An Image and a Corrective on Healthcare and the Economy
Ben Stein presents an excellent image:
True, by many metrics, the economy has stopped falling drastically, but we are still in a painful recession, large by postwar standards. The bank crises seem to have abated for now and Wall Street is paying itself fantastically well again, thank heavens, after being rescued with taxpayer money. But housing is still extremely weak, profits are miserable and, most important, far too many Americans are unemployed — roughly 9.5 percent, by the latest data.
Just as basic, far too many Americans are living in fear.
What is President Obama doing about it? Perhaps too much. And, possibly, his efforts are too diffuse. When I think about the economy I think about a plump man who has just been hit by a truck while crossing a street and is in severely critical condition with internal bleeding. Instead of just stabilizing his hemorrhaging, the doctor decides that while the patient is unconscious, he might as well also do a face lift, some coronary bypasses and a stomach-stapling to keep him from gaining weight while he is recovering (if he does recover). After all, a crisis is not to be wasted.
The problem is that all these ambitious operations create too much of a burden for the human body to bear.
It’s an old truism that one shouldn’t go grocery shopping while hungry. Similarly, one shouldn’t make dramatic financial decisions while panicked about paying a surprise bill. With the amped up call for extreme healthcare changes to be pushed through Congress with a minimum of deliberation, one can’t help but wonder what makes the matter so dire that it must be forced through Congress in the distracted days of summer immediately before a recess. Are masses dying in the street for lack of a “public option”? It isn’t unreasonable to suggest that such an outcome is much more likely if unemployment continues to mount — especially if new healthcare requirements increase the cost of employment for employers.
No, in theory, the urgency derives from a series of jumbled abstractions:
“The status quo on health care is no longer an option for the United States of America,” the president said. “This is no longer a problem we can wait to fix. This is about who we are as a country. Health care reform is about every family’s health, but it’s also about the health of the economy.”
In actuality, the urgency derives from a political necessity to rope Americans into a framework of dependency on government while we’re susceptible to panic, under the thrall of a charismatic political celebrity, and as yet unable to assert regained senses through an electoral correction.