Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Back / Health-care

Sorry (to nobody in particular) that I've neglected my blog. I've spent the summer working almost nonstop, but now that the school year is starting again I'm going to try to post somewhat regularly.

I guess the big news this summer (at least in the USA) has been the debate over health-care reform. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about the relevant issues; my general feeling is that I'd like the government to make sure that every citizen has health-care (a single payer system like they have in many European countries sounds good to me, but maybe there are other methods that would work better). It's not that I'm pro-socialism in general, in fact I think that capitalism provides people with the necessary incentives to go out and do the things they need to do so that we can have a functioning society, but I think we should try to at least make sure everyone has access to food, shelter, education, and health-care, if at all possible.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out one thing that bugged me about the response in the media to congressman Joe Wilson's outburst during the President's address to congress a couple of weeks ago. Wilson shouted "You lie" at the President's assertion that his proposed reforms would not apply to illegal aliens. Much of the media coverage that I saw pointed out that in fact there were no proposals to cover illegal aliens, and furthermore that Obama was simply stating what reforms he would support, so Wilson really was factually inaccurate in saying that the President was lying. It was also pointed out that Wilson was simply being inappropriate by yelling at the president during a speech to congress.

What I didn't see pointed out was the inappropriateness of Wilson's (and many of his countrymens') underlying anger that some poor brown people that sneaked in to the US so they could afford to feed their families might get health-care! Wilson was so angry that these people would actually get treated when they are sick (heaven forbid!) that he just lost it on the floor of the House. I mean, would it really be so bad that some non-Americans got free health-care? Does he want anyone without citizenship papers to be denied life-saving care? Remember, these are many of the same people who were more than willing to spend a trillion dollars to "liberate" the Iraqi people (and don't give me that national security bullshit - they still supported the war after it was clear that there were no WMD). I'd rather spend my tax money saving some non-citizen lives than spending it to send more people to die in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I realize that it would be political suicide for Obama to say that he wouldn't mind if some illegal aliens got health-care, but I just wanted to point out the lack of compassion and empathy that is needed to be so damn angry about the possibility that some non-citizens might get some free health-care.


  1. While I agree with most of what you have to say, I can't get worked up over the issue of yelling at the President. If this were in Great Britain for example, such remarks directed at the Prime Minister would be completely acceptable. Moreover, many of the people who did take umbrage at the outburst are people who were fine with congressman booing Bush. So there's a bit of hypocrisy going on here.

  2. >but I just wanted to point out the lack of compassion and empathy that is needed to be so damn angry about the possibility that some non-citizens might get some free health-care.

    Why are you using the word "some?" You did this twice. It's not some, its millions. While compassion is certainly be noble at times, in other times, it can be suicidal. I thought those on left-of-center appreciate rational discourse based on facts. Once compassion enters the picture, you are dealing with emotions and that can be dangerous.

    BTW, there is something wrong with what you are saying anyways. NOBODY is denied LIFE SAVING treatment. Any immigrants that has had something happen to them are not left to rot outside the emergency room. Emergency rooms are required to care for anyone that needs life saving treatment.

  3. Welcome back. Great post. I agree with you. I also love the hypocracy of the right wingers who purport to be g-d fearing and "pro life" and are trying to scare people with the death panel propaganda hate the notion of saving the lives of ferners or of being their brother's keeper.

  4. Hyrax: I don't think that a health care system that includes some care for the immigrants who work in some of our worst jobs at minimal pay would be "suicidal."

  5. Anon

    You are being very vague. What is "some" care? You do realize that a welfare state only makes it harder to curb illegal immigration. It's suicidal in the terms of cost. The bill is being sold that this new law would not raise costs, and the CBO is working on the cost issue with the premise without illegals getting insurance. Now, do you assume things would change if illegals WERE considered to get insurance?

  6. Joshua:

    I agree with you, I don't really give a damn if someone yells at the president; rather my problem is with his actual position and the anger underlying his outburst (which smells a little like racism, I think).


    I used the word "some" to express the fact that many people in the opposition are vocally opposed to even a handful of illegal aliens getting benefit from taxpayer money. I am quite aware that illegal aliens have access to emergency rooms (a good thing) and it seems to me that the suggestions by the right to require identification would reduce this access, which would be a step backwards.

    With regards to your comment that providing care to illegals may be "suicidal": it may indeed be true that such a proposal would be unsustainable, that should be debated. My problem is that both the left and right seem to automatically assume that it would be bad, and that the anger on the right seems to show a particular lack of compassion. (Also, why is it irrational to talk about compassion?).


    Thanks for the welcome back. I'm surprised to get comments so quick after the long absence. Also, feel free to pick a name.

  7. >Also, why is it irrational to talk about compassion?).

    I didn't say its irrational to TALK about compassion, only to when compassion leads policy. Look, I think allowing illegals to get at least emergency room care is a good thing, but ask a practitioner of an emergency room how it has negatively affected their profession in that the hospitals simply do not get paid and eventually pass on the costs to others. So while compassion certainly lead to this law, it also shows its consequences and how this act of compassion can lead to other things that are just as responsible (not saying the ONLY cause) for the healthcare issue crisis we are talking about today.

    >My problem is that both the left and right seem to automatically assume that it would be bad,


    a) The cost
    b) It only creates a welfare state which you are inevitably going to cause other illegals to come in. Eventually, something is going to buckle here. A system can't hold on to everything.

  8. I actually do have a problem with the Wilson outburst. I think that a lack of basic civility is a bad thing. All the ratcheting up of both the volume and rhetoric is disheartening and polarizing. We have allowed for-profit talk radio and fox to set the tone for discussions about important and complex issues. I don't think the reference to the house of lords or house of commons is on point. The speakers are so much more eloquent and they make a point of saying their insults in a much more genteel way - i.e. "Madam Chairperson, the most distinguished and esteemed gentleman from Sussex has delivered some poppycock with his summation."

  9. HH: Like I said, perhaps you're right that we just don't have the resources to cover illegal immigrants (although I suspect it's really not as impossible as you say; and I'm not sure that it would really cause much more immigration, since people generally come here for work, not health care), but that debate is not even taking place; instead it seems there is a knee-jerk reaction that "we" shouldn't pay for "them". And I wasn't saying that we should make policy by blindly follow our compassion without thinking about it first, I was just pointing out the seeming inability of some people to empathize (probably connected with their inability to think).

  10. People naturally take care of their own; that's taken for granted. According to the Talmud "love your neighbor" means "love Jews".

  11. JP:

    Thanks, you just gave me an idea for my next post. Stay tuned.

  12. It should be pointed out that part of that "fiscally conservative" trillion dollar expenditure/adventure in Iraq include billions of dollars for medical equipment and the building of hospitals, all of which, presumably, Republicans had no problem with. After all, they did sign off on it.

    The opposition to health care reform has less to do with fiscal responsibility (see the doubling of the national debt over the last eight years), and more to do with yet another opportunity for the GOP to showcase their callousness and indifference towards people less fortunate than themselves.

  13. Good point about the hospitals, anon.

    (Are you sure you don't want to pick a name? Any will do. It just makes it easier to keep track of who says what)

  14. Apikores
    No health care like they have in Europe is not a good idea. They ration it. If we have it here, it'll take you forever to get what you can right away now. And under Obana's plan if they deny you coverage, you have no remedy.
    Anon 10:18
    Well the GOP doesn't wear their hearts on their sleeves, but the ones who are truly cruel, the ones who are acting to further dependency on government, and self-appointed leaders in the minority communities are the Dems. Look at the Community Reinvestment Act, Fannike Mae and Freddie Mac. Some people might think the Republicans were oh so callous, but it turned out the Republicans were right.
    Sure the budget grew in the last Republican administration, but nowhere near what Obama's deficit is. And it's not as though the Dems were trying to keep the budget in check.

    Ichabod Chrain

  15. Welcome back to the blogosphere!