Thursday, August 13, 2009

The health care discussion, "death panels," and why people need to stop tolerating the crazies

Yes, I get it. More people oppose the Obama health care plan than support it. The most recent Gallup poll has people at 49% against and 43% for, which while in the margin of error, and suggests that the majority, 51%, is either in support or impartial, is nonetheless a less than convincing endorsement.

Now, here's the part where I explain why I don't care about what "the people" think on this particular issue.

It starts with the simple point about democracy. How we don't live in one, how we've never lived in one, and how we've never intended to live in one. We live in a republic. In said governmental structure, we elect people to make decisions for us so we don't have to worry about them. The hope is that they'll be better informed on the issues. We will not always agree with their decisions, but we elect and ultimately, if things go well, reelect them if they work in our best interests and do what we believe they think is right.

Doesn't that feel good.

Okay, now here's the part where I accept that that isn't how politicians work. They're greedy and often bought by big business. This is no exception. It seems logical then that the people would rise up and take on their government in a wide scale demand to protect them from the health care lobby.

The thing is, that's not what's happening. For the first time in history, it appears that we are on the cusp of getting something from the government that we need without unequivocally destroying the private industry that currently does what needs doing. The Democrats could propose a nationalized, universal health care plan that covers everybody. They didn't in large part because they don't have the votes to pass it, but also because many of them represent votes against it. Instead, they are offering a government option - one that doesn't unseat your private care, but gives an option to those who can't have it. In addition, to encourage private coverage, they have included language in the bill penalizing companies for failing to offer health insurance to employees, thus encouraging many companies who don't offer care but could if they weren't so motivated by profit.

The idea that a government option will kill competition and put the private insurers out of business (which is something I actually support) is unfounded. There is nothing in the bill that suggests that that is the goal, and even in Western countries that do have totally nationalized health care (see: England, France, Canada, etc.) private health care still exists and is profitable. What is being done is establishing a baseline.

Which leads me to "death panels." The senate, is was reported today, has removed the "end of life" provision in the bill which has been labeled a "death panel" by such experts as trained journalist and 20+ month governor Sarah Palin, failed sportscaster and abuser of pharmaceuticals Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck, a man who, when not hosting his "news" program, is doing stand-up comedy tours. Seriously. He actually is a comedian. Meanwhile, rational Republicans in the House and Senate, as well as rational and educated conservatives (see: David Brooks) have pretty much unanimously declared the "death panel" accusation insane. Why? Because it's insane. It is clearly a misreading of a provision that families and their doctors should discuss options regarding terminal illness. It's not a negotiation. It's not a "what are you worth to society" question. It is a "do you want to keep fighting" or "do you want to suffer the painful treatments to prolong your life" discussion. It's one that I've had with my mother already, and she's only 49.

But it's been removed. Because the Democrats are cowards and are happy with watered-down versions of their objectives. Presumably, they'll call it compromise. But a compromise entails getting support you wouldn't have otherwise gotten, and my guess is that Michele Bachmann is voting no no matter what.

The reality is that there are a lot of people who have no idea what they're mad about. They're riled up by people like Limbaugh and O'Reilly Palin and Bachmann and friends, and they're out for blood. They are the Michael Moores and Keith Olbermanns of the right, but unlike them in two distinct ways. The first is that while Moore and Olbermann sometimes make distortions and omissions to drive home their point, this bunch is outright lying. There is no truth to death panels. There is no comparison to Nazi Germany. It's just not there. And for all the people on the right saying "the left called Bush a Nazi," you're right. And that was also dishonest and disgusting. But just because your opponents do something distasteful doesn't mean you should.

The other difference is that, unlike the liberal masses that unquestioningly follow the words of their leaders, the right's sheep have weapons. And it has become abundantly clear that they have no problem using them. Since the Obama election, gun and ammo sales have gone through the roof, Democratic congressmen have received death threats, and to date one conservative nut walked into the holocaust museum and opened fire, killing a security guard, and another walked into a church and killed an abortion doctor. I would love someone to provide me with an example of a politically motivated killing of a conservative in recent history. But you won't find one, because even the 9/11 is an inside job nuts (who are often called leftist, but happily blame Obama for the conspiracy theory they tout just as vehemently as they did Bush) don't shoot at the architects and engineers that disprove their nonsense.

These lunatics will continue spouting nonsense everywhere while the supposed "liberal media" tries to rationally explain the realities and intricacies, which no one has the time or interest to listen to. Why? Because it's not they're job. Meanwhile, 49% of America is holding up necessary legislation on health care, and of that 49%, around none of them are waiting to get insurance so they can finally see a doctor while the rest of us pile into free clinics and pay out of pocket the overinflated prices of big PHarma. Or worse, we don't go and don't get at all. But it's Obama that's talking about rationing. Right.

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