Saturday, May 28, 2011

Once again, Peggy Noonan shows off her delusional mental state...

Peggy Noonan has written some wonderful speeches in her day, but her columns in the WSJ are so married to ideology as to be fiction, rather than commentary. Here I express my alarm that such a prominent conservative voice pointed the finger of blame for the BP oil spill at Obama, instead of at BP, the hugely profitable, multi-national corporation that made the error-ridden business decisions leading up to the spill.

Today, Noonan's word of the day is "unsustainable."
"The American establishment, on both sides of the political divide, is admitting as never before that we are in an existential challenge. And this is progress. It was not always so! It wasn't so two years ago."
As Noonan acknowledges, many Americans outside of the "American establishment" recognized back in 2008 that it was time for a change - that the challenges facing America were severe, painful and absolutely needed to be addressed. That it's taken the "establishment" some years to catch on is a symptom of the blindness facing our leaders today.
"Elected officials began to get the message. Now they've got it. Our spending and debt are—and it is interesting that this is the first great buzzword of the new decade— 'unsustainable.'"
So who does Noonan feel is the savior of our  nation?


Paul Ryan, the man who is "at the summit, soldiering on."

The big problem of Ryan's Medicare plan, she feels, is that "people fear the complexities and demands of a new delivery system."

Oh Peggy! That's SO not the problem with Ryan's plan! The problem with Ryan's plan is the plan itself. It's asking people on fixed incomes to assume more of their health care costs. It's dumping seniors back onto the free market - the market that doesn't want anything to do with them at all! - so that we can control the costs of health care for our senior citizens. And it's handing senior citizens an $11,000 voucher to cover their health care needs.

So yes, under Ryan's plan, health care costs will be "controlled" because seniors won't be able to afford health care - though Paul Ryan and Peggy Noonan don't want anyone to say that.

But seniors aren't as stupid as the GOP thinks - they know $11,000 won't cover a hip replacement or chemotherapy or most of the prescriptions they need to help with glaucoma, high blood pressure, etc and so on. They know that to preserve the stash of dough our government needs to bail out banks (because in case Noonan hasn't noticed, that massive TBTF issue has not yet been resolved, leaving our banks still TBTF and thus, ripe for future bailouts), we've apparently got to ask seniors to head bravely out into that "free market" health care model that profits most when it pays out the minimum for the health care costs of its insured customers.

Worse, Ryan's plan ties voucher increases to inflation, though for years, health care expenses have risen dramatically higher than inflation. Here's what Ryan has to say about that in his Path to Prosperity (p. 45):
"Today, Medicare spending is growing at a rate of 7.2 percent every year. This is more than twice as fast as this nation’s economy is growing."
Which means that people on the GOP's voucher program will soon find their ability to pay for health care severely limited.

Noonan thinks she knows what "the people" are thinking about this:
"...Normal people are more likely to sit slouched at the kitchen table with their head in their hands. 'Oh no, another big decision, another headache, 50 calls to an insurance company, another go-round with the passive-aggressive phone answerer who, even though she's never met me, calls me Freddy as she puts me on hold.'"
Normal people aren't sitting around the kitchen table with their head in their hands. Ryan's plan does not have them worrying about the "go-round with the passive-aggressive phone answerer" at the insurance company, though they are immensely irritated by such things.

They're freaked out about how they'll pay for health care at all. 

For Noonan to view "normal humans" as those who "don't relish making informed decisions about things they're not sure of..." is so condescending. And so wrong.

Decisions surrounding health care are not the same as decisions about which toilet paper to buy. When at Target or WalMart, you can compare brands of toilet paper. You can decide what to buy based on the pricing, softness and squeezability of the product.

You simply cannot shop for health care that way. Insurance companies negotiate complex and opaque pricing arrangements with health care providers and medical supply companies.  A consumer is not privy to the pricing until after the procedure or product has been purchased. A consumer cannot fully know which product or procedure is better because they've not spent years in med school training to be a physician. A consumer of health care is often someone who is panicked at the news of a terrifying diagnosis and  thus cannot think practically about the "purchase."

So for people like Noonan and Ryan to think that "normal people" will be happy to be handed $11K for their health care, at a time in life when their health care is the most expensive it will ever be, and their ability to earn an income to pay for it is limited by age and health issues, that's demagoguery of the worst kind.

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