Pick Wayne's Brain

October 19, 2013

And Single Payer is Bad Because…?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , , — Wayne A. Schneider @ 9:56 AM

It all started, at least this most recent episode of right wing nuttery did, at the so-called “Values Voter Summit” convened earlier this month in Washington, DC. For those unfamiliar with the Values Voter Summit (and if you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of it), it’s a gathering, put together by several right-wing organizations who feel they know how best to raise your children and hosted by Family Research Council head Tony Perkins (who can understandably be confused with the knife-wielding maniac in Hitchcock’s “Psycho”), of a bunch of very frightened people listening to a collection of very ill-informed speakers fabricating the dangers of a world where conservative values are given the treatment they deserve and crumpled up, set on fire, and dumped into the deepest part of the ocean, never to be heard from again. I wish! Sadly, because stupid people outnumber intelligent people in this country, and because stupid people almost always tend to have conservative values, we’ll probably never be rid of the scourge of Conservatism in this country. Education is our best weapon, and Conservative politicians have fought tooth and nail to see to it that the United States of America has as poorly-educated a population as possible. Not because that benefits the country, but because it benefits the leaders of the Conservative movement. You’ve heard the expression, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” The leaders of the Conservative movement are taking a lot of stupid people’s money off their hands and giving them crap in return (assuming they’re giving them anything at all.) To cite just one example, the 2013 Values Voter Summit. But I digress.

One of the ill-informed speakers at the event was new right-wing darling Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon credited with pioneering work in the separation of conjoined twins. (There is no truth to the rumor I just started that Dr. Carson famously said, “Now we can send two patients a bill.”) At the recent VVS, Carson made the extraordinary claim that “Obamacare is, really I think, the worst thing that’s happened in this nation since slavery.” I’m not making that up. See it for yourself.

For the record, some of the things that have happened in this nation since Slavery are the Great Depression, the Japanese internment camps, the criminal attacks of 9/11, Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh. Roland Martin wasn’t buying it, either. He asked Carson if Obamacare was “worse than Jim Crow?” Carson answered, “Yes, absolutely.” His fear was that the ACA would make us “subservient to the state.” This is a ridiculous argument we hear a lot from right wing libertarians, who really act like a bunch of children who don’t want to go to bed when their parents say so. Because, really, at some point, you have to be “subservient to the state.” Otherwise you just have anarchy. To whine and complain that you have to obey the law is absurd, especially when you’re a member of a political party with a history of running candidates who promise to “restore law and order.” But I digress.

Among the many exaggerations you hear from the right about Obamacare is that it’s a “trainwreck” and a “disaster.” I don’t hear any examples from them to support this contention, but proving the validity of one’s opinions has never been a requirement for Conservatives. As far as they’re concerned, if it feels right, it must be right. Carson’s greatest fear seems to be that Obamacare will lead to a Single Payer healthcare system. And this is bad because…? I hear this a lot, but I’ve rarely heard anyone articulate what it is about Single Payer that’s so damnable. Sure, insurance companies won’t be able to make huge profits off the pain and suffering of others for doing nothing but acting as a middle man who protects his own cut of the pie no matter who lives and dies, but I think most people capable of empathy would think that a good thing. Ah, empathy. That explains the right’s opposition to Single Payer. It removes their perceived justification to say, “You deserve to die.” But that’s not their only rationale. They also like to “quote” Vladimir Lenin claiming he said, “Socialized medicine is a keystone to the establishment of a socialist state.” Except he didn’t. When President Harry S Truman (the “S” stands for “Savings”; okay, actually it doesn’t stand for anything, hence no period) tried to bring about a national health care system, opponents made up the Lenin quote. When the Library of Congress was asked to find a source for that quote, they couldn’t, which means he probably never said it at all. But that doesn’t stop them from using it 65 years later. When have conservatives ever let a fact get in the way of a good talking point? So even if they know the Lenin quote is bogus, how is Single Payer a bad thing? They talk as if there’s nothing of the sort in the United States when there is, and has been for nearly fifty years. It’s called Medicare, and not only is it extremely popular with Americans, there’s no way it could ever be gotten rid of without rioting in the streets. In fact, when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or NAMBLA) was first being debated, many of us said that if there weren’t going to be public options in the healthcare insurance exchanges, then we’d rather have Medicare For All. In other words, we want Single Payer. We think a for-profit healthcare system is not a good thing. For the life of me, I don’t understand how right wingers justify the belief that the USA has “the best healthcare system in the world.” They often cite the talking point that so many people come to the United States for healthcare treatment they can’t get in their home countries. So? We do have the most expensive healthcare system in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best. High cost does not equate to high quality. We rank somewhere near 37th in the world in terms of quality of our healthcare system. But many capitalists think that if you can’t make a lot of money doing something, it isn’t worth doing at all. My own doctor is great and I’ve been going to her for about twenty years. She didn’t become a doctor so she could make a lot of money. She became a doctor because she enjoys helping people get better. And isn’t that what should motivate everyone in the field of medicine and healthcare? But I digress.

What is so bad about Single Payer? Is there any reason why an insurance company, motivated primarily by making as much in profits as they can get away with making, even needs to be part of the equation at all? Conservatives often ask the rhetorical question, “Do you want a government bureaucrat getting between you and your doctor?” As opposed to an insurance company bureaucrat paid to protect the company’s bottom-line profits getting between me and my doctor? How is that better? Because it’s Capitalism at work? Defenders of Capitalism use the mind-numbingly stupid argument that “Capitalism is the best system for promoting wealth.” That’s like saying baseball is the best sport for scoring home runs. It doesn’t make sense to talk about home runs in any other sport, just as it doesn’t make sense to talk about wealth in any other system where wealth is not the distinguishing characteristic. To tell you the truth, between the government bureaucrat and the corporate bureaucrat, I would rather have the government bureaucrat. At least the government bureaucrat could stop a doctor from performing a dangerous, untested, useless procedure. The insurance company bureaucrat would just ask how much it costs, not how effective would it be. But I digress.

Here’s a funny ad for a bus that I found on Little Green Footballs. Enjoy.

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