Thursday, August 20, 2009

Abolitionists against health care reform

Pretend I am still an abolitionist …


All people should have a right to adequate health care.

Respecting this right, morally or legally, demands that we abolish the commodity status of health care. Health care is not something that should be bought and sold on the market, but a right afforded all people, free at the point of delivery, simply out of respect for their dignity as people.

Because health care should be a right, I cannot support any measure that doesn't treat it as such. Supporting any mere health care reform is to reinforce the commodity status of health care so long as that reform continues to allow health care services to be sold on even the most highly regulated market. We can't focus on how people are treated by the health care industry. It's not how people are treated that is wrong, but that their right isn't being respected.

I am totally against the so-called "public option" in health care reform. I know that it will allow a lot of people to gain access to health insurance, but it does not respect people's right to health care. I would be reinforcing the commodity status of health care by supporting a measure that doesn't respect that right. Furthermore, instituting a public insurance option would allow those who have health insurance to feel better about denying a right to health care because it will give the illusion of consideration for the uninsured by allowing some of them to purchase relatively inexpensive government insurance. This will just prolong the struggle to achieve the right to health care. I'm not against individuals helping to pay for uninsured folks' health services if they wish, but I can't support any institutionalized aid to these people. Because that's different.

I am also entirely against "single-payer" health insurance provided by the government. Even though this would provide universal coverage to all American citizens, it still wouldn't recognize a fundamental right to heath care. Providers of health services would still be selling those services on a market. We must only focus on the commodity status of care, not merely how people are treated while their rights are denied. I oppose any kind of "happy insurance."

As painful as it may be, it would be better for those without insurance to continue to suffer exorbitant health care expenses and to lack access to certain services because this will force those who have insurance to see the horrific cost of not respecting the right to health care. I oppose all consequentialist appeals to the suffering of those people, because a true commitment to rights demands that I not support anything that doesn't respect those rights. Call it "being divisive" if you want, but anybody supporting the so-called "public option" is not an ally but an opponent of the real health care movement in which demanding a right to health care is the moral baseline. The only acceptable solution is to build a movement that can grow to a majority demanding the right to health care.

Nevertheless, there may be some incremental reforms that I could support. Perhaps we could start by nationalizing dentistry.


For the uninitiated, abolitionists are a faction of the animal liberation movement that believes that the abolition of the property status of animals is the only goal that should be sought by that movement. Abolitionists oppose all reforms aimed at improving the welfare of animals, because they won't lead to abolition, they will reinforce the property status of animals, and they will encourage expanded exploitation because they clear people's consciences.

I suspect there are abolitionists who can agree with my satirical argument as if it were straight. If so, they live in a world where personal moral purity takes priority over doing the best you can with what you've got. That's not my world.

1 comment: