Monday, July 20, 2009

Mired in Muck; Mucking in Mire

I've always believed that the key to climbing while running, cycling, or walking lies in allowing the hill itself, the thing I have to surmount, to pull me up, and I do that by focusing on breathing and the rhythm or cadence and, when hoofing it, my stride. But occasionally, the solidity I trust is under my feet proves to be a morass and no matter my form or effort I end up going nowhere but down--kicking and screaming against the irresistible pull of gravity. It is as if the mountain I've been climbing for hours and am about to summit turns to muck beneath my feet, pulling me downward with each additional step upward.

I find those days occurring more frequently now, and it's not just because we're charging full bore into the dog days of what has become a brutally hot dry summer after the biblical floods of June. I feel like there is a tragicomic--perhaps, it is simply cosmic or karmic, but I don't plan to go there--disconnect between the realities of the Great Depression Due and the behavior of politicians and business leaders alike, as if all that needs to be done is get people spending again thereby averting deflation. Really, wasn't a chief cause of the current meltdown people and businesses spending too much money they didn't have on overpriced goods. Now that they no longer have the cash cow of ever escalating home values to cash in on , consumers have no money to spend on overinflated goods. Prices have to come down if goods are to move, but we all know that's only part of it. As badly as the U.S. needs to bring the troops home, it needs to bring the jobs home from off-shore; otherwise, we will end up with two societies, separate and decidedly unequal--underpaid women occupying all fields and under or unemployed males. If that be protectionism bring it on, but I prefer to think of it as the result of an industrial policy intended to create a better society.

A new health care policy would make bringing those jobs home more possible than any other single act. Or it should. As I look at the plans making their ways through the Houlse and Senate I see a fiasco of monumental proportions in the making. The programs these various bills propose, if passed, will spelll disaster, based, as they are, on the notion that the profit of private insurers--the 30 to 50 percent they regularly suck out of the system for themselves. That's money that doesn't go to healthcare for anyone. Get rid of it, and the whole thing becomes affordable. Keep it and healthcare becomes the Obama's disaster.

Here are a few of the problems:
1. the way the public options are being written, they will not compete in price against private insurers, insuring that everyone will pay too much and by underwriting coverage for the poor, the government will be giving an indirect subsidies to private insurers.

2. existence of a public option means that employers will at the least dump dependents of their workers. If the penalty for not covering employees is less than the cost of covering them, they too will be dumped on the public option.

Both those outcomes would be acceptable were the public plan universal and fair to people and doctors, not insurers. Instead, in addition to the high cost, the public option would have grades, like gasoline, basic, medium, and premium. That's absurd, of course. If access to healthcare is a fundamental right--and arguably it is--then it should not come in grades, like gasoline or meat; rather, it must be equally available to all.

It gets paid for by taxing everyone, including businesses that no longer will be paying for insurance, at a truly graduated level. With that 30 to 50 percent of nonmedical cost wrung out of the system, it will be cheaper than you think.

But sanity doesn't rule. For all his high rhetoric and noble intentions, the Obama is just a moderate Democrat, and his counterparts in Congress with his blessing seem intent on passing a healthcare program notworthy for its complexity and abject surrender to the insurance industry. The dying stakeholder society will drive a stake through our hearts before it expires.