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« Unchanged, not hopeful | Main | Unimpressed »

Aug 22, 2009


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John D. Young

Roch's ten years of insurance premiums are for my wife about one year worth of premiums because of her bad chronic health.

Her many years in the horse world of riding, competing and teaching left her with serious shoulder, back, knee, joint, etc. problems. Because of bad health there are many people who can buy personal medical insurance policies but the expense is overwhelming and soon even for people who have (had) significant savings those savings become depleted. Many millions of Americans cannot afford any medical insurance.

If anyone thinks the current system without a strong public option is satisfactory please take the time to talk to someone who has had serious medical problems over several years. They will also have many stories of how their insurance company actively denies necessary medical care. If you are one of many who have medical insurance paid for by your employer and you have been fairly healthy then you may see no current crisis and new proposed legislation is not attempting to change your current coverage. But if you are chronically ill and must individually purchase your medical insurance you are well aware of the crisis.


This is my one and only attempt to bring a quasiBeelzebubbian perspective to this topic.

The health care “crisis” does not have a “solution.” In the first place, no one can describe what it is. If the problem were putting a man on the moon or the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl, you could describe it in detail and come up with a plan. Providing you had the power to implement successfully every aspect of the plan, you would win. No such analysis is possible regarding health care because it is a problem of another type.

The health care system in America, like every other human system, is a social process that mobilizes and coordinates knowledge. One would have to possess an omniscient and omnipresent mind in order to capture and fully understand any such process. The health care system works the way it does because millions of participants contribute tiny pieces of knowledge and equally tiny moments of coordinative and cooperative behavior. This goes on without any single participant knowing how his response affects the process as a whole. No individual or group can comprehend the whole with enough detail to exercise any measure of rational control.

It is the system that is rational, not the minds of its millions of participants.

I set that apart because that is the essence of our problem. Let me put it another way: It is the system, not the thought processes of its participants that makes the system work or not work; efficacious or ineffective; happy or sad; good or bad. We can do nothing at all to shape the thought processes of those participants. However, we can most certainly improve the system, and we do every day collectively. All human systems are self-ordering and prone to constant improvement unless arbitrary forces interfere.

Here is what I’m getting at:

We are struggling with this problem and every other societal problem because of a condition that is entirely apart from the problems themselves; that is, we are possessed by the illusion that God endowed us with rational minds. Because of this, we harbor the hopeless belief that – like putting a man on the moon or the Cowboys in the Super Bowl – we ought to be able to solve this thing; to capture the myriad details like a tapestry, grasp the general meaning as a whole, and exercise our ability to make categorical decisions that will have positive effect on millions of minor details.

But God did not give us a rational mind. There is not a human on the face of the earth that lives even one day with full, rational understanding of even his own moment by moment decisions and actions, much less the mysteries of a massive system like national health care. Yes, we have a capacity for rational thought, and we do exercise that capacity in certain limited ways, but it is not the capacity that guides and directs our individual and collective lives.

God did not give us all-seeing, all-knowing minds. He gave us something else far more powerful. Every single human is endowed – equally endowed – with sensory acuity. Our gift, the thing that separates us from all other animals is the ability to measure and assess the consequence of our actions through our 5 senses. Through sensory acuity we develop curiosity and an impish willingness to take risks. 99% of our sensory response and consequential change of behavior takes place with no thought process whatever. These are responses that our capacity for rational thought could never produce.

In all human systems, we adjust our actions relative to the response we get, and that is why they are prone to improvement. Individually, we keep changing until we get a positive result. This is both unconscious and unconditional. Since there are no super humans with the capacity to understand giant systems in one piece, we are bound to rely on the collective activity of millions of anonymous fellow participants.

Powerful minorities are exploiting this illusion we suffer regarding rational thinking. If we find that we cannot develop faith in the positive outcome of simple people pursuing self-determined interest within market based systems, we will lose the struggle of Liberty against Power.

Ed Cone

The imperfect citizens of many other countries have managed to design health insurance systems that work more efficiently than our own.

I'm convinced that we the people of the United States, hobbled though we may be by human limitations, can improve our own lot in similar fashion.

Power takes many forms, and Liberty faces many challenges.

The success of moneyed interests in convincing some Americans that business is necessarily synonymous with liberty and the public good, and that a government established by the people and for the people is necessarily the enemy of those things, and that profit-making is the answer to all problems, is one of the sad and astonishing tales of our era.

Teddy Roosevelt would laugh at us.


CP, read Atlas Shrugged.

Steve Harrison

"If we find that we cannot develop faith in the positive outcome of simple people pursuing self-determined interest within market based systems, we will lose the struggle of Liberty against Power."

I understand this Cheri, and I agree to a certain extent. We need to be damned careful that we don't make small business ventures even harder to become and remain prosperous. Providers like you and Joe aren't "outside" the system, you are the system. Whatever reform we enact, you guys need to still be there afterward, doing what you do and being paid well for it.

But here's the thing about the health care market: more and more of us can no longer afford to shop there, but we often don't have a choice. Getting insurance sounds easy enough, but paying a premium that's about the equivalent of another house payment simply isn't feasible for a big chunk of our population. I'm not just talking about poverty-level folks, I'm talking about those of us in the middle, too.

So where does that leave us? A broken bone that requires pins and screws, a gall bladder that ain't working right, or any number of other moderate to life-threatening injuries or ailments, and you've got a medical debt that can plunge you into financial ruin.

Conservatives love to talk about health care reform taking away "choice", but you know what? Right now, millions of us don't have a choice. We're playing the f**cking lottery, and we're going to lose, sooner or later.

Ed Cone

SH, I was trying to make the same point, that the current system does not enhance or promote the cause of liberty for millions of Americans.

Government can threaten liberty, but it can protect it as well. Economic freedom is vital, but it was clear back in the days of the Founders that, as Jefferson said, "the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations" also can be a threat.

The idea that we're fighting irreducible complexity is a dodge.

We're trying to reform a health insurance system, and to deal with the costs and availability of healthcare.

These are not insurmountable challenges -- as the experience of many other countries shows.

Steve Harrison

"Government can threaten liberty, but it can protect it as well."

Exactly. This is a little off-topic for the health care debate, but I recently battled with one of the Libertarians that circle BlueNC's face like flies, over his total inability to recognize the flip side of authority. He was proposing to abolish the FBI (and others), and I had to explain just a few of the ways the FBI helped to preserve the liberty of millions of Americans each year.

Economically speaking, our health care system has actually become an "oppressor", holding millions of Americans hostage and keeping them from generating the wealth they would need to buy their freedom from said oppressor. Without even factoring in the physical dangers of the disparity in coverage, the pure economics alone scream for our government to act.


We are all about one health crisis away from bankruptcy. In fact, a majority of bankruptcies in America are medical bill related.

We need to provide a way for people to get health insurance coverage if they have pre-existing conditions without paying a fortune -- it's that simple.

The current health "solution" doesn't accomplish that and people are literally dying because they're being denied medical care. If you say that's not your problem, then it might not be.

But it might be a problem for your sick aunt, your out of work cousin, or your children as they graduate from college and don't have a job or insurance.

I don't see how leaving potentially productive people to die in our country is helping our productivity, much less contributing to freedom.

I find it ironic that we're willing to accept the regulation and control (socialism? hardly) of car insurance premiums but not health. It is very telling about our soceity that our cars are more protected than the lives of our citizens.


>>This is my one and only attempt to bring a quasiBeelzebubbian perspective to this topic...

My God, CP, don't force yourself onto the shoals of indecipherability.

Our health care problem can, I think, be outlined rather easily.

We spend far too much on it. Our costs per person are among the highest in the world, yet our overall health statistics do not refect that.

A significant portion of the American population has no health insurance. Their health care is nonexistent, too late, or constititutes an abuse of an emergency room. Costs are passed on to insured and paying patients. The fact that so many Americans appear indifferent to this is a damning comment on American culture.

Health insurance companies and their conservative supporters claim that the free market is the best way to provide health care. Yet, there is no free market in health care insurance. A small number of very large and very rich corporations -- as in most important sectors of the U.S. economy -- dominate their industry. That is the antithesis of a free market. One or two corporations typically dominate the health insurance market in any given state.

Such concentration of power and wealth in a few corporations is invevitable in any business where the economies of scale are a major factor, A free market cannot exist in that environment because small businesses will not be able to survive. Hence, just as a few corporations dominate health insurance, we have a few corporations dominating our media, a few corporations dominating the personal computing industry, and a few corporations dominating the auto industry.

For solutions to our health care crisis, we only need to look at every other successful indistrialized nation, and adopt and adapt as we choose. That so many Americans seem to think we are so different from the British, the French, the Swiss, the Canadians, etc., or they so different from us, is another damning comment on American culture.


Just be corbly what you ask for, folks. You just might get it, and then some..

Brian M

There is nothing special about a government bureaucracy.

“While hundreds of thousands of disability claims lay backlogged at the Department of Veterans Affairs, thousands of technology employees at the department received $24 million in bonuses, a new report says.”


Not trustworthy sources, CP. Two conservative blogs (One from a guy who cites being a fther, guitar player, and microbiologist as credentials), and a source to the leader of the Canadian Medical Association, who is, I'm sure, as completely unbiased as the head of the American Medical Association.

If you want to convince people I am wrong about health care reform, you'd better find better support than flyweight right-wing blogs and the guy who leads a national physicians' lobbying group.

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