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Trying Out A New Villain

As expected, Massachusetts' universal health care program (a.k.a. ObamaCare Lite) is running into problems. And the Boston Globe, desperate to find the magic formula to make it all work to justify their demands for it, is auditioning a new villain for the piece. And make no mistake -- they need a bad guy who they can blame for the current system's failures. They need to rally people's passions for "reform" and "change," and the easiest way is to pick a fiend for everyone to hate. It's a workable variant on Alinsky's rule about " pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

Initially, it was easy. The eternal target of the left, Big Business, was practically ready-made for the situation. They had Big Insurance and Big Pharma, straight from central casting, as their bad guys. So in Massachusetts, they did the logical, sensible thing. Since insurance companies are licensed and regulated by the state, and have to get state permission to raise their premiums, it was a simple matter: just don't allow the insurance companies to charge people more. That'll work like a dream, right?


Insurance companies, like Big Oil and other very big companies, actually tend to operate on very thin profit margins. Single-digit annual profits are actually quite typical. As the old saying goes, they make it up in volume -- but that means that changes to their rate structure will also have very big effects. Earlier this year, when Massachusetts denied many insurance companies' requests for rate hikes, several of them pointed out -- honestly, as such tightly-regulated businesses have to keep their books open -- that without rate hikes, they would be losing money. Some of them even publicly contemplated closing up shop in the Bay State.

At that point, the control freaks who run the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (also known as "Democrats") finally recognized a harsh reality: their power over the insurance companies was based on a single threat: "do what we tell you, or you won't be allowed to do business at all here." The insurance companies were getting close to calling that bluff by simply saying "OK" and leaving of their own initiative, on their own terms and their own timeline.

That appears to have given a grand klong to the Powers That Be in the bluest of blue states. Because all of a sudden they've stopped demonizing Big Insurance, and are flailing for a new way to put the pieces together.

Trotting out the first trial balloon is the ever-reliable Boston Globe, who is telling the insurance companies to "work smarter, not harder" and "do more with less."

A more modest increase for customers, with the difference covered by lower profit margins for insurers and lower reimbursements to hospitals and doctors. At every level, insurers and providers must strive to make sure that waste is cut, not services. Only such a concerted effort, step by step in the process, can succeed in reducing the staggering rate of medical-care increases.

So, to translate, the increased costs should not be borne strictly by the insurance companies, but shared with the actual health care providers. After all, insurance companies can pull up stakes and move on, but hospitals are actual buildings with zillions of dollars of equipment and other expensive stuff, so they can't move on so readily. And as for doctors... well, they've got their patients to care for, so we can count on that pesky Hippocratic Oath to keep most of them from scramming. Besides, if ObamaCare comes to pass, skipping state lines won't work, either. Insurance companies can just get out of the health insurance business altogether and focus on other areas, but doctors don't have that option.

The fundamental problem with Massachusetts Care (and, by extension, ObamaCare) is that the only way the advocates have to push it is to find a villain to demonize and rally people against. And there simply aren't any villains in the story. Nor are there any real heroes. And nor are there any victims.

There are just people. People with differing -- and occasionally conflicting -- priorities and goals and needs.

Is there a magic solution that will make everyone happy? No.

Is there a magic solution that everyone can live with? Maybe.

Is there a magic solution that the government can come up with that everyone can live with? Absolutely not.

Because the government -- especially this regime -- sees only one tool in its toolbox: force. Compulsion. Coercion. And that solution simply won't work in this case. Because instead of trying to deal with each other, all parties concerned will be fighting to get the government on their side, and against the others.

And "the government" isn't some faceless, mindless, impartial obelisk. It's people, too. People who understand that the power and authority they enjoy (again, especially the current regime) is based on remaining in office, so they're going to keep that in mind while hammering out their "perfect" solution. So satisfying the priorities and goals and needs of all parties will take a back seat to making certain the struggle is "won" by those who can best help the powers that be remain the powers that be.

Or, rather, who will get screwed.

Or, even more accurately, who will get screwed first. Because in the end, we'll all get screwed.


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Comments (23)

The people who now want to ... (Below threshold)

The people who now want to control health care are the same people who have been controlling public education for decades.

See the comment above for why this is bad.

And as for doctors... (Below threshold)
And as for doctors... well, they've got their patients to care for, so we can count on that pesky Hippocratic Oath to keep most of them from scramming.

Docs are going to scram into other fields, and the smartest people will no longer go to medical school, like they do now. There will be a shortage of qualified people, so we'll have to lower the standards so that the dumbasses can go to medical school and become doctors and fill the need.

But, it doesn't matter, since Obama and Pelosi will still get their own qualified doctors. The rest of us will die of heart attacks in waiting rooms filled up with illegal aliens with sore throats.

Of course, as with all soci... (Below threshold)
Don L:

Of course, as with all socialistic failures, the true cost will be born by the other leg of the healthcare system -the patient, who by default, will receive ever decreasing quality of care, and eventually; the real efficiency producer - as is happening daily in Holland, some behind their backs plug-pulling by the "healthcare" people themselves. (It happens quickly when they are told it's either that involuntary euthanasia thingy, or cuts in salary and staff.)

As with abortion, it's be for the children (Can't let them see granny suffer now, can we?)

The new villain will be the... (Below threshold)

The new villain will be the public, but only the legal public. Laws and new taxes will be required to control their un-healthy behavior.

side note: Jay, gotta give you credit for continuing to read the globe. I gave it up a few years ago, all for the better.

"The Globe?" Isn't that the... (Below threshold)
Don L:

"The Globe?" Isn't that the endangered thing that rotates in space?

THe key term here is WASTE ... (Below threshold)

THe key term here is WASTE and I don't think it means what they think it means, but they keep using that word.

Yeah, all that "reform". A... (Below threshold)

Yeah, all that "reform". And none of it ever addressed limiting lawsuits or on increasing competition across state lines.

I'm still waiting for just one CEO to grow a set and tell the government to fuck off. Who knows, it might be catching.

I'm still of a couple minds... (Below threshold)
James H:

I'm still of a couple minds about the federal healthcare-reform bill. Despite its flaws, I would like to see the Massachusetts system play out further, and would prefer to see other states try their hands at healthcare reform. They're called the laboratories of democracy for a reason.

"And nor are there any v... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

"And nor are there any victims."

You know that's an interesting point. Before Obama care government "insurance" covered all children (unless their parents had more than about twice the average income), all poor persons were covered regardless of age, and all senior citizens were covered. The only "victims" were those with pre-existing conditions who were not in any of the groups I listed above and in almost all cases those people could get coverage, they'd just have to pay more for it.

After Obamacare kicks in pretty much everyone with more than a very minor medical condition will be a victim.

Not to worry though-- the goverment will just pass more laws to fix the problems that the laws they passed have created (that was the plan all along anyway). And of course, the new laws will cause more problems, but no worries, the government will pass more laws to fix the problems that the laws they passed have created, which will cause more problems so they'll pass more laws, and on and on it will go.

Jay,Take a Gander ... (Below threshold)


Take a Gander and NY an NJ
Hospitals close
Doctors move out of state.
Al because of the lack of tory reform.

The reason for a Federal Health Care system is that as long as people can escape an unreasonable state mandate they will.

A federal system means their is no more escape.
The same way that CA economy is going in the toilet because of their green jobs. In order to make it work make it federal so no once can escape.

They will claim economy of scale but a bad business plan on a small scale is a disaster on larger scale.
They will always point to SS and Medicare(which we know are broke) as successful government social programs.

Excellent post, Jay Tea.</p... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Excellent post, Jay Tea.

Socialism always ultimately resorts to coercion. It has to. Individuals naturally put their interests (including their families) ahead of those of the collective, as socialism requires them to do.

Here's the progression:

1. Socialists need to force individuals to do this. Laws, regulations, etc. follow.

2. Socialists notice that individuals will circumvent the laws and regulations if they're not being watched. Socialists now take on people to watch others.

3. Socialists then notice that individuals will look for the the watchers, and follow the laws and regulations only when they know they're being watched.

4. It dawns on socialists that they can't hire enough watchers to watch everyone all the time, so they establish undercover watchers, aka secret police. This way no one knows when he's being watched.

5. The economy goes into the crapper, along with any vestige of a decent life as the atmosphere becomes oppressive, and people start leaving.

6. Socialists notice that those fleeing are the most energetic, able, and productive members of the population, the ones they need to make things work, while the layabouts...continue to lay about. To staunch the flow, they build walls to keep people in.

7. Socialists, now surrounded by a failed police state shithole, are bitter that the beautiful paradise on earth utopia hasn't materialized. Their theories cannot be flawed; it must be saboteurs and reactionaries screwing things up on purpose. So they think if they just come down hard on political dissidents, then they'll achieve their dream state. And it'll just be for a little while, until they reform Homo sapiens into New Socialist Man. Just a passing phase, the ends justify the means, gotta break some eggs to make an omelet, etc. So they establish a gulag.

8. Eventually, as the years go by and they still need secret police, walls, and the gulag, they realize that none of this things is going away, so they just say "fuck it" and go with it from there on out as a garden-variety totalitarian state with no pretense of striving for paradise on earth.

The progression is inevitable. And it all starts with little things, such as regulations to sort trash into 27 categories for recycling, and then checking that people have done it.

Jay G , that is the first b... (Below threshold)

Jay G , that is the first blog comment I have ever printed out to save.

I would just add, that the left now realizes that the masses also realize this progression, thus the fight to demonize having any of their ideas or actions labled socialism.

I guess blamin Boosh is out... (Below threshold)

I guess blamin Boosh is out of vogue? I prefer to look at Barry as a failed lab test. He is a hardly specimen but he dont fertilize!

"I...would prefer to see ot... (Below threshold)

"I...would prefer to see other states try their hands at healthcare reform. They're called the laboratories of democracy for a reason."

Is one allowed to VOLUNTEER to be 'a lab rat', or is it compulsory?

Trotting out the first t... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Trotting out the first trial balloon is the ever-reliable Boston Globe, who is telling the insurance companies to "work smarter, not harder" and "do more with less."

And yet, it will never occur to them to ask a government entity to do the same thing...

Thanks, doubled. I shoulda ... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

Thanks, doubled. I shoulda proofread it first!

"work smarter, not harder"

Wow, who knew the Globe had such management experts on board? What an insight.

If we ever have hit Ctrl-Alt-Del on this Republic - as I sincerely hope we do not - I propose that we immediately execute anyone who says:

1. "work smarter, not harder" or
2. "speaking truth to power."

If you murder someone after he says that you shouldn't be liable for any more offense than littering, and not even that if you haul the corpse away.

Is one allowed to ... (Below threshold)
James H:
Is one allowed to VOLUNTEER to be 'a lab rat', or is it compulsory?

Compulsory, sort of, but you get a say in it. "Laboratories of democracy" means that you and your fellow citizens of your state can embrace a particular policy, and the federal government or other states can learn from it.

For example, a state might adopt a strict law regarding illegal immigrants. Other states (and the feds) can learn from taht state's experiences ....

The problem, James H, with ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

The problem, James H, with letting this disaster "play out" is that it will continue to take a real toll in people's lives.

The hospital I work for is being forced to cut back by 8 figures. That's 10's of millions of dollars. It's nearly 100's of millions but not quite. They expect THAT cut to come NEXT year.

While you and your socialist buddies are "playing out" your scenarios the rest of us are losing our jobs. The fortunate ones are simply dealing with a multi year pay freeze. I'm glad to know that your expenses are not increasing.

This is not some social experiment where we get to see if a little bit of socialist utopia will work. These are real lives and careers. Then we get to the patients who are being screwed because hospitals can't afford to treat them any longer.

" They're called the labora... (Below threshold)
jim m:

" They're called the laboratories of democracy for a reason."

Then why does the left keep insisting on experimenting with socialism?

Interesting thing I learned... (Below threshold)

Interesting thing I learned the other day. Our FQHC was visited by the Fed Administrators that reside in DC that cover the area. They were all Rah Rah about the new Health Care Reform and ObamaCare. There big message was "we have good news and better news." The good news is you can expect a DOUBLING of Fed $ for the next 2 years. The better news is that all you have to do to qualify for it is to double your patients served. Of course the small print was ignored (the money is only a temporary infusion and you are supposed to be self sufficient after 2-3 years). And how to get the current system revved up to immediately double capacity was brushed off as a minimal challenge.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster AND it sounds as if they expect the number of uninsured to rise, not fall.

Just how clueless is the Bo... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Just how clueless is the Boston Globe to dare to suggest insurance companies, instead of receiving the experience-based premium rates they were guaranteed, should "work smarter, not harder" and "do more with less"?

Anybody seen the Globe's balance sheets over the last few years? They have no business giving business advice to anybody. They've been laying off hundreds and thousands and still are bleeding red ink.

Statists, especially left-w... (Below threshold)

Statists, especially left-wing statists, do not understand economics or psychology. They don't seem to understand that people will follow their own self-interests. Moreover, they don't understand that politicians are not the smartest people around, that others can figure out how to get around their silly laws even if drastic action is required to do so.

If implemented (I hope it won't be), Obamacare will result in two types of medical care in this country. Outstanding care for the rich, which they will pay cash for, and mediocre to poor care for everyone else who doesn't have the cash to pay for the first type.

Anybody seen the G... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:
Anybody seen the Globe's balance sheets over the last few years? They have no business giving business advice to anybody. They've been laying off hundreds and thousands and still are bleeding red ink.

Excellent point.

Hey Globe, work smarter, not harder!






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