Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shaken 'n Stirred

Couple days ago, I purchased Sicko on demand (thank you Comcast; I love to hate you). I'm kind of wary of Michael Moore for reasons that don't need elaboration but this movie, more than any movie of his fired me up. In fact, I think that I may have discovered what I will do professionally when my children are grown.

Single Payer National Health Insurance
This is my blog and I get to say what I want. I'm going to ignore, and perhaps delete, comments that piss me off or are intentionally oblique, inflammatory, misleading. It is nothing short of shameful how our medical care system has been corrupted by politics, by lobbyists, by insurance, by pharmaceutical companies. There is also a mighty propaganda machine in action that keeps most Americans believing that they are better off for the capitalization of medical care.

The USA is the only wealthy industrialized nation that does not provide cost-free medical care for its citizens. Land of the free, home of the brave, comfy place for people with money. Be ye not fooled: Americans are NOT more healthy than citizens of countries with Universal Health care---not even close---not on any measure. Mediocre health insurance tied to employment is not a social policy, people, its a cop-out. Its no secret what the business strategy is for insurance companies: its corporatized gambling---its playing the odds to the nth degree. Its a matter of statisticians sizing up a group of people---the working well and families of a particular corporation---and developing the probablilities of those people requiring care that will exceed the amount of monies collected in premiums and co-pays. When that threshold no longer guarantees a profit margin, or worse, results in a loss, then lots of things happen: benefits get denied; the company's premiums are increased, their "provider network" is restricted to one that is more tightly aligned with the insurance companies.

The public is told that it is too costly to provide quality socialized medical care. Its a lie. What is the truth is that our country can't afford it in our current environment of tax-breaks for the uber wealthy and major corporations. If those entities were made to pull their weight, there's no doubt that we could provide a much higher standard of care for all citizens than our current patchwork of private and stop-gap public programs. In fact, were the pharmaceutical companies called to task, the cost of medical care would drop so dramatically that this would be a complete non-issue. But as it is, pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars each year on marketing, on freebies for doctors, hospital administrators and politicians.

M. Moore's movie, as always, paints a horrifying picture---but the deal is, its the truth---uninsured people sewing up their own lacerations, dismembered people choosing which digits to have repaired based on cost. There's this ugly sense of "me, me, me" in this country that really irks me. "Why should I have to pay for..." and similar lines of thinking overlook a very critical element of building a strong country: A strong country is made up of strong communities. Strong communities are made up of people working together toward a common goal. Protecting your own interests to the exclusion of the wellbeing of your community is selfish and short-sighted. Thinking like that will be the death of this country.

I've said it before and I'm sure I will say it again: unchecked capitalism is ruining this country. There must be limits imposed on certain sectors or we will find ourselves in very grave danger. After all, how will we staff our military if all of our poor families are in ill health?

I've done some interesting reading in between watching this movie and writing this post. The position statement for the Physician's for National Health Program is interesting but perhaps not adequate. But there are lots of great organizers and thinkers out there putting out statements. I also found some really interesting food for thought reading some background on The Wire, of all things. David Simon has some very provocative things to say about capitalism. In fact, he says what I've been trying to say but with so much more eloquence, "[the second season of The Wire] is a deliberate argument that unencumbered capitalism is not a substitute for social policy; that on its own, without a social compact, raw capitalism is destined to serve the few at the expense of the many." Babies, that is where we are. Approaching the tipping point---how long will we allow only big business to enjoy the freedoms and liberties that were promised to each and every one of us? While our leaders enjoy entire summers on their ranches and make you fearful for your relatively-meager tax dollars? Anybody else see something strange acting out here?

Constitutional Convention II?
I listened recently to an interview with an author plugging his book which is purported to be a reasoned argument for a new Constitutional Convention. Among his many arguments is his belief based on research, etc, that our founding fathers had provided for this very option should this experiment in government come to a point unanticipated by their deliberations and framing. This author was certain that amendments were no longer adequate to address the nature of our populace and the myriad issues challenging the provisions of the Constitution. Its a discussion I'm really interested in learning more about. I heard the interview on NPR but I don't remember much else. Does anyone else out there recognize the book in question?


Special K said...

Hear! Hear! Well said, Kathy!

Is this the book you were looking for?

Drew said...

As I have previously decided to no longer argue any issue with you (or Lyman), I will not be responding to the main portion of your post.

My gripe is your first sentence of the second paragraph...

I've always felt that the best way to enact change in our country is to state your view and then forbid any dissenting views from being spoken or seen.

Have fun with that and delete me if you like.

Don said...

You obviously know I disagree with your position. Government take over of the health care system will be nothing but a disaster. If anyone thinks the government will do a good job with your health care, they probably think Social Security is a good retirement plan.

Kathy said...

Its not that I don't acknowledge the other positions or that I'm unaware of them, I've simply declared this particular post as one space where I am writing what I think and where I will not engage in debate about it. I've done this dance with others here before and I'm not interested in that today. Today I'm declaring a cause to which I'm willing to dedicate the rest of my professional life. Anybody doesn't like it? Heck---there's a whole bunch of people to keep you company somewhere. But right here, right now? This is about informing people what *I* think.

I'll say this: in the end it comes down to whether you care to help people in need. You do or you don't. Period. I do. And I will. Even people who I know/think have made bad choices, people who haven't worked hard enough, people who don't have legal citizenship. All those people deserve help. Because they're people. And I care.

Kathy said...

Actually, no, K. This is it. I ordered it. Thanks for pointing out the other, though. It looks quite good as well.

Lyman said...

Very well put, Kathy. Congrats. Better than I could ever do.

If given the choice between putting my health care in the hands of an elected official or in the hands of a profit-first cooperation, I'll take the elected official any day of the week.

Brilliant tie-in to the Wire as well.

Kathy said...

I just have this small world that I cycle through: things that piss me off - TV I love - Music that rocks - Knitting. Its inevitable they cross. Thanks, though! I'm with you on the alternatives, baby. Maybe we'll end up old and sick together but we'll definitely have a good time...

Marietta said...

remind me to tell you about the damn "nurse" at the insurance company who told my mother, over the phone, how she should take me to a hotel until i was flight ready (since they did not want to pay for out of network care) - did i mention that i needed a blood transfusion 2/3's of my blood and that i had a full leg cast and broker more thna 2 dozen bones in my body......yeah - we need better health insurance options in this country!