Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fear And Loathing in D.C.

Fear is an extremely powerful thing. Fear of peer rejection; fear of failure; fear of loathsome disease; for many, fear of dying. It’s hard to top fear in the range of powerful emotions we feel. Years ago, at some marketing or branding seminar I attended, one of the speakers said fear sells. Fear is the new sex.

Fear motivates; fear purifies. Fear can drive us to take action. Fear is what radio windbags like El Rushbo and Gruppenfuhrer Beck sell. Fear works. Fear, fear, fear. The advertising paradigm used to be “buy this vacuum cleaner (washing machine/mixmaster/household convenience) and it will add years to your life”; now, it’s “have your doctor prescribe this drug for you or you will become very ill and die.”

Opponents to health insurance reform have some of the best fear-mongering slogan-makers around, and the talking-point “GOVERNMENT TAKEOVER OF HEALTHCARE” was one of their finest products. It stuck like glue and got repeated by all media. And yet – here we are, only a full day into the “takeover” – and the system, as yet unreformed, remains remarkably operable. Certainly, the calamity is about to descend.

Remember when Medicare was RAMMED DOWN OUR THROATS? Oh, wait – a Republican or two actually supported Medicare. Anyway, Medicare processed a billion claims last year, and somehow, it still seems to work. My mom gets her health care covered, and the gubbmint keeps payin’ the bills.

On the NBC Nightly News last night, a brief video clip of an elderly gentleman, obviously distraught, carrying a sign that said “keep government out of my life”. Fear. Yah, keep government out of my life - except for my Social Security. And my Medicare. And my VA Hospital. And my mail delivery. And my police department. And my fire department. And on and on. Keep government out of my life. Fear.

The insurance industry hired the services of six lobbyists for every member of congress and spent a significant amount of its shareholders’ potential profits to put FEAR into the politicians; yet, Sunday night, it passed. Not a single Republican voted for it, so the lobbyists’ bills will be paid.

My adult children will be able to get health insurance when they change jobs; pre-existing condition clauses won’t dog them like they did me; they won’t have “lifetime caps” to worry about like I did, after five kidney operations in 2000 and 2001, hip replacement in 2001 (thank you again, Dr. John Rogerson), specialized vocal cord surgery to restore my voice 5 years ago (thank you again, Dr. Charles Ford); and my mom will live to see the “donut hole” disappear in her Medicare coverage.

Hell, this stuff doesn’t scare me. I must be one of those blithe Madison liberals, I guess. I can’t wait for ALL of it to kick in. And don’t even talk to me about what it costs…not until this nation stops spending money it doesn’t have to prosecute bogus foreign wars and bail out businesses “too big to fail”.

Yes, everything does have a price. This is one bill I’ll gladly pay.


  1. Well, sure!

    And the 400,000 jobs that QueenNancy promised would materialize "almost immediately", not to mention the other 3,600,000?

    Are your adult children NOT able to get insurance now?

    By the way, we had a "pre-existing" situation here--and the toughest underwriter in the country (Golden Rule) did NOT turn down our insurance application, but they DID state that they would not cover events related specifically to that "pre-existing" for one year.

    My, that was terrible.

    No, Obama has not yet "taken over" healthcare. But in 10 years or less, insurers will be out of business, given what we're told. Then who's in charge?

    This plan was NOT 'the solution.' Yes, there are some good elements; but it would have been MUCH better if some of Ryan's suggestions were used.

    Much, much better.

  2. Dad29 ... You maybe need to take a pill. You're scaring Henny Penny.

    Perhaps you ought to try to filter out Glen Beck for a while and take a look at The Way Things R - to coin a phrase. (Is Beck really going around saying knee-slappers like "insurance companies are going to vanish"? What will YOU say or think when that does not happen?)

    I am glad your insurance experience is happy and affordable, but that satisfaction has not helped your awareness of what is really going on. For example, those millions of productive people who were ousted from the Middle Class by that miserable Bush-era celebration of greed are in a bad way. If they or their children get sick, they can just troupe on over to the emergency room, right? (You should try that for yourself sometime. Or maybe just visit an ER and familiarize yourself with what goes on.)

    Seeing to it that the young, the unemployed, or the survivors of potentially catastrophic diseases, cannot get affordable health care is part of the smug, greedy "I got mine" attitude that laid our nation's economy low. It is mean and it is un-American.

    But I digress. There's no changing the mind of someone who starts out implying that the millions of jobs vanished and continue to be gone are somehow the result of efforts to rein in rapacious insurance companies or are the responsibility of those who would favor such efforts. So let's not go there.

    Of more interest to me is the point our blogger set out to make: Fear has been weaponized by the radical right. Indeed it is a key part of the GOP strategy to return to political power. Follow the link I've provided here. See how the Republican fund-raisers cynically plan to milk their "ego-driven" fat-cat contributors in a campaign baldly designed to instill fear in voters.

    Mind you, truth - such as it is these days - has no bearing on the political strategy. If Fox Noise thinks you can be bamboozled into believing Big Insurance is going to dry up and blow away, leaving you dying in the street - or any other bogeyman nonsense they can dream up - that's what they're going to do. They know you're not going to look into it for yourself.

    BTW ... Along that line: Insurance companies are doing very well, thank you, in every "socialist" nation in Europe, but the Beckster doesn't like to mention that, or the fact that health care in those nations actually works very well, delivering better outcomes and costing less, as a part of gross national product, than ours does.

    Here's a fun fact: According to a United Nations study, the United States' infant mortality rate ranks 33rd among industrialized nations - behind Cuba and Caledonia, and just above Croatia. Don't trust the United Nations? OK, the CIA list has us at 46th! How's that for the "best health care in the world"?

    As Yogi said, "Ya cud look it up."

    Pick out a couple of those scary horror stories (every system has them) the Republican attack machine likes to bend into caricature, and examine them via sources that are, at the very least, not part of the attack machine.

    If you don't want to do it as a learning exercise, maybe try it just for the curiosity value. Anyone with a reasonably open mind would likely be surprised at how bogus and deliberately skewed those tales are.

    Here's that link I promised: http://bit.ly/9Nfkie

  3. I'm sorry, Mr. Dad, but deferring to anything on Mr. Ryan's agenda is a tell. Mr. Morrison is right and right on. The remnants of Bush will still be the death of my generation and my generation's once hopeful economic promise. Getting rich on health insurance is a repulsive act of greed, and applauding the fact that the poor cannot get coverage is a remarkably insensitive act. That this issue - access to medical coverage - must even be debated is scary.

  4. Fear has been weaponized by the radical right. Indeed it is a key part of the GOP strategy to return to political power.

    If that's really the case, then they learned it from the (D) prevaricators who made it a creed that the Republicans 'would take away Social Security' from granny.

    Ironically, it is ObamaCare which will denude Medicare of $500Bn.

    And we all know (except you) that 'infant mortality' rates are calculated in VERY different fashions by different countries.

    THe US figure could be worse. We could count abortions.

    And by the way, I've been to emergency rooms. (Your condescension needs treatment.)

    You have a plan for the 450K insurance company employees who will be out of work in the next 5 years, right? OH, yah, Pelosi promised 400K jobs "almost immediately." So the want-ads should be on the street already.

    Ryan's plan INCLUDES a ban on pre-exist denials AND precludes $1MM-lifetime limits, by the way.

  5. Matthew 25:40
    Jesus: Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    Beck 24:7
    Social justice? Jesus was speaking in Marxist code words.

    We all knew Dad29 would draw on more Beck dreck for his witty riposte. Better to cavil and dissemble than to risk having to question your own prejudices. There’s no changing the thinking of people like that, and therefore no point in discoursing with them. So what follows is aimed at the sentient readers of this board.

    The United Nations and CIA lists ranking countries by their infant mortality rates, mentioned in my earlier comment here, are not political documents. That’s a hard concept for a unit in the GOP version of the Borg Collective to process, but it’s true. What would be the usefulness or even the point of a rank-order list if every entry was calculated differently?

    To be clear: The infant mortality rate, expressed in deaths per thousand, refers to the number of children who are born alive but do not survive to their fifth birthday. The calculation process does not involve accounting legerdemain and does not concern itself with hot-button political issues. It is difficult to accept that the United States of America, in the 21st century, ranks so poorly because it indicates we are allowing babies to die because of inadequate medical care.

    Radical conservatism seems to believe that the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.

    Dad29, already gullible to loony assertions, was probably energized when he heard Sara Palin’s specious claim that health insurance reform would lead to “death panels” that would “pull the plug on grandma.” How must he feel now that it is clear the failed governor’s claim was pure fabrication? It must grate, particularly since she recently admitted mooching from the Canadian public health system because the care available on the U.S. side of the border was so wretched.

    Said Ms. Palin: "We used to hustle on over the border for health care ... Isn't that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada." Here’s the Associated Press story: http://bit.ly/bvVO69

    Right-wing groupthink on the subject of public health services is baffling to Canadians – who give their system a 90 percent approval rating. Even political conservatives there think the health program is something to be proud of.

    It is particularly disappointing that radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh promised to move to Costa Rica if the health bill passed, and then reneged. You may recall the multimillionaire hatemonger did flee New York City (which bid him good riddance) when his taxes went up. Rabid patriot that he is, Rush decamped for Florida, where he can avoid paying income taxes.

    A move to Costa Rica (the name means Rich Coast) would have been great, if the country would have him. But they have a national health program there too, and private insurance is a government monopoly. So it’s likely Rush was just running his mouth again and wasn’t really serious.

    The new law will indeed boil $500 billion worth of fat from the Medicare program. It primarily targets expensive private Medicare plans – which are subsidized by the federal government – that provide things like gym memberships and spa services. That money will not be taken from Medicare recipients. It will come from insurance company profits and bonuses, which is why the companies fought so hard to preserve their gravy boat.

    We’re getting closer, in this discussion, to the point where someone will prove the validity of Godwin’s Law. I’m betting on Dad29 because he’s too intellectually lazy to find out what the term refers to.

  6. Colonel,

    All I know is that that "Overheard in the Newsroom" site you're a fan of had the most pertinent comment:

    #3642: Reporter: “If this thing gets signed and we all get better medical coverage, I’m going to start smoking and drinking a lot more than I already do.”

    The Town Crank

  7. Right-wing groupthink on the subject of public health services is baffling to Canadians

    So is the concept of free speech, hier'ous.

    But so long as you intend to play the 'intellectualoid' card, twerp, why don't you clean up your logic-track with this: correlation is NOT causation. While you have the enema tip inserted in your logic-processor, run this through it:

    Regardless of measure-techniques, it is a logical fallacy to posit that 'infant mortality' is a consequence of 'healthcare.' Such things as "co-sleeping" with drunk/drugged parents play into that, you know....or maybe you don't know.

    But now you do.

    Further, the "death panel" meme is cute, but like most criticism, shallow. The real 'death panel' discussion stems from this:

    "What Emanuel [Rahmsputin's brother/MD] and his two coauthors were actually writing about was how to decide which patients are to receive organ transplants, vaccines or other "very scarce medical interventions" when there are not enough to go around. The three authors advocated favoring younger patients over older patients as part of a "complete lives" decision-making system aimed at saving the most years of life using the available resources. Age would be only one factor, however. Also weighing in the "complete lives" system would be such factors as a patient’s likelihood of full recovery (prognosis) and the use of a lottery when deciding between two "roughly equal" patients." (See: http://factcheck.org/2009/08/deadly-doctor/)

    The key phrase is "...scarce medical interventions."

    It is manifestly clear that ObamaCare places (now or in the next 10 years) funding, (therefore 'scarcity' or 'plenitude'), in the political realm, meaning that ObamaCare bureaucrats will allocate resources which are given them by Congress. THEY are the 'death panels' of which Palin spoke. Obama artfully deflected her criticism by referring to a completely unrelated section of the bill, and FactCheck swallowed his mis-direction--hook, line, and sinker. (See: http://www.factcheck.org/2009/08/palin-vs-obama-death-panels/)

    Perhaps you don't read very carefully, Hier. Or perhaps you don't read at all.


    Us common-man humans kinda like to think that decisions about lives, whether "complete" or not, are reserved to close kin, the MD, and the patient. For us common-man humans, religion also contributes to the decision-making process.

    (I realize that folks like you, near Zeus in innerlekshuel gifts, can divine these decisions from afar, and I abjectly apologize for the orneriness of us commoners-with-Bibles.)

    But perhaps you can help. Why don't you define "complete life" for me! I promise I'll relay your essay to Gov. Palin. Maybe she'll retract and apologize.

  8. And:


    England's healthcare system hits the rocks.

    It's 'death panels' by default: "Sorry, old chap. There's no hospital, (doctor, nurse, bed) here any more. Please enquire at the next village south. Stiff upper lip, chin up, and all that rot!"

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