With so much ink already spilled in the political war over health care reform, it is the rare piece that can successfully redraw the battle lines in amusing and insightful ways. But two such examples have recently fought through the cacophony of the blogosphere to aid the ailing debate.
On Saturday Jonathan Rauch used a hilarious extended metaphor to expose the unconvincing arguments often offered in defense of the existing health care system. In a fictional dialogue with the booking agent for Air Health Care, Rauch imagines what the US travel system would be like if it was run like the health insurance industry. Exasperated, he explains to the agent that, “in a sane, modern system…I would be able to arrange a whole trip with a single phone call!”
The Air Health Care employee responds using some very familiar excuses:
Sir. Please. Calm down and be realistic. I’m sure the system can be frustrating, but consumers don’t understand flight plans and landing slots. Even if they did, there are thousands of separate providers involved in moving travelers around, and hundreds of airports, and millions of trips. Getting everyone to coordinate services and exchange information just isn’t realistic in a business as complicated as travel.
And this morning, the normally libertarian-leaning Economist posted a similarly spirited critique of the protests against centralizing health care—via a discussion of the merits of Macs vs. Microsoft. Building on a Talking Points Memo discussion, the Democracy in America blog likens the convenient, streamlined, interoperable “iFascism” of the Mac product line to the supposedly “Orwellian” attempts by Obama administration to overhaul health care and provide robust financial product regulation. In contrast, DiA posits, the existing health care system is more like Microsoft—it theoretically offers more choices, but is also “incoherent, hard to understand, often dysfunctional and bloated by obsolete legacy systems.” The Economist‘s unexpected conclusion?
Opposition to quality centralised design doesn’t make you freer. It just leaves you confused and helpless, and forces you to spend much of your time figuring out how to accomplish basic tasks, rather than doing the great things you wanted to do with your computer/life.