Tuesday, March 06, 2007

An argument for socialized medicine

It would be both unethical and illegal for me to republish Timothy Noah's piece "Would You Privatize Defense: The case for socialized medicine, part I" here in this blog. I know this. But I'm still tempted.

Please read it, so I don't have to break the law.

I think this piece is important. It's an argument that appeals to reason rather than hyperbole. It also appeals to those who are more likely to be critical of socialized medicine, conservatives of the libertarian strain, because those same people thoroughly believe that national defense is a government obligation (in the most extreme cases, government's only obligation).

Here's why I think this piece really stands out: I can't fault the logic. Just when Noah seems like he's gone off the deep end, taking it all too far, I realize he's remained entirely consistent in his metaphor. Our national health system really is that ridiculous. Then, when it seems that this would be an opportunity for an easy partisan twist noting that Democrats are closer to recognizing this reality than Repblicans, Noah refrains. He stays true to the logic that has made the article both frightening and persuasive: It doesn't matter whose solution is slightly closer to nationalized health care, because anything less than full national health care means the candidate or party still hasn't recongized the underlying truth that protecting lives is a job for governments, not markets. Or worse, it means they know this to be true, but don't have the courage to take on the powerful forces that benefit from the lie of superior free market health care.

Maybe I'm buying the metaphor to eagerly. Maybe I'm missing something. Please, can someone explain how this logic doesn't follow? Show me how these are apples and oranges, and private health care is better than public, as opposed to private defense. Or show me that he's wrong on both fronts: that a war fought by more and more private contractors (like our current wars) are more likely to succeed than wars past, with a government led military. Good luck with that one. But seriously, show me how he's wrong.

Or, if he's not, let's work to spread this idea so that candidates with less courage (or more pragmatism, which might be the same thing) will follow in Dennis Kucinich's footsteps because it will become politically expedient.

Can we move on this quickly, please, because in less than three years I have to sit down and negotiate another contract where medical benefits are going to be the biggest issue because of our stupid system. So, someone show me how our stupid system really is the way to go, and I should be glad to be debating with management about who should eats its exponential cost increases. Or, failing that, let's do something to fix this health care cluster-f--- now.


Anonymous said...

My husband is English I am American. We belong to the national health in UK and have private insurance in the US. We spend half of the year in UK. My opinion is that those that are trying to push for socialized medicine in the US without first hand knowledge of its limitations and realities is ignorant and downright dangerous. I suggest you all try reading the newspapers coming out of UK that detail almost on a daily basis how bad socialized medicine really is. We seem to be going in the direction of socialized medicine just as citizens of other countries are trying to get out of it by buying private health insurance. Wise up America! The grass is NEVER greener on the other side of the fence!!! When politicians push for socialized medicine ask them if their plans will be 'exactly' the same as those used by the rest of us... I guarantee you it will NOT be... Politicians in other countries have private insurance and/or get on a plane and come to the US for the best medical treatment in the world. Lets work on elevating those that do not have it to it rather than throwing us all in the mediocrity of socialized medicine.

Benjamin Gorman said...

I am somewhat amused by this post. To me, it's similar to the current argument against S-Chip: that it would somehow lower the quality of private care children currently enjoy. In both cases (the disaffected Europeans, and the administration afraid of socialized medicine for children) there is a comparison being made between current health care options and some potential socialized system. What is ignored in both cases is that for too many people this is a false dichotomy. It's fine for Europeans to complain about the socialized medicine they enjoy, but they should realize that, for too many American,s the comparison isn't between a government plan and a private plan; it's between a government plan and no plan at all. Unless this poster, and the Bush administration that will veto S-Chip, are really willing to say the options being explored are actually worse than not having any insurance at all, and backing that up with real data, it strikes me as a clear case of classist insensitivity. Perhaps I am the ignorant one, if European socialized medicine is worse than not having any health insurance, but if that isn't the case, then I think the critics are guilty of being myopic and selfish. Many of us have gone without any care at all, and those of us speaking from that experience can tell you how welcome even a slow moving bureaucracy might have been when compared to the process of filling for bankruptcy.