“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More on Health Care Hating

Joshua Mostafa, who lives in Australia and who has a very good blog, makes a good comment on my recent post on health care reform:

Bracketing the emotive rhetoric, aren't you mischaracterising the criticism? I'm not aware of anyone criticising the healthcare bill from the left who is also arguing for the status quo ante.

But that's the whole point, Josh. The OBJECTIVE result of their criticism, especially if they refuse to vote, is that we go back to that. Moreover, the rhetoric of the haters is NEVER “Well it's quite good actually but we wish it had been different.” It's “He should never have tried / It shouldn't have passed.” So my daughter gets zip. To preserve feelings of ideological purity.

If the rhetoric WAS “Well it's quite good,” then their argument fails. Because the content of their argument is, “It's a total scam.”

Obama by nature is a Latourian. He isn't interested in being a perfect beautiful soul sitting on the sidelines being RIGHT. As an ex-Zizekian, all I can add is, been there, done that.

I also note that some of my interlocutors in this debate don't live in the States, and furthermore, in countries with excellent health care. What are we, some ideological testing ground, or a group of real people really suffering?
I suggest to so called progressives who oppose Obamacare: you obviously grew up too privileged to lack health care at any point.

Still having trouble thinking about it? Here's my schizophrenic brother.

Try your argument vs Obama care on my schizophrenic brother (he lives in London). Imagine he lives in the US. Try saying your argument to his face. Helpful hint: over here, schizophrenia would constitute a “pre-existing condition” that would prevent you from getting health insurance. Have at it.


Nick Guetti said...

You can believe I live in the states. For many years of my life, I have been unable to afford healthcare. My main good fortune has been exceptionally good health and physical resilience. I see lots of fellow Americans on the bus every day who are not so lucky. I have also studied the deform bill with critical, anti-partisan eyes unclouded by blue contact lenses, and I am convinced that it will do none of these people or me or my mother or any children I know any real good and it never had to be written the way it was. I tire of stories of Obama's pragmatism (read: spinelessness). Pragmatism is supposed to be about what works. There is a wealth of distance between a "beautiful soul" and a "traitor to the people who voted for you and their entire families." I can understand being fooled by the hype that accompanied him during the elections: even I had to admit it was impressive. But now? I won't go through the list of this year's betrayals, and you say he's not ashamed of being imperfect? Tim, I don't care what his feelings about himself are. They are magnificently irrelevant. He was hired to do a job, and most of the people who hired him had a different kind of work in mind than what they got. True, they were naive to expect much; the left are going to have to do a lot more than elect people in order to change things substantively. But I have actually been shocked at his unnecessary and gratuitous exacerbation of Bushian wounds. He is essentially a corporate PR employee hired on commission, and his lack of desire to be perfect should be of no interest to anyone who isn't rich enough to expatriate from this rapidly sinking ship called America. Enough with the celebrity close-ups, please. What good do you have to say about the health care bill? And I mean good, not better-than.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words, Timothy. I grew up with the NHS, and the Australian system is fairly similar. But my wife is American - part of the reason we moved here from the States was concern that any complications (luckily there were none) during her pregnancy would result in a crushing debt. So I do have some first-hand knowledge.

Something is certainly better than nothing. And compromise is inevitable. But the administration sabotaged themselves by trying to be seen to build a bipartisan consensus. When Nye Bevan was introducing the NHS, he didn't worry about being seen to be reaching across the aisle to 'lower than vermin' Tories. Ultimately, it's better than it was - and I agree with you, it was terrible - but I don't think it's as good as it could have been, if they had been a bit more ruthless. If people are so disgusted that they abstain from voting, that will be a poor outcome - but that doesn't mean they have to rally around and shut up, as Gibbs implied with his 'professional left' comments. Criticism isn't coterminous with abstention from the political process.

Nick Guetti said...

Anything worth doing should be done well, and in order to vote well you need a candidate.

captain furious said...

I have to agree with Nick. Beyond that I don't think anyone is sitting out of voting just because of anger over the health care bill. While I'm glad it does some things (increases availability for children, preexisting conditions etc) it's a far cry from a good bill. In fact, for those like me who could not afford health care before having to now buy it and trust a massive flux of new customers will make it affordable is not good news. It's a pretty mixed bag. That said, I think Nick is right about the many disappointments of the Obama admin. Why they've chosen the strategy of fire up their base with petulance on their own behalf is also beyond me.

In any event, I voted for Justin Coussoule today over John Boehner. That felt good. Then I voted for odious Dem Lee Fisher over Repub Rob Portman. That did not.

I think the contraries and ambivalence of that experience more or less captures most libs feeling about Dems and the Obama admin. as a whole. There's stuff to like, even feel good about, but then there' s a whole bunch of rank disaster and awfulness that is repugnant. But, as always, vote Dem. cause the other side is so much worse.

Joe Clement said...

Is it not possible to hold onto the conviction that all the people like your brother deserve the care they are now able to get because of the Health Insurance bill (I refuse to call it a Health Care bill, which only obfuscates the interests that shaped it), that it is good that they can get it, AND that this is an awful bill? I don't know your personal exchanges, and ***maybe this all applies to a very narrowly conceived criticism***, but the larger reason to maintaining some criticism of the Health Insurance bill doesn't seem to be about ideological purity but keeping the public discourse clear about what this bill does and who it does it for.

It is completely true, legitimate and fair to say that this bill provides for a lot of needy people and removes some pretty gross policies about pre-existing conditions. I do not think it is so clear that these provisions were included strictly to benefit those people - anymore than bread and circus was for the benefit of the Roman populace. We can defend what the bill does for your brother (which is to say defend the notion of collectively-funded healthcare) without defending the bill (which is to say further the wedding of doing the right thing and doing right by private industry). That seems to be the bottom-line of Health Insurance bill criticism.

Timothy Morton said...

Joe, would that you were right. Many people I've heard from and who have posted on e.g. Huffington Post feel that there should have been NO bill WHATSOEVER. This is a morally untenable position.