Monday, September 21, 2009

Healthcare Reform: Pour Epater Les Bourgeois

Something occurred to me yesterday: The current hubbub about healthcare is acting as a beautifully nasty red herring to confuse and befuddle voters, when the real issue should be radical financial system reform. Like the French would say: Healthcare reform? C'est pour epater les bourgeois, andouille (tr. It's to shock the middle class, dummy!).

It's the old conjurer's trick: get the masses all riled up about a minor tweaking in healthcare estimated to cost $1 trillion over ten years, while the banking lobby is quietly laughing as they prepare to cash their government-sponsored bonus checks, secure in their knowledge that nothing has changed. All thanks to a deluge of $13-14 trillion of public money in one year alone.

Hoot, hoot y'all, are we maybe chasing the wrong fox? Have a nice week ahead.

Helathcare Reform As Seen By A Banker

Please don't let me be misunderstood: I am all for Mr. Obama's healthcare reform plan as a first baby step towards meaningful change. But it is puzzling how much political capital he has to expend in order to get it passed, to the apparent detriment of the much tougher fight with the bank lobby.


  1. Not only radical financial system reform, but... radical fiscal reform to :
    1) make the federal and state income tax the centerpiece of taxation. (A fair, redistributive tax)
    2) further simplify the tax return (by the way, you may be interested to know that France's return is incredibly simple, and that the govt calculates for you what you will pay ; YOU fill in the return. A third grader could do it...)
    3) get rid of the tax loopholes
    4) proportionately increase taxation on financial revenue while decreasing it on earned income.

    Before everybody starts shooting at me, I admit that these days I know diddly shit about income tax in the U.S. But... fifty page returns that only CPI's can fill out strike me as outlandish.

    Hell to the rescue !!!

  2. The healthcare debate is MORE about that confused American perception that Communism is just around the corner, isn't it ?
    The art of whipping up an hysterical group identity based on excluding what is "foreign", (translate "barbaric") , right ?
    Goes way back to the ancient Greeks, at least.
    Gotta create group cohesion somehow...

  3. The origin of the word "barbarous" is phonetic: to the ancient Greeks' ears foreign languages sounded cacophonous, something like "bar-bar-bar".

    Hence the word originally meant foreign; the current derogatory meaning started being attached to the word after the 5th century BC.


  4. Dear Debra,

    This is a comment for the previous post's comment thread, concerning literalism and the US as a Muslim-like nation. I like the simile very much.

    I believe the deification of the FF's (Founding Fathers) is part of nation-building, somewhat like the Aeniad as a myth for the foundation of Rome. A stolen and heavily edited myth, of course - just like the FF's version of democracy little had to do with the Athenian version.

    In other words, at the complete absence of any shared moral code and cultural heritage to act as binding national glue, one had to be created out of rather thin stuff.

    That's why the Constitution can be like the Koran and why so many Americans abhor the idea of revising it - and some even insist on its LITERAL interpretation.

    Let's also remember that there was no such thing as an "Arab" before Mohamed took all those inter-warring tribes and slapped them together through religion.


  5. Hell, you're talking to an... expatriot who loathes nationalism...
    Why settle for a...small community when you can have the whole wide world as your community ?

  6. And Hell, when those 13 original colonies were being thrown together, last time I checked there WAS a shared moral code, and to a certain extent, cultural heritage : it was heavily Anglo-Saxon.
    The Indians were NOT invited to participate in nation building... because they were perceived as... "barbarous" ?

  7. On red herrings, foxes, speciousness, and "group cohesion".

    I don't think it wise to play along with deranged minds or agendas. A group that propagates the possibility that the president is a foreigner, or focusing more on Acorn than the financial crises is deranged.

    The appropriate responses are to present the salient facts ala Glenn Greenwald or theater of the absurd ala Billionaires against healthcare group did in Washington.

    But surely not taking there agenda or arguments seriously is an appropriate response.

  8. Nice post and even more interesting thread.

    Deb (as does Hell) makes a great point.

    And you know how much I always love to throw in the kitchen sink AND to be fair to Deb

    In his book The Stuff of Thought: Language as a window into Human Nature, the linguist Steven Pinker, describes how the English language has almost 300,000 "shape" words (like a cone or cylinder or ball or cat or dog or building, etc...) but only around 100 "position" words.

    Think about about where/how most miscommunication arises between people- Indeed miscommunication between two people who would otherwise cooperate except for miscommunication.

    The "shape" of an idea may be relatively well agreed upon by two independent people (like "bouquet" or "rock band" or "), but the position of that idea (or context, etc...) relative to other ideas may be very different and therefore perceived very differently by two different parties.

    When you are talking about very large groups of people, each with very different (e.g. not so "shared") "moral codes" or "heritages", what is that glue that holds the "shape" like "country" together?

    How does a group cooperate?


  9. A shared project or a common goal, Thai.

  10. I may get an A, Thai, but I'm having second thoughts...
    Just WHAT is a shared project/goal in the case of large numbers of people ?
    The idea certainly sounds seductive enough, but I'm not sure that it works...
    As I mentioned in the last thread, shared hardship, now that COULD have some federating effects...

  11. By the way, Hell, my compliments on your French.
    You sure know how to make a lady feel at home.

  12. I have a novel idea to enhance group adhesion and cooperation. Why don't we form a government of laws and then participate in it through elected officials?

    We would have it so the President could not arbitrarily lock people up and torture them to death, we would institute a law called Due Process to prevent such from occurring.

    We could also come up with laws called regulations, so large corporations could not prey on weaker individuals and threaten to collapse the whole financial system.

    Nah, forget about that, there's too much fear and cynicism in people. That system was tried and failed. People are too easily manipulated to fight amongst themselves, thrown a few red herrings and Acorns.

  13. Good point that Health Care reform is small potatoes compared to financial reform. While it might not appear so to Main St, once one truly grasps the degree to which Wall St has looted the US treasury in the lasted 12 months, the scope of this crime becomes astounding.

    Unfortunately I don't see any realistic improvements ahead and there's too much outstanding debt and continued unbridled spending for this not to result in hitting a wall.

    Sorry you'all (to be publicly pessimistic). As it stands, I'm in full hunker down, "plan B" mode. About the best I can say is that perhaps something better will someday arise after the meltdown.