American Consequences - October 2017

Sitting in Waiting Rooms Forever First, a story about the supposedly “dysfunctional” private health care system we’ve got now... About 10 years ago, I was treated for cancer. (Successfully, I’m glad to say.) I underwent treatment at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Because I’m a journalist, “everything is a story,” including me getting sick. I took a lot of notes. I’ve just consulted those notes and I quote a passage verbatim: I was nagged by a concern about the quality of my medical care. Was it too good? I’m well insured and passably affluent. I asked Jason Aldous, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s media relations manager, “What if I weren’t?” “We’re a charitable institution,” Aldous said. “No one will ever be refused care here. On the other hand, we have to keep the lights on. We do try to find any possible means of payment – government programs, private insurance, et cetera.” The hospital has a whole department devoted to that. “In about 60% of cases,” Aldous said, “people who think they aren’t eligible for any assistance actually

UBI keeps popping up like a bad penny. Indeed, it’s much like the bad penny we now get from the U.S. Mint – worthless zinc with attractive, shiny copper plating. If the Universal Basic Income idea really gets going and smashes into the single-payer health care idea, the collision will leave American society a total wreck. Americans will be turned into beggars and thieves. We’ll all be panhandlers squatting on the curb of the political avenue, rattling our tin cups at our elected officials to bum more spare change off the government. And we’ll be worse than that. We’ll be robbers, too. Democracy gives us the gun and the mask for the mugging. The majority of people are always of comparatively modest means. As a majority, we can vote to make our means less modest by stealing everything we can from other Americans. There are plenty of good practical and ideological arguments against single-payer health care and Universal Basic Income. But I don’t intend to make them. Men and women who are smarter and more politically savvy than I am will (I hope) do that for me. Instead, I’d like to tell a couple of stories.

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