Thursday, January 27, 2011

Socialism, Health Insurance, and Eating the Rich

Talking with my sister about the health care reform, we often come to the same split between our positions: I see it as an imperitive to take care of the least among us, a moral issue, while she, a very hard worker, is repelled by "all the people soaking the system" and hates to think of her tax dollars as helping such lazy bums. She works in the medical industry, as a front desk receptionist, so she says she sees a lot of this sort of fraud. I don't disagree that it happens.

Here's the thing. First, in America we have a very individualistic mindset, we idolize the frontiersman, the cowboy, the self made man. That was fine mindset when you were the only settlement for dozens of miles and had to do it on your own. But this is out of date: the frontier closed in 1890. We live in stable communities now, there are no Indian raids, we aren't battling to tame a wild land. And let's get one thing straight: no one is a self made man, that is a myth. Rags to riches, yes, but no one does it alone. If nothing else, such advancements are made possible by the society a person finds himself surrounded by. We use the public roads and bridges, the public schools, public libraries, the public police and fire departments, and of course legal frameworks, and a general culture that supports the entrepeneurial idea. One uses other people's capital, often, and/or the labor of others to do the work. Which isn't to discount the person's hard work, but let's have some perspective.

This is why I feel that the rich need to be taxed heavily, and provide for those whose labor actually provides their wealth. They (the rich) benefit most from this society, and thus owe the most. They can best afford it as well. Yes, they may have a much higher percentage of their income taxed away, but their living standard will still remain very high, they won't be lacking anything, will still live in great luxury. What is the difference between making 10 million and 20 million, as far as actual living standard goes? Nothing. You might buy a few less sports cars or a somewhat smaller mansion, or fewer mansions than before. Big fucking deal. Why are we expected to cry over this tragic loss? Get it together, people. You're still successful, and no one's "deincentivizing" it.

But some really do call this punishing success. I don't know. Only if money is your only measure of that, and only if you consider success being wealthy in a society that's rotting at the bottom. Do doctors go into medicine to make money, or because they want to help cure diseases and help others? Of course it's bound to be both. But then, the real problem isn't doctors who are reasonably wealthy, but the super rich, who just play financial games with inherited wealth. But either way, we must ask ourselves: at what point is enough enough? At what point does "success" turn into "theft" and "the rape of the lower classes"? This is a question that we as a society need to answer for ourselves. Or shall we just keep letting all the capital flow towards the few? I like what nationally syndicated talk show host Peter Werbe says: Eat the rich! (because they're eating the rest of us).

What I always end up getting around to is the question of morality. Chasing after the money dream has it's place, but it can't, in a compassionate society, be the end all. It is immoral for a tiny percentage of people suck all the wealth towards themselves, using the labor of the poor to benefit themselves, mangling the legal and financial system to their benefit, only to then leave everyone else out in the cold. If I break my arm or need an emergency apendectomy, I'm in debt up to my ass. Yet isn't the right to recieve medical care rather basic? Why should an accident or emergency turn me into a slave to some insurance company?

Yes people will take advantage, there's always going to be corruption and "soaking the system." But the sun shines on the just and the unjust alike, the rain falls on the fields of the industrious and the lazy. Is it right to not help the majority because a minority "ruin it for everyone"? I argue that it isn't. The rich can still be wealthy, they can still be comfortable. But not when it's at the expense of a basic standard of living for everyone. That is intolerable to a reasonable, compassionate person. 


  1. I don't think there's enough money out there to give free medical care to everyone. Leftist ideas sound moral and just but every time they are put into practice they lead to collapse of the system. We already have been borrowing money for decades to prop up medicare, social security, medicaid, food stamps, subsidized student loans, public education, public police and firefighters, public roads, public parks etc. There are even some states that offer free government health insurance. If our national debt was a stack of $100 bills it would be over 10,000 miles high.
    I suppose we could eliminate the military, but would you be ok with the rise of the next Hitler or Stalin going unchecked? World War 2 killed more than 60 million people. Stalin killed 40 million of his own people in death camps. Do we have a responsibility to prevent that from happening again? If so and there is a better way than military deterrence I'm open to suggestions.
    Finally, if you had money to start a business would you want to employ Americans who hated you and wanted to eat you? Or would you just give up and make money investing on Wall Street?

  2. @DW,
    For starters, we haven't had to "prop up" social security at all! We've been stealing from it. For the past few decades, it has been producing a surplus which administrations of both stripes have used to fund tax cuts to the rich and endless war. Had they left this fund alone -- it exists outside of the general budget -- there would be no "crisis" on its horizon.

    As to the other things you mention, my understanding is that medicare is self-sufficient too. And I wouldn't call anything PUBLIC as propping up anyway. Funding public needs is what gov't is supposed to do as it BENEFITS the overall society.

    Our military budget could be cut in half and, in cooperation with other nations, we could still insure that brutal dictators did not threaten the world. Of course, it should be noted that the US actually props up many dictators if we think it will aid our machinations in some way.

    We helped to create the Taliban in order to deal a blow to the USSR. We were very friendly with Saddam Hussein (while he was gassing his own people) as a counterbalance to Iran until we changed directions and he magically became the enemy. We spent about 20 years supporting the just-ousted dictator in Tunisia.

  3. I think taxing the rich and morality about money and social responsibility is waaaaaay off the point for what is REALLY going on in the health care industry. Selling prescription drugs on tv, requiring a loan to deliver a baby, paying $100 a month out of your pay in order to be prepared to wait two hours in an emergency room with a broken arm...? I don't think any person's money- rich or not -should have to benefit that system. That's a cycle of ridiculousness that I hope I get to see bust in my lifetime. As a holistic practitioner, I am a 'frontiersman' in that respect... I go for affordable, do it yourself, natural, sliding scale health care. Sadly, if there's something colloidal silver can't fix, I am dropping a house payment.
    Government isn't supposed to take care of everybody. Our generation has just stopped thinking we can do it ourselves because we have spent the last 30 to 50 years making sure our government can define fairness (thank you, baby boomers). The last thing we need to do is ask them to do more, it's giving too much power away from ourselves to possess correct judgement. Yet, we have founded this country on safety in numbers, especially with a militia involved. We are stronger together, agreed, but divided we could be at least civil.

  4. First, our military spending is more than every other nation's military spending combined. We could have deep cuts there, still be powerful, and have a vast amount of money to fix things like infrastructure, fund social programs, etc. Talk about your military industrial complex... it's half our budget. And no it is not our responsibility to police the world; that's called imperialism and I want none of it. The military is for national defense, not global control.

    I mean, we struggle to fix our bridges, fund our parks, and let our citizens have medical care without huge debt, but somehow there's always money for another fighter plane, missle, or drone.

    Second, I'm all about preventative, alternative health care. I agree that "standard" medical practices are often profit driven and yes, ridiculous. But for some things, modern medicine is the best answer. You can't stitch up a gaping wound with positive thinking; you can't remove an appendix ready to blow with accupuncture. So it has its place. I just want people to have basic access to care. Of course there's more that needs to be done to fix that "system of ridiculousness" but I wasn't talking about those other aspects with this post.

    Actually, if we got more into preventative care, rather than the official "drugs and surgery" philosophy for every ailment under the sun, costs would come down anyways.

    Lastly, I watch as the rich fucks on Wall Street run our country into a deep recession, then get giant bonuses and rewards, while the "commoners" are losing their homes and trying to get by on the food stamps that the bought and paid for politicians keep cutting. Yeah, I'm angry at the rich. And when I say "the rich" I'm not talking about small business owners, who might get into a million or so dollars. I'm talking about the guys on top, the 1 percenters, who have 40% of the nation's wealth in their few hands. That is wrong and a threat to democracy, what little we have left. Concentrate wealth and you concentrate power.

  5. here is a very interesting link, if you're at all into statistics and pie charts. Shows graphically how unbalanced the wealth distribution is, with some interesting insights and revelations along the way