Monday, August 31, 2009

Conservative Double-standards and Lies

Victor Davis Hanson, of the Hoover Institution, has recently written a predictable attack op-ed for the National Review Online. Hanson uses typical conservatives catchphrases, like statism, redistribution of wealth, etc., aimed at dragging the average uninformed American into the conservative, anti-Obama, anti-reform camp. But it is his anti-health care reform talking points that are particularly galling because of their intellectual dishonesty and deceitful content. I have highlighted some in the following quote:
Why would intelligent politicians try to ram through, in mere weeks, a thousand pages of health-care gibberish — its details outsourced to far-left elements in the Congress (and their staffers) — that few in the cabinet had ever read or even knew much about?

Victor Davis Hanson's right-eous indignation might have been appropriate when former Goldman Sachs CEO and Bush Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson tried to "ram through a $700B giveaway package of taxpayer dollars that would benefit mostly Goldman and Morgan Stanley." As this excerpt from a post aptly titled Shameless Cronyism reminds us, "[Paulson] does this just as Congress is wrapping up its session and is ready to go home, and urges that it be passed quickly with no amendments or extended debate, or else the world's financial system will unravel."

But a quick web search for the terms "Victor Davis Hanson" and "Paulson" returns, you guessed it, nothing relevant. In fact, the only article written by Hanson that references Paulson manages to besmirch "The utterly corrupt Left-wing members of the House" for the state of the American economy in September 2008, while depicting Paulson as a decisive leader trying to keep everyone in line at Treasury, the way he did when he rules at Goldman Sachs.

Hmmmm, I would call Hanson's position in these two circumstances a double-standard, wouldn't you?

Hanson continues:
Once again, I don’t think health care per se was ever really the issue. When pressed, no one in the administration seemed to know whether illegal aliens were covered. Few cared why young people do not divert some of their entertainment expenditures to a modest investment in private catastrophic coverage.

Here Hanson is guilty of... well, I am not quite sure what he is guilty of, but certainly he is guilty of something. The notion Hanson seemingly supports, that young, healthy people should be able to buy a flat screen TV set instead of investing modestly in a health insurance plan, is precisely the pretext that insurance companies use to justify higher premiums and to exclude pre-existing conditions for the rest of us. If people only buy insurance when they can reasonably expect they will need it, then--insurance companies say--they should be allowed to use policy exclusions and to charge higher premiums because they could not spread the risk across the entire population.

Such a predicament, of course, can only be solved with a universal insurance mandate and with a cap on what insurance companies can charge their clients, which is exactly what the reform being considered intends to do. It is not that smart people like Hanson don't get it; they are simply not interested in universal coverage, they just want to protect corporate profits.

It does not get any better for Hanson (or for us):
Warnings that Canadians already have their health care rationed, wait in long lines, and are denied timely and critical procedures also did not seem to matter. And no attention was paid to statistics suggesting that, if we exclude homicides and auto accidents, Americans live as long on average as anyone in the industrial world, and have better chances of surviving longer with heart disease and cancer. That the average American did not wish to radically alter his existing plan, and that he understood that the uninsured really did have access to health care, albeit in a wasteful manner at the emergency room, was likewise of no concern.

In response to the first highlighted sentence, about health care rationing, I will quote an email that I received just last night:
We seem to hear a lot about people waiting long periods of time in Canada for medical appointments. My Canadian neighbors (one a DR and the other a PA) lost two elderly parents to cancer. They said, their parents received excellent responsive care that was every bit as good a that available in the US. They did say it was necessary sometimes to pay for initial appointments to be seen [...]

I agree that we are hearing a lot of scare tactics, not from facts, but mostly from self interest. I had double knee replacement with complete coverage by Medicare and Tri-Care, so why would I want change???!!!

So much for the long lines that Hanson talks about. But don't believe my email correspondent. Watch Michael Moore's Sicko, which--as even Fox News had to reluctantly admit--gave a fair assessment of the problems with U.S. health care. Or watch any one of the videos posted on the Bill Moyers Journal website, which deal with the rationing accusation that Hanson and his conservative think-tank buddies like to make even as they know it to be exaggerated, if not altogether false.

As for Hanson's contention that the average American wants to tinker, not overhaul health care, it really depends on whom you ask: People who enjoy good company-paid health insurance are probably going to agree with Hanson, but that is only because they do not realize how easily they can be dropped once they develop an "expensive illness" (I cringed just writing that phrase), or how easily they can see their premiums rise beyond their ability to pay for them if anything catastrophic happens to them or their family. Instead, ask those who cannot afford health insurance or with insufficient coverage, and they are likely to disagree with Hanson's point, as are the thousands of Americans that go without needed and easy medical or dental care because either they have no insurance or they cannot afford to pay their deductible. Just watch Remote Area Medical teams provide health care services--services that all other civilized nations provide to their citizens--to thousands of Americans, even ones with insurance coverage, who had gone months or even years without needed care because they couldn't afford it.

And finally, yes, people who need emergency care can and should go to emergency rooms to get it, but the fact is that many Americans go to an ER near them for non-emergency conditions, things that a family doctor is perfectly capable of handling. Not only does this create really long lines in ERs (not the exaggerated Canadian lines that Hanson fantasizes about), emergency rooms do not work for free, so they charge the patients that they treat for money they do not have in the first place (and pursue the money through collection agencies and lawsuits.)

We cannot let people like Hanson take control of the reform debate, because they intentionally use deceptive logic to hide the fact that they do not represent the interest of average folks, but the interest of the very corporations their think-tanks depend on for funding.

No comments:

Copyright 2004-2012