Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Robert Reich Sounds Sci-Fi on Health Care

Opponents of Obama's health care proposal are often described as "alarmists," as they discuss rationed health care, the death of innovation, and the devastating effects it will have on the budget. However, what really angers proponents of government health care is when people discuss economic euthanasia. That is, allowing people to die or even encouraging people to die because prolonging their lives would only provide a drain on the economy. In Europe, people often hear, "I am sorry sir, but your wife is rather old and has been retired for years, it really does not make sense to spend the type of money necessary to prolong her life." My own family heard a similar tale when my grandfather passed away back in the 1970s in England. I remember hearing my family say that they had no recourse, since "we have no way to sue the government." That, too, is another problem with socialized health care.

Those who support Obama's plans say that such arguments in our health care debate are unfair. "The US would not create a sci-fi environment of people being eliminated on economic grounds," we are told. Only the most extreme personalities support such a position.

I wonder if they would consider Robert Reich such an extremist? Reich was the 22nd Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton and is an adviser on economic issues for President Obama. He holds a BA from Dartmouth and a JD from Yale University.

Recently Reich spoke at the University of California and painted a picture of what an "honest" politician would say when running for President, if "that candidate did not care about becoming president. In other words, this is what the truth is and a candidate will never say, but what a candidate should say if we were in the kind of democracy where citizens were honored in terms of their practice of citizenship and they were educated in terms of what the issues were and they could separate myth from reality in terms of what candidates would tell them." An "honest" politician, that does sound scary. This is all the more so when you get Reich's perception of such in giving a hypothetical speech.

Reich, acting as the "sound" leader stated, "Thank you so much for coming this afternoon. I'm so glad to see you and I would like to be president. Let me tell you a few things on health care. Look, we have the only health care system in the world that is designed to avoid sick people. And that's true and what I'm going to do is that I am going try to reorganize it to be more amenable to treating sick people but that means you, particularly you young people, particularly you young healthy people...you're going to have to pay more." This is definitely the case, especially if the government is going to be the one behind the "reorganization." This is also true if it is going to be a government run system, because the only hope for price containment is in competition and there will be none of that in a national health care program.

This model candidate goes on to say, "Thank you. And by the way, we're going to have to, if you're very old, we're not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It's too expensive...so we're going to let you die." By the way, the radical Berkeley crowd loved this remark and applauded.

Could the speech get much worse? The "candidate" goes on, "Also I'm going to use the bargaining leverage of the federal government in terms of Medicare, Medicaid---we already have a lot of bargaining leverage---to force drug companies and insurance companies and medical suppliers to reduce their costs. What that means, less innovation and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market which means you are probably not going to live much longer than your parents. Thank you."

It is interesting how opponents of Obamacare have made these claims about the future about such government programs for years and the media has dismissed them as being extreme in their descriptions. I have yet to read anything from anyone on the right any more frightening than the words of Obama's apologist, Robert Reich.
Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is also host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650). Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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