Friday, January 29, 2010

Health care propaganda

I stumbled on this essay criticizing the health care bill:
[House Bill 3200: The Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009] provide[s] for rationing of health care, particularly where senior citizens and other classes of citizens are involved, free health care for illegal immigrants, free abortion services, and probably forced participation in abortions by members of the medical profession. ...

[T]his legislation really has no intention of providing affordable health care choices. Instead it is a convenient cover for the most massive transfer of power to the Executive Branch of government that has ever occurred, or even been contemplated.

[The bill provides for] a direct violation of the specific provisions of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution protecting against unreasonable searches and seizures. You can also forget about the right to privacy. That will have been legislated into oblivion regardless of what the 3rd and 4th Amendments may provide. [This criticism is especially ironic given that conservatives have been typically hostile to reading a right to privacy in the Constitution, and their support for drug-law enforcement has made a mockery of the direct purpose of the Fourth Amendment. And I cannot at all see what relevance the Third Amendment might have to this discussion.]
Consider as well this editorial in the Wall Street Journal, which argues against the constitutionality of the bill.

These articles substantiate my rebuttal to Dagood's allegation of mindless or irrational oppositionalism in politics. These articles show that pundits are trying to convince their popular support that the health care bill is intrinsically bad; they do not appear to be trying to convince their popular support that the bill is bad just because it's a Democratic initiative.

Dagood asserts that
All [the popular supporters] know is their leadership, in the form of media personalities, is whipping them into a frenzy of how the Democrats want to do... something. How the President proposes... something. Because the Democrats and the President is a "them"—they must oppose it! Not for what it is; not for a certain ideology. But because the other side wants it.
But that's not all they know, or at least not all they believe. Assuming the "media personalities" are as effective as Dagood asserts, we would expect the popular supporters to believe not just that the Health Care bill is a Democratic bill, but also that the bill itself will shred the Constitution, establish a tyrannical, undemocratic regime, and fail to actually improve health-care.

Now it's of course these allegations are ridiculously false, but that's not the point. The point is that our political problems are different from the specific problem of irrational oppositionalism, at least at the popular level.

Update: Maggie Mahar posts Who Voted for Brown in Massachusetts — and Why? explores correlations between attitudes on health care and voting patterns in the recent Senatorial special election in Massachusets. She concludes that
Why do so few Americans know what is actually in the legislation? A blizzard of misinformation has created much confusion. In newspapers and on television, you regularly hear that ordinary Americans will be forced to buy insurance they cannot afford (no mention of subsidies or caps on out-of-pocket payments which should virtually eliminate medical bankruptcies.) You read that small businesses won’t be able to afford a mandate (no mention of tax credits.)

Americans have been told that the Democrats are making no effort to rein in spending (no mention of the pages and pages of proposals that would cut Medicare costs, paving the way for lower health care bills throughout the system.) They are warned that Medicare beneficiaries will be hurt (no explanation that Medicare cuts are targeting unnecessary care that puts patients at risk without benefits; no mention that the bill will help close the donut hole that now forces Medicare patients to pay for their drugs out-of-pocket.)

We have been told that insurers will continue business as usual (no mention of the provision that prevents them from putting a lifetime cap on benefits, or the plank in the legislation which says that insurers must spend a certain percentage of the premiums they receive on healthcare. If they don’t spend it, they are required to give their customers a partial refund.)
Ignorance and disinformation are substantively different from oppositionalism.


  1. Speaking of abortion in that first quote...

    I happened to be at a Catholic church a couple weeks back, and the priest (at the request of the bishops, I believe) encouraged the congregation to call its congresspeople and tell them that they should vote against the health care bill. The reason, to my surprise, was this: the bill contains no mention of abortion.

    The subsequent reasoning was that since the bill has nothing in it about abortion, it will lead to abortion being provided by government health care, and Catholic doctors will be forced to perform them. The standard line. But apparently any bill that doesn't specifically rule out any possibility of abortions being covered is unacceptable to the Catholic church.

  2. AFAIK (according to my wife, who is following the details more closely than I am) at least one version of the bill actually does prohibit even private insurers from covering abortion.

  3. Yes, that was mentioned, as well. One of the bills had such a prohibition, but the compromise bill didn't, and was thus unacceptable.

  4. It seems more and more clear there is an underlying agenda here, or, more precisely, any number of underlying agendas.


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