Thursday, August 20, 2009

Obama Heathcare Plan

What kind of nitwit (asks @RSessions ) would believe Obama's health care plan wants to kill the elderly? Roger cites a New York Times article, Obama Calls Health Plan a 'Moral Obligation' (20 August 2009).

Another way of putting this question is as follows. Within what frame or worldview does this outcome (killing elderly people) seem both likely and deliberate? And what are the characteristics of those people who view Obama's healthcare plan in this way?

One of the hotly contested frames is the religious one. Obama is specifically addressing the religious lobby, and is hoping to get the moral high-ground. Obama turns to faith leaders Josh Gerstein (Politico, 20 August 2009).

Care for the elderly has apparently become a focal point for opposition to the healthcare plan. Conservative religious leaders such as Dr Alveda King (niece of Dr Martin Luther King jr and supporter of John McCain in the recent presidential election) adopts the rhetorical trick of stringing emotive words together ("health reform ... unborn ... elderly ... genocide"), which may create the desired effect in some audiences without the need for detailed (and refutable) argument.

One of the interesting things here is the way a single word or phrase (in this case "elderly") becomes a substitute for a proper argument and well-articulated worldview. This is a very common phenomenon: the word acts as a totem, creating a frame around itself. The power of words.


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1 comment:

Chris Bird said...

The whole healthcare brouhaha here in the USA is in some senses caused by an improper separation of concerns.

Why is how does the payment system work bundled up with how do I get compensation for my work (aka paycheck).

As we well know, when orthoganal concepts are conflated bad things happen. When they become thoroughly accepted, proper change management has to be put in place to manage the "it feels like you are taking something away" thinking.

Oh, and while I am about it, why do we call it insurance? It is an ugly combo of insurance and payment system. Another conflation of things that don't belong together.

For sure make sure that catastrophic insurance is available, but don't confuse that with daily maintenance of a person's health. Yes the cold can become pneumonia and so need to be treated as such. But it starts as a cold - and shouldn't be insurable. Just pay for the treatment from personal resources. Sure there are gray lines, but as a principle, we should not confuse payment with insurance nor conflate coverage with employment