Quick update on health care on 7/20/09:
I have said before on this blog that there is something wrong with the way we deliver health care in America. It costs us twice more per capita than it costs Europeans and we die younger. That is true in spite of the fact that liberals lie a lot on the subject of health, especially, regarding the number of “uninsured.” The Republican Party missed that boat entirely and we are paying the price for it now.
The President’s insistence that bills must be passed before the August recess has only one explanation: He wants to avoid debate like the plague. Think it through. If our health care system is as bad as he says, it has been so for a long time and we can probably stand it for an additional three months, or six months , or a year. Decisiveness is not everything. (See below.)
After all, the President wants to dispose for the long run of 1/6th of our economy. Given the considerable slowdown in economic growth his other policies guarantee, given the aging of the population, it will soon be 1/5, or 20 % of the economy. There is nothing else like it. For comparison, national defense never took more than 5% since the Korean War.
Aside from anything I may believe about the influence of government on effectiveness in health delivery, I am interested in the political consequences of the President’s plans, of all his plans. With health, he will make sure the government controls the economy to an unprecedented level. He is turning the US into a corporatist state. That’s another word for “fascist,” without the violent overtones.
To-date, the President has appointed about 30 “czars.” The word evokes an energetic approach to the real resolution of real problems. It projects decisiveness.
Conservative commentators have deplored the fact that the whole process by which the President makes this kind of personal appointments by-passes the Constitution. Cabinet members are supposed to perform most or all of the tasks given to czars. Cabinet members are appointed according to a true-and-tried process that guarantees both some Congressional scrutiny and some public scrutiny. We know this for a fact because some Cabinet designates regularly drop out as a result of what the normal vetting reveals about them.
When he appoints czars, the President does not have to worry about any scrutiny at all. His appointees could be Bernard Madoff (before trial), or a serial child molester. It’s unlikely anyone would know enough to say anything. More likely, it could be someone with a severe conflict of interest.
Those conservative commentators are off, I think. They are looking at the wrong sin.
The main thing is to realize that none of the czars has any formal power, the way Secretary of State Clinton has some power, for example. Her power comes from the fact that she is constitutionally the boss of a large, well established and well-funded government bureaucracy.
To be useful, the czars must develop and wield the power to intimidate. They must make anyone they wish think that they, the czars, can ask the President to make their lives difficult if they don’t obey.
Where have we seen this before: The application of power through personal means, by-passing the government apparatus, and by personal appointees answering to no one but the one leader?
It turns out that’s nearly exactly Adolph Hitler’s management practice.
I am not saying that Obama equals Hitler. I think the situation is more complicated but the parallels with past examples of developing fascism are worth mentioning. (You may want to read my essay; “Fascism Explained,” on this blog.)
I don’t even perceive the President as an especially evil person. I am completely sure, for example, that he will not think of exterminating the Jews. Yet, some of his friends’ friends would gladly slaughter some Jews if they could. It’s a fact that American Jews, who voted massively for Obama, have not yet waken up from their liberal wet dream. (And, if you are wondering: No, I am not Jewish.)
President Obama turns out to be a disaster, as those of us who looked at his credentials coldly and also listened to his electoral promises predicted. Yet, there is no trace of hatred, of “Obama Derangement Disorder,” among conservatives, as there were years of “Bush Derangement Disorder.” This absence has to do with the different psychologies of of liberals and conservatives. Liberals are forever “appalled.” The state of being appalled is exhausting. It has to turn to hatred, hatred of whoever my be loaded with all, or most of the causes of appallingness.
Conservatives are different. Craziness among them takes the form of belief in conspiracies that involve a legion of inter-connected actors, many of them occult. Believers can’t quite ever pinpoint the main culprits. Blaming the President would be too simple for conservatives crazies. Conservatives have complex minds, even when they are crazy. Liberals are childlike.
Under the radar: The executive who engineered the government’s acquisition of GM resigned abruptly. He is going to be replaced by …a union man. We re losing our sensitivity to political cynicism.