Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Compassionate Conservatism?

Liberals base their social policies and programs on compassion, says Dennis Prager today, whereas conservatives base theirs on what produces the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Prager cited three examples of liberal programs that are based in compassion but don’t work: affirmative action, bilingual education and single-payer medical plans.

I’m opposed to the first two and favor the third, but Prager’s reasoning is typically dubious. Prager said that affirmative action is really detrimental to African Americans. I doubt that anyone who has benefited from affirmative action would agree. If Prager presumes that a non-white doctor or lawyer was the recipient of affirmative action and is therefore unqualified, that’s his problem, not theirs.

But let’s look at single-payer plans or “socialized medicine.” These systems, Prager claims, are failing everywhere they’ve been tried. Canadians come here for treatment and doctors there employ triage because of rationing, causing patients to die. I’ve been hearing this anecdotal critique of Canadian health care for decades. Anyway, Prager says, nobody in this country is denied medical treatment because they don’t have medical insurance.

The last comment proves that Prager’s philosophical and intellectual role model is none other than Marie Antoinette. We also have triage in this country. The uninsured lack effective, timely medical care. The uninsured can suffer the effects of injuries or diseases until they’re at death’s door, then get themselves to a hospital emergency room. If they aren’t denied admittance, they’ll receive some treatment, often far too late to help. And this will actually cost far more than if they had had access to regular treatment before reaching a crisis. And the cost of their hospitalization will be passed onto the taxpayers anyway.

Health economists who have actually studied this subject, rather than repeating unfounded prejudices, have concluded that single-payer systems, such as Medicare, work more efficiently than a system where there is a jumble of different private insurers, each with their own standards for premiums and doctor reimbursements and a concomitant administrative system.

Why do you think pharmaceutical manufacturers are running TV ads right now opposing the Democrats’ amendment to the Medicare drug plan that will allow the government to negotiate prices? The current health care system is increasingly costly and leaves millions of people out in the cold. Some alternative is needed.

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