Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Discussion Interrupted

Pretty Lady must apologize to dear jSin for abruptly dropping their fascinating, if interminable, discussion on the sticky issue of Health Care, insured or otherwise. As she has mentioned, she was drinking a few too many margaritas. But rest assured, she has not forgotten the question:
what causes one to draw the boundaries they do... people should have health insurance... ok... should we give American health care to people in Africa? If not, why? Because it isn't practical? Reason has to enter into the arena somewhere.
So funny that you should mention Reason and Practicality when it comes to taking care of people. Pretty Lady has often noticed that we care for people we value, not so much for those we do not so much value. Which seems a bit of a tautology, but it is nevertheless the basis for her proposed system of healthcare. Her private view is that any true, free society will necessarily value each of its citizens sufficiently to take elemental care of them, these citizens being the selfsame elements which compose the society. A wealthy society which nevertheless refuses to care for its members is a priori subject to some sort of manipulation, corruption and imbalance somewhere.

Coincidentally, she came across this in the Brooklyn Rail this morning:
As it turns out, not only has the administration doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to cronies running corporate military outfits, but it also picks up their insurance premiums for operations in Iraq. According to Stiglitz and Bilmes:

“It is difficult to estimate how much the government spends on insurance premiums, because no agency regulates the premiums, and no one tracks the overall costs. Insurance premiums are estimated to cost between 10-21 percent of salaries. That would mean that the U.S. government would pay $10,000 to $21,000 in insurance for a private security guard earning $100,000 annually…But even assuming we paid only 15 percent of a weekly wage of $1,000 for 100,000 contractors this adds another $780 million to the government’s annual costs.”

And this acutely conservative estimate covers just the premiums. As Stiglitz and Bilmes point out, “if the contractors are killed or injured in an ‘act of war’ (whether or not the injury occurred during work hours), the U.S. taxpayer is also responsible for paying disability, medical and death benefits.” The companies themselves, of course, pay nothing. Compared with the government’s shameful subsidization of prosperous private military groups, the paltry sums set aside to cover health care costs for disabled vets are cast in painfully high relief. These disgraces are further compounded by the fact that a number of contractors currently employed in Iraq earned their chops as Chilean “disappearers” under Pinochet. Apparently, the government deems war criminals more suitable for insurance protections and post-war health care than members of its own armed forces.
Really, it strikes Pretty Lady as eminently practical to insure that heavily armed, experienced and conscienceless individuals in one's employ receive the best possible care money can buy, particularly if the money isn't even yours to begin with. So the question then becomes--where does the use of Pure Reason come in, anyway, when it comes to building a world that any of us want to live in?


CAP said...

Fascists call it communism, when reminded of democratic ideals now an inconvenience to their cause, communists call it fascism when reminded of similar failings.

What is a democracy? It's what you call a government you prosper under.

Ideals of health or education are only applied with utilitarian calculation - where they benefit the powers that be.

Power corrupts, is a danger to your health.

Anonymous said...

I was obviously late in coming to this point...

This is a problem with the libertarian argument over privatized military... they conveniently like to forget that there are 100k profiteers fighting the war they believe only the evil government would wage... hilarious... I debated one of those clowns and posted it on my blog...

I will move the rest of my comments to the next chain of this discussion above as this is low down the page...

The Aardvark said...

As to "African health care" in a broad sense, we do already. Perhaps foolishly, not because it is not right and good to help those in need, but because the largesse garnered from the American taxpayer winds up in the larders of despots and other wicked hoarders. (Anyone follow the Burmese aid problems recently?)

Get government out of the equation, go with private charitable groups, or smaller group-to-group works. Less waste, more actual help.