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  • Healthcare: Mackey, Obama, and Reid

    Posted by David Foster on August 16th, 2009 (All posts by )

    I’ve had a hard time taking John Mackey (Whole Foods co-founder & CEO) very seriously ever since he was caught engaging in sock-puppetry of a particularly silly sort. But his thoughts on healthcare, as expressed in this article, are well-thought-out and concisely written. Read the whole thing, but Mackey’s ideas include:

    –Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines.
    –Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits.
    –Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
    –Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost.

    Meanwhile, our President continues to push his own complex and radical plan through the use of high-pressure sales tactics and exaggerations. Here’s Obama talking about tonsils:

    “You come in and you’ve got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats,” President Obama explained at Wednesday’s press conference. “The doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, ‘You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out.”

    Obama then went on to make similar comments about the treatment of diabetes.

    Of course, people respond to incentives–physicians as much as anyone else–although not usually in as greedy and irresponsible a manner as Obama seems to be suggesting. The President would have been entirely within the bounds of reasonable discussion had he said something like “we need to be sure that the incentives for preventive care are strong enough to ensure that conditions are taken care of before it becomes too late.” It was not necessary to engage in the kind of insulting demagogy displayed in the “tonsils” comment.

    Obama and his supporters also fail to understand that government officials are driven by incentives as much as physicians or insurance-company officers…see for example the notorious case in the U.K. in which patients were being left in ambulances rather than being brought into the hospital because somebody’s measurement was based on a waiting-time clock that started only after the patient had been brought into the hospital.

    But Obama/Pelosi/Reid seem much more interested in the demonization of individuals and groups than they do in the sober and responsible analysis and improvement of processes. Here’s Harry Reid:

    “The public option is something that the vast majority of Americans want. They know that the enemy is the insurance industry”

    The enemy is the insurance industry. The Obama faction is strongly opposed to the use of words like “enemy” in referring to the terrorists and outlaw states that threaten American security (indeed, they don’t even like to use the term “terrorism,” preferring the cumbersome and ambiguous phrase “man-caused disasters.”) But when referring to American individuals and corporations which differ with their views on domestic policy, they are very willing to denounce in strong and insulting language.

    The wise blogger Neptunus Lex observed that:

    The innate character flaw of the political right, with its thrumming appeals to the logic of blood and soil, is its lamentable tendency to go in search of enemies abroad. The left, on the other hand, with its own appeals to the politics of envy and class warfare, is content to find mortal enemies closer to hand.

    Obama/Pelosi/Reid provide a clear demonstration of the second part of this statement, and “mortal enemies” is not too strong a term to describe their attitude toward those Americans who opinions and/or interests differ from their own.

    The Assistant Village Idiot has observed that Republican candidates tend to say “I will work for you,” whereas Democratic candidates tend to say “I will fight for you.” Indeed, today’s Democrats tend to have a zero-sum view of society–to have very little interest in the hard work of thinking about making improvements that will benefit Americans as a group, and much more interest in instigating a neo-Hobbesian war of group against group…a war in which they can then gain power by acting a choosers of the victors and choosers of the slain.

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    8 Responses to “Healthcare: Mackey, Obama, and Reid”

    1. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

      The Political Dictionary

      Liberal Economics: Money falls from heaven for everyone to use. But, the immoral and sneaky rich gather more than their share. The government should then step in and redistribute the money the way God intended. Sorry, I mean the way Gaia, or the Tooth Fairy, or whoever intended.

    2. david foster Says:

      Since Mackey’s article came out, a lot of people of the “progressive” persuasion are apparently furious and vowing to never, ever shop at Whole Foods again.

      What they are probably most angry about is the headline (which was chosen by a WSJ headline writer, not by Mr Mackey) which says:

      “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare”

      You can certainly see why this could be considered as Lèse majesté, or maybe even blasphemy.

      Anyhow, I may stop by Whole Foods this evening to pick up some steaks. It should be a lot more pleasant without sharp-elbowed “progressives” clogging up the aisles and filling up the parking lot with their huge SUVs, most of them bearing self-congratulatory bumper stickers.

    3. Andrew_M_Garland Says:

      For a bumber sticker, how about “I’d rather die from pesticides than support free-market healthcare”.

      Unfortunately for Whole Foods, pesticides aren’t much of a problem when compared to the plants themselves.

      Plants make natural pesticides

    4. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “The innate character flaw of the political right, with its thrumming appeals to the logic of blood and soil, is its lamentable tendency to go in search of enemies abroad.”

      Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. “Blood and soil” is a phrase from European nationalisms of the century that began in 1848. It has zero to do with politics in 21st century America, although we do have blood and soil victimology on the left. Nor do blood and soil have any thing to do with logic as they are emotional appeals that have no logic.

      And what is a “thrumming appeal.” Thrumming is “to play a musical instrument in an idle, monotonous, or unskillful manner; or to recite in a monotonous way; a dull, monotonous sound. I sense an oxymoron.

      Searching for enemies abroad is also a ridiculous charge. Have we all forgotten 9/11? We were not searching for enemies abroad. Enemies from abroad came looking for us. Nor does anti-Communism exemplify this would be meme. The Communists were real, they murdered and invaded around the world, and here in the US the inflicted Gramscian Damage by dezinformatsiya operations that hurt to this day.

      The author clearly felt that he had to bow to the right before he attacked the left, but the right he faced was a caricature in the heads of leftists and not a reality.

    5. Robert Schwartz Says:

      needs a < /a > after the second thrumming in the third graf.

    6. david foster Says:

      RobertS…for context, the Neptunus Lex post I referenced was about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (and a professor of Polish background who taught Solzhenitsyn’s work at the Naval Academy), so the terms “left” and “right” as used there are not restricted to an American or a present-day meaning.

    7. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Solzhenitsyn was a Slalvophile and the phrase blood and soil may mean something in his respect. I retain my objections to using “logic” in association with an emotional appeal and to the phrase “thrumming appeal”.

    8. GTWMA Says:

      Mackey’s first suggestion shouldn’t happen without the simultaneous repeal of all state practice acts which prevent nurse practitioners and others from freely competing with physicians and contracting with insurers.

      Mackey’s second suggestion only makes sense if “equalize” means “remove” or “severely reduce” tax system incentives for all types of health insurance.

      Mackey’s third suggestion is the usual canard that tort reform has some significant impact on health care costs. Doesn’t make a bit of difference whether you do it or not.