Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why it is so hard to talk about Social Justice.

"People try to influence one another constantly... People influence one another to support some values and to oppose others. In the past, they promoted such overt values as chastity, obedience, thrift. Today they advocate such covert values as the common good, mental health, welfare — blanks that may be filled in with any meaning the speaker or listener desires. Herein lies the great value of these vague terms of the demagogue, whether political or professional. Just as a presidential candidate may talk about restoring the nation's economy to a 'healthy' condition, without specifying whether he is promoting a balanced budged or deficit financing, so a psychiatrist may talk about 'mental health,' without revealing whether he is promoting individualism or collectivism, autonomy or heteronomy."
— Dr. Thomas Szasz

Get two Catholics together and they will probably agree about justice as it applies to the individual, but they will probably diverge on the meaning of "social justice." This does not excuse us from working for social justice, nor from being charitable to each other when we disagree about what it means.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Ten Points About Single-Payer Health-Care

1] Abortion. Yes, I am opposed to including abortion funding in any health-care plan, but the issue is not as simple as that. Right now many people who cannot afford to deliver a baby go for the much cheaper option of aborting the baby. I think that if the cost of these options were identical, many babies who would otherwise be aborted might be carried to term, thus saving lives.

2] Rationing.
One of the biggest objections to any form of government health-care is that “the government will impose rationing,” as if the market doesn’t do that already. Until we have unlimited health-care, decisions will have to be made about who gets how much care. If you are going to address the health-care issue, then please state, not that you are against rationing, but how you think health-care should be rationed.

3] Expense.
The United States spends the most on health-care of any country in the world [14% of GDP], almost half-again as much as second place Germany [10.5%] and nearly twice as much as Sweden [7.3%]. Without a huge superstructure of bureaucrats administering billing, making collections, and pouring profits into insurance companies, the cost of health will come down even as more people receive care.

4] Life Expectancy.
People who live with a single-payer system live longer. The United States ranks 27th in life expectancy. Japan is in first place while Canada is in second, both with completely socialized systems. So we pay more and die younger anyway.

5] Taxes.
Yeah, your taxes will go up, but your health-care premiums and expenses will drop to near zero. [You’ll probably still have to buy your own Dr. Scholl’s bunion pads and toothpaste under any plan, however.] Right now, my insurance premiums are larger than my income tax, so even if my tax doubles, I will still come out ahead.

6] “I heard about someone in Canada who...”.
Anecdotal. For every horror story about bad care in Canada, I’ve heard a dozen on Air America about denial of care in the U.S,. Everyone has anecdotes on their side, but statistics show that socialized medicine is better.

7] Post Office. No one is calling for the government to run our health-care system (like it runs the post office), the proposal is that the government pay for our health-care. And government is very good at disbursing funds. The Social Security system, for instance, has a much lower overhead than any insurance company or investment firm.

8] Medical Savings Accounts. Basically, this scheme would allow people to sock away pre-tax dollars into a savings account that can be used for health-care expenses and, after some time, if not used for health expenses, may be used for any purpose, again, tax-free. I believe that it is immoral to give people an incentive to neglect their health, and that is all this financial jiggering with the system will accomplish.

9] Fairness. Right now we have a system that subsidizes health-care for the better off (through tax write-offs), pays for health-care for the indigent, while leaving the vast bulk of the working classes to struggle with inadequate care or simply to do without. Any system that pays for unproductive elements of society to receive free heal-care, while neglecting the working classes that keep this country running, is grotesquely unfair and screams for reform.

10] Obamacare. Yeah, I’m against what the critics are calling “Obamacare” because it is one more reactionary, right-wing scam being foisted upon the working-man. What we need is an out-and-out single-payer system and the sooner we get it the better!