the expense I mind so much as the complexity. Why does it all have to be so darn difficult? My premium notice comes with a sheaf of “advisories,” all written in Administranto:
If you go 63 continuous days or longer without prescription drug coverage that’s at least as good as Medicare’s prescription drug coverage, your monthly premium may go up by at least one percent of the Medicare base beneficiary premium . . .
On and on for pages and pages and pages. I suppose there is someone somewhere who has the time and patience to master this gobbledygook, but it ain’t me.
There has been a TV ad airing recently that I find obnoxious. It shows two oldsters out walking, a man and a woman. The woman is of course the more knowledgeable of the two. (This is an iron rule in TV commercials — indeed, in TV generally.) She lectures the man about the new rules for prescription drugs in Obamacare. If you’re in the doughnut hole [? don’t ask me], she tells him, you can save up to 50 percent on your drug costs! The man expresses surprise and gratitude at her having imparted this valuable information to him. From the lofty heights of feminine wisdom, the woman then discharges a friendly reproof: “You’ve got to keep up!”
I’m sitting there watching this, thinking to myself: That guy’s at least 70. Why does he still have to “keep up”? Shouldn’t there be some age at which you don’t have to “keep up” any more?
Imagine someone born in 1925, who dropped out of high school before World War II, worked hard for half a century, served his country and paid his taxes, and is now entering his third decade of retirement with gout, emphysema, diverticulitis, and incipient Alzheimer’s. Should we really be expecting this citizen to “keep up” in the sense intended by that commercial — to spend his dwindling time on earth obsessing over the bureaucratic minutiae of Medicare Part D? And should we be expecting him to make an informed decision thereon?
There are many ways to ration a service. You can ration it by expense, excluding those who can’t afford it. You can ration it by fiat, excluding applicants according to some set of rules administered by gatekeepers. Or you can ration it by complexity, paving the access path to it with tests of intelligence, patience, and persistence, thereby excluding applicants who are less well equipped with those attributes.
That third method is the one you end up with in a society run by and for meritocrats – lawyers, accountants, economists, and other exam-passing grinds. Of the three methods, it seems to me to be the slyest, the most dishonest. I’d actually prefer either of the other two. In fact, as fiddling with health-care bills, rules, options, and plans takes over more and more of my life, I find myself increasingly receptive to a plain single-payer system.
A skeptical e-mailer recently posed the following question to me: “Is there any advanced nation anywhere in the world with a lobby of any significant size pressing for a healthcare system modeled on the one we have in the U.S.A.?” I’ve never had the energy or financial incentive to research an answer to that question, but I think I know it anyway. American exceptionalism can be taken too far.
The politicization of mortgage lending This article in the November 26 New York Post, about an outer-borough street turned shabby by foreclosures, offers a glimpse of the self-destructive dogmas that form the foundations of the Diversity Palace.
Desiree Figueroa and her family . . . lost their home at 172 Blackford Ave., and now rent across the street.
She passes the home she and her husband paid $445,000 for in 2008, which later was sold by the bank for $345,000. ”It hurts, but I got over it,” she said. “Let someone else deal with that damn mortgage.”
In retrospect, she says she really couldn’t afford the mortgage – and she says the bank should have known that. “I blame the bank. They see a sucker coming in.”
No, ma’am. What the bank actually saw coming in was a person who would sue them for “discrimination” if they denied her a mortgage. They dealt with Mrs. Figueroa accordingly.