Friday, October 04, 2013

"Flexibility" Is for Putin; Not for Members of the Republican Party

Yesterday's debate (Note to Americans Who Believe Europeans' Health Care System Is the Way to Go) continues…

I'm looking at the government shutdown regarding health care from a different perspective…

Notably from a European perspective, where (believe me) a LOT of people would like it if hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats were sent home! (I read somewhere, "if they are "non-essential", why were they hired in the first place?" That certainly applies here in France, where the dream of most young people, according to one poll after another — you would hope it was to go out and start a business useful to one's fellow citizens — is to land a civil servant job with the administration — one that is safe and one where one doesn't have too much to do…)

 Certainly I do not view us as enemy debaters on two opposing sides of one single issue…

Notice however, that my very first comment on this thread did address your main point (by quoting a Professor of Law at George Mason University School of Law):
It is … worth noting that the Republicans are not the only side in this dispute who are willing to shut down the government if they don’t get what they want on health care policy.
President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate could just as easily avoid a shutdown by accepting the House bill.
Later, I quoted the Washington Post, which said that shutdowns were commoner than thought, and even occurred when the three "parts" of government were in the hands of the same party (shutdown #4)…

As for "stable and reliable management", wasn't the revolutionaries' message of 1776 to their overlords, "we can do very well without management, thank you very much"? (And that they went on to prove that they could…)

There's an organization here in Paris, where the basic message is "Nous ne sommes pas des vaches à lait". That means "we are not milch cows" and it is a message to politicians, local and national, to "cease throwing money out the window".

And that, to me, is the main message of the Tea Party, of all Tea Partiers, left'n'right.

Now, if Tea Partiers have a bad reputation, it is for one of two reasons:
Either 1) they deserve the bad reputation,
or 2) the bad reputation is somewhat artificial and designed, serving the purpose of those who do not like their message of self-sufficiency, notably knight-on-white-horse-come-to-save-us politicians (and newspapermen!) who relish their (self-attributed) role of heroes in shining armor coming to the rescue of one group of poor innocent victims after another.

I am inclined to suspect that more often than not, the second reason prevails…

You mention death panels. True, that was/that is a (very) dramatic war of putting it, but there happens to be truth in the expression, although it is not active, but passive denial of care…

If a bureaucrat has two people who need an artificial knee or a back operation, and one of them is, say, a young 35-year-old athlete while the other is an old woman over 75, they are not unlikely to deny that care to the second person because he or she "is too old", who might even have trouble surviving, or surely benefiting from the operation for a great many years, and because the younger person is more in need of it.

That makes sense, somewhere, doesn't it? If you are a bureaucrat with an overview, and you see an operation required by a young healthy person and one close(r) to death, it makes more sense, and it is more humane, to choose the younger one.

The magic word, however, is "if"!

IF you have an overview! Maybe the solution is to take away the bureaucrat(s) and the bureaucracy. If no one has an overview, if an army of bureaucrats is not involved, both the younger man (in Denmark, say, or in Iowa) will make a decision with his doctor(s), while the 75-year-old woman (in France, maybe, or in Texas) would make her decision with her doctor(s), along with with her family and children.

And to the Americans protesting that this is not taking into consideration the poor, you need to remember that those despicable American capitalists are world leaders in charity and donations (also internationally, think of the Marshall Plan) — by contrast, here in Europe people will say, let the government take care of whatever the problem is.

Maybe you think this is only theoretical and you can continue to mock the term death panel. I don't know whether Forbes is also totally untrustworthy, but here comes a recent article that lends some truth to the term:
Why The Federal Government Wants To Redefine The Word 'Cancer'
The federal government wants to reduce the number of Americans diagnosed each year with cancer. But not by better preventive care or healthier living. Instead, the government wants to redefine the term “cancer” so that fewer conditions qualify as a true cancer." 
 This is how government works! Now the bureaucracy has so many fewer people to take care of!

A French comedy took this on several years ago. In Les Ripoux (The Rotten Cops), a young trainee arrests a pickpocket (minute 25:05). His older partner typing the thief's testimony instead makes up a report that the thief was an honorable citizen who found the handbag in the street and brought it to the station. (And if the handbag's owner doesn't come to reclaim it, after a year and one day the thief can call it his own!) The younger cop is outraged. The older one says, this is doing more good than arresting him. Because local politicians want crime statistics to look good (they're already 11% higher than last year's), they've stopped counting pickpockets and other lesser criminals into the statistics — until next year. As the film progresses, Thierry Lhermitte becomes as manipulable as Philippe Noiret…

And this is the type of thing America wants in its health care system, to come between you and your doctor (who has changed from being "your" doctor to being "the community's" doctor)?! This is what you want to pay for at ever mounting prices?

Here's a proposition: your "broken" health system may be far better than you think, certainly than the Europeans ones that you laud so much (and that Europeans laud endlessly — and selv-servingly)…

As for the 1850s, you are correct, of course, to say that the Republicans were honorable as well as nation-oriented.

However… that is not how they were treated!

Look at how Republicans, or Tea Partiers, are treated today — as the ridiculous, despicable, mindless human beings whose condemnation is without the shadow of a doubt warranted; you might even go as far as calling people such as them reptiles (in fact, that is how James Carville described the Republicans in 2010). They are so despicable that Obama is willing to talk to people such as Medvedev (I will have "more flexibility" after the election), and Putin, and Iran's leaders, Venezuela's caudillo, easily, but to the Republicans he — and for this he is praised — will not give an inch. They are too despicable for him — for America — for the world. (No "flexibility" for people such as them!)

Well, guess what: that is exactly how Republicans were treated in the 1850s…

It went so far that one prominent frontier lawyer had this to say in 1860, as he told supporters how he would speak to the party's adversaries, in the Democrat Party as well as in the South, assuming they were willing to listen:
…when you speak of us Republicans, you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing like it to [Republicans]. In all your contentions with one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of [Republicanism] as the first thing to be attended to.
Abraham Lincoln — for it was he — added:
Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite — license, so to speak — among you to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to yourselves?
Sure, you're right: many things are different from the 1850s/1860s.
But maybe we shouldn't be too quick to deny the similarities…

(Indeed, Republicans were then condemned, by Democrats North as well as South, forllll everything from hare-brained schemes to lack of respect for the status quo, through disregarding the unity of the nation (or the Union), mixing into the affairs of others, dissing the Constitution, and recklessly opposing duly-voted laws that should be regarded as the law of the land…)