Little bit of catch-up.
The fourth was fun, for the most part. We got together with the extended family and did some camping and BBQing and water-skiing and stuff. There was a parade and fireworks and all that jazz. Rocky, the kids and the dog all had a fabulous time.
I behaved myself for the most part. At one point we were in the livingroom watching the travel channel and there was a show on Niagara Falls. One of the bits was about the history of the falls as related to the underground railroad. The show described run-away slaves crossing an ice bridge that formed over the falls, as well as a suspension bridge that went over the river into Canada. One tour you can take traces the route of escaped slaves over the (now modern) bridge into Canada.
The relative we were visiting was not pleased by the description of people escaping the US to find freedom in Canada.
So he proceeded to tell the children that the slaves brought to America from Africa were better off as slaves in America than they were as free people in Africa. He asserted that slavery was not as bad as some people claimed, and also, that modern black people should be GRATEFUL that their ancestors were slaves because if they weren’t they’d be over in Africa with all the disease and genocide.
Now, this relative is a Conservative older man, living in a rural area, and is unlikely to change his opinion or outlook in anyway, and is unlikely to actually be able to harm anyone with his opinion either. So I left and took a little walk and later talked with the kids about the conversation, making sure I let them know where this relative was in error.
Later, back home, we had some other relatives as houseguests, and discussion of the health care system ensued.
Let’s just say that I was called ignorant, and stupid, mocked derided, talked over, interrupted, and my ideas completely re-interpreted and misrepresented and scoffed at. When I tried to explain how the relative was going off in a completely different direction, he raised his voice and said “Let me finish.”
I got very upset. I was tired from the first day and night of CONvergence, so I teared up and had trouble speaking. It is something that sometimes happens when I get really angry and I am exhausted. I was practically speechless to be treated this way in my own house…and by someone I actually like a lot and respect, but whose personal manner changed dramatically on this particular topic. It was a bit shocking to me.
What was it that made me stupid and ignorant? I don’t really know, but the relative in question argued that a basic national health care system that only covered standard treatment for routine medical problems would stifle innovation, because people would not buy catastrophic or “Cadillac” healthcare plans if they had the basic national plan available for free. I wanted to point out that I never proposed it be automatically free for everyone…but that was one of the times I was waved off as “interrupting” before I could get the clarification out. I suppose it would be overly snarky of me to point out that the clarification would have been unnecessary if I hadn’t been interrupted. So the person continued to completely demolish the point he thought I had made rather than the one I was actually trying to make.
I wanted to point out that the plan I was trying to discuss would actually add consumers to the health care system because people currently going without care would be getting it, whereas people who currently have great coverage would choose to use their great coverage and this would drive innovation just as much as it ever has. No go.
The person insisted that nobody would spend money for insurance to provide state-of-the-art treatments if they could get the insurance for cheaper less innovative treatments for free.
I said “So you don’t think people can be trusted to understand that they need to pay for better coverage to get better treatment?”
Apparently, this is a terrible thing to say to a Republican with Libertarian leanings.
But it seems to me that the average American understands this. If you have better coverage…you get better treatment. If you have crappy coverage, you get crappy treatment. A minimally adequate coverage will get you treatment that is effective for most of the things that most people encounter in life…and no coverage at all is a recipe for disaster.
I assume that, like now, people will try to get the best coverage they have access to.
All I was trying to say is, wouldn’t it be possible for us to have a program to move the people who have no coverage and crappy, inadequate coverage into the category of having minimally adequate coverage? While it might not be that great if you get cancer…you’ll love it if you get a broken leg or a sinus infection.
The person responded that it would just cost too much to overhaul a system as big as our health care system for what is essentially an incidental segment of the population. He asserted that it is really very exceptional cases where people cannot afford insurance and are unable to pay for treatment.
I asserted that the overhaul of the system is coming one way or another. We can either let it break down its present form and change on its own…hoping the magic of the market fairies will pull a better system from the chaos…or we can plan it and manage it so that hopefully it doesn’t lead to radical disruption of our society.
My discussion partner expressed incredulity at that assertion, and told me that people should just bring down costs by buying generics and such.
I said good luck with that since you have an entire industry built around “motivating” doctors to prescribe new formulations of existing drugs, presenting the new formulations as “innovations”, and fostering the perception that generics are inferior to brand-name drugs (I personally know a drug rep who flat out told me – on several occasions – that I should, under no circumstances buy generic drugs as there was just too much variance in their manufacture and performance…for instance. I didn't listen to him. I buy my meds at Costco and go genaric whenever there is one available. Ther are usually cheap enough to cost me a fraction of my co-pay.)
He countered snidely that I didn’t trust people to be able to make rational decisions on their own. My attempts to explain the difference between a general understanding of levels of coverage and people making a choice when there is a multi-billion-dollar industry focused on shaping their perception with the complicity of the people who are supposed to be their health advocates fell on deaf ears as he condescendingly explained to me that I had employed a double-edged sword when I invoked personal choice and responsibility.
I guess I had to be punished for defiling said deities by using them in a "liberal" argument. The Conservative Libertarians have claimed them as their own and nobody else can use them.
Apparently, the magic of the Wonder-Twin Magic Market Fairies of Personal Choice and Personal Responsibility work the same whether you have access to high-quality information from reliable sources or not. I guess I know better now.
Needless to say, the rest of the conversation is kind of a blur. I wish I’d walked away from that conversation as well.
Fortunately, CONvergence was in full swing and things can never go that wrong when CONvergence is going on. I’ll talk about that more in my next entry.