Government healthcare is like wiping your ass with a newspaper: it’s not pleasant, but it gets the job done. Contrary to what some people might think I am actually for the healthcare reform, even though I have excellent benefits at work and don’t spend even close to the mythical $2,500 that the President keeps talking about. Since I used to live in the country with free universal government-provided healthcare and my Father was a doctor I do know a little bit about it. I realize that this is not the model being proposed here but if you believe that this government will pamper its citizens any more than absolutely necessary, you first government-paid appointment should be with a psychiatrist. I don’t know if this government will go as extreme as paying for a root canal but not for anesthesia, or for childbirth but not for epidural, but you can certainly look forward to the bureaucrats eliminating unnecessary luxuries and finding money-saving efficiencies. Despite what the President says, this bill is not paid for and there is no money to pay for it, so borrowing more or raising taxes in the near future seems unavoidable.
Still I think that the healthcare should be reformed. My reasons are as always selfish: health benefits at work are the number one reason I stuck around there for nearly 10 years and did not try to do something on my own. All my far-fetched plans involve me keeping my full-time job just so I can afford the doctor visits and medication. In other words, the healthcare concerns control my life and limit my choices, and I would be happy if this was not on the list of things that hold me back, somewhere between laziness, procrastination and pessimism.
Speaking about pessimism, I truly believe that the President and the Congress are set on pushing through the legislation that will create, for the lack of a better word, even bigger clusterfuck than we already have. The main reason is that at some point it stopped being about the reform and became about the legislation itself. Because if it was about the reform, there wouldn’t be a deadline of yesterday, or next Friday, or before or after the recess. The healthcare today is not dramatically worse than it was on January 18th or a year ago and it’s not about to disintegrate tomorrow. Maybe a bill that affects 15-20% of the GDP and everyone in this country should get a little more consideration than a typical daily piece of legislation. The current hysterical approach reminds me a lot of the run-up to the war in Iraq: Iraq was a stable, albeit a shitty country, until its threat level was artificially and deceitfully escalated, raising the perceived urgency and leading to an idiotic decision to invade. How many congress-people would like to take back their vote, how many now are saying they were under the influence didn’t have enough information to make an educated choice. There are plenty of mistakes to learn from, but why do it if the same jackasses who voted for the war in Iraq, or mortgage deregulation or whatever else are still being reelected and bragging about not reading the bill or caring about the “irrelevant” details. Kind of like the old Jewish joke:
-Hey Isaac, do you like Pavarotti?
-No he has a whiny voice, lisps and can’t pronounce half the letters.
-But have you ever heard him?
-No but Shmuel sung it for me.
Jokes don’t translate well but the point is: if a congress-person is not capable of reading and comprehending the bill, who then actually wrote it and summarized it for the said person in order for them to make an informed vote? The aid who did it doesn’t have much to lose; their name will not appear on the legislation.
What surprises me in the current state of discussion is not the loud-mouth morons screaming at town-halls or their idiot counterparts boycotting Whole Foods (a company that pays for 100% of their employees’ health coverage and supports their beloved organic farms) because their CEO wrote an article in the paper that they disagree with. I am always surprised by the people who are willing to trust anything coming down from the government just because it sounds progressive. You don’t have to believe in outlandish death panels or 10-year treatment waiting lists, but a little healthy doubt never hurt anyone. The government doesn’t have a great track record of doing things right, the usual examples of successes like the military (who literally loses truckloads of cash), VA, Medicare, Social Security, etc. are not known for being efficient, frugal or particularly user-friendly. Even the President stumbled trying to offer the Post Office as an example of the Government option, noting that it has all the problems unlike UPS and FedEx.
It’s unfortunate that every discussion of important subjects in this country now comes down to catchphrases and labels. Socialism is mostly about the ownership of the means of production as well as income distribution. If the government owned the entire healthcare industry and employed all medical workers, and people like my Father had their paycheck signed by Barack Obama that would’ve been socialism. Otherwise it’s really not. Death panels? Little harsh, but decisions like that are made every day. Even now they will tell you that you may be too old for a new knee, a heart transplant or a cataract surgery and even if you have all the money in the world the doctor might still advise you not to do it. We are all mortals after all, I for one believe that artificially extending pain and suffering is not humane.
Lastly, for a look at what the government healthcare in this country might look like:
Not pleasant, but it gets the job done, just like I said.
Since I’ve thought about the subject a lot, I might have another installment in a day or two with the things that I think need to be included in the legislation.