Tuesday, July 24, 2007

President Bush suggests uninsured children go to hospital emergency rooms for their care

Yet again, Bush astounds us with his idiocy.

The trouble is not that he vetoed a bill that included outrageous tax hikes--we can credit his incidental Republicanism for at least landing him in the right position on this one--but that he actually said:

People have access to health care in America... After all, you just go to an emergency room.

We're not just talking about poor adults, which most of America is okay hating, but children! To Bush, having millions of children without health insurance isn't a problem. If the man could spend 10 minutes in an urban hospital's emergency room, perhaps he'd change his mind. Or, perhaps he doesn't realize how widespread the problem is, and Kanye West was right.

And let's not even get started on what's wrong economically with encouraging the uninsured to simply go to the emergency room....

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  • I'm not sure the equation between opposing this program (S-CHIP) and "hating the poor" is altogether valid.

    One can have considerable sympathy for the poor, and still question whether the expansion of government programs, which redistribute wealth from one group of people to another, is a prudent way of alleviating poverty. Bread & circuses has costs. E.g., The erosion of self-reliance, both on the part of recipients, and on the part of private citizens who might otherwise be moved to help them. The dependence of a large portion of the citizenry upon the government for life's essentials. The teaching, implicit in all wealth-redistribution programs, that voters can vote themselves increased largesse from the public trough. Poverty may well be a sufficiently grave concern that these costs are worth bearing; but we should at least consider them.

    Likewise, even if we accept wealth-redistribution as the solution to the lack of health insurance in this country, I am not sure that handing control over such a program to distant decision-makers is such a good idea. If our federal-level politicians are so divorced from reality that they can make gaffes like the one mentioned here, is there really much to be gained from letting the federal government handle this problem (as opposed to leaving it at the state & local levels)?

    By Blogger Avenging Sword, at 9:19 AM, July 25, 2007  

  • Um, did you read the post? As I said, the problem is not that he opposed the bill, where intelligent people might disagree. The problem is that he dismissed the problem of people being without health insurance by saying they can just use the emergency room.

    If you're focused on the economics of the debate, then you should note that it's the insured that pay for superfluous emergency room visits in the form of higher premiums. This is turn makes it more expensive to afford insurance and means more people are uninsured. Regardless of what you think the solution is, you simply cannot defend Bush's dismissal of the problem.

    I cannot believe the callousness of a man that would simply refer children to the emergency room for their primary care. It's a grave evil.

    By Blogger Paul, at 1:20 PM, July 26, 2007  

  • I wasn't defending Bush's remarks. Although I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call him callous (let alone evil), it does appear he's out of touch. When the First Family relies on White House doctors for their regular care, it's no stretch to conclude that Bush is simply clueless about the real situation in American ER's. The term "callous", to me, implies that he's fully aware of the situation (e.g., via repeated use of the ER at Providence Hospital to obtain care for his own kids), and he _still_ evinces no sympathy. I am reluctant to draw such a conclusion based on a single sound bite. "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence." In the absence of further data regarding his state of mind, I'm inclined to chalk this one up to ignorance.

    As for evil...it seems there's a bit of difference between, say, murdering innocents in cold blood, and a callous remark.

    My comments were primarily directed at the notion - implicit, it appears, in the linked article - that federally-funded health insurance is obviously the solution to the "crisis" presented by the absence of such insurance among certain portions of the population. My concern - with this and other latter-day bread & circuses programs - isn't so much with economics, as the corrosive effects of such programs on the American political system.

    On the topic of economics, however...it seems that expanding federally-funded health insurance won't change much there. It might lower premiums, but we'd compensate via higher taxes. Perhaps there'd be some savings in the process, or not; bureaucracy isn't exactly cheap.

    By Blogger Avenging Sword, at 2:45 PM, July 26, 2007  

  • I wouldn't form judgments on the president based on one sound bite. Sadly, there have been years full of this kind of stuff.

    And I have to concede that it may well be that ignorance is more to blame than malice here; but then, I would call it culpable ignore and evil as such. The president does not have any excuse for this kind of ignorance.

    As for evil, it's a broader category then murdering in 'cold blood,' or in warm blood for that matter. Participating in the kind of policies that willfully deny health care to children is evil. And again, even if done in ignorance, it's culpable ignorance.

    As for health care, we're bound to disagree as I am absolutely in favor of a socialized system which guarantees access to health care to everyone (and no, not just access to the emergency room!). I'm not looking to debate that here, but stick to my original point: where intelligent people might disagree, Bush is not intelligent, and indifferent to the needs of the poor.

    By Blogger Paul, at 1:10 PM, July 27, 2007  

  • Apologies if I came across as implying that you were judging the President based on a sound bite; that wasn't my intent.

    Whether one can term Bush's ignorance "culpable" or not depends, I think, on one's views on the responsibilities of the President (and the federal government in general). Universal health care may well be a laudable goal; but I'm not sure its provision is a federal responsibility. (Of course reasonable men may differ here; I've been on both sides of the federalism fence myself.) If it isn't, then I don't think you could term the President's ignorance culpable, at least as I understand the term.

    I understand that "evil" encompasses acts besides premeditated murder; I'll take your word for it that culpable ignorance can be classified as "evil" in some technical sense. I'm reluctant to employ the term "evil" with great frequency, or in too many different contexts, because I think that cheapens the term, and (in extremis) can make it almost mundane. I'll readily admit that this is a personal preference, with no bearing on moral philosophy.

    I'm not really sure what to do about health care specifically; I haven't thought about it in a while. I'm not a big fan of socialized medicine; OTOH, I've been drifting away from the Church of the Free Market for several years now. When I get bored with international relations, immigration, etc., perhaps I'll give it another look.

    By Blogger Avenging Sword, at 1:44 PM, July 27, 2007  

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