The Huffington Post headlined this story: Gift-Wrapped for Lobbyists: How the Health Care Lobby Swarmed Congress and Got What It Wanted. At Least 278 Former Congressional Aides Lobbied On Health Care, Over $600 Million Spent… Health Industry Stocks Hit 52-Week Highs Last Week… Arianna: Lobbyists Should Be Time’s Persons Of The Year.
This link has the President speaking historically about a battle with the healthcare industry over a patient’s bill of rights stretching over decades.
I pray that the extension of care to uncovered citizens that he believes will be now provided, and that this fight is now over. For decades the insurance industry (and other parts of the healthcare industry) have spent astonishing amounts of their customers’ money to aim an army of marketers in the guise of lobbyists at the telling of tall tales, lies, and murderous interpretations about that industry’s behavior to those who we elected to govern the nation. About the nature of the army that has been fighting against healthcare for all of our citizens, the President is right, but I think that the fight is by no means over, and that his words will end up more fuel for partisan fires.
The biggest part of the problem lies with us. I guess that holding the healthcare industry accountable, while a paramount issue, is by no means the crux of the issue of our ‘best of times/worst of times’ healthcare system.
The core of the fight, I think, is over what kinds of human beings we think we are, and what we are going to be concerned with, and right now far too many of us are afraid of the wrong things, ambitious for the wrong things, willing to commit ourselves to care for the wrong things.
When our people was a baby, and in the hands of people named Jefferson and Adams, here is what they said about what we were up to:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. ….”
“We are incompetent for communication,” my friend Fernando Flores said in a speech in the early 1980s. The we is you and I, and the citizens of this country, and one of the areas in which we are presently harvesting the benefits of that incompetence is in our healthcare.
I saw that this had happened a short while ago. William Saletan has asked good questions about what happened here.
This inevitability was anticipated by an early joke of the computer era, about the world’s first fully automated flight, in which a the computer-generated recording announced, more or less, “Welcome to the world’s first computer-managed flight. You will enjoy a new world of comfort, conveniences, speed and safety on this flight. … Sit back and relax. Nothing can go wrong…can go wrong…can go wrong.”
The joke got the danger wrong. The problem is not malfunctioning computers. Nor is the problem malfunctioning people. People “malfunction” as an essential feature of our existential design, and our machines malfunction because we, imperfect and blind to our functioning, are their designers. On the other hand, our “malfunctioning” is the ground in which our freedoms are born, including what we call free will. Without malfunctioning, we have no invention, no new possibilities.
The danger is that the kind of beings we are is being redesigned by the tools and the world we have invented, and we are not observing what is happening.
This is an example of why I spoke so strongly against the metaphoric background that Jill Bolte Taylor spoke from in her poetic and inspiring TED Talk. When we are in the business of inventing what it is to be human and human futures, we should take care about what we are inventing.
Following the line of another joke, we should be careful that we do not end up where we are headed.
Tell me what you think.