Sunday morning musing time. Its fun being a science fiction writer. I can string together ideas and see if they fit, in the context of internal logic rather than convincing anyone that something is “actually real”. And a flow of notions this morning connected in an interesting way.
This will connect with some basic notions: you’ll spot them as we go along, but they include
- The “three gates” of speech:
Is it true?
Is it useful?
Is it kind?
- The notion of human equality between groups defined by race and gender
- A wilder notion, something called “Big Body Heuristics”: that the actions of large organizations are best understood as if they are demi-lifeforms with dim consciousness and survival motivations.
Let’s have fun.
I think I see a cluster of exaggerations that one side thinks kind, and the other side finds useful. It involves UHC, Universal Health Care. Something that the Left says works just fine everywhere in the world but here, and the Right says “it doesn’t work” and “it is too expensive.”
I think we can put the raw facts out pretty easily: Let’s compare the U.S. and Canada, shall we?
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) believes Canada spent approximately $228 billion on health care in 2016. That’s 11.1 per cent of Canada’s entire GDP and $6,299 for every Canadian resident.
U.S. health care spending grew 4.3 percent in 2016, reaching $3.3 trillion or$10,348 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.9 percent.
People who say “we can’t afford it” wouldn’t’ seem to be looking at the same numbers. They also can’t say “it doesn’t work, as the relative life spans of Canada and the U.S. are 82 and 79. The World Health Organization considers longevity and infant mortality to be the most basic indicators of a country’s health. Beware of people who try to complicate or distract from this.
What’s the problem, then?
I think that the main problem with UHC is that the Left doesn’t want to say “your taxes will go up” and the Right doesn’t want to say “I don’t want my money spent to help strangers stay well.”
There is a…shall we way “clarity gap” because the raw stats show very clearly that it is more efficient and effective for producing the core indicators of health, and cheaper per capita. But…there is a shift of money spent from the private to the public arena. THAT is definitely true.
So…people confuse the truth.
Your taxes will go up…but your expenditures will go down, on average. THAT would seem to be the truth.
Government would get bigger (assuming nothing else shifted) so the “government can’t do anything right” people are of course up in arms. Note that they have to ignore a raft of evidence from around the world that UHC gets better results. Usually they will counter with anecdotal, or mention some specific disease where people are better served by private insurance. They’d HAVE to exist, just like there are living cells in that hamburger you just ate. But keep your eyes on the ball: longevity and infant mortality. Watch them argue about what the definition of “is” is. It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.
So…Cui bono? Who benefits from the confusion?
Let’s see…there would be some on either side. I’ll try to present what I see as the possibilities with as little editorializing as possible. I can’t deny I have a perspective, but I’ll try to be as objective as possible. I DO start with the assumption that the statistics offered are roughly accurate. They can be checked very easily, which is an advantage. NO ONE WHO DENIES THESE BASIC STATISTICS could possibly agree with what follows, so your opinions are predictable and IMO irrelevant to the discussion.
Why might someone deliberately distort the truth?
- Left: people who want UHC and are willing to twist the truth to get better health care.
- Left: people who want government to grow larger.
- Right: People who don’t believe the statistics, and believe that UHC is less effective or more expensive for a nation.
- Right: People who don’t want their tax dollars spent in this way, for “those” people.
- Right: People afraid of larger government
- Right: People afraid that their specific health needs will be less effectively treated in such a system. The cost of taxes PLUS a health rider policy might reasonably be higher than the cost of a basic private policy alone. This is not an hallucination, and is an honorable objection IMO.
All of these have to do with “people”. What individual human beings desire and fear. But…there are other entities involved. And here is where we veer into SF territory.
View “Governments” and “Corporations” as demi-life forms, large and complex enough to have quasi-consciousness but certainly the “desire” to survive and grow. Each contains the same human beings (consider them like “cells” in the overall body) and each is ideal (IMO) for different aspects of human life.
But…they both cooperate, and are in competition. In some ways, deadly competition. Private industries seem better for almost any consumer desires and products, governments better at infrastructures and critical services. Governments put limitations on Corporations through laws and taxes…and Corporations feed the notion of deregulation and distrust of governments through donations to political groups and advertising.
Oh, it’s fun to watch. I do remember listening to Communists talking about how all the industry should be under the control of government. They seemed unreasoning fanatics to me. Now I hear people talking about how government can’t do ANYTHING right, and THEY sound just the same: unreasoning fanatics. Of course, as you modify that POV, you get more and more reasonable: a debate about which form of organization is better for what result at what time by what standards is perfectly fine.
But beware of people who enter the discussion with that “government can’t do anything!” attitude. Treat them like Communists or Flat Earthers and I think you’ll be safest.
Look for the real arguments under the lies: yeah, taxes will go up. But overall expenditures will go down. Look for the people who understand that, and obfuscate.
And ask yourself: what is the future of our culture? Our species? Our planet? What do you consider the basic social contract? Speak of that honestly, without lying. The truth is enough. If we speak the truth, we will, I believe, come to the best decisions.
Unless…you look down on the “common man”. Think that there is a hierarchy of value and capacity that prevents Democracy from working, or even a Democratic Republic from really functioning. This is definitely the “nature” side of the argument. It will rarely speak its truth, as some of the conclusions are things we’ve decided are anathema to the dream of America. There is a toxic aspect to the other side as well: the notion that everyone should get equal results. On a group level dealing with race and ethnicity, I agree that with a level playing field you will get roughly equal results. On an individual level…not so much. And if you believe that it would be equal, even for all individuals, then the force of Government to bring that to life would be oppressive and toxic.
OF course, there are people who believe a level playing field would bring equal results, AND DON’T WANT THAT. They want that nice advantage. They just won’t say it out loud.
And there are others who just don’t believe that ‘those’ people are equal. They will generally hide that behind defining equality as social, or legal, or “in the eyes of God” or “I treat people as individuals.” That’s fine. And many of them are fine, moral people. But watch out for those phrases, and be aware of what is hiding behind them.
And be aware that when an organization of any kind grows to a certain size, its actions might best be interpreted as those of an organism: hungry, growing. And at a larger size, with sophisticated communication…one might wonder if its actions might be considered those of an organism developing a central nervous system…or even awareness.
The tobacco industry certainly looked out for itself rather than its customers.
Those who believe in AGW would certainly consider that the petroleum industry seems to be more interested in its own survival than that of human beings (short sighted, yes. But I didn’t say that demi-organism was smart)
And the Insurance Industry, seeing its power threatened would certainly (from that odd quasi-life form perspective) join with other corporations looking to suppress the power of the only “life” form on the planet which rivals and controls it. “Smart” enough to support the political/philosophical positions that fear government. Enough to get people to ignore relatively simple statistics, and vote against their own best interests.
But that’s just morning musing, just asking what perspectives make sense of different events. Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed. Not just between different groups of human beings, but between human and non-human entities.
Its fun being a science fiction novelist. I don’t have to convince people of anything except: “Isn’t this a fun story?”
Well….isn’t it fun?