Robert Wright, a guest blogger for Andrew Sullivan this week, makes a great point about health care and rationing:
What more is there to say about Sarah Palin’s now-famous claim that President Obama’s health-care plan features “death panels” that will give patients the thumbs up or thumbs down? Just that, if this were Obama’s plan, it would have more in common with our current system than you might think. In Palin’s fantasy, the death-panel “bureaucrats” were going to pick winners and losers based on a judgment about their “level of productivity in society.” Well, if you view income as a gauge of a person’s productivity in society—and God knows there are Republicans who do—then the quality of health care is already correlated with “productivity in society.” Obama’s plan, by making health care more affordable to lower income people, would make that less true.
There has been a great deal of talk in the media — print, radio, tv — just about everywhere about the behavior and tactics being employed by various organizations. There have been comments about well behaved and polite citizenry attending meetings to voice their opinions. There have been stories of those who haven’t conducted themselves well. I suspect these stories will go on throughout the month of August and perhaps beyond. For one, I hope they do go on well beyond.
I think both sides have taken essentially the same tactics. Labeling each other with invectives, giving their supporters a ‘playbook’, and attempting to use the media to their advantage. All of this is okay. It is okay because in America we have the right to freedom of speech, assembly and freedom of the press. These are rights that thousands have given their lives to protect. The debate on health care which consumes nearly a fifth of the national economy and involves everyone is something that we should openly debate and understand the intended and unintended consequences of before we change an entire system.
It is important to provide better access, bend the cost curve so that health care is affordable (and not just through shifting costs by taxing) as well as sustainable, and improving the quality of the care delivered.
We are a country that leads the world in health care innovation. We have to zealously protect that aspect. No other country in the world is positioned to take our place if we take our eye off this important work.
But above all democracy demands that citizens get involved and voice their opinions.
Thanks for the great article.