Here’s how President Barack Obama explained it in a recent press conference: “Right now, doctors, a lot of times, are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that’s out there. So if you come in and you’ve got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat, or has repeated sore throats, 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.’ Now, that may be the right thing to do, but I’d rather have that doctor making those decisions just based on whether you really need your kid’s tonsils out or whether it might make more sense just to change, maybe they have allergies, maybe they have something else that would make a difference.”
And here’s Barack Obama explaining how greed and stupidity in the U.S. medical system is producing an unwarranted number of foot removals: “All I’m saying is let’s take an example of something like diabetes, one of, a disease that’s skyrocketing, partly because of obesity, partly because it’s not treated as effectively as it could be. Right now, if we paid a family, if a family care physician works with his or her patients to help them lose weight, modify diet, monitors whether they’re taking their medications in a timely fashion, they might get reimbursed a pittance. But if that same diabetic ends up getting their foot amputated, that’s $30,000, $40,000, $50,000, immediately the surgeon is reimbursed. Well, why not make sure that we’re also reimbursing the care that prevents the amputation, right? That will save us money.”
How easy! Why didn’t anyone think of that before? We’ll simply pay the doctors $1,000 to talk to us about weight and only $500 for cutting off a foot and we’ll end up with skinnier people, fewer detached feet, smaller healthcare costs, and a lower federal deficit.
It’s the same with cutting the deficit by just picking the right colors. As Obama explained, “If there’s a blue pill and a red pill and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half the price for the thing that’s going to make you well?”
So “why not”? It’s either because the doctors are too dumb or because they’re stuck in a capitalist trap where too much greediness and individualism is ruining everything. Either way, the solution is to have a smart socialist call all the shots.
It’s the same with the insurance companies. They’re also way too capitalistic. Or as Nancy Pelosi describes them, “villains,” “immoral all along.” What they need, says Obama, is some socialist competition from a “public option” — “to keep them honest.” In the upside down world of the statist, deceit and avarice are concentrated in the private sector, honesty and bigheartedness in the government sector.
For those who show up with the wrong questions or display an insufficient degree of submissiveness regarding the centralized and collectivized march towards “change,” they’re labeled as “Brown Shirts,” “Nazis, “Un-American,” “angry mobs,” “racists” — or as Harry Reid, leader of the Senate Democrats, put it, “evil-mongers.”
Having employed the organizing of dissent as his path to power, Obama now seems to have lost his appreciation for dissension and free expression: “I don’t want the folks who created this mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to just get out of the way.”
The Democratic National Committee, similarly unhappy, is warning in TV ads that “the right wing extremist Republican base is back.”
And at the New York Times, Gail Collins displayed how separated from reality you can be and still have a regular column: “The health care protest phenomenon hasn’t been particularly uplifting, unless your idea of decorum is World Extreme Cagefighting. But it has provided a very, very rare opportunity for members of Congress to look semiheroic.”
Today’s politicians, heroic? And we should be quiet?
Thomas Jefferson had it more right: “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.