03 May

Jimmy Kimmel is wrong

Since this blog is chronically behind the times, I’m sure everyone is now aware that Jimmy Kimmel made a particularly heartrending monologue a couple days ago in which he described events surrounding the birth of his son, a kid who came into the world with a congenital heart defect. In it he talks about the ACA and health care in particular. Finally he came to this line:

“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”

This is a great sound bite, but unfortunately, no, it is not right.

In fact, this is the root core of the problem we have. Republicans, as a general rule, most certainly do believe that it matters how much money you make as to whether your baby will live or die in this situation.

They won’t put it that way, of course. The compassionate of them will look you in the eye with deep regret and say how sorry they are for your loss, but that there’s no way society can continue forward if we lose that kind of money on a medical procedure.

But there really is no way of getting around this point: That is equivalent to looking a parent in the face and saying “if you had more money your kid would be alive.”

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There are logical arguments for this point of view. You can, however, be both logically sound and wrong. That is the case here.

The first argument is that the country would go broke providing this level of support to everyone. This argument could be true (or not), but only if you view the world as nothing but individual transactions. This is how fiscal conservatives tend to view things–one transaction at a time. So it’s not too surprising that they feel how they feel about health care. There are, however, thousands and thousands of halo effects to consider—the future value of a person can be very, very high, especially if that person is both healthy and wanted. This argument is also predicated on the idea of the free market, where a medical organization is pretty much free to charge what they want.

The second argument is more personal: that taking my money to use for someone else is unethical and un-American. There is, of course, a grain of truth here. The United States was built on a mindset of rugged individualism. At its soul, this is a pretty harsh point of view, though. Very Darwinian. Survival of the richest. Given human nature, if this is how you feel, it’s probably how you are going to feel for a very long time. I do wonder, however, if this is how you really feel, why do you ever buy Health Insurance to begin with? Until the ACA you didn’t have to, and even with the ACA not buying health care is cheaper than buying it. If your ideology says you don’t want other people to use your money, and vice versa (I assume here that you don’t want to use anyone else’s money when you get sick), why are you buying health care? Or any other form of insurance for that matter?

Why are you buying life insurance? All you are saying there is that if you die, you want other people to pay for the people you leave behind. Shouldn’t that be your job?

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So, yes, at the end of the day, Jimmy Kimmel is wrong.

A lot of people believe that if a baby is dying and the parents don’t have the money to save it, that this baby should be left to die.

It is a harsh position.

But it is a position that many Republicans have, and it is the root of the conflict we have with health care today.

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