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Posted by on Mar 7, 2010 in At TMV, Economy, Health, Politics, Society | 30 comments

Health Care Reform: Those “Irreconcilable Differences,” Part II

A couple of days ago, I posted a piece called “Health Care Reform: Those ‘Irreconcilable Differences.’”

The post basically conveyed my opinion that just as our legislators—mostly Democrats, with some Republican support—stepped up to the plate in 1935 and 1965, and enacted Social Security and Medicare, respectively, Democrats today must act similarly on health care reform, given that:

Democrats honestly believe that Americans (especially the 30 million uninsured ones) indeed deserve a better health care system—-there is really only one choice, and that is to proceed full steam ahead and “damn the Republican torpedoes.”

As to those so-called “irreconcilable differences,” I said:

I may be wrong, but I sincerely believe that when we look back upon these “irreconcilable differences” twenty years from now, most of us who are still around will say that the major factor that made those differences irreconcilable was the politics of the day.

As expected, the post generated some good comments with respect to the validity of my claims as to the degree and the timing of Republican support for Social Security and Medicare.

Soon, however, the discussion expanded into the “health” and sustainability of programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and into whether to sustain such programs we are “robbing Peter to pay Paul” and, more interestingly, whether these programs increase the “wealth gap;” whether they represent “collective care for our rich elders,” “inter-class wealth transfers,” “cross-generational subsidy programs,” or “inter-generational wealth transfers;” even whether those programs could represent wealth or subsidy transfers from the “have-nots to the haves.”

The discussion is now again expanding and shifting to broader economic issues such as government regulation (and de-regulation), tax policies, the shift of wealth from public hands to private hands, the shift of debt from private hands to public hands, etc.

As to regulation and de-regulation, I found one of the most recent comments particularly interesting, especially in how the writer used analogies:

Virtually all major deregulation directly causes a shift of public wealth to private hands.

On the contrary, that’s the result of *increasing* regulation. The more spending you funnel through the government, the more susceptible it is to hijack by lobbyists. Indeed, the more people and corporations *have* to spend on lobbying if they hope to protect their interests.

Deregulation, on the other hand, leaves more wealth in private hands to begin with. The fly in the ointment is that that the private sector allocates wealth toward economic efficiency, which is to say “badly” if you were hoping for more social justice or ecology or other worthy goals.

Regulation is therefore the spider we swallow to catch the fly. The spider dooms us to statism and corporatism, where decisions are made centrally and driven mostly by corporate lobbyists. No one seems very happy with this state of affairs.

It’s here that liberals and conservatives part company. Conservatives argue that since we don’t like spiders, we should swallow as few as possible. Liberals want us to down another plateful, and then to swallow the bird of first amendment restrictions, in the hope of micromanaging the lobbying spiders, that they might do a better job of catching the flies.

Perhaps we’ll die.

Why am I bringing all this up?

Two reasons:

1. I find this “comments thread” to be one of the most lively, interesting and informative threads I have seen in a long time on TMV. I am learning a lot and I am sure many of our readers are, too.

2. As so happens after a post has been “out there” for a couple of days, it—and the comments—begin to drop “below the cyber fold,” and unless one is actively monitoring and commenting on it, it generally just “peters out.”

It would be a shame for such to happen to this discussion. Thus, I am posting this “Part II” in the hopes of either transferring the great discussion here, or encouraging readers to keep reading and commenting at the original post location here. (Last time I checked, there were 58 comments)

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