Mike the Mad Biologist

…and the Mad Biologist attempts to give a serious answer. In response to this post about adopting a French-like healthcare system, a reader writes:

I know this may sound contradictory to many of you, but I am a staunch Republican who has always believed in the need for universal health care in our country. I am so glad that Michael Moore and all of the Democratic candidates for President in 2008 are raising the level of discussion once more about this need.

I would very much like to join a group of fellow Republicans who support the need for univeral[sic] health care, however, I have been unable to locate any such group through internet searches. If one doesn’t exist, then I would be happy to help create one! Please let me know if anyone reading this posting knows of such a group, or would like to create one.

I don’t know of any Republican groups that support universal healthcare; in fact, Republicans as a whole aren’t discussing healthcare at all, except in the sense that they hope the issue goes away. It just doesn’t seem to be an issue for Republican voters.

That brings me to a more general point. A while ago, I noted that it might be impossible to conduct a common political discourse; instead, narratives are how most people organize their political thoughts. What this commenter hit upon is that the two parties* have completely different sets of narratives: they’re not even addressing the same topics.

Think about immigration. To use crude stereotypes, the Republicans view the issue as one of preserving culture**, while Democrats view it as a labor issue (regardless of their own policy positions). Superficially, the issue is the same, immigration, but in reality, these are two completely differently topics. I’m not sure how one bridges these narrative gaps, or if one even can bridge these gaps.

In an uncharacteristic bout of optimism, I’m not sure we even want to do so: we can’t begin to solve problems until we agree (or most of us anyway) what the problems are.

*I’m using party as a crude proxy for ideology ‘cuz I’m tired and it’s my blog, not a policy paper.

**When it’s not just outright racism.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike C.
    July 6, 2007

    Sure, we have ideas. You just don’t seem interested in them. Again, you fail to explain how you are going to cover all Americans currently not on government health care for a meager 2.2-2.8% of the GDP.

    Aside from that, however, most of my ideas are simple, elegant, and doomed to die an agonising death in committee–like bringing back open wards, slashing the salaries of doctors and nurses, or denying expensive treatments to the elderly, disabled, and other severely ill people. If Matt has better ones for trimming down that 7.7% to a level where we might feasibly cover 200 million other people with what remains from France’s spending, I am very interested to hear it.

    Liberals are more interested in sloganeering than serious solutions.

  2. #2 Dan R.
    July 6, 2007

    None of the Republican ideas I’ve seen do anything to cover those with pre-existing conditions or those who are stuck in a healthcare no man’s land ($800 / month premium with $1600/month income).

  3. #3 QrazyQat
    July 6, 2007

    Mike C. says we can’t do what Canada can, what the UK can, what France can, what Germany can, what Sweden can. He says we Americans just don’t have the brains or the drive or whatever, that we’re just inadequate compared to everybody else. I reject that idea. I think America can do, can be, can do what everybody else manages to do, at least as well as they can. Mike C. and his defeatist rightwing compatriots say America is some kind of failure and is incapable of being anything but a failure — I reject that.

  4. #4 tommy
    July 6, 2007

    Mike C. says we can’t do what Canada can, what the UK can, what France can, what Germany can, what Sweden can.

    Maybe we can, and I’m open to all ideas including government involvement Still, we aren’t anywhere near doing it economically with our current programs. 7.7% of our GDP is going to government-sponsored health care covering only a small percentage of our population as it stands. Michael Moore may prefer to ignore that fact, but we shouldn’t.

  5. #5 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    July 6, 2007

    1st – the decision must be made to find a solution. I heard one conservative state that he was against universal heatlthcare because it takes away incentives to get good jobs and get health insurance.

    2nd – we need the support of major industries to come up with a solution. The crasy way that we pay for health care now creates a system in which cars cost $1500 less per car to build in Japan because of health care costs for autoworkers than it does in the U.S. so we are at a competitive disadvantage.

    3. Small business are frozen out because they don’t have a large enough pool to offset the cost of one or two employees having health catastrophes and their premiums jump to the point at which the employer sometimes has to choose between health care and no health care or laying off employees. Most have to pass on a large share of the cost to their employees. Happened to a small employer I had.

    4. COBRA – expensive and only lasts 18 months.

    Until conservatives agree that their is a problem, we won’t get very far in fixing it.

  6. #6 QrazyQat
    July 7, 2007

    Still, we aren’t anywhere near doing it economically with our current programs.

    Here’s a radical idea then — let’s not use our current programs and hope they will do something they aren’t designed to do and therefore cannot do. Let’s use some other programs, some not unlike those of Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and Sweden (to name a few places we can cadge ideas from). They all manage to insure everyone using about half the money per capita we spend, so why can’t we do it? Sure, we can’t use our current programs, duh. That’s really one of the dumbest excuses I’ve ever heard — sorry, but it is — it’s like Pres. Kennedy saying “let’s go to the moon” and NASA replying “But we can’t do it with our current rockets” and Kennedy says, “well, okay then, let’s not do it cause it just can’t be done”.

    Bottom line: we spend twice as much as they all do, per capita, and that means there are programs out there that can do the job for half the price, with good results and covering everyone. Heck, don’t go for spending half, like they do, make it 3/4s of what we spend. Some (like Mike C.) say Americans are incapable of doing what everybody else can. I think Americans are capable of doing at least as well as everybody else. I don’t agree with Mike C.’s implied position that Americans are a bunch of dumbass losers who can’t do anything right even if they have clear examples to follow. I think we can do it right.

  7. #7 Joshua
    July 7, 2007

    I’ve got an idea on how we can fund health care for all Americans.

    Get the fuck out of Iraq.

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