Saturday, July 26, 2008

I don't quite know what to say.

I am constantly told, in the comments section of various blogs, that my appeals to the rank immorality of the richest country in the world having so many people who are unable to obtain health care are a mark of my deep lack of seriousness and inability to understand economics. But at some point, I can't keep trying to look beyond these needlessly suffering people. If there is any such thing as human morality, certainly it must condemn a system where so many, surrounded by such affluence, have no ability to arrange routine medical care. What kind of a situation do we require before we feel we can foot this bill? People hate this argument, but the fact that we spend so many untold billions in Iraq while not having the money to expand S-CHIP takes me beyond any kind of partisan or political anger and leaves me with real, heart-deep despair. If not this society, who? If not now, when? This is the sort of thing that gets me labeled self-righteous or a martyr, which is another way to say that I believe in right and wrong and am unafraid to name one or another. At what point do all appeals to efficiency and capitalist ideals melt away in the face of so much hardship?

9 comments:

  1. It must be obvious to you why someone with different policy preferences would be frustrated by your heart-deep-despair-based advocacy. National health insurance will have some good consequences and some bad consequences (and I guess some other consequences also). You aren't saying that examination of those consequences should melt away in the face of great hardship, are you?

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  2. That's precisely what I'm saying.

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  3. So many people who are unable to obtain health care?

    There is NOBODY in this country unable to obtain SOME kind of health care. Anybody found bleeding in the street is going to be treated.

    There are plenty of people without health insurance, and plenty of people who cannot afford the kind of health care they might WANT.

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  4. "Anybody found bleeding in the street is going to be treated."

    ...and then sent on their way with a pile of medical bills, maybe. And that's if they're not just kept in the waiting room until they're too far gone to treat.

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  5. I don't think you mean it, Freddie. Things aren't so bad that they couldn't be made worse, even by you with your empathy, even against Jens without any.

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  6. Is it clear that I wasn't trying to make fun, of either you or Jens?

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  7. I know you aren't making fun.

    My politics is a politics that is totally enmeshed in my morality. Many people see this as illegitimate and they're perfectly entitled to do so. I also recognize that this kind of thinking can make constructive dialogue difficult. But I don't know any other way to construct a meaningful political identity. And disagreement is only that, after all, disagreement.

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  8. jens,
    try and get care for cancer without insurance.

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  9. The question isn't wethor something is efficient but why efficiency should be taken as the sum total of good.

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