Sunday, August 09, 2009

Health care

Three articles from the Wall Street Journal:
In one, Max Schulz takes a look at the assertion that the activity at town hall meetings is "astroturfing".

Mr. Kratovil is an attractive, polished, likable guy, but his seeming support for President Barack Obama's health-care proposals and his vote for cap-and-trade legislation put him out of step with many constituents. "You don't get it," one told him after he argued that increasing government's role in health care would be a good thing if only Congress crafts the legislation language properly. "We don't want it. We don't want your help."

The audience erupted in huge applause when a retired naval chief petty officer brought up government-run health care on Indian reservations and at Veterans Administration hospitals and then asked, "Why would we want that?" The audience booed when Mr. Kratovil said he voted for cap-and-trade because he thought it would actually lower Marylanders' electricity rates.


But the discontent is neither faked nor staged by the GOP. At the Mardela Springs event I attended, the parking lot was filled with Maryland license plates, the speakers made references to local areas and events, and everyone of the several people I spoke with lived in the congressman's district. They were just upset and worried that the reforms Democrats were bent on enacting would hurt the economy and their ability to get the health care they needed.

This crowd was probably far more representative of the national mood than Mrs. Pelosi realizes. Mardela Springs is about 100 miles from the nation's capital, on a strip of land that sits between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Chesapeake Bay to the west. The district is filled with farms and is populated by farmers, mariners and retired beach bums. "We are not very political people. We are just ordinary people with ordinary concerns," said Salisbury businessman Earl Nelson, who told me he voted for Mr. Kratovil. "But we are very concerned. I just hope he understands that."

In this editorial, Obama's health care reform is being called "Hillary's Revenge".

We have entered uncharted territory in the fight over national health care. There's a new tone in the debate, and it's ugly. At the moment the Democrats are looking like something they haven't looked like in years, and that is: desperate.

They must know at this point they should not have pushed a national health-care plan. A Democratic operative the other day called it "Hillary's revenge." When Mrs. Clinton started losing to Barack Obama in the primaries 18 months ago, she began to give new and sharper emphasis to her health-care plan. Mr. Obama responded by talking about his health-care vision. He won. Now he would push what he had been forced to highlight: Health care would be a priority initiative. The net result is falling support for his leadership on the issue, falling personal polls, and the angry town-hall meetings that have electrified YouTube.


The leftosphere and the liberal commentariat charged that the town-hall meetings weren't authentic, the crowds were ginned up by insurance companies, lobbyists and the Republican National Committee. But you can't get people to leave their homes and go to a meeting with a congressman (of all people) unless they are engaged to the point of passion. And what tends to agitate people most is the idea of loss—loss of money hard earned, loss of autonomy, loss of the few things that work in a great sweeping away of those that don't.

People are not automatons. They show up only if they care.


...the health-care protesters have to make sure they don't get too hot, or get out of hand. They haven't so far, they've been burly and full of debate, with plenty of booing. This is democracy's great barbaric yawp. But every day the meetings seem just a little angrier, and people who are afraid—who have been made afraid, and left to be afraid—can get swept up. As this column is written, there comes word that John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO has announced he'll be sending in union members to the meetings to counter health care's critics.

Somehow that doesn't sound like a peace initiative.

And Theodore Dalrymple compares British health care between humans and dogs.  Dogs have it better.

In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to compare the human and veterinary health services of Great Britain, and on the whole it is better to be a dog.

As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don't like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs—or hamsters—come first.

The conditions in which you receive your treatment are much more pleasant than British humans have to endure. For one thing, there is no bureaucracy to be negotiated with the skill of a white-water canoeist; above all, the atmosphere is different. There is no tension, no feeling that one more patient will bring the whole system to the point of collapse, and all the staff go off with nervous breakdowns. In the waiting rooms, a perfect calm reigns; the patients' relatives are not on the verge of hysteria, and do not suspect that the system is cheating their loved one, for economic reasons, of the treatment which he needs. The relatives are united by their concern for the welfare of each other's loved one. They are not terrified that someone is getting more out of the system than they.

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