LINK: Mr. Mackey's Editorial
Since all rational people believe natural selection is the mechanism by which life evolves on this planet, I suppose it's just obligatory to apply this model to our government. On the surface, it appears compassion does not promote survival of the fit. If you believe Ayn Rand, it is the self-destructive path and most of the "haves" would like to impose this ideology on the "have nots". But actually our compassion is the only thing which keeps us civilized. Unfortunately, in large groups it becomes easy to distance ourselves from compassion and treat everything with logic.
Mr Mackey of Whole Foods fame will tell you compassion equals socialism. We can't afford to be compassionate. We will run out of money and everyone will die, but I didn't see this argument from Mackey about starting an illegal war with Iraq that was arguably more expensive and killed several hundred thousand people. He says health care isn't a right any more than food or shelter. I would agree with this statement to the effect that if you want to pay for food and shelter for those who don't have it, I would gladly pay more taxes for that too. We can't afford to make sure people don't starve or freeze to death either?
It's funny that any assistance from the government is labeled as an entitlement or socialism; the boogeyman of all greedy people in the world. It's a slippery slope from letting bums sleep in a vacant gym with a PB&J sandwich to redistributing all the wealth evenly across the population. People are not entitled to health care? The left wing group the AARP did a study that shows 1.85 million people went bankrupt due to medical bills last year and over half of them had health insurance. I guess they are taking financial responsibility for their well-being so this should promote social consciousness. Maybe they'll think twice about getting fat or smoking next time. Funny.
The most difficult part to believe is there are some Christians who claim to follow the teachings of a man who walked the earth giving everything he had to help as many people as possible and this is their role model, but yet they still say we can't afford to help everyone. I understand how the CEO of a big corporation might not be able to help anyone (their ideology is based on working hard for every dollar they can consume and it doesn't make sense to give anything away), but people who devote their spirit to spreading goodwill and peace should not be capable of this callousness.
To advocate the devil I will address Mr. Mackey's alternative to real health care reform because it is just misdirection to avoid paying for anything. His "reform" ideas only help himself and the people in his inner circle. I've heard the argument that 80 percent of people are happy with their health care coverage (really? Happy with the cost? Happy that they have none? Blissfully ignorant?), but a recent study shows that 90 percent of the people covered by the NHS in England (which is all of the people) are happy with it. I can't find any data to support the statement that 830,000 are waiting to be admitted to hospital in Canada and 1.8 million in England. I guess anyone with an appointment is "waiting" in line.
Is Mr. Mackey suggesting we should punish people who are overweight, smokers, make poor nutrition choices, or prone to some other health issue? You didn't eat your green beans. That doctor's visit will be two hundred dollars.Suggestions by Mr. Mackey:
1) Deregulate obstacles to high-deductable health savings accounts - How does this help unemployed, underemployed or children who are in most need of health care reform? High-deductable? Isn't that gambling? Savings? If you save, you can pay for it. This makes you feel responsible and increases your self-image? I could write a whole article about this suggestion.
2) Equalize tax laws so self-insured can deduct taxes for health care like employee-insured - doesn't this sound like a money shuffle? This is supposed to give self-insured customers more money to pump back into the economy, but how does it reduce health care costs or improve the care and coverage? It just gives the government less money, but luckily we're running a surplus, so they can afford to get less money. This doesn't address any problems with the system, it's just a band-aid.
3) Deregulate insurance companies on what they must cover - Wow! Making insurance companies actually cover things makes it cost more? You mean if they didn't really have to cover anything, they could just collect premiums and never pay out anything? That would probably make insurance cheaper. I think my head is going to explode. I hope that's covered.
4) Allow people to go across state lines to get insurance - If some states are cheaper than other states now, the way some group plans are cheaper than other group plans, then why would they continue to be the same cheaper rates if people could move around to different groups? It just means everyone will be paying the same high rate. The high rates won't drop from the competition. I'm all for letting people change plans with no pre-existing conditions and force the insurance companies to take all patients at the same low price (no group plans or group rates). Maybe this is what Mr. Mackey is suggesting, but somehow I doubt it.
5) Tort reform - The paper tiger. I suppose we all love pinatas, but frivolous law suits are estimated at 0.5 to 2 percent of health care costs. The argument is that doctors are required to pay higher rates for their insurance and they pass this savings on to you, or in some cases decide to become a lawyer instead of a doctor. Every real estimate of the "cost" of health care puts this item down at the bottom of the list. Last year, health insurance companies spent 400 million dollars on lobbyists and the estimate of profit for companies on average is 25 cents of every premium dollar. It sounds like we could save at least 25 percent by making this a non-profit industry even if we don't make it more efficient. I didn't see this suggestion.
6) Make costs transparent - I suggest that we make Whole Foods costs transparent so we know exactly how much they pay for every item and how much the distributors paid for that and what each employee of each product company is making so we know where those dollars are going. Maybe this would make our Whole Foods cost go down. I suppose the theory is they would be shamed into not screwing their customer. Shame and Heath Care Provider are not usually used in the same sentence. LexisNexis it if you don't believe me.
7) Medicare reform - Fix the most successful government program in the history of all world governments? That's going to save health care costs? I think he means fix it by not funding it. It's just old people and kids. They should be able to fend for themselves and we can empower them instead of enable or entitle them. Ugh!
8) A tax-deductible voluntary donation to help people without insurance - because the only thing keeping people from donating now is the tax they are paying on that money. You know, except for the voluntary part, I'm ok with this suggestion. Change it to - "A mandatory donation to the government to pay for health care for anyone that needs it." Sounds great. Why don't we just make all taxes voluntary. People are basically good anyway.
Everyone says Mr. Mackey has a right to his opinion and freedom of speech, and I'm fine with that, but he's using a position of power to mislead people especially if he's suggesting any compassion about his position. He doesn't want any health care reform unless it just makes it cheaper for him. He doesn't want any one to get more health care unless it's free and he doesn't want to fix anything with the system unless it also takes power away from the government to enforce it. Free market works great! Deregulation is awesome for rich people. He is all for individual responsibility unless it involves corporation. That's the corporation's fault and government meddling when they fail and we are all here to bail you out, unless you get sick.
You probably have COBRA though, right?