Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dishonest Discourse

Keith Olbermann spent the first 15 minutes of his show last night discussing “health care reform” with various guests but, oddly, health care itself or the reforming thereof was never mentioned once. Health insurance and health insurance reform was discussed the entire time, but the term “health insurance reform” was never once used.

Suppose that we embarked on a program of “auto insurance reform” and proposed to accomplish it by lowering the price of cars. What does the price of cars have to do with car insurance, you ask? Well, about as much as the price of health insurance does with the cost of health care. And yet we propose changing health insurance and call it “health care reform.”

Suppose that our reform of auto insurance by means of lowering the price
of cars consisted only of demonizing auto manufacturers, calling them “criminals,” referring to them as the “auto making cartel,” and simply demanding that they sell their cars at a lower price by "keeping them honest" and "holding them accountable" in some fashion? We would have no plan that steel cost less, or glass, plastic, aluminum… All of the ingredients that go into making a car could cost as much as the seller can get for them. The labor cost is not a concern, workers need to make a living, after all, so let workers make as much as possible.

So, how can the car makers sell cars at lower price if none of their costs have gone down? Well because shut up, that’s how. We want lower priced auto insurance, and lower priced cars is the method we have chosen to get that, so do not inject a bunch of silly logic and facts into the “auto insurance reform by making cars cheaper” discussion.

That’s how stupid the current discussion is; talking about changing health insurance and calling it “health care reform.” But stupidity is not what's at work here; the discussion is deeply dishonest and very purposefully so.

Obama wants to extend insurance to people who do not have access to it, but if the politicians and corporate controlled media called it “insurance reform” it would be deeply unpopular because 85% of Americans already have insurance that they like and don’t want it changed. A storm of protest against it would erupt, so they call it “health care reform” instead, and add insurance prices to the equation to make it popular, calling them "health care costs" for broad appeal, even though the only "costs" under discussion are the prices of health insurance.

They muddy the waters, of course, by throwing into the discussion the "cost" to the government of subsiding insurance for those who cannot pay for it themselves, and the effect on the federal deficit, but those numbers have nothing whatever to do with "health care costs" per se.

Real “health care cost reform” cannot be on the table because the high costs of health care comes from generous political contributors; hospital corporations, drug companies, doctors and medical associations, lawyers and legal associations, advertising corporations, and the media that carry those ads. Rocking that boat means disrupting the stream of political contributions.

So “insurance reform” which politicians want and the public does not, is pursued under the name of “health care reform” which the public wants and politicians do not. The public thinks it is getting one thing while politicians work very hard to be sure the public is getting something different but is still supportive of the legislation. And it works because the adage is true that if you tell a lie often enough long enough it becomes accepted as truth.

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