A Federal Government health panel announces sweeping changes in breast cancer detection practices. All the changes seem to imply savings, spending less health care money upfront. It looks for all the world like a trial balloon for health care rationing: Choose a topic known to be an emotional one for the 52% of the population that seem to care the most about health, women; tell them the corresponding care will be cut; wait for reactions. Then, plan for future rationing on the basis of what you learned on this occasion. Assume that private insurance companies, daily if covertly threatened with nationalization, will comply with whatever the Federal Government decides.
It does look like a trial balloon but I am not joining in the paranoia the announcement triggered. I am taking another path, in line with what I have been saying about President Obama and his camarilla, on this blog and on my radio show (“Facts Matter” ksco Santa Cruz, 1080 AM, Sundays 11a.m to 1p.m.) They are not Machiavellian; they are mindless, in their own peculiar way.
First, I would not be surprised at all if independent audits demonstrated that current practice, in force for at least 20 years , are economically wasteful, or very wasteful. Much preventive care is. (48 hours after the announcement, I have not heard a single argument to the effect that changing the standards will improve, or adversely affect, anyone’s health.) The hard fact is that we cannot, as a society, with current methods, afford to test every person for diseases that occur only once in ten million people, to make up an example. That’s a hard fact Americans are not used to. Health care, including and especially preventive care, has to be rationed and it has always been rationed. It’s only now coming out into the open, which is what all freedom-loving conservatives should want.
The issue is whether government experts should make the crucial decisions. I don’t trust government to act competently; I don’t trust left-wingers in government to act without regard to their political advantage. I prefer any other method of rationing but I want it transparent. If it’s not, people of conscience have no chance to influence the criteria used. To give an example of why transparency matters: I am angry to have learned after the fact that Guantanamo inmates received the swine flu vaccine before millions of American babies. True, I don’t know which ones are guilty; I just know for a fact none of them is a baby.
Second, private advocacy organizations, impelled by feminists, have made breast cancer a politically favorite illness, almost on par with HIV. In fact, of one hundred American women who died last year, fewer than three died of breast cancer. This is not to deny the particular horror this disease inspires in women. Yet, in reality, American women die of the same things as their husbands and brothers, mostly of heart disease. (based on Center for Disease Control figures for 2006).The politicization of illness in the past twenty or thirty years is not helping honest reformers. Instead, it creates a perceptual fog that facilitates the task of those who would implement changes that the population would reject if it understood them.
It seems to me that the sudden proclamation by the Federal Government of the rolling back of standards, on a sensitive and emotional matter, at a time when the party in power is trying to pass a difficult, much despised health care reform bill, is not a trial balloon. I think it’s another formidable demonstration of incompetence, of political incompetence, specifically.
The Obama administration never listened to anyone because it feels invested with a historical mission. It never listened to most of those who voted for the President because the top-echelons frankly believe there is nothing to be gained by listening. I hear an echo of the Communist notion of “dictatorship of the proletariat.” It says that the people don’t know what’s good for them, that if “we” let them make their own decisions, they will screw up almost for sure. I am familiar with this way of thinking because it used to be common, among European Communists, of course, but also among their social-democrat cousins. That would have included some of my close friends.
The Administration fucked up royally on this one, and in ways that were predictable. Same scenario with the decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohamed in New York City. As soon as it was announced, that decision raised a storm of protests, including in the liberal media. The President is an idiot, the way many college professors are idiots. He is sure he knows better; he does not know what he does not know.
Remain attentive; there are going to be more monumental mistakes because the President and his collaborators are incapable of listening. The question is whether they will self-destruct before they destroy our country.
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