Guest Post: Healthcare Reform-Easy as Apple Pie from Scratch


Note: This guest post is by @Krolik, whom I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person for coffee before she ran off to her ballet lesson and I ran off, embarassed that I’ve never taken ballet and a bit sad that my parents denied me pink tutus.  She has a lovely blog, Project Wombat, about raising her son, and is very funny.  I’ve never had political posts before, so let it be said that I don’t necessarily agree or disagree with this post about the healthcare reform issue.  All I know is that we need to include Nutella in the bill as a healing elixir.

Unless you have already thrown your car radio into a lake, you have been hearing about healthcare reform every minute of every day.  Even major “helping you avoid thinking since 1999″ stations like 99.5 are discussing it!  It’s only a matter of time before Will.I.Am releases a kitschy video about health care reform, I expect.  Needless to say, I must get on that bandwagon.  I am sorry to see that you are along for the ride, but here goes.

Healthcare reform is tough for politicians to support – and you can easily see why if you just follow the money. The healthcare sector profits have been looking spiffy ever since Nixon did us all a favor and decided to privatize health insurance.  Other politicians continued in the proud tradition of relying on heathcare to line their pockets with more and more money ever since.  We are asking them to bite the hand that feeds them. But – and more interestingly – why are WE (or at least many of us) so much against health reform?  People have been bringing guns to town halls, for crying out loud. To pass, health care reform needs either real or poll-perceived support from all of us.

In fact, the Obama Administration has stated they want to get a bipartisan solution.  But what would that take?  And why does this issue provoke such deep emotion in people?  We are going to answer all these questions in this blog post.  Yes, I am that good.  I am awaiting your call inviting me on a lecture circuit.

In TED 2008, Jonathan Haidt gave a fascinating talk about the differences between being liberal and being conservative.  You can watch the video below – but, in short, the two groups are separated by only one metric: openness to experience.  If you are liberal – and highly open to experience – then new is exciting, and change is good.  If you are conservative – and not open to experience – then new is troubling and there is nothing worse than change.

The healthcare debate, of course, is all about change.  Our conservative friends immediately jumped to announce a doomsday scenario looming on the horizon (progressively getting more and more crazy-ass).  Socialism! Death squads!  Euthanasia! Never mind that the US already has many socialist policies, including Social Security (and just try taking that away from them), the highway system, the water lines, the public schools, the fire departments, the list goes on.

Never mind that there are many countries which have the single-payer system, and yet so far not all of their citizens have been euthanized.  In fact, their citizens have a much longer life expectancy – even with the stress of death squads looming over them. Our liberal friends, on another hand, believe that adopting single-payer is the way to go.  They watched Sicko, they bought the fact that anyone in Cuba is treated like a king in any clinic, and they think that government should fix most things.  But as with all other government-run things, single-payer system makes sure that it’s difficult to get really brilliant medical care – same way as it makes sure it’s difficult to get very poor care.  Bureaucracy is good at eliminating extremes; unfortunately, it eliminates both of them, the high as well as the low.

So liberals and conservatives are at odds.  But, as Jonathan Haidt points out in his talk, one is worthless without the other.  Conservatives know how difficult order is to obtain, and how hard you need to work to preserve it.  Without them, we would be a band of gypsies still roaming across Africa as we speak.  On another hand, liberals understand that sometimes, to move forward, you must leave the dear and familiar behind.  And without that understanding, we would still be in the Dark Ages and using goats as currency. What this fundamental openness-to-experience divide tells us is that when you are trying to inflict a large change, bipartisanship between liberals and conservatives is simply not possible.

I think this is the largest part of why healthcare reform is floundering so far.  The current health care system is so dysfunctional that the new system must be built from scratch.   And anything that has words “from scratch” in it will never be supported by a conservative.  Except, may be, an apple pie recipe.  And liberals, who love change, have a hard time supporting it too – because the change is not yet clearly defined.  In its desire for a bipartisan reform, the Obama Administration has not put forth any plan of its own – and in doing so, it has left its liberal base without any concrete revolution to get behind. We have only one hope for health care reform.  Unfortunately, it requires Democrats to grow a pair, which should happen about the same time we see pigs soaring over the Potomac.  They (Democrats, not the pigs) need to realize that they have been voted the majority because the public actually wants them to, you know, act, and they should shove true, single-payer (or at least a very expansive public option) down opposition’s throat.

Because, as much as I love my conservative friends, now we need a true, big change.  We need to create a brand new system.  A system that would be worthy of the loyal, patriotic and selfless devotion that my conservative friends wish to give it.  And once it’s enacted, just try taking the comprehensive health system away – you’ll be held at gunpoint at your town hall meeting by people on all sides.