The Corpus Callosum

Great idea: create a “volunteer civilian corps” that would give
Americans the opportunity to contribute their valuable skills, to take
the stress off the regular military.

Translation: let’s hire mercenaries, who’ll think they’re getting a
good deal, making $100,000 a year, while getting shot at; even though
their corporate bosses make millions, sitting in their executive
leather chairs.  Great idea: increase the profit incentive for
starting a war.  Move the Clock another minute closer to
midnight.

That is my strongest impression of the State of the Union Address.
 Which, by the way, had very little to do with the state of
the Union.

Oh, and health care…


There were times when I was young, that I might hang around the
periphery of progressive organizations.  And I noticed the
firebrands advocating extreme positions.  It always seemed to
me that they were making a mistake.  By being so extreme, they
alienated some potential supporters, such as myself.

But when it comes to health care reform, I find myself rejecting the
many and varied moderate proposals.  Now, it is I who
advocates an extreme position.

The proposal Bush made tonight, about making health insurance more
affordable via taxation sleight-of-hand, is not going to solve
anything.  Not only would it make the health care system more
complicated, it would make the  tax law more complicated.
 

No, the only rational solution to the health care crisis is to go for
simplicity.  One system, completely seamless: single-payer,
with universal coverage.  Doesn’t matter who the payer is.
 Could be government, could be private.  But it has
to be just one.  And the universal part: it would have to be
truly universal.  No exceptions, no special circumstances, and
no negotiation.

Comments

  1. #1 mike
    January 24, 2007

    Translation: let’s hire mercenaries, who’ll think they’re getting a good deal, making $100,000 a year, while getting shot at; even though their corporate bosses make millions, sitting in their executive leather chairs. Great idea: increase the profit incentive for starting a war. Move the Clock another minute closer to midnight.

    Right. Terrible idea. Lets pay them something like $18,000 plus room and board every year to do the exact same work. At least their bosses will be politicians and bureaucrats sitting in those executive leather chairs and not those nasty corporate types.

    Many of those unfeeling corporate execs you deride are, as a matter of fact, ex-military themselves. Blackwater USA, one of the most famous (or notorious, if you prefer) of the merc firms, is headed by a group of former Navy SEALs with substantial combat experience. The same cannot be said of many of our elected and appointed officials.

    In any event, I didn’t get any indication from Bush’s words that this proposed corps will be administered by the private sector. It isn’t clear to me exactly what sort of tasks it will handle overseas or under what conditions it will serve. I would like to hear more before rushing to judgment.

    No, the only rational solution to the health care crisis is to go for simplicity. One system, completely seamless: single-payer, with universal coverage. Doesn’t matter who the payer is. Could be government, could be private. But it has to be just one. And the universal part: it would have to be truly universal. No exceptions, no special circumstances, and no negotiation.

    I’m open to ideas on health care like those you propose, but could we please stop the influx of illegal immigrants first? If we are going universal, I don’t think it is fair that the American taxpayer should have to foot the medical bills for every Juan or Mary who can slip across our borders.

  2. #2 Joseph j7uy5
    January 24, 2007

    It may be true that the heads of mercenary firms are ex-military, but that is beside the point. The point is that there is a serious problem when huge profit is a motivation for war.

    Immigration is a separate issue; it has nothing to do with health care reform. The reforms I am suggesting will make the system more efficient, in that a higher percentage of money devoted to health care will actually be spent on health care, as opposed to shuffling paper from one stack to another.

    The fact is, any system that moves large amounts of money is going to have parasites. Does the fact that Enron sucked billions from the economy mean that we should not have corporations? Do the stock option scandals mean we should not have a stock market? Does the Duke Cunningham scandal mean that we should not have a Congress?

    If you fail to institute a public health policy only because someone might take advantage of it, you’ll never end up doing anything.

  3. #3 mike
    January 25, 2007

    It may be true that the heads of mercenary firms are ex-military, but that is beside the point. The point is that there is a serious problem when huge profit is a motivation for war.

    Well, you seemed to be implying that remote executives were as much a problem as profits. The mercenary firms are a tiny fraction of the entire defense budget. If profits are your concern then there are plenty of bigger fish than the mercenaries to worry about. Those bigger fish have been around for some time. The system of having ex-generals go to work for defense contractors after their stint in the Pentagon has been around for decades, long before Bush was in office. Nobody is going to war for the sake of little Blackwater USA. They aren’t Boeing or Lockheed Martin or Halliburton.

    Besides, I cannot think of any war in recent memory that was started on behalf of defense contractors. Nor can I think of any war that was prolonged for the sake of defense contractors. Civilian interests like oil are likely more of a factor in such matters than are defense contractors. Even there, it isn’t as clear cut as making profits for a particular company. Liberals frequently conflate general economic concerns with concerns for the profits of particular corporations. For example, any national leader in their right mind is going to have an eye towards threats to the supply of oil regardless of whether or not they have any stake in the oil business themselves. Like it or not, the availability of petroleum does have broad economic and national security implications.

    Immigration is a separate issue; it has nothing to do with health care reform.

    It has plenty to do with health care reform. The number of people using the system and the money they pay into and take out of the system, regardless of what system it is, are always concerns. In the case of a mostly Hispanic immigrant population it is a substantial concern. Hispanics, particularly Mexicans, are one of the fastest growing segments of the American population and unfortunately have very low rates of educational achievement even into the fourth generation of American life. With little income and high rates of government dependency they add little to the tax base even as they require greater government expenditures than do most citizens. Having a universal health care system with a rapidly growing segment of the population unable to contribute will simply mean large tax increases on anyone who can afford to pay more to continue to guarantee universality. Possible increases in efficiency aside, Canada could not maintain their health care system if they had a population with the same mean level of education as Mexico, even with Canada’s high rate of taxation.

    The fact is, any system that moves large amounts of money is going to have parasites.

    That doesn’t mean you ignore parasitism entirely. If there are sources of abuse then they ought to be considered and addressed appropriately. Immigration is a drain on all of over major institutions including medicine and education. It could be handled if there was any political will to do so.

    Does the fact that Enron sucked billions from the economy mean that we should not have corporations?

    Judging by the way some liberal talk, I would imagine so. More seriously, I don’t think many liberals would be too happy if we were to sit by idly, do nothing, and allow the same system of government oversight of large corporations that existed prior to Sarbanes-Oxley. Once again, problems ought to be addressed rather than ignored.

    If you fail to institute a public health policy only because someone might take advantage of it, you’ll never end up doing anything.

    If you don’t look before you leap you may make a serious problem even worse. I could probably be sold on a universal health care system but only if we were to address immigration simultaneously. I don’t think we can simply ignore demographics on an issue like this.

    (I enjoy your blog, BTW, even though I disagree with you politically. Thank you!)

  4. #4 Julie Stahlhut
    January 25, 2007

    The thing that’s always scared me about outsourcing military operations to private concerns: What if the other side pays them more?

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