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Making Sense of Nonsense

Have you ever wondered why Big Business hasn’t thrown its staggering clout behind health care reform before now? I have, because it seems to me that it would be a huge relief to get out of the insurance biz and simply compensate employees competitively. With actual money, rather than with a commodity whose costs are always rising. Alas, what seemed like a no-brainer to me never happened. Matt Miller on The Daily Beast explains why.

Corporate America’s reflexive anti-government ideology now stands in the way of its self-interest. This reflex is hardly new, but to the extent it now stops America from adapting successfully to the global economy, this mind-set has become an economic threat in itself. Business originally resisted many government actions that have become widely supported fixtures of American life: child labor laws, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Social Security, the Marshall Plan, national parks, federal aid to education, Medicare. The list is endless, and embarrassing.

‘Often it fought them with such gruesome predictions of awful consequences to our private enterprise system,’ wrote Theodore Levitt of the Harvard Business School in 1968, ‘that one wonders how the foretellers of such doom can now face themselves in the mirror each morning and still believe themselves competent to make important decisions on major matters in their own companies.'”

Check that date again, it was more than 40 years ago that the country’s premier b-school questioned the competence of the nation’s CEOs. I’d say the current economy suggests those questions are still valid. I can only pray that if Big B won’t lobby for what is so clearly in its own interest, it will at least back that thing up while we take a shot at real reform.

For now, only one capitalist redoubt seems to realize that we’re living in a new world: the Committee for Economic Development, the business-led think tank. Its most recent health-care report doesn’t mince words: ‘The nation needs a new system to replace employer-provided health insurance.’

The CED would offer people access to private group coverage via regional insurance exchanges and would subsidize lower-income folks who need help. Over time, it would like government to pay for a basic plan for everyone and fund it via a consumption or value-added tax. The system would include new incentives for health-delivery systems to compete on value. Says the CED’s president, Charles Kolb: ‘Business needs to wake up and rethink this if we’re going to compete in a global economy and do right by ordinary Americans.'”

Pearls before swine, I’m afraid. Another business leader dismissed the CED’s conclusions because members are primarily retired, rather than active CEOs. Hunh? Did they get their chips removed at their retirement parties? Why would a pro-business organization recommend something that wouldn’t benefit its benefactors? That don’t make no sense, but dismissing what’s right is easier than changing an entrenched mind-set, even if that mind-set is reactionary and self-defeating. It’s also how we ended up with the costliest, though far from the best, health care system in the world.

4 Comments


  1. Making Sense of Nonsense

    June 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    […] Original post: Making Sense of Nonsense […]

  2. YoungandProudGOP

    June 18, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Has anyone been to another country where healthcare has been removed from the private sector? People say how great Canadians must have it because they have free health care, free health care, thats almost too good to be true. Oh thats because it is, Canadians pay almost double the income tax Americans do in order to fund programs like national healthcare. I am all for people have health insurance just like any other average American when you ask them, but how about follow up that question with “may I have 100 dollars from you then to contribute to the new healthcare system?” and just see how that goes over. I lived in England for a brief period for my dad’s job and when we got there we were told which doctor to visit for everyday aches and pains, we couldn’t even choose our own doctor. The waiting line for this place was terrible and their medical instruments were far from new. My dad’s company informed us that if anything truly serious was wrong with one of us health-wise, then we should do what they do, and that is fly to America for treatment. It starts out as a small group of people receiving benefits, but once you have that program in place its a slippery slope. More than like caps would be placed on health care procedures and specialists such as neurosurgeons and cardiologists and the like would slowly go away because there would be little incentive to become a specialist if just as much money could be made as a pediatrician. Competition drives this economy and the reason we have cutting edge medical procedures and medical instruments and equipment, is because of this competition. Keep health coverage in the private market, if not for the sake of competition, but at least for the sake of future medical breakthroughs.

  3. Ronnie Bray

    October 4, 2009 at 12:52 am

    TO: YOUNG AND PROUD:
    FROM: OLD, WISE, and EXPERIENCED

    If what you say is true, then all I can say is that you were not covered by the UK NHS. It sounds as if your pappa’s work had a private insurance scheme that dictated your GP, because no one in the British National Health Service gets to tell anyone who they can and who they cannot see, unlike the mean m,achinery of HMO’s that deny patients treatments at the rate of 20%.

    That does not because it cannot happen in the UK NHS, besides which, in contradiction to your false information, NHS patients are absolutely free to choose their GP’s [General Practitioner = Primary Physician].

    They opt for a GP usually close to their residence, and if the GOP will accept them, they are immediately covered whether they are rich, middle class, or poverty stricken, and e ach urban borough has a designated GP for itinerants..

    Your anti-socialised medicine spiel is typical of those that are selfish and wat to prevent the poor and needy from having access to healthcare. If the US is the wonderful place you think it is, then how is it that around 50 million Americans are denied all medical coverage except in the last place a sick person wants to got to – the Interminable ER waiting room.

    I have lived under and with the UK NHS since its inception in 1948 and I can testify of its amazing benefits. Workers pay a monthly premium from their wages and that funds the NHS.

    ALL MEDICAL ATTENTION AND SURGICAL PROCEDURES, DIAGNOSTIC TESTS ETC ARE FREE AT POS.

    Waiting lists were very long under the Torys [Conservatives that hate the NHS], but New Labour [Socialists, neither Marxist, Leninist, or any kind of Communists] increased NHS funding and took on more nurses, doctors, & techies, and cut waiting times from years to days, weeks at most.

    The conservative opposition has a published policy of drastically slashing the NHS funding that, should they come to power after the Geneal Election,will put the NHS back to where it was 12 years ago after 18 years of Tory misrule, and make such a muck of it that more people will die waiting for essential procedures as a result of Tory “Compassionate but Hyu[pocritical Conservatism.”

    My wife, a US Citizen, had immediate access to the full range of healthcare the moment she stepped from the aeroplane in England.

    One a person reaches 60, all prescriptions are filled FREE, so no elderly ailing folk have to choose between a good mean and a bottle of life-saving pills. Not so in the US.

    Medical unstruments are state of the art, and the finest diagnostic machines in the world are made and employed in the UK.

    Also, when a person retires from work, there are no deductiopns from their pension as in the US where our pensions go dowqn because Medicare costs rise every year and in excess of the cost of living.

    Greed and selfishness are not Christian virtues, yet they drive the campaign against Public Option healthcare for all Americans in need.

    The truth about the great UK NHS needs telling and not by those that beliece the fairy stories of those that experienced it for ” for a brief period.” I have experienced it for 61 years from the inside and the outside as an NHS employed Mental Health Professional.

    The bogeyman stories flying around the US political scandal are almost without exception lies, such as the satanic ‘Palin Death Squad Libel.’

    Despite all the trumpets sounding about the ‘greatest country in the world with the best healthcare system in the world,” that is a nonsense.

    The US leads the world in iatrogenic illnesses, medical and surgical errors, and the unecessary deaths of thousands of patyents each year undergoing treatments by the ‘best healthcare in the world.’

    America must wake up before it follows the trends in China and Israel of admitting poor people to hospitals with no other purpose than to harvest organs and sell them in the international market place to the highest bidder.

    Remember, you do not have to believe it for it to be true.

  4. Ronnie Bray

    October 4, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Sorry for the typos. My brain is quicker than my fingers.

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