Imagine Being 80 and Owing 40K in Health Costs Under Republican Paul Ryan's Insane, Randian Plan
Here's Dean Baker's analysis of Paul Ryan's Medicare plan. It should destroy him and the GOP for the foreseeable future, but the merging of the two parties on these issues is so far along, it's quite possible that there will be little fallout unfortunately. The "pragmatists" will undoubtedly find some way to work out the wrinkles:
Representative Ryan Proposes Medicare Plan Under Which Seniors Would Pay Most of Their Income for Health Care
That is what headlines would look like if the United States had an independent press. After all, this is one of the main take aways of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) analysis of the plan proposed by Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee. Representative Ryan would replace the current Medicare program with a voucher for people who turn age 65 in 2022 and later. This voucher would be worth $8,000 in for someone turning age 65 in that year. It would rise in step with with the consumer price index and also as people age. (Health care expenses are higher for people age 75 than age 65.)
According to the CBO analysis the benefit would cover 32 percent of the cost of a health insurance package equivalent to the current Medicare benefit (Figure 1). This means that the beneficiary would pay 68 percent of the cost of this package. Using the CBO assumption of 2.5 percent annual inflation, the voucher would have grown to $9,750 by 2030. This means that a Medicare type plan for someone age 65 would be $30,460 under Representative Ryan's plan, leaving seniors with a bill of $20,700. (This does not count various out of pocket medical expenditures not covered by Medicare.)
Read on. It gets worse. Far worse. All you have to do is imagine what it will be like to be 80 years old, sick with myriad different illnesses and infirmities and unable to afford your health insurance because it costs 40 thousand dollars a year. There will be no nursing homes for you because Medicaid will be effectively gone as well --- only rich people will be able to afford them for their parents. Your kids will have to bear the burden and if they can't, you are just out of luck. What happens then do you suppose?
The fantasy that the Great and Heroic Paul Ryan relies upon is that "the market" will be so full of competition that it will magically keep prices low and profits high and everyone will live happily ever after in a capitalist nirvana. Unfortunately, the insurance industry has already proven that it doesn't respond to normal market forces and there's no reason to believe that it will in the future. They will make profits by covering the young and healthy and finding ways to cut corners on the old and sick. That's how they make money. And Lord knows that Ryan and his ilk don't expect or want them to consider anything else.
Even though altruism declares that “it is more blessed to give than to receive,” it does not work that way in practice. The givers are never blessed; the more they give, the more is demanded of them; complaints, reproaches and insults are the only response they get for practicing altruism’s virtues (or for their actual virtues). Altruism cannot permit a recognition of virtue; it cannot permit self-esteem or moral innocence. Guilt is altruism’s stock in trade, and the inducing of guilt is its only means of self-perpetuation. If the giver is not kept under a torrent of degrading, demeaning accusations, he might take a look around and put an end to the self-sacrificing. Altruists are concerned only with those who suffer—not with those who provide relief from suffering, not even enough to care whether they are able to survive. When no actual suffering can be found, the altruists are compelled to invent or manufacture it.
Paul Ryan doesn't just admire that immature drivel.
Irrational, erratic decision making is what logically happens when you have faith-based "it's in God's hands" legislators and immature Randian fanboys running a government. It tends to devolve into the surreal after a while. And it isn't unprecedented. In fact, there's a very famous
of what happens when a civilization goes backwards into superstition and primitivism:
The concept of a Dark Age originated with the Italian scholar Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) in the 1330s, and was originally intended as a sweeping criticism of the character of Late Latin literature. Petrarch regarded the post-Roman centuries as "dark" compared to the light of classical antiquity. Later historians expanded the term to refer to the transitional period between Roman times and the High Middle Ages (ca. 11th - 13th C.), including not only the lack of Latin literature, but also a lack of contemporary written history, general demographic decline, limited building activity and material cultural achievements in general. Popular culture has further expanded on the term as a vehicle to depict the Middle Ages as a time of backwardness, extending its pejorative use and expanding its scope.
Fortunately for the human species, they didn't have nuclear weapons at the time.
And by the way, I'm not excluding the alleged Masters of the Universe from any of this. Because they are sitting pretty one might think they are actually cunning (if immoral) rationalists taking advantage of the situation. And in the short terms, they are. Shock Doctrine economics is all about the short term. But if you step back a little bit and examine what all those whining CEOs and Wall Street frat boys who insist they are doing "God's work" are actually saying, it's fatuous Randian claptrap. As
, these are people who are so greedy and short sighted that they are willing to kill the goose that laid their golden eggs for a couple of extra dollars they don't need. They are just as backwards as the lowliest Tea Partier -- more, in fact. Their intellectual and moral bankruptcy is so profound that they are knowingly sacrificing their own children's future, which may be a first for aristocrats. (They know the planet itself is in danger --- and they don't care.)
in this months
, Joseph Stiglitz puts it perfectly:
Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” The last two words were the key. Everyone possesses self-interest in a narrow sense: I want what’s good for me right now! Self-interest “properly understood” is different. It means appreciating that paying attention to everyone else’s self-interest—in other words, the common welfare—is in fact a precondition for one’s own ultimate well-being. Tocqueville was not suggesting that there was anything noble or idealistic about this outlook—in fact, he was suggesting the opposite. It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.
The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.
Sadly, it ends up being too late for most of the rest of us as well.
The whole world is drinking a very toxic political cocktail right now, a combination of crude, soulless Randism and fundamentalist religiosity. (Maybe it's the same thing actually, if you define fanatical market superstition as the primitive faith based system it really is.) Its components are stronger or weaker depending on the culture and economic circumstances but it's all one big churning cauldron of human folly, at least partially brought on by massive change and global economic transition. Sadly, it doesn't appear that the species is up to the task of managing it rationally so we're just going to have to ride this out and hope the High Priests and Warriors don't destroy the whole thing in the meantime.