Friday, July 31, 2009

Health Care and Capitalism

If you have not read yesterday's The YAD Guide To Health Care Reform go read it now as this rant is something of a reply to it. I will wait while you read. Ok.

The problem with the YAD article is that it portrays private health care companies as the bad guys, the villains in the debate. The difficulty with that argument is that private health care companies, in fucking people over, are playing the game correctly; they are not in the wrong. Why? Well, read the definition of capitalism:

Capitalism typically refers to an economic and social system in which trade, industry and the means of production (also known as capital) are privately controlled and operated for a profit.
You see the problem, yes? Well, if not, I'll give you a hint: read the last three words of the definition.

The objective of the game of capitalism is to turn a profit. The objective is not to keep people alive, to keep people healthy, to care for one another. The objective of capitalism is to turn a profit. So private health insurance companies in fucking you over, in battling a government option, are playing the game; they are not in the wrong.

This debate is not about health care. The debate is between the government and private industry, socialism (or an approximation thereof) against capitalism. According to the rules of the game of capitalism if you cannot afford health care then you fucking die. Attempting to make that not the case, to care for individuals who cannot afford to care for themselves, fundamentally opposes the primary objective of capitalism: profit.

So when the YAD article says something like (actual quote time)
And the best part? All this fucking? All this death and bankruptcy? It all exists for one reason. So that a bunch of assholes at the head of companies like United HealthGroup can make more money in a week than you will make in your entire life.
I take issue with the classification of heads of companies as "assholes". A capitalist, acting like a capitalist, in a capitalist society, is not an asshole; they are simply playing the game correctly. It is nonsensical to expect capitalists to pay for your mother's health care costs if doing so would harm their ability to turn a profit.

Now, we can say that a capitalist is an asshole if we undermine the objective of capitalism. The problem is that in undermining the objective of capitalism (profit), we undermine capitalism itself. And while undermining capitalism is fine the problem comes in distinguishing which industries can be capitalist and which industries cannot. What is the different between a privately owned health care company and a privately owned yacht manufacturer? To a capitalist? There is no difference. To a human being they are quite different.

The health care debate is not about health care; we are not arguing the merits of private insurance against a public option. The argument is capitalism against socialism, profit against care. So, if we do not like private health insurance let's not fault private health insurance. Instead, let's fault the fiery chasm from which private health insurance came: Capitalism. It's the point made in the YouAreDumb article:
You know who the ideal health insurance customer is? Someone who starts paying premiums at 18 and gets run over by a bus, killed instantly, at age 30.
A capitalist wants people to die instantly at 30. A human being, presumably, does not want everyone to die instantly at 30. So, maybe, instead of trying to get the completely inhumane system to behoove human beings we need to utilize a system which, you know, behooves human beings.

Faulting a capitalist for not caring if you live or die is like faulting a cupcake for being a small cake. Or like faulting Enchanted Arms for being a RPG with a linear storyline.

I <3 that comic. Capitalism sucks dick.


Roscoe - from random PC said...

I like how you basically estabilsh that capitalism has no room for compassion.

I like it mostly becuase it betrays your opinion. You pretty much toss aside the ideas of Carnegie as meaningless... The idea that it behooves men w/ vast value and profits to provide for the social edification of working classes.

Granted, you don't see much of that going on anymore, either.. but by explicitly defining humanity and capitalism as exclusive concepts.. well.. it's impressive as rhetoric. Fails on an argumentative, logical method, but.. nice.

Caleb said...

So, you think Batman's parents would have saved Gotham by themselves?

_J_ said...

"I like how you basically estabilsh that capitalism has no room for compassion."

Capitalism has room for compassion when compassion can be used to generate profit.

In my estimation, compassion done for the sake of profit is not compassion qua compassion but rather is compassion utilized as a means to profit.

In the Health Care situation compassion translates into "Yeah, we'll pay for that medical procedure", which results in a loss of profit.

So, yeah, capitalism has no room for compassion insofar as any situation in which capitalism utilizes compassion that compassion is utilized for the sake of turning a profit.