Thoughts on the American Health Care Donnybrook

A disturbing number of Americans are getting wildly upset about a proposed health care system. However, what they actually seem to be upset about is not the reform itself, but instead, over some excessively unlikely future consequence of the proposed system that (a) hasn’t even shown evidence of ever getting here, (b) isn’t comparable to other countries, (c) and is fueled almost entirely by speculation and leaping a few mountainous hurdles in order to play out as the doomsayers are bellowing from the rooftops.

I’ll use a clip that seems to be circulating quite rampantly as a good springboard for discussion. If you find yourself being swayed by the way this video editorial is communicated, I’m afraid you may have already been trampled by groupthink frantically scurrying away from merely the very idea of harm, rather than a genuine threat. But there may yet be hope.

I’m not sure I can quite comprehensively list the trouble with this article.

As a little background: I took a home-study course on writing direct marketing letters. I learned a valuable inside perspective on how to word a sales letter (the kind you get from credit card companies, etc) as to very effectively ply an sales pitch so as to be so convincing, that the pitch will even nag the reader later on at how silly it was to have passed up the offer, if they letter itself didn’t generate a sale at that moment. It was a series of techniques that enabled the writer — despite having relatively no prior experience with the actual product — to sell it, effectively, as a highly valuable and much-sought-after item.

I gave up on the course due partially to conflicting feelings about whether I could conscientiously pursue that style of writing to convince people to give up their prized wages in return for a frivolous or luxury item. Since then, I have found myself to be practically immune to sales pitches because I can more easily recognize the underlying structure of the pitch and even critique the angles the pitcher tries to throw. The best sales are made to people who don’t recognize the structure, who don’t ask questions, and will believe the pitch thrower because of how genuine or nice s/he seems to be.

What inspires my uneasiness with the most overt arguments against the newly proposed American health care reform, is that some of the most outspoken opponents of the idea seem to be the no-asking group. They seem to be playing into a few key ideas that have very shaky foundations at best, and are getting wildly upset over concepts that have either already been in place for a long time, or have fundamental misunderstandings of how naturally unrestrictive the real world moves.

Among the top misunderstandings this video seems to avoid mentioning:

(a) Americans do already wait in line for health care thanks to capitalism, and the government does already largely control the health care system. The reform is simply a change in how the health care system is already regulated — not going trading freedom for handcuffs.

(b) Socialism doesn’t have anything to do with with the removing the popular choice of the people. Socialism is not one thing that, bam, you’ve become and now you’re stuck with it. Socialist elements can be (and already are) incorporated into a democracy — enabling the people MORE of a vote than they did before. Anti-monopoly regulation is an example. We can still have the identical number and variety of freedoms we did yesterday with aspects of socialism in our lives the next day.

(c) If a chute is built that lets you slide down the slippery slope into boiling oil, you don’t have to go down it. You can avoid it if you want to. Just because Hummers are an option available to me, doesn’t mean I’m going to get one. Just because cable internet is loads faster, doesn’t mean I’m going to spend more for it. These things can be chosen, or avoided. Just because hardcore socialism (instead of the pansy version that’s debated over here, by people who couldn’t point out the difference between socialism and a chicken) is a “bridge to communism” doesn’t mean anyone’s going to cross that bridge. You have way more say in it than you think you do.

More specifically, I think it needs to be said that:

1. Smart innovation is not even largely fueled by the profit incentive, but instead by the very adversity for which the solution itself is made. Money-based innovation creates vast amounts of waste, and isn’t a well-being focused pursuit. What this journalist seems to cry out is that by removing the prize of riches for having a successful product line, we’d be eliminating the essential drive to innovate. Innovation is fueled by many, many types of adversity — not just capitalist endeavors. It is even quite reasonable to suggest capitalism itself is the primary barrier to more widespread innovation.

The types of innovations that are needed in health care ought best be motivated by better ways of healing ailments, and fueled by the presence of ailment — not how much money can be made from it. Innovations in health care whose primary goal is reach soaring profits will innovate largely on newer and better wakes to make larger amounts of money and that more products (regardless of whether they are needed, effective, or even legitimate) means more money. What we do not need is a market overloaded innovations trying to make the highest figures of income, but innovations that assist the ailed in recovery.

Say for instance that a hypothetical gent were living in a nation where all jobs earned the same wage — there was no incentive for higher wages depending on the job duties. All leaders, doctors, and housewives were paid the same as all garbage collectors, school teachers, lawyers, dental assistants, and law enforcement. The best doctors would those whose motivation were best the care of patients. The best policemen would be those focused on genuine interest in code enforcement. The best innovations would arise from people with a specific interest in their field. Instead what we have is people who are genuinely interested in innovating their field, but are being held back by having to make proposals to people looking to make money. For those of us with great ideas on how to make a process more efficient, effective, or smartly accomplished — our hands are bound by the drive for profiteering and personal gain. Some might retort, “But look at how far America has come with capitalism,” to which I counter as to whether how much further and better might it have been, by now, if the ideas stifled by capitalism hadn’t been muted by the drive for personal gain?

The “waiting in line for care” idea is not due to government controlling health care — but in the accreditation and licensing of doctors to be able to practice. We won’t have to wait in line more than we already do for health care if the profit incentive is gone, and possibly even less than we already do, because more people interested in healing the sick could become licensed to treat those afflicted. A big reason there are so few doctors and so many ailing is specifically because of a profit-motivated system, coupled with the idea that people should only visit a doctor who is trained by a profit-motivated school system.

If more people are able to be trained as doctors without having to invest twelve life savings into the profit-motivated school system, more people could be treated, quicker. If there is one doctor in a town of 10,000, the waiting list will be long. If there are two doctors, the waiting list cut in two. If there are ten doctors, the waiting time would conceivably be 90% shorter. An increase of doctors, not a decrease in government control, is what makes waiting times shorter. And by the way: Americans do already wait in line for health care — they just call to schedule an appointment instead of standing outside.

Those with amazing innovations, new technologies and efficiency-enhancing modifications who are out for the common good and not the dollar are left in the dust and their ideas forgotten because it doesn’t follow with the drive for personal wealth. With a more collective interest in the exchange of ideas without profiteering motives clawing their way up, thousands of ideas can be brought to the table, instead of just a couple who have the best money for marketing (eerily similar to how elections are run today — those with more money for advertising get more votes, hands down). You could be the next Martin Luther as far as innovation on longstanding perception, but if you don’t have enough wealth and drive for personal gain as the game requires, then your ideas are largely ignored.