Sunday, August 09, 2009

A 10,000 foot view on health care

Health care is a basic human right.

Yes, I believe that...not just as an American but as a human being.

As an American, you have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...your right to life is obviously contingent upon your health, no?

From a human perspective...what teleological goal could be more important than the health of a society's populous? Increasing capital? No shit? Do you really want to live in a society where the pursuit of capital takes precedent over human solidarity?

Imagine 100 people are magically transported to an uninhabited island somewhere in the Cosmos. They're survival as individuals, and as a species, is dependent upon their ability to cooperate with one another and reproduce. What do you think their first priority would be? My guess is that it would be to take every measure possible to ensure the health and well being of their tribe. Does that sound logical?

Or do you think that their main priority would be to develop a form of currency based on seashells....and they then spend endless hours hording these seashells while other members of their newly formed tribe starve or perish to the elements. Does that sound logical?

Well, to me, that analogy is indicative of our current public health care discourse. I am finding it hard to believe that we've become a society which values notions of material wealth (whatever that may be) over our own physical well being..."Protect the market at all costs...including your life." Really? It also amazes me that many of the people advocating this logic aren't by any means "wealthy" nor will they ever be.

What also interests me is the notion of "entitlement" being thrown around by conservative groups. These are people who shun any form of government program, i.e. Medicare, Welfare, because they claim "government hand outs" promote a sense of "entitlement." They just can't stand the notion that some people in our country think they deserve some level of care and protection from their government. They would like to think that they are fiercely independent and self sufficient and they don't need anything from their government...even in the event of a natural disaster like Katrina.

Yet when it comes to issues like immigration....they suddenly take a turn. The notion of entitlement takes on a whole new perspective. Then they ask their government to build massive walls to keep people away from what they are entitled to. Or maybe issues like marriage...where they feel they are entitled to this "sacred institution" while homosexuals shouldn't be. Or maybe issues like abortion...where they feel they are entitled to tell a young woman what she can and can't do with her body. Or maybe issues of religion...where they feel they are entitled to shove their fairy tales down people's throats by asking their government to pass laws which force their notions into public schools.

To me, this is the same mindset of people who felt entitled to sit at the front of the bus 50 years ago, or have separate bathrooms in restaurants.

As Greg points out, this logic is rapidly approaching a Soylent Green mentality. "Fuck the poor, the sick, the physically challenged....let's just eat them." I suppose that would be the logical path to follow if your only goal in life is to increase capital.

I can see the "socialist" accusations swirling in conservative minds after reading that.

I'm not going to attempt to dissect the semantics of the meme, "Socialism". I don't consider myself communist, nor do I subscribe to the notion that capitalism is a panacea. What I do subscribe to is human solidarity....I think there is no more worthy cause for a society than to promote the health of it's citizens. For me, everything else is secondary. I don't really want to live in a society that's more concerned with counting seashells than striving for the well being of it's populous. If that makes me a socialist, so be it.

This country needs a public health care system. I admittedly don't know enough about the particulars to say Obama's plan is the "right" plan but what I do know is that something has to change because the current system is failing us miserably. And I believe that an unbridled, free market system will absolutely not resolve the matters at hand.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

You set up a straw man with your conservative "they". I don't know anyone who holds all those opinions.

The Republicans lost the last election because "they" failed to understand the ideals of their supporters had changed (arguably during the Bush era). The Democrats will start losing elections by remaining with this stereotype of "conservatives" also.

This bill is about funneling new customers by force to the insurance companies. If you really want health care reform, not insurance promulgation, you would do well to demand a delay and a dialogue instead of allowing HR3200 to pass.

Joe America said...

The main problem is that 80% of the country are stupid sheep who are easily manipulated. Easily whipped up by the like of Reich wing demagogues like Limbaugh, Dobbs, Hannity & Co.

The Reich wing can't go screaming "NIGGER! NIGGER!" at Obama, as even their small brains are able to realize that their true feelings wouldn't hold much sway. So instead they scream "SOCIALISM!" as loud as they can; or their birther nonsense.

Same shit, brand new crapper.

Dambala said...

- You set up a straw man with your conservative "they". I don't know anyone who holds all those opinions.

http://www.lafamilyforum.org/

Meet your straw man....the most influential lobbying force in the state of Louisiana.

Dambala said...

That's exactly what Bill Maher said, Joe. They've called him everything they can think of but what they really want to call him.

Anonymous said...

I just think that we ought to try it at the state level before we roll it out across the nation. It is a Major change. Also, it is just a bill, the real devil is in the admininstrative details which are not written by or controlled by Congress. That is what makes me gasp, that some administrative zonk is gonna write the rules for what is allowed and what is not. I just think we need to see it work somewhere first, with a real budget before we do this. I don't care who is driving it, Dems or Reps, it just needs to be taken out for a test drive first.

Anonymous said...

Part 1:
First of all, I love people like Joe America, because those are the first you can include in a long list of people that have no idea how to use a metaphor or don't know their history and how to apply that to a metaphor.

Joe, you might be more interested in looking into Jimmy Carter, because that is the way of Obama if he doesn't start getting involved and show some leadership in this healthcare saga. You can't have your cake and eat it too where you want a healthcare bill, but none of the responsibility when it becomes controversial or fails. You don't get to stand up and talk and defend alot of positions that the different healthcare bills hold and then not do anything to fix the bills. Otherwise you look impotent and the bill will fail if it continues this course. When this bill fails, so will Obama and any political muscle he holds because the Dems that put themselves out there are going to lose their seats to Republicans or Blue Dogs running on a platform of not passing this healthcare bill.

You are already seeing Jon Stewart and others stop drinking the Kool Aid and start to question this administration which means the younger, grass roots worker bees are quickly behind him and his chance for a re-election are slim, just like Carter.

See Joe, that's how you intelligently mix history into your viewpoint, not by trying to brand all conservatives as Nazis, which actually gets people to read the post and possibly consider it versus completely dismissing the ludicrous post.

Sparky

Anonymous said...

Part 2:
Ashe, I'm disappointed that you drew the conversation back to this vague 10,000 foot view again, instead of sticking to specifics of this bill - perhaps its because much of it is indefensible. I would like to discuss the method in which you would like to provide this basic human right that is in front of us and stop dancing around it.

I still stand by former opinion that if the government came up with a reasonable, fiscally responsible plan than people would support it across the board, even willing to pay more taxes to do so.

I don't agree that health care is a constitutional right, because how far do you want to extrapolate out the right to life:
- Housing, what is acceptable housing, should everyone be in a $200k house?
- Clothes, well we can't have people shopping for clothes at Walmart, how will they ever get that job? (PS, I grew up in a family that did their clothes shopping at Wally World - see dirt poor)
- Food, should we require everyone to eat organic and make them vegans as well?

I will say that you are correct: "I am finding it hard to believe that we've become a society which values notions of material wealth", we have not become a nation that values material wealth over all things, like it or not, you have stirred that silent majority with this crappy bill - not the idea of healthcare for all, but how these bills go about providing it which will provide the federal government additional control over our lives. People still value our liberty more than personal wealth and you are seeing it in the townhall meetings recently.

I think its audacious of you to say "It also amazes me that many of the people advocating this logic aren't by any means "wealthy" nor will they ever be." which is the principle of what this country was founded on that you have the opportunity to come here and work hard and become wealthy, there isn't another country in the world that provides this type of opportunity to change your familys class status in such a short time, instead you are happy with keeping people where they are, moving that goal even further away from them than before.

I agree as well that an unbridled free market system will not address the need for health care, however, I think taking a logical (not emotional) look at the current programs, slashing funding for crap that isn't working (include both sides of the aisle), reducing debt and operating cost of the government along the way, rolling some of that savings into a system that has better odds of succeeding and is more flexible to make changes in areas that aren't performing properly, while still allowing confidentiality between my doctor and myself, I could go on, but am running out of time.

Let's get past the name calling people and have an honest discussion about the bills so we can possibly do what those people we elected are not willing to, understand what the hell they are about to vote on.

Sparky

Damian said...

When you say that health care is a basic human right, I think you need to define health care.

Does every human have a right to preventative, cheap, prenatal care?

I'm guessing you'll say yes, and I find that hard to disagree with.

Does every human deserve the right to dialysis?

Forcing us all to pay to keep an 80-year-old heavy drinker alive for a few more months is a bit more ambiguous, but we're a rich society (that spends billions every year on dog food), so let's go with "yes".

Does every human have a "right" to a heart transplant?

Well, frankly, where are you going to get the hearts? Where are you going to get the doctors to perform the heart transplants? Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, so there's certainly demand for hearts, but if everyone has an equal right to them, how do we choose who gets them? Do we assert the right to take hearts away from some people and give them to others?

That's my problem with saying "health care is a human right". It's a scarce quantity. At the low end, it would seem there's enough to go around, but at the very high end (and that's where a lot of our health care costs go: into the high end treatments that allow us to extend life into our 70s and 80s, much longer than the human body evolved to last), I don't see how anyone has a "right" to anything.

Can you clarify how you resolve this question?

Dambala said...

Damian,

Excellent point...and to my defense i purposely framed this diatribe as macrocosm. I was trying to address the larger philosophical argument than I was the microcosms.

But yes, what is "health care"? I think there will obviously be parameters and limitations. I think there will probably even be a need to "ration" services depending on our resources. There are cold hard realities to face, but on the whole...I think our goal as a society should be to strive for the highest level of public health possible.

It's a great point and I don't have an answer.

Dambala said...

Sparky,

- I don't agree that health care is a constitutional right, because how far do you want to extrapolate out the right to life:
- Housing, what is acceptable housing, should everyone be in a $200k house?
- Clothes, well we can't have people shopping for clothes at Walmart, how will they ever get that job? (PS, I grew up in a family that did their clothes shopping at Wally World - see dirt poor)
- Food, should we require everyone to eat organic and make them vegans as well?

That's a ridiculous distortion of the argument I was making in this post.

The reason I framed the conversation as a macrocosm is because I think it's important to remind ourselves of what direction we are sailing this ship. Also...i readily admit that I have not read the proposed bill and my knowledge of the particulars comes from second party interpretation...therefore I'm not really confident that I even could provide useful insight on the specific bill. I said as much at the end of the post...I don't know if Obama's plan is the right one. I just know that something has to change.

- like it or not, you have stirred that silent majority with this crappy bill

I would disagree with that....I think its stirred a loud, fringe minority who is on the verge of going apeshit in these town meetings.

- I think its audacious of you to say "It also amazes me that many of the people advocating this logic aren't by any means "wealthy" nor will they ever be." which is the principle of what this country was founded on that you have the opportunity to come here and work hard and become wealthy, there isn't another country in the world that provides this type of opportunity to change your familys class status in such a short time, instead you are happy with keeping people where they are, moving that goal even further away from them than before.

Once again...this a total distortion. I wasn't lambasting "the American Dream" or promoting a socialist agenda...that came from your head not mine. I was stating that like it or not, most families in this country can simply not afford to pay a $1200/month Cobra Policy for limited health care insurance...and most of these families will never have the ability to do so. That's the American reality...not the American dream.

Anonymous said...

Dambala,

I like your blog, but I think this entry was not of your usual quality and unique insight.

If you don't know much about the bill, nor can't specifically define your premise that "healthcare is a right" and only added generalizations based on partisan stereotypes, what was the purpose of your 14 paragraph original post? To say that you don't like conservatives?

IMO, the majority of americans will support a well thought-out health reform bill that includes a public option. Why talk about fringe? It's minutiae.

-nolaguy

Anonymous said...

"Health care is a basic human right."

Please explain how you define what is a "basic human right" and what the implications of such a statement are.

Our founding fathers said people have a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." There is a fundamental difference between the rights they stated and your claiming that health care is a basic human right.

None of the rights in the Declaration of Independence imposed any obligation on another person.

If health care is a human right, then that means that the government has the right to take money from me under threat of imprisonment to pay to provide this "right" to others, regardless of whether they can pay for it themselves and regardless of whether their ills were due to their own negligence.

It also means that the government has the right, if it so chooses, to force health care workers to provide their services with no compensation.

If you do not agree with both of these statements, then I suggest that your definition of "basic human right" is different from mine.

I await your explanation.

JA

P.S. you might also investigate Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Anonymous said...

my thought would be that more government/paper managing our affairs means more screw ups in services and fraud. consider fema running our health care system. i do know something has to change..i do like all the dialogue and am happy that the drug and insurance companies are nervous. i just don't trust gov.no matter who is the president ( big bloated non profit). remember 30 dollar screws and 50 toilet seats.

Ms M said...

I agree with you, Dambala, that this country needs a good public health care system. "Free market medical care" often has been arbitrary and inhumane (unless you've got the $$). I work for a non-profit agency that helps senior citizens, age 60 and up. We have seen a huge increase in the number of seniors below age 65 (and in their late 50s) who have lost jobs and/or health insurance, who have ongoing medical problems, such as cancer, diabetes, heart problems, etc. who cannot afford insurance (or been denied insurance coverage) and who have racked up huge medical bills they will never be able to pay, short of winning the lottery. They most often don't seek medical care until it becomes an emergency. So their health deteriorates more quickly, they aren't able to find work due to their bad health, and more expenses accumulate. (And sometimes they die...) This "costs" all of us,in many ways.

Once a person turns 65, they then can get on Medicare. Despite its problems, Medicare works amazingly well covering so many people. It could be a springboard from which to develop a public health care system.

That being said, developing a public health care system is, of course, complex, and unfortunately, is currently being used as a political football. I am very tired of people making hysterical and non-factual claims. There needs to be calm, sensible and informed dialogue about this in putting it together. I really wish our leaders could do this -- I'd hate to see this fail again.

Just my comments "from the trenches"...

Dambala said...

- "Health care is a basic human right."

Please explain how you define what is a "basic human right" and what the implications of such a statement are.

Our founding fathers said people have a right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." There is a fundamental difference between the rights they stated and your claiming that health care is a basic human right.

Before we start this conversation Anon, I want to clarify if we're having a discussion about "human rights" or "American Rights".

If so...I'd like to start with John Locke not Maslow.

Give me the parameters and let's go.

Dambala said...

- Dambala,

- I like your blog, but I think this entry was not of your usual quality and unique insight.

Sir....it just so happens that I am looking for an editor to this blog. If you would like to take that responsibility you can click the donation button and donate the sum of 3.2 billion dollars...that amount will immediately be turned over to the United States Government to fund the first year of a public health care program.

Until then, I will write whatever the fuck I want to write...about whatever the fuck I want to write.

Read at your leisure, or ignore it at your displeasure.

But I beg you as a gentleman, do not ask me to silence my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Stick to shining the light on the NOLA corruption. IMHO

What are your thoughts on the Iranian situation fizzling out?

Dambala said...

- partisan stereotypes, what was the purpose of your 14 paragraph original post? To say that you don't like conservatives?

Oh...and no to that. It was meant to point out the hypocrisy of those who throw "entitlement" out ad nauseam.

I find it curious that most of those folks who promote Thomas Hobbes' philosophy tend to think they are entitled to inherent privileges and that their government (aka. their comfort zone) should recognize their superiority.

As an Anthropologist, I have a keen sense of the process of evolution and natural selection...if you subscribe to that formula (natural selection) as grounds for a social plan I just can't quite grasp how you expect government to recognize you as anything other than productive or dead weight.

You should have no entitlement to anything unless you are a productive cog in the machine. The moment your "cogness" ends...you are fodder. This includes one's mental capacity to compete in the rapidly evolving global market. If you can't hang...you should fall....i.e. Detroit.

Therefore you deserve to lose your house to the market while a Mexican family deserves to move in and squat...because they are serving the greater good of the system.

I guess I'm just looking for an "anti-entitlement" proponent who actually has the courage of his/her conviction.

Would that be you?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think Obama has screwed this up big time.

He has taken an important proposal, an important public policy issue needing addressing, and he has let the debate become extremely divisive, rancorous, and even at times abusive.

This applies to Democrats and Republicans and this will have lasting effects. I think it's going to take a while for Democrats to see this.

Take the escalating politicization and divisiveness that has been growing in this country for three decades, from the Vietnam War to Nixon and post-Nixon, to Reagan and Iran Contra, to Clinton, Bush Jr., and think of how divided we were about the Iraq War and the budget and Bush's governing style with Cheney and Rumsfeld, etc. ..... and that has been taken and ramped UP, up, up beyond even that. Democrats are calling Republicans fascists, and Republicans are calling Democrats fascists. So not good. The difference in Obama's approval numbers between Democrats and Republicans is actually higher than Bush's, by a lot, and Bush had set the record, by a lot.

We *needed* a guy like Obama promised to be. The last thing we needed was what we got.

matter said...

Health Care Debate Simplified

Health Care should be thought of in the same way as the roads and other public conveniences.

The private “health care” industry's goal is to RATION care, not provide it. The more they ration, the bigger their profits. It's simply ludicrous. Meanwhile, as anyone who pays for their own insurance knows, the cost goes up every year, by astronomical amounts.

Healthcare is a human right. Congress should provide the people with the same health care plan that they provide themselves: an excellent, government-provided plan. If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us.

Did you know that private “health insurance” companies make an average of 24% profit? While government services such as Medicare run on 3% overhead?

That's a 21% gap!

Ask any business owner: how hard would they work to protect a business that made 21% margins? (Most businesses are well under 10%.) No wonder the insurance companies and their paid shills like Mary Landrieu and David Vitter are working so hard to kill the “public option” for healthcare!

Our bribed crooks in Congress, working hard to kill reform, once again!

(via http://www.degenerate.com/archives/000264.html)

Dambala said...

- We *needed* a guy like Obama promised to be. The last thing we needed was what we got.

its starting to appear that way is it not? I am still holding out a little "hope" that he lives up to his words but when he hides behind close doors and sucks Billy Tauzin's dick it doesn't look good.

matter said...

But now Billy is mad 'cause that mean 'ol Nancy Pelosi is trying to yank his cock out of Obama's mouth, and just when he was about to unload with a $76 Billion load.

That Tauzin motherfucker ought to be force fed Viagra, Oxycontin, and Valium in an amount equal to his body weight.

swampwoman said...

I find it interesting that JA Anonymous referred to Maslow's hierarchy of needs to defend his/her argument that health care is not a right. But someone unable to fulfill Maslow's hierarchy will invariably suffer from illness. Take a look at the first level, physiological needs - if one cannot sustain their basic needs of breathing, excretion, food, water, sleep, domicile, then illness results.

The argument JA presents based on Maslow's hierarchy supports a preventive/wellness model of health care with screenings, improved diet, weight control, etc. as opposed to the current health care system that promotes stop-gap health care after illness has manifested. An example of this would be insurance paying for bariatric surgery to prevent chronic illness from developing, as opposed to payment for diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney failure as a result of chronic obesity. Another is promoting access to fitness centers. Its much cheaper to prevent chronic illness than treat it after the fact.

Nowhere do any of your commenters address the issue of human suffering. To follow the argument that only the "chosen" few should be entitled to health care, then how does this argument support allowing human suffering to occur, specifically in relation to illness.

Plus, those arguing against taking their tax money to provide health care to Americans were this vocal in their protestations while the last administration was spending our tax money unchecked to support an unjust war.

Another major problem is private insurance companies that are in business to satisfy their shareholders over the needs of their policyholders. I'm all for capitalism, but not at the expense of human health. Extract private insurance companies from Wall Street and then maybe their policyholders will reap the benefits they assume will be there when needed.

If a health care bill passes, coupled with insurance and tort reform, then health care demographics will shift and practices in place now to prevent lawsuits and stop-gap care will shift to wellness and preventative care.

FWIW, there is one sector of American society in which health care is guaranteed and that is within the penal system.

Anonymous said...

"Rights" usually involves things you may do without interference or may not be done to you without your permission. They are protections, not gifts of material things or services . Material goods and services are created by people, and if defined as a "right", must be taken or provided by others to those who want/need it. Health care is not like "free speech".

If you believe you have an absolute right to them, and others don’t choose to provide it to you, you must believe that they have a “right” to steal from them. But what about their right not to be robbed?

Now, if you mean that people have a "right" to live in a society that provides healthcare to all, regardless of their income/class/whatever, that is different. And I think it's what you're tryin to say - that society should make it a right and provide it for all. But it's not like freedom of speech.

mominem said...

What we need is a universal system for delivering health care to everyone.

That is what we should be discussing and we aren't.

Dambala said...

- "Rights" usually involves things you may do without interference or may not be done to you without your permission. They are protections, not gifts of material things or services . Material goods and services are created by people, and if defined as a "right", must be taken or provided by others to those who want/need it. Health care is not like "free speech".


sorry...don't buy that.

Anonymous said...

I am simply reading your words and trying to understand your meaning of them.

You used the term "basic human right."

What does it mean to you that health care is a basic human right?

What does it imply as to the circumstances under which health care must be provided and who will supply it? Both in the U.S. and any where else?

What are other rights that you consider basic human rights?

How do you decide that one thing is a basic human right and another isn't?

I quoted the Declaration because it stated what are "unalienable rights" given by the Creator. It says these is not "American rights." These are rights for all people everywhere. (And please be careful about bringing the irony of slavery that existed at the time into this. It is a distraction to my main questions.)

JA

P.S. My reference to Maslow was a separate comment having to do with what you said the first priority would be of those 100 people. Not part of the above discussion.

Anonymous said...

- sorry...don't buy that.

Please elaborate.

Dambala said...

i don't think rights are protections. I think rights are directions.

Dambala said...

the only fo' true is death. a right, to me, is the way you're gonna point the ship in order to fend death off. there is no protection, only choice and intent.

where do you want to point the ship?

matter said...

Let's leave aside all this talk about "rights" and get to something a little more concrete: taxes.

Personally, I'm pissed off that we're spending trillions fighting wars for Israel.

That money could be better spent on health care for all. We already pay the taxes; it's time we got something useful from them.

Anonymous said...

Damian, I think your comments were great. There is an established link between being a low birth weight baby and having heart disease later in life, so maybe covering prenatal care for everyone will be a two-for-one.

The food system is the place to start looking if you want an approach to population health that is really going to cut out all that high-end fixing of problems caused by gluttony and sloth.