Do you want poor people to die?

This is what the health care debate in the U.S. right now is about.  Underlying all the surface arguments, this debate is about these two concepts:

That’s all it’s about.  All roads of discourse lead to those two roads.  The first I think you can get people to see just by talking.  The second may be decided by war.  War, incidentally, is about:

  • Can two ideas that are contradictory both be true at the same time?
  • Do you want poor people to die?

The latter is a question properly stated with the verb “want”, for there is no way to say, in these times, that poor people must die.  Economy is efficiency through scale.  And for all that it can and will be improved upon, expanded, and outshined in the future, our economy is already such that there is such efficiency of scale that whether poor people die truly is a question of what we want to happen.  Even, truly, the question of whether we want our world to be a place where there are poor people—people living in poverty—is totally a matter of desire.  The cost, in terms of individual care or lifestyle, to anyone, in the middle, at the top, at the bottom, of affluence, is negligible in the same way that the cost of drinking water is negligible to those of us in the first world.  It’s as costly to us as aesthetics.

The real matter (and here I’m heavily influenced by other thinkers =) is this: can I feel good about myself without making other people feel bad about themselves.  Can I be happy, while other people are happy too.  Contrary to some thought, capitalism doesn’t eliminate laziness, and socialism doesn’t eliminate innovation.  Those are distinct issues from what I’m talking about here, which is simply, given that at this point in human history, whether we are, as a species, happy and healthy, is no longer a struggle, but a mere aesthetic choice…can we now adjust to the idea, in some of our individual psychologies, that, essentially, I can be ok even though you are ok too.

I think we can, and we will, do that.  Humanity is in an adjustment period in which we are coming to terms with the reality that this world, for us, is a place, not of lack, but of amazing bounty.

Health care is about…people taking care of each other.

The root cause of all this HCR bullshit is that there aren’t enough doctors. More doctors == more care for people == less demand for doctors == doctors get paid less == less need for insurance as a payment mechanism for health care. Health care isn’t about insurance, or capitalism, or democracy. It’s about people taking care of each other. To solve health care problems, the solution is more doctors…more knowledge about health, more *care*…and that is something we can all decide to do without anyone’s permission, or guidance, and that no one can stop (or needs to encourage).

“we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing”

from David Frum :: “A huge part of the blame for today’s disaster attaches to conservatives and Republicans ourselves. At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994. Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure. This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.”

Everyone doing well is good for everyone.

Part of what annoys me about some segments of thinking, and the HCR debate illustrates some of this thinking, is the idea that somehow it’s good for me if other people are doing poorly.  As if, somehow, it’s a crime to me that more people have a college education, that more people are healthy and happy; when, if you think from an ecological perspective, or a Buddhist perspective, or an economic perspective, things are clearly better for me when they’re better for everyone.  My world gets better when my brother’s world gets better.  Do you see the universe as a place of lack, or a place of bounty?  That is the underlying ideological difference there.