If only… if only…. I could write like Bill Maher. If only Bill Maher could talk sanity to Sean Hannity (couldn't resist the rhyme, sorry) If only I made the money Bill Maher makes… well… I wouldn't worry about paying my $#@$ individual insurance premium that costs twice much as a group policy and covers, well… almost nothing.
If only – as Republicans say – the US had the “best health care system in the world – why then, we wouldn't be ranked #50 in life expectancy.
Why do you think that is? Bill Maher has a possible answer and shared it with viewers last Friday night on his show. It's the myth of the “profit motive” when applied to health care and other essential services.
Here's a snippet… the balance is on the flip:
And finally, New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit. You know, if conservatives get to call universal healthcare “socialized medicine,” I get to call private, for-profit healthcare “soulless, vampire bastards making money off human pain.”
Now, I know what you're thinking: But, Bill, the profit motive is what sustains capitalism! Yes, and our sex drive is what sustains the human species. But we don't try to f*ck EVERYTHING. It's okay for some things to remain non-profit. Just like when it comes to sexual relations, some people are off limits, like your cousin or your sister…or, if you're a leading Republican, your wife.
Now, it wasn't that long ago that when a kid in America broke his leg, his parents took him to the local Catholic hospital, the nun stuck a thermometer in his ass, the doctor slapped some plaster on his ankle and you were done. The bill was $1.50, plus you got to keep the thermometer.
But, like everything else that's good and noble in life, some bean-counter decided that hospitals could also be big business. So, now they're not hospitals anymore. They're Jiffy Lube's with bedpans. The more people who get sick and stay sick, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they're always pushing the Jell-O.
Did you know that the United States is ranked 50th in the world in life-expectancy? And the 49 loser countries where they live longer than us, oh, it's hardly worth it; they may live longer, but they live shackled to the tyranny of non-profit healthcare. Here in America, you're not coughing up blood, little Bobby; you're coughing up freedom.
The problem with President Obama's healthcare plan isn't socialism. It's capitalism. When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism? “Ask not what you could do for your country, ask what's in it for Blue Cross-Blue Shield.”
And it's not just medicine. Prisons also used to be a non-profit thing. And for good reason. Who the hell wants to own a prison? By definition, you're going to have trouble with the tenants. It is not a coincidence that we outsourced running prisons to private corporations, and then the number of prisoners in America skyrocketed. There used to be some things we just didn't do for money.
Did you know, for example, that there was a time when being called a “war profiteer” was a bad thing? FDR said he didn't want World War II to create one millionaire. But, I'm guessing Iraq has made more than a few executives at Halliburton into billionaires.
Halliburton sold soldiers soda for $7.50 a can! They were honoring 9/11 by charging like 7-Eleven. Which is wrong. We're Americans. We do not fight wars for money. We fight them for oil.
And my final example of the profit motive screwing something up that used to be good when it was non-profit? TV news! You know, I heard all the news anchors this week talk about how much better the news coverage was back in Cronkite's day. And I thought, gee, if only you were in a position to do something about it.
But, maybe they aren't. Because this isn't Cronkite's day, when delivering the news was considered a loss leader and a civic duty. Making money was the job of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” And now that we have reporters moving to Alaska and hanging out with the Palin family, the news is “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
Oh, and while we're on the Clampetts, put your mind at ease about health insurance reform…. Jed won't be whittling artifical limbs, Jethro won't be doing brain surgery, Granny won't be the surgeon general, and – please Lord – Mr. Drysdale won't be in charge of any insurance companies.
Not like he – or some similar “money-grubbing-scum-lower-than-a-snake's-belly-in-a-wagon-rut” – is now.