Outdated Framework

Here is why moving towards nationalized healthcare AT THIS POINT is a gigantic mistake:

This is not about COVID. Forget about COVID for the moment. Every illness, especially the ones that are expensive to treat, can be traced back to some wrong choice you or your parents or your great-grandparents made some time in the past. It’s very easy to deny care to anybody if virtue, as defined by government authorities, is the price of admission.

We are now in the grip of neoliberal mentality. Things that worked a decade ago are now irrelevant. Everything has changed. The state used to make sure there were enough healthy workers for the capital to use. Providing healthcare made sense, so it was provided. Now the state makes sure there are not too many superfluous humans that hinder the free flow of capital. Providing healthcare no longer makes sense. Keeping people healthy no longer makes sense.

You can dismiss this Lehmann woman as a dumb hysteric, and she is. But that doesn’t matter. Her “structure of feeling” is neoliberal. What she says speaks to many people because theirs is, too. This is the continuation of “defund the police.” The state no longer keeps us healthy, educated, and safe because capital doesn’t need that many of us anymore. And many of us are cheering it on because we have either absorbed this mentality or are incapable of noticing that things are changing. We keep groping this elephant from different sides and trying to figure out what we are touching using an entirely outdated conceptual framework.

16 thoughts on “Outdated Framework

  1. Respectfully, I think you’re wrong, because your argument assumes that the words that these so-called “neoliberals” say mean what they say. In my experience, they don’t.

    In my experience, the way these people think is to decide that they want something, and then to justify that want using any argument available. If someone comes along who successfully overcomes the argument using logic, reason, and/or facts, they come up with a new argument even if it is totally inconsistent with the previous one, without ever thinking about changing the original thing that they want.

    If their arguments continue to be overcome with logic & reason, they begin to try the logical fallacies one after the other – especially appeals to authority, straw-man arguments, and false dichotomies – until they get to ad hominem, sometimes followed by actual attacks, “cancellations”, and even murder.

    In my opinion, this is why we see these hysterical, stupid, and shameless arguments from authorities that drive rational people crazy, with an example being that masks don’t work, then they do work, then they don’t work again, followed by having to wear two of them etc. The arguments themselves are totally illogical, inconsistent, and stupid, until you accept that the person stubbornly wants everyone to do what they want, and is energetic about trying manipulation after manipulation to get what they want.

    In my opinion and experience, these kinds of people – those who are stubborn about something that they want and who are energetic in their chasing of it – are why we have things like the Chinese Communist Party and authoritarianism rising worldwide. They want something very much and will say or do anything to get it, and so you get utterly insane things like so-called “communists” living in palaces while saying that everyone in society is equal. The constant want in all of that is that the ones in palaces want to be in charge and to live in palaces no matter what.

    I think that the logical & rational among us fall into the trap of taking the words said by these people seriously, which is why one side is constantly shouting nonsense, followed by the other side deconstructing the nonsense using logic, followed by the first group just shouting more nonsense.

    So, again respectfully, I think that you’re wrong. The elephant that everyone logical is trying to grasp isn’t what the state does or doesn’t want to do, or did etc. The real elephant in the room is that there exist a number of people in this society who are selfish and energetic in their wants who are disconnected from reality, who want to be the boss of everything and everyone. Those people are totally incompatible with the logical, rational, and non-authoritarian types in society, which in turn means that at some point in time, the two sides are going to try to kill each other.

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  2. Apparently, a lot of previously reasonable people now think that the un-vaccinated should be responsible for their own medical costs if they get COVID. Should someone who eats a steak be responsible for his heart surgery? How about someone who eats a slice of cake — should they be responsible for the cost of their diabetes? It is a very short slippery slope — but many people don’t realize it.

    What I find scary is how many people in my (academic, highly left-learning) circle believe this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is a huge difference in the frequency and effort required between consistently eating healthy meals throughout your adult life and getting vaccinated at most once a year,

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  3. “We are now in the grip of neoliberal mentality. Things that worked a decade ago are now irrelevant. Everything has changed. The state used to make sure there were enough healthy workers for the capital to use. Providing healthcare made sense, so it was provided. Now the state makes sure there are not too many superfluous humans that hinder the free flow of capital. Providing healthcare no longer makes sense. Keeping people healthy no longer makes sense.”

    Actually, capital needs population growth because it needs consumers. Getting rid of superfluous humans as you describe is a recipe for an economic disaster. No prosperous state would advocate for that.

    When do you think the state last provided healthcare here in the US? Do you know how the health insurance system ended up the way it is now? There was never any top down thinking by the state in the way you allude to. Between the state and businesses, everything was always about money, at every step.

    Before the 1920s people paid out of pocket and healthcare was cheap (and bad). Then sanitation standards, clinical care and medical education advanced, and health care became more effective but more expensive. High costs discouraged its use. Hospitals needed to encourage people to come in not only when they were horribly sick. In 1929, Baylor University created the nation’s first health insurance plan (which eventually became Blue Cross).

    During WW2, the War Labor Board imposed wage controls on businesses and prices to avoid inflation. Employers started offering fringe benefits, like health insurance, to compete for employees. In 1943, the Labor Board decided to allow them to provide health insurance tax-free (up to a limit). The Revenue Act of 1954 removed that limit. This incentivized employer-provided health insurance, and by 1960’s 70% of population was “covered by some kind of private, voluntary health insurance plan”.

    Medicare and Medicaid were introduced in 1965.

    Links:

    Accidents Of History Created U.S. Health System (NPR)
    about the Cadillac tax
    History of health care reform in the US from 1910s to 2010s: PDF from Kaiser Family Foundation

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    1. “Getting rid of superfluous humans as you describe is a recipe for an economic disaster”

      She never said they were right – just that they no longer perceive any need to educate, medically treat or protect the citizenry, they’re freeing themselves from the traditional mission of government because they have a new mission – moving capital around.

      Of course it’s hubris and of course it will end awfully but those controlling the process either don’t perceive that (or they don’t care).

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      1. My point was that the goal of business is growth. The rich with the capital of course want to preserve it and not pay taxes on it, but that’s secondary. The primary objective is always to make more money.

        So to the extent that the state has been captured by corporations, it will do what it can to encourage growth at all costs.

        Clarissa, I apologize for perhaps misreading your post and implying you weren’t talking about other countries. It seems to me, though, that the good old days when the state provided healthcare are a myth. It only makes sense to consider modern medicine, and it seems like there were a few decades at most when decent healthcare was affordable.

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  4. The way the U.S. health care system and political discussions are right now, the alternative direction that is being offered is a neoliberal privatization. Whether you get care or not would depend on whether the insurance company rules you have been a virtuous enough consumer — buying the correct coverage, never having a lapse in coverage, and avoiding getting ill from a preexisting condition.

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    1. Yep. Either way, things get more expensive and less comfortable for everybody except the very rich. Welcome to the destruction of the nation-state. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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      1. When you consider the destruction of the nation-state and its inability to keep its citizens healthy and happy, you have to consider the fact that populations in rich countries have more chronic diseases and are much more expensive to care for. We eat worse, we’re more sedentary and exercise less, we’re more stressed out, depressed, and lonely. We’re the victims of our own success – no business makes money from the general population exercising restraint. Technology and media companies don’t profit from us going for a walk instead of using a screen.

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  5. To be fair, my reading of this Claire’s tweet is that she suggests shaming those who do not vaccinate, not denying them medical care. Such kind of attitude is not particularly new, it sounds in line with more or less traditional US libertarianism. The only thing that is new is that this traditional libertarianism has infected people who still call themselves Left for some strange reason…

    I personally would like COVID-related stuff to be treated by analogy with driving. Both involve endangering both oneself and others, but with relatively small probability of serious injury or death. Most people are still allowed to drive. And people who drive recklessly are not denied medical care. (By the way, when I lived in the US my health insurance explicitly excluded injuries resulting from participation in extreme sports. So technically, things like that are not completely without precedent.)

    In this scheme, minor infractions against the rules (not wearing the seat belt / mask, speeding, driving the car that is in dangerous condition, not stopping at the stop sign / failure to follow distancing regulations) should result in small fines and demerit points. Accumulation of the demerit points should result in higher car/health insurance premiums, and, in the extreme cases – suspension of driving privileges / privileges of attending public spaces (?). And then the person will have to hire a lawyer, who would argue that suspension of one’s privileges interferes with one’s ability to make a living or drive kids to school or something, and therefore is too disproportional a punishment…
    .
    Walking around in public places, especially indoors, with symptoms should be treated as reckless driving.
    And if it can be proven, by contact tracing, that someone’s illness or death resulted from somebody’s negligence, the person in question should be deemed criminally liable (by analogy with the vehicular manslaughter) and also could be sued for damages via civil process. That’s how car insurance works, most of the premiums go towards damages to other people and their property. Very few people complain that existence of driving regulations is an infringement on their God-given personal liberties, or that the existence of the demerit points affecting one’s insurance premiums is a sinister collusion between the government and the insurance business… Maybe it is, but my point is that nobody is complaining. Somehow people agreed that this is a reasonable balance of private and public interests.

    By the way, the above is only half sarcastic…

    And please do not start with “but it has been proven that measures X Y and Z do not work”. If your definition of “working” is “being 100% effective”, I am the first to admit that “nothing works”. But by that metric the seatbelts or traffic lights “do not work” either. Thus, this is the wrong way to look at things. Various measures reduce one’s chances to be infected or to get seriously ill, or to spread infection, and the effectiveness of several measures combined is determined by multiplication. So if masks are 10% effective, social distancing is 20% effective, the vaccine is 50% effective, and so on, one should multiply (1-0.1) x (1-0.2) x (1-0.5) x … =(1-combined effectiveness of several measures).

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    1. “she suggests shaming those who do not vaccinate, not denying them medical care”

      You think there will still be a difference? For the very rich, no…. for everyone else…..

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    2. With all due respect, what you describe regarding treating COVID-related stuff like driving sounds a little crazy. The fact that this is even debated is crazy. What kind of place do we want to live in – a communist China? North Korea? I am not even going to rebut what you wrote point by point, because engaging in these types of debates leads nowhere. It would serve us all well to finally understand that while humans cannot really control the viruses and various illnesses, the viruses/illnesses can be a good tool to control the humans.

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    3. @ valter07: “To be fair, my reading of this Claire’s tweet is that she suggests shaming those who do not vaccinate, not denying them medical care. Such kind of attitude is not particularly new, it sounds in line with more or less traditional US libertarianism.”

      In my opinion it is much worse than that. The woman brands people as being “vaccine hesitant”, which is only possible if various delusions are accepted as being fact, with examples being that experimental immunotherapy is accepted as being a vaccine (it isn’t) and that people who don’t want to be used as test subjects in an experiment are “vaccine hesitant” (they aren’t) etc.

      At the same time, the woman is speaking in public in an extremely divisive and inciting way about a target group, being the so-called “vaccine hesitant” to everybody who isn’t in that group, while in the same breath proposing that something be done to that group specifically – which, admittedly isn’t very severe at the moment because she is only talking about “messaging” to them.

      Lastly and most concerningly, the woman convicts those people as being a “massive fucking burden” against facts, logic & reason, which, when taken as a whole with the aforementioned branding, delusions etc suggests that those people are being substituted with COVID itself to be dealt with.

      If you ask me, the whole thing isn’t very dissimilar to what was done by Nazis to Jewish people about 80 years ago. They too were branded, wrongly accused, publicly convicted, divided away from the remainder of society and then treated as if they were a problem to be solved.

      Anyone familiar with what happened in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s knows just how quickly talk of “messaging” people can proceed to getting rid of those who don’t agree even in modern times, and so I think that people like the woman tweeting shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed as harmless.

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