Friday, September 21, 2007

We have seen the enemy...

I love Barbara Ehrenreich's style. She calls it the way she sees it.

We Have Seen the Enemy -- And Surrendered
Bow your heads and raise the white flags. After facing down the Third Reich, the Japanese Empire, the U.S.S.R., Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein, the United States has met an enemy it dares not confront — the American private health insurance industry.

With the courageous exception of Dennis Kucinich, the Democratic candidates have all rolled out health “reform” plans that represent total, Chamberlain-like, appeasement. Edwards and Obama propose universal health insurance plans that would in no way ease the death grip of Aetna, Unicare, MetLife, and the rest of the evil-doers. Clinton — why are we not surprised? — has gone even further, borrowing the Republican idea of actually feeding the private insurers by making it mandatory to buy their product. Will I be arrested if I resist paying $10,000 a year for a private policy laden with killer co-pays and deductibles?

It’s not only the Democratic candidates who are capitulating. The surrender-buzz is everywhere. I heard it from a notable liberal political scientist on a panel in August: We can’t just leap to a single payer system, he said in so many words, because it would be too disruptive, given the size of the private health insurance industry. Then I heard it yesterday from a Chicago woman who leads a nonprofit agency serving the poor: How can we go to a Canadian-style system when the private industry has gotten so “big”? [...]
How can we not?
Think of the damage. An estimated 18,000 Americans die every year because they can’t afford or can’t qualify for health insurance. That’s the 9/11 carnage multiplied by three — every year. Not to mention all the people who are stuck in jobs they hate because they don’t dare lose their current insurance.

Saddam Hussein never killed 18,000 Americans or anything close; nor did the U.S.S.R. Yet we faced down those “enemies” with huge patriotic bluster, vast military expenditures, and, in the case of Saddam, armed intervention. So why does the U.S. soil its pants and cower in fear when confronted with the insurance industry?
That's a question 89.6 million Americans who found themselves uninsured at some point during 2006-2007 would like to have answered too.

1 comment:

abi said...

I'm glad Ehrenreich is hitting the let's-appeal-to-the-moderates ploy - that it's too big a leap to move to single-payer. Baloney. If we do it half-way, with a mandatory-purchase system that protects the private insurers' fiefdoms, it will lead us down a path that we will never return from.