, which, believe it or not, neither Krugman, nor the president or his advisers seem to have prepared for.

But I must admit that the “analysts” at the “Heritage Foundation” are plenty smart enough to have foreseen what will happen. Namely their plutocratic sponsors will get richer, and thus the rewards will come their way some more.

Can philosophy help? Sure. The philosophical method is about big thinking, not getting bogged down in the details and debris, as ants are wont to do, per their nature. Notice that Obama uses the adjective “affordable“. Health care is like a hotel, as far as Obama and company are concerned. And the question is: “Is it affordable?”

I will use the following neologism, which, I hope audaciously, will be forgiven: Obaromcare.

Obaromcare was suggested by the “ultra right wing Heritage Foundation” because it is perfect for that branch of plutocracy that feeds off health care. Any vampire feeds off fresh blood, and Obaromcare brings 50 million new victims to suck dry… The subsidy thing changes nothing as it simply means more resources will be siphoned off the middle class, through taxes.

That the “Heritage Foundation” brought the idea should have been a hint to the clueless. Maybe the president and the honorable Paul Krugman should refresh their critical abilities by reading Homer, and learn to beware of the Greeks and the gifts they bear. That was the lesson of the Trojan Horse. Greek boys used to learn that kind of things, 28 centuries ago. Now big boys are going around, steering the world, and they take the world’s most expensive plane, Air Force One, to go watch a baseball game, in Ohio. If that’s not a collapse of the idea of civilization, what is?

Obaromcare will not be the first time in the history of civilization when the public is forced to serve the private, while claiming it’s a public service to do so. It’s actually very much an heritage of the oldest plutocratic tradition.

Philosophically speaking, Obaromcare is close to the definition of the most abject plutocracy. It’s a desperate attempt to give a veneer of respectability to the plutocratic notion that profit primes care. All other developed countries know that, care, per se, is a fundamental notion living in another dimension than profit. This is the essential point.

Will Obaromcare work? First one has to settle what “working” means. The present system works splendidly for the for profit health care industry. What Obaromcare will do, for sure, is to make the present system bigger, not change its nature.

So, for the average people and the larger economy, Obaromcare will probably not work, because profit is at the center of it all, and nothing will stand in its way anymore than it does today. Obaromcare may have already increased national health spending.

In other developed countries, the will to care is what masters the search for profit. In any case, the numbers are talking louder than propaganda: the cost of health care in the USA is ascending at a completely unsustainable pace.

Obama could have made a reform that would have worked, if he had put the private plans in competition with MEDICARE FOR ALL: opening the existing Medicare, by far the largest health plan in the USA, and public, for people more than 65. The idea was to allow anyone to pay for Medicare. Just by economy of scale, Medicare would have been cheaper, while making a profit… for the public (by opposition of making a profit by whom Krugman himself calls “entrenched interests”, the plutocrats).

But Obama did not boost the existing public plan, Medicare. Medicare has efficiencies of size (it’s by far the largest health plan in the USA), but it is handicapped by not having the full negotiating capabilities of negotiating for lower costs that its peers in other countries have. One would have expected a democratic president to give full negotiating capability to Medicare. But that did not happen.

As usual, all Obama did, with health care, as he did with the banks, or with the military-industrial complex, or with the energy or transportation policies, was to follow the money, and bleat.

It would seem that neither Obama, nor Krugman, their kind, or entourage, understand that the economy is more than a one dimensional object. It is true that the search for profit is one of the dimension of the economy. But it is not the only one. Caring is another, and it is what health care is all about.

Chancellor Bismarck understood this perfectly well in the 1860s, when he created a national health care system for Prussia. That universal health coverage was extended after 1871 to the entire “Second Reich“. That system was so good that, after Loraine and Alsace got reintegrated inside France in 1918, they kept the Bismarck system (and have it to some extent, to this day).

The conflation of the notion of economy and the obsession with profit, shows up in the Obama’s administration naïve approach to whatever, including in its approach to space exploration: it believes, with some extreme right wing politicians, that the search for profits will render space easily accessible. According to this plutophiles, the economy responds only to profit, so augment the opportunity for profit, augment activity.

So the Obama administration has been heaping vast amounts of taxpayer money and property towards Elon Musk, a non American born immigrant based in the Silicon Valley, who, stupidly, believes that his primitive technology (already used by the Nazis 70 years ago) will open up space to his conniving mind.

That general drift is reminiscent of Solyndra, a solar company founded by friends (and financiers) of Obama in the Silicon Valley. The White House sank 550 million dollars of taxpayer money in Solyndra, although that was clearly none of its business. But it was the business of Silicon valley financiers Obama goees visit with his big plane every few weeks. Then the president goes from mansion to mansion, and is introduced to hordes of plutocrats and their broods, who have paid of the order of the median family income in the USA to do so. A four year old can give $40,000 to Obama, but then Obama gives 500 millions to her daddy’s “investment”. Hey, it’s all the same money, freshly laundered taxpayer money.  

The space technology ignorant Musk got in just one contract 1.6 billion from NASA. And many other supports, such as untold secret transfer of technology, that is, of public American property, to a white South African. Some famous astronauts (ex-senator and first american in space Glenn, Cernan, etc.) are furious about it.

On the side, the Obama administration supports Musk, with taxpayer money, for making electric cars for the rich. Musk has got to have good musk: Obama never misses a photo opportunity with him. Musk: smells good. General situation: smells bad.

Basically the same scheme is repeated for Obaromcare health care, as with Solyndra, or Musk, on a much grander scale. Public money for the privates, unlimited. In a few years people like Krugman will say:  We could have never guessed. We just did exactly what the “ultra conservative Heritage Foundation” told us to do. What could go wrong?

None of the 36  countries which have better health care systems than the USA have followed the money to build their health care system. For the very good reason given above: money does not care.  

Once care has been made the master motivation of its own house, health care, care can dictate lots of behaviors which enhance care and that the search for profit cannot dictate.

For example most forms of advertizing by private health care companies is unlawful in Europe (and European authorities are suggesting to crack down on more subtle forms of lobbying). In the USA, lobbying and advertizing has become more costly than research and development, explaining, at least partly, why the development of new drugs and cures has stagnated in recent years.

Here is the classification of health care systems from the World Health Organization:

1         France

2         Italy

3         San Marino

4         Andorra

5         Malta

6         Singapore

7         Spain

8         Oman

9         Austria

10        Japan

11        Norway

12        Portugal

13        Monaco

14        Greece

15        Iceland

16        Luxembourg

17        Netherlands

18        United  Kingdom

19        Ireland

20        Switzerland

21        Belgium

22        Colombia

23        Sweden

24        Cyprus

25        Germany

26        Saudi Arabia

27        United  Arab  Emirates

28        Israel

29        Morocco

30        Canada

31        Finland

32        Australia

33        Chile

34        Denmark

35        Dominica

36        Costa Rica

37        United States of America

So we saw that the motivational space of an economy has at least two neurological dimensions: profit, and care.

Are there others? Sure. Any motivation of human beings will be a factor in house-management (“eco-nomy”). Sex, of course is one, and so are many obsessions. And Will to Power and plain old Curiosity are also important. And so is also the Will to Vice (for a demonstration of that, have a close look at Afghanistan). In particular, pathological lying.

Obama and Krugman pretend to think that Wall Street is a hospital. Is that a medical condition, or something even worse?

***

Patrice Ayme

P/S: (I immediately sent a comment to Kruman’s sycophantic utterances, but the censorship system at the New York Times put me at the end of the line, and a barrage of sycophants at the front. It seems they censored me completely, not to give the idea the great liberals who lead us just follow the money. Of course, the NYT is a private outfit. but, when it reveals itself less honest than Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, it’s not a good sign that so many people on the left proclaim it be respectable! Maybe they should meditate some that many followers of Hitler were from the left, and that Hitler’s “ultra conservative” re-foundation was designed to appeal to them, and PC them into it.)


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