Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, July 09, 2012

I'll largely out-source today's post . . .

.  . . To Jackie Calmes of the NYT, who notes (as I have here previously) that the Republicans are simultaneously running against Barack Obama for "cutting Medicare," and for not cutting Medicare enough. They can get away with this, obviously, because with the apparent exception of Ms. Calmes, "reporters" nowadays can't be bother to understand the issues they report on; to point out contradictions, lies or nonsense; or even to comprehend fundamental distinctions. The politician or flack says something, and they write it down or repeat it for us. That's the basic job of a journalist in the 21st Century.

The fundamental distinction here, that the Republicans are pretending away, to which the stenographers of the press corps are oblivious, is between:

a) Spending money on Medicare (or any other health care insurance); and

b) Providing health care benefits to people.

Democrats want to do more of (b), while limiting (a). This may appear to be a contradiction of some sort, but it is not. On the contrary, you can't do (b) without doing (a) because the supply of resources in the universe is finite; and anyway a lot of money is wasted or spent on actually harmful interventions. If you want to get better health care to more people, you need to make it more efficient.

Republicans, on the contrary, want to do more of (a), and less of (b). Well, okay, their proposal would constrain Medicare spending overall, but would not constrain health care costs, so the profit to providers would be protected; and they would keep getting more and  more money from people who can find some way to scrape up the dough to pay them. People who can't scrape up the dough will be shit out of luck. That's because the Republicans'  constituents are the people who get paid the money, not the people who receive the health care. There's no contradiction there either, but there is a contradiction between the two positions.

And it is precisely that contradiction that the public does not understand, and nobody seems to be explaining to them.

No comments: