Thursday, August 9, 2007

Polyps and the Holy Grail

From the NYT: Though President Bush has had episodes of mild vertigo in recent weeks, they have not interfered with his work, and he is in excellent health, the White House said yesterday in releasing findings from his annual medical checkup.

Well, excellent. It's been a summer of good news about President Bush, his vertigo, his ear infection, and his bowels, which happily are now polyp-free. That's quite a relief.

But, not to be a scold, I do want to underscore what others have already pointed out: the 'gold-plated' care our President is getting is simply unavailable to those millions without health insurance. Meaning that they'll go ahead and develop the full-blown diseases that happily will be prevented in him.

So what? If your main interest in life is money, consider that it's cheaper to prevent sickness than to treat it. And treat we will, even the fully diseased poor, because in the end, America just isn't quite callous enough to let people drop dead in the street. Our national compassion is of the last-resort kind, and that's the most expensive kind of all.

Why on earth don't Republicans get this? They're the bean-counters. If the options are to pay now, or pay more later, wouldn't it make sense to choose the former?

It's not health care alone that presents this basic choice, but given the looming national elections, it's the one we're going to be arguing about most. But here is what I've always suspected: saving money, surely the Holy Grail for conservatives, remains less appealing than that other Holy Grail: punishing those who haven't done well in our society. If everybody had access to the same excellent services, after all, how would we know who was worthy and who not? Who had worked hard, and who hadn't? Who was decent and fine and upstanding, and who wasn't?

And that, in a nutshell, is why we haven't and won't make any real progress on this issue. We can't admit that we don't want to grouped together, even for the simple purpose of ensuring minimal protection against needless suffering. We much prefer our current report-card society, where some of us get A's and some of us get D's and F's. And the people with D's and F's - well, for whatever reason, and sad to report, they just lose out. That's the real American way.

(By the way, it's true that we can't afford everything we as a country might want. My money-minded conservative consort has convinced me of this. And I get it, truly. But that's another topic.)


cyrus pinkerton said...

Not that it's important, but you forgot to mention President Bush's Lyme Disease.

Although there are things that Americans might want but cannot afford, health care is not (and should not) be one of them. As it is now, we already pay for health care; changing the mechanism by which we pay for it in order to provide care for all won't significantly increase the cost for most Americans.

By the way, I enjoyed reading your intelligent comments at the Althouse blog. I hope you'll continue to post there.

SnowDahlia said...

Good points. And thanks for your kind words. I'll continue to check out the Althouse blog, and I hope you'll come back to mine once in a while. It's a new endeavor for me, and so far a rewarding one.

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