With bleeding eyes

I have a friend with whom I disagree on virtually all matters political. We worked together at Microsoft during most of the Bush W. years, and had a number of interesting debates about Islam, Iraq, etc. It’s been over four years since I’ve seem him, but we keep in touch, and disapprove of each other politically more than ever.

Recently he posted this on his blog, the gist of which is that the new heath-care measure (“Obamacare”) is unconstitutional because it forces citizens to buy a product. Here is my retort:

You’re right – it’s a sad shame. But conservatives have to take blame here. Conservatives opposed this legislation with such hysterical vitriol that a number of unsavory deals had to be made and corners had to be cut. And now you’re complaining about those deals, which is like organizing a massive strike and then complaining that the busses aren’t running.

The insurance industry is a big part of the problem with health care, because naturally, in pursuing their for-profit directives, they use every opportunity to cast out customers that cost them money by selfishly filing claims. Ideally the insurance industry would have been cut out of the healthcare system entirely – cut out so that no healthcare customer/tax dollars go into insurance profit. (I am all for profits serving as incentives for innovation, but the insurance industry is not fertile ground for useful innovations.)

But, conservatives insisted that the overhaul, if it must be done, keep private insurers in the mix. So here we are. If the insurance wasn’t mandated, then we’d be back at square one – people that dare file claims would find it harder and harder to renew their plans, until only the healthy are covered.

(How strange, by the way, that conservatives bitch and moan about government waste, but have no problem using private insurance for healthcare, where a huge portion gets pocketed as profit and plays no role whatsoever in the actual healthcare – how is that not wasteful?)

As for the shocking news that employers, knowing that their employees have basic coverage, will drop their plans… well, first of all, how can  disciples of free-market theory be surprised by this? And second, this is exactly where universal heathcare excels: employers are freed from the expense and thereby free to put that money into things like growth, hiring, and profit. Things I wouldn’t expect conservatives to complain about, and yet…

Likewise, employees no longer feel beholden to their employers for their very lives and the lives of their families. If they are being treated badly or see a better opportunity at another company, they can pursue it without facing any lapses in health coverage. This is particularly good for small business, a sector for which the libertarian and tea party folks claim to speak, and yet…

Yes, many workers will indeed see benefit reductions. But this would have happened anyway. Anyone that thinks that they would have continued to enjoy world-class care, happily provided by their employer indefinitely, is living in a dream world. The cost of such plans, unchecked and unregulated, has been climbing  and climbing, and at some point employers would scale them back dramatically. They would have to.

That’s really the bottom line: healthcare was either going to crash and burn (and require a bail-out) or become more and more of a luxury, until only the well-off are covered. I would have expected conservatives to object to both of those options, and yet…

This is another example of the shockingly short-sighted interests of modern conservatism. Apparently they’d rather drive a broken system into the ground (like the housing market, or the financial sector, or health care, or the climate) instead of taking measures before disaster strikes.

…which is ironic, since it was conservatives who practically invented the term preemptive action.

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