I have now received five emails to this Sullivan piece:
Now we see the real struggle for the soul of this administration. Obama wants to tackle the insolvency of the big three entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. These three programs, especially Medicare, will destroy the fiscal future, unless we pare them back now. Left untouched, they will also make it much likelier in the near future that global financial markets may finally snap and stop sending money to a country that looks more and more like those subprime mortgage-owners than a serious polity.
A few thoughts. First, I don’t think there is any disagreement anywhere that there is a problem with medicare and medicaid. Second, I simply can not take seriously anyone who worries about Social Security going insolvent in thirty years when there is a solid chance our currency will not make it to 2010. Third, the reason social security is such a hot-button issue is because we have been looting it for decades.
There. I have addressed this. Only a fool can not see the writing on the wall- we are going to have to move to single-payer at some point, because businesses can not compete and the largest problem for Detroit is… their health care obligations and other retiree benefits. Likewise, we spend an enormous amount of our GDP on health care yet have rankings that look third world on issues like infant mortality. Something has to give.
And before the morons start saying I have switched positions on this, I haven’t done anything of the sort. My consistent position the last few years has been that this is sort of inevitable, and whether I want this to happen or not is irrelevant. It will happen. I had sort of felt things were moving this way, and as we all know, our Captains of Industry at Wal-Mart are pretty ok with pushing off the cost of the health care of their employees onto the public. When United Airlines managed to just say to hell with a couple hundred thousand employees and say to hell with their pensions and healthcare in 2005, it sort of became glaringly obvious to me what big business thought the future held for us. Just today a story out of Detroit that Ford is, under an agreement, allowed to substitute their stock for payments to a retiree health care trust. Showing no sense of irony, the other headline at the NY Times is Stocks Slump on Corporate Woes; Indexes Fall by 3.4%. Any of you junior Nostradamus’ want to take a stab at what is going to happen to the retirees covered under that plan? I know what my guess is.
The only thing that is not settled, as far as I can tell, is how much damage we will do moving to the system. It will be a joy to behold, especially listening to folks with lifetime sinecures at prestigious organizations with lucrative health benefits or politicians with government provided health care yelling socialism until their last gasp, but it will happen. Again, the only real question is will we be able to summon up our American ingenuity and in our Solomonic wisdom make a single-payer system that tries to adopt the best of both worlds, does neither, yet still manages to make the members of the gilded class even richer and leaves us with the worst health care system in the industrial and post-industrial world.
The last few years has left me convinced we are up to that challenge. And stop emailing me nonsense.