One gallon of political metaphor, please.
In case you missed this week’s comic, I’m feeling a lot more political than usual these days. So, here’s a fun one for you: my district’s representative in the House wants to repeal the ACA and replace it with investments in pharmacology and biotechnology.
I feel sicker already.
Mind, I have no problem with investments in science. I think anyone who’s been watching the news lately (or has at least been vaguely conscious) knows that pharmaceutical companies aren’t hurting for profits, even with all the famous dead-ends they need to investigate for every effective medicine they send to the market; still, public investment in science is good for the public. (It’s miles better if the public then has access to the science, but that’s another post.)
My problem is saying that we need to do so at the expense of access to healthcare among us at the bottom of the economic ladder. We, as Americans- no, we, as human beings- have a right to medical care, and a responsibility to band together to ensure that care is provided. We need to invest more in medical science, but we also need to invest in access to the benefits of that science. That’s something that the ACA has actually done. People are spending less on healthcare and more on consumer goods, which expands the job market, which makes everyone’s lives less stressful. It’s one of the few clear examples of an economic spiral that actually goes upward.
But, if you’re reading this far, you probably came in for the metaphor. And here it is: repealing the ACA in order to fund more research is like the gas station attendant telling you, “No, I’m sorry, we don’t sell gas any more. We’ve decided to invest in more fuel-efficient engines and increased public transit, instead.”
Yes, better engines are good, but they take time to develop, and are a moderately risky proposition- you don’t know if the new ideas will turn out to be viable. Investing in more of them makes it less risky, but continuing to sell gasoline to people who need to drive is even less risky, by orders of magnitude. Public transit? Also a fantastic idea, but it also takes years to build out the infrastructure, often misses important parts of its service area, and does absolutely nothing to get me to the office this morning.
And let’s say I can just slip into a coma and come out when all that development work is finished. I am likely to find that the only people who actually benefit from this change are the very wealthy, who can afford to get new cars whenever a more efficient model comes out, and those who live near the very wealthy, who see their robust system get incrementally better. This completely screws over those of us in flyover land, all in the name of creating “better choices”.
Plus, I now get saddled with a massive hospital bill.
So, please- I know the current system isn’t perfect, and produces a lot of hot air, and enriches people I’d rather see lined up against the wall in the revolution. But I think the system actually works, and the best way to improve on it is to keep it in place while we transition to something better, not to completely rip it apart and leave everyone stranded while you try to think of some way to magically replace it with something better, just so you can take the credit.