Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

July 11, 2007

CNN, Moore and Bush

Filed under: politics — codesmithy @ 9:03 am

Michael Moore had a bit of spat with CNN recently. Wolf Blitzer took the brunt of it. I feel a tad bit sorry for Wolf because I feel he generally tries to do a good job, while trying to do the job that his bosses give him. Like any job, sometimes his bosses put him up a creek without a paddle, which is what happened in the Michael Moore interview. It is usually poor form to run a piece where you call the person you are about to interview a liar on live television.

As for the piece that Dr. Gupta put together that set Moore off, with all due respect to Dr. Gupta, it was a product of lazy reporting. As a journalist and a medical professional, he should have been acutely aware that good sources don’t necessarily exactly agree with one another. Therefore, it is disingenuous to nit-pick the numbers and call the other guy misleading or a liar. There are multiple reasons for the discrepancy from differences in the statistical methods used, the way the data was collected, the time of collection and period, to underlying assumptions. Any number that is supposed to correspond to some quality in reality is subject to a margin of error. When attempting to analyze large systems such as costs of national health-care, there will be differences. If there is some reason to believe that one source is better and the difference is essential, which is giving Dr. Gupta the benefit of the doubt, it is usually required to give where the numbers came from, and why they are better. Michael Moore has. Many of the sources are respected universities or government organizations, and anyone can verify them. I doubt, Dr. Gupta’s sources will be significantly more authoritative. As a final note, it is also a good idea to double-check the facts presented as your opponent’s, as he obviously didn’t in the Cuba spending $25 per person fiasco. Honest mistake, possibly. Something caught if the job was done correctly, definitely.

While one the subject of Health Care, George Bush is putting his ideas out in Ohio. In general, I find the majority of his ideas completely nonsensical. The majority of people are not insurance actuaries. They don’t have access to the data that they will need to obtain nominal rates, or know how much money to place in their health savings accounts. Secondly, a large part of “Sicko” is dedicated to explaining how people who thought they had enough coverage actually ended up getting screwed. Third, for all the convoluted methods that the president describes that he must realize expose generally poorly informed individuals to the mercy of well informed companies’ marketing schemes; including the insidious individual tax-breaks which encourage companies to dump their health plans in favor of letting employees get individual insurance which eliminates the scant corporate HR protections large company health programs now provide. If the concern was actually the health the nation, then the blindingly clear incentives of putting a for-profit businesses in between the patient and care-giver should be a top issue. It is always in the middle-man’s interest not to pay, which is backed up in actual testimony, and an obvious dysfunction in the system. Fourth, the president contradicts himself by suggesting that small businesses be allowed to share risk-pools. Well, if larger risk pools are better, then why not form the largest risk pool that we can, everyone in the nation? Fifth, people have bad habits, smoking being one of them, being overweight is another. However, there are government policies that contribute to the weight problem of the nation, along with a cultural shift. These lifestyle choices are not a product of a rational self-interest, and has even less to do with thinking through all the costs of future medical care. Given that they have to suffer the actual medical illnesses, I think adding them to the risk pool isn’t catastrophic for the obvious benefits of covering everyone. Many people die for reasons unrelated to their bad habits. I could go on, but this president and his public record of keeping medical costs low is atrocious. However, it was quite the boon to pharmaceutical companies. I suspect if any of his current proposals are followed, similar results can be expected.

In the interest of actually promoting the general welfare, it does occasionally make sense to socialize a service. Fire departments, and police protection are good examples. As I previously argued, medical care also seems to fit the criteria.

As a parting thought, my favorite part of Bush’s speech in Ohio is where he says he thinks it is “wrong and a mistake” to move private sector health care to the public sector, although he never explicitly states why. Confusingly, this is after expressing his support for Medicare and Medicaid. I wonder what makes him think that public sector health-care is so unacceptable?


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