Guest post: Now is not the time to be nice

Originally a comment by Bruce Gorton on This racially disproportionate rate of death.

One of the most disgusting responses to the virus I saw was – The View accusing Bernie Sanders of politicizing the crisis by pushing medicare for all.

Joe Biden sounding very much like he’d veto medicare for all if it ever actually passed the lower houses.

Biden had previously said medicare for all wouldn’t help – just look at how Italy’s healthcare service was over-run.

Well, if you go to Vox and look at their story from two days ago that included charts of infection rates, what you can see from their linear graph is that Italy has handled the virus significantly better than the US, despite both countries having failed to lock down early enough.

The US is handling this crisis uniquely badly, and a big chunk of that is that the US’ healthcare policy is highly fragmented. Because the US is entirely reliant on private healthcare, some insurers are waiving costs for treatment, others are not.

And it required bringing in new legislation to make the tests free, which meant delays on getting sufficient testing done.

So you’ve got a crisis which requires federal action to deal with. Leaving it up to the states means you get stupid shit like giving religious exemption to lockdowns despite the fact that religious gatherings are pretty good at spreading the disease.

It also means that you have big gaps in who has adequate and inadequate medical infrastructure.

And yes, the virus is in rural America.

There is a real risk of creating reservoirs of the virus that reinfect places that took sensible measures, because the handling of it is so fragmented.

So essentially it is fine to politicize the pandemic in order to prevent any action that might conceivably help solve the crisis and mitigate future pandemics, that’s exactly what Joe Biden did with regards to Italy.

But to suggest letting people get free-at-the-point-of-service healthcare under a unified federal system is bad form. There is a disgusting and frankly odious hypocrisy in that.

Now you’ll note I’m hitting the Democratic Party in this. This is because right now the Democrats need to start showing some spine.

If they cannot argue for a more unified approach on public healthcare now, then when can they?

The argument from high costs is identical to the argument against dealing with climate change, and suffers the same problems. The fact is that you’re already paying for the status quo, and you’ve got no guarantees of treatment under the status quo.

Much like climate change, the cost of doing nothing may well be more than the cost of action.

What medicare for all does is essentially migrate how you pay for healthcare to doing it through your taxes. If healthcare costs are destined to balloon over the next decade, they’ll still do that if you’re doing it through the private sector. Doctors will still need to be paid, medicines will still need to be made, if you get sick, you will still need treatment.

Where the savings predicted in medicare for all come in are through economies of scale, you need less administration for one healthcare system versus a whole load of insurance companies, and through savings on drugs due to the fact that a single payer has more negotiation power.

You also have better preventative care, and earlier detection of health problems, reducing the costs of dealing with those problems as a whole.

The US pays more for medication than any other country in the world, and that medication is developed into a commercial product by drug companies, but are actually often discovered by publicly funded universities.

So the argument that the private sector is the driver for new drug discoveries is in fact dodgy.

This is the case that should be being made by what is supposed to be the leftist party in America, yet they are too timid to make it even as the current sitting president is confiscating medical supplies from hospitals.

When Zimbabwe suffered through its economic collapse, one of the things Zanu-PF did was ensure that their supporters got food aid, while the opposition did not.

The fact that you cannot trust the current president not to do the same thing in this crisis means now is not the time to be nice.

There comes a time in which a party has to be able to fight. To stand up and suggest solutions and not back down for fear of getting criticized.

A politician’s job is to politicize things, to suggest political solutions to problems, to debate what action the body politic should be taking, and for far too long and on far too many issues, this has become taboo because that taboo supports the kind of people who buy patents for diabetic medications and hike the prices.

If you’re hiring somebody for a job, you don’t want somebody who is too cowardly to do the job. The Democratic Party needs to do better here, or risk losing to a man who belongs in jail, not the Oval Office.

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