Is there actually going to be a future worth having? Nobody knows. But if certain things continue as they are, it doesn't look good. We can make changes that at least take a stand on the kind of a future we want.
There's a lot of media doomsaying on health care reform. But as President Obama said, doing nothing pretty much ensures doom--for the health and well-being of millions, for the ability of the country to progress to a good future, because the course we're on now leads to economic and moral disaster.
Read Paul Krugman's latest column in full to cut through the media crap. Here's how it starts:
"The talking heads on cable TV panned President Obama’s Wednesday press conference. You see, he didn’t offer a lot of folksy anecdotes. Shame on them. The health care system is in crisis. The fate of America’s middle class hangs in the balance. And there on our TVs was a president with an impressive command of the issues, who truly understands the stakes."
Mr. Obama was especially good when he talked about controlling medical costs. And there’s a crucial lesson there — namely, that when it comes to reforming health care, compassion and cost-effectiveness go hand in hand."
What kind of a future do you want? Compassionate or cruel? Prosperous for many or for only a few? This is the choice America is about to make. Or more specifically, one important choice among several we are facing this year.
But without health care reform, you can kiss the rest of it goodbye.
As for why there is such doom and gloom at the moment, the answer is the usual: big money, politics and media--and their insidious interrelationships.
Nate Silver has a complementary analysis:
" Firstly, the media environment has become very treacherous. There's been all sorts of piling on, for instance, about last night's satisfactory press conference -- this is almost certainly the most sustained stretch of bad coverage for Obama since back when Jeremiah Wright became a household name after the Ohio primary.I don't think the media has a liberal bias or a conservative bias so much as it has a bias toward overreacting to short-term trends and a tendency toward groupthink. The fact is that there have been some pretty decent signals on health care."
He continues: The media likes to talk about "momentum". It usually talks about the momentum in the present tense -- as in, "health care has no momentum". But almost always, those observations are formulated based on events of the past and sloppily extrapolated to imply events of the future, often to embarrassing effect: see also, New Hampshire, the 15-day infatuation with Sarah Palin, the Straight Talk express being left for dead somewhere in the summer of 2007, the overreaction to "Bittergate" and the whole lot, and the naive assumption that Obama's high-60's approval ratings represented a paradigm shift and not a honeymoon period that new Presidents almost always experience."
It's good to be reminded by someone other than me that when it comes to Barack Obama, the media has an almost unblemished record of being wrong.
Still, we don't yet know if the House will pass a bill before the August recess, or what the Senate will end up doing by then. Silver doesn't think health care reform will be hurt much during the recess, but nobody knows. Those playing against reform for political advantage, or for attention, or because they are so short-sighted that they can't see its overriding importance, could take control of the debate. They did so last time.
Nobody knows if anything we do will really create a better future or prevent a worse one. But if Americans allow real health care reform that values health more than the profit of a few to be killed again, a certain kind of doom will be self-selected.
But we can select the kind of future we want. Let Congress and the media know what that future should be in health care.
La salute non si paga: Health is not for sale.
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