Part 3—Sadly, we liberals don't care: Should Professor Lilla, 60 years old, care about Name Withheld?
We're going to say that he should! That said, his recent rhetoric, which may have been misleading, gave the impression that he doesn't—and that he doesn't think liberals should care about people like her.
Quickly, let's visit Name Withheld one more time. For background on what Lilla said, see yesterday's report.
Name Withheld lives in Corbin, Kentucky. Her situation was described by Sarah Kliff in a recent report for Vox.
Name Withheld, who's 59, can't afford to go to the doctor! Once again, this was Kliff's basic outline of the situation:
KLIFF (12/13/16): [A health care worker] renewed a 59-year-old woman’s coverage (who asked her personal information be left out of this story)...She and her husband received a monthly tax credit that would cover most of their premium. But they would still need to contribute $244 each month—and face a $6,000 deductible.This woman can't afford medical care. Should Professor Lilla, one year her senior, possibly "care about" her? Once again using his language, should he "want to protect" her?
The deductible left her exasperated. “I am totally afraid to be sick,” she says. “I don’t have [that money] to pay upfront if I go to the hospital tomorrow.”
Her plan did offer free preventive care, an Obamacare mandate. But she skips mammograms and colonoscopies because she doesn’t think she’d have the money to pay for any follow-up care if the doctors did detect something.
The woman said she only buys insurance as financial protection—“to keep from losing my house if something major happened,” she says. “But I’m not using it to go to the doctor. I’ve not used anything.”
The woman was mad because her costs felt overwhelmingly expensive. These are some of the most common frustrations with the Affordable Care Act.
Professor Lilla's recent rhetoric made it sound like he pretty much doesn't. You see, this woman may not belong to the groups Lilla says we liberals "care about" and "want to protect."
Given the professor's taxonomy, this woman's husband is definitely out in the cold. As a woman, she may make it into the tent, despite her apparently disfavored "race." But as a white working-class cis-gender male, her husband lies outside the circle of Professor Lilla's apparent approval.
We'll assume that Professor Lilla didn't actually mean what he seems to have said in his interview with Vox. That said, we liberals are constantly making unpleasant statements in which we consign disfavored groups to the lower rungs of Hell.
In a recent column, the Washington Post's Catherine Rampell was especially unsympathetic in her assessment of people like those on whom Kliff reported. (Name Withheld was mentioned.) But we saw no liberal who was able to notice an obvious fact about Kliff's report—namely, that Kliff was describing a serious problem with this woman's health care.
(An editorial suggestion: Knowing how dense we liberals are, Kliff should have stated this obvious fact in a more explicit fashion.)
At this point, we're going to take a guess. Professor Lilla receives excellent health care through his employment at Columbia. Presumably, Rampell has excellent health care through the Post.
Professor Lilla spent last year in Europe. Presumably, he would have been able to get excellent health care there. Persistently, though, the lordly types who define our liberal discourse seem to find it hard to sympathize with people like Name Withheld.
Reviewing the dumbness of Name Withheld, some liberals have introduced racism into the story, though nothing in Kliff's report pointed in that direction. Increasingly, this is the one play we upper-class liberals know, and we know it extremely well.
We liberals! We aren't very nice and we aren't very smart, except when you let us describes ourselves. For decades, we've been trashing Those People, then puzzling about the way They refuse to vote in the ways we prefer.
Our presidential candidate calls them deplorable and irredeemable; we aren't real skilled at seeing the problem with this kind of thing. Back in 2009, Rachel dropped dick jokes on their heads for two weeks. This made us love Rachel more.
This may explain why We aren't very nice, but why do we say that We aren't very smart? Consider that same old set of statistics, the set of statistics you'll never encounter while watching MSNBC.
The statistics come from the OECD. They constitute the most striking data set in the known world.
These data are simply astounding. Our professors and journalists don't care:
Per person health care spending, 2015Good God, that first number is large! Somewhat paradoxically, it helps explain why Name Withheld, age 59, can't afford to go to the doctor. It explains why she has health insurance, but isn't receiving health care.
United States: $9451
United Kingdom: $4003
South Korea: $2488
Good lord, that number is large! Just think of it—among comparable developed nations, only one nation, Germany, spends even half as much, on a per person basis, as the United States does.
All the other nations spend less than half what we spend! Let's simplify that chart a bit. Let's include just the U.S. and France:
Per person health care spending, 2015Good lord! France provides universal health care while spending less than half what we spend! We spend more than twice what France spends, but we still have millions who are uninsured—and we have others, like Name Withheld, who are technically insured but don't receive health care.
United States: $9451
Should Professor Lilla, 60, feel sorry for Name Withheld, 59? As a progressive, he actually should, for a reason which is blindingly obvious, except to losers like Us:
Duh! On a per person basis, $5000 disappears each year into the maws of our "health care" "system." In a somewhat paradoxical way, that missing money helps explain why everyone in France receives health care, but Name Withheld and millions more do not.
(That missing money also explains our federal deficits. As Dean Baker has frequently noted, our annual deficit would disappear if our per capita health care spending suddenly matched that in France.)
Five thousand dollars per person, per year, disappears in our health care system! Here's a quick point for professors to ponder:
That missing money isn't being siphoned off to the needy. That missing money is being looted by a wide range of corporate entities and demographic elites. Working class people of various "races" have to go without health care because a range of corporate interests are taking their cuts off the top.
The data we've posted are simply astounding. You rarely see such a remarkable set of statistics.
That said, so what? Those data are never mentioned by our major news orgs or by our liberal elites. We liberals prefer to drop our tribal bombs and take our sabbaticals in France.
We're not very nice and we're not very smart. We have a limited number of scripts, which we recite in our sleep.
On a political basis, we're easy to beat. We proved that again this past year.
As Paul Krugman noted this Monday, our political systems have been imploding for at least the past twenty-five years. We'll make our suggestion once again:
This problem, which should be very troubling, has always and does involve Us.
Tomorrow: Picnic and Baby Doll, plus Sicko. Also, this new piece by Drew Altman
On the inclusion of Finland: In the data from the OECD, we included Finland. We did so for a reason.
Finland is a much smaller nation than the others on that list. For that reason, it doesn't exactly fit in that data set.
We included Finland for this reason. Our big news orgs constantly tell us too marvel at Finland's transplendent test scores (which sometimes aren't real transplendent). They never ask us to wonder about its low level of health care spending.
Simply put, our big newspapers avoid today's astounding data like the plague. But so does Rachel and a wide range of fiery liberals.
They sell us attacks on Name Withheld. It's one of the ways we all lose.