So, I have a problem with the current proposals for health care reform on the table. And this problem, to put it bluntly, is that these proposals suck giant donkey testicles. I’m not going to pussyfoot around here: I’m totally opposed, and I’m totally pissed. For once, I find myself in agreement with the right, except for entirely different reasons.
I’ve been going back and forth on this issue with Tristan. I think that the plan sucks because it doesn’t go far enough, and that it could potentially be highly damaging in addition to totally useless. He argues (to paraphrase hours of conversation) that something is better than nothing. Reform is needed, the popular argument goes, and thus any reform is better than no reform.
But I don’t actually agree with this stance. And I think that this argument is dangerous, because it’s being used to push people into supporting this plan. It’s the same problem I had during the Presidential primaries: being forced to choose between a bunch of candidates I did not like was not actually being presented with a choice. And I don’t understand why American politicians continue pretending that they are presenting actual, valid, diverse choices, because they aren’t.
So, here’s the thing. The health care system is not working. I’m not going to argue with that. But the solution, in my mind, is not to try to repair it from within the framework of the existing system. The solution is to totally dismantle the system. We don’t want to fight the status quo, we want to erase it. In real estate terms, the health care system is a teardown. Do we want to spend a bunch of money and energy trying to prop it up and fix it? No. We want to hire a demolition company to destroy this sucker and clear the ground so we can build a new one. Or ask the fire department if they’d like to burn it down for practice, if we’re feeling like turning demolition into a public service.
Any reform is like, well, trying to patch a leaky boat with cheesecloth. The system is so complex, so loaded with bureaucracy, so insane, and the lobby is so powerful, that “reform” will have basically no effect. Especially because there’s a really simple solution: national single-payer healthcare.
I’m not just saying this because I’m a raging socialist. A national single-payer plan is more cost efficient than any other system. It’s better medicine. It guarantees access. It just makes sense, from multiple perspectives, and it’s pretty easy to implement. Logically, it’s the best and really the only solution, yet it’s basically not being discussed, because everyone is so terrified of the health insurance lobby. Single-payer advocates weren’t even invited to the table when it came to discussing plans.
I don’t want a “public option.” A “public option” will be effectively useless. I’m willing to bet that any “public option” would not cover me, and if I was forced to buy private health insurance under mandates, it would bankrupt me, because I’d be paying stratospheric premiums and paying for all of the health care that my insurance wouldn’t cover. I would be faced with paying penalty fines or buying a crappy plan I couldn’t afford. Furthermore, a “public option” will effectively damage any potential chance at a national single-payer system, because it is going to fail and therefore it will be used to beat advocates for healthcare reform over the head forever.
Talking with RMJ about this, RMJ said that if we went to national single-payer, we would lose jobs, because people in the insurance industry would no longer have jobs. I argued that this wasn’t actually the case, for a number of reasons; private insurance companies would still exist and people would have the opportunity to buy additional coverage from them if they wanted, for starters, and a national single-payer system would actually create jobs, because we would need administrators and staffers to manage it.
Furthermore, I think that the “what about the workers” argument is a red herring used to prop up capitalist inequality. I’m a utilitarian. I go for the greatest good for the greatest number, and the greatest good in the long term. I think that things like job loss and bank failures are acceptable, if they lead to improvements in the future. I think that using “the workers” to prop up and maintain a broken system is despicable, especially when people are tricking those same workers into believing lies and rightwing propaganda.
These proposals are not, in fact, better than nothing. They are worse than nothing, because if nothing was done, people might actually revolt, overcome the power of the insurance lobby, and do something. Instead, these plans are going to be used to lull people into complacency, while allowing the rich to get richer. Oh, and while ensuring that people like me will continue to be deprived of access to health care.