Health Care Meltdown: Confronting The Myths And Fixing Our Failing System, Robert H. LeBow, MD, revised and updated by C. Rocky White, MD
This book characterizes exactly what is wrong with our debate about health care reform. In its pages are a distillation of the arrogance, bad logic, and demonization that substitutes for civil discourse, with a lot of flawed assumptions that make it basically without value in really meeting the elevated rhetoric of its title. In fact, instead of confronting myths, this book propagates left-wing myths while continually considering ad hominem attacks a substitute for confronting supposed “myths” against the feasibility of socialized health care. The book manages to insult those who disagree with its premises at every turn, whether that is attacking genuine Bible believers as fundamentalists and misquoting and misinterpreting scriptures to support socialism and the enshrining of immorality and the murder of the unborn as fundamental human rights (it goes without saying that the authors of this book consider health insurance to be a universal human right). A short book review like this one cannot properly expose all of the flaws of this work, which include such fundamental issues as the sarcastic and mean-spirited tone of the work as well as its massive worldview flaws, but rather can only indicate the flawed character of the work as a whole.
The most fundamental problems of this work involve its near absence of actual factual value and its design as a propagandistic work that exhibits massive contradictions and semantic games within its pages. For example, the book claims to be an effort to build consensus about health care reform but then manages to demonize those who work for health insurance brokers (as I do) as “parasitic middlemen,” hardly an effort that is likely to increase one’s support. The book claims that its solutions do not amount to socialized medicine but then the author repeatedly paraphrases the Communist Manifesto in claiming that for health care that people should pay according to their ability and receive health care according to their need, a textbook communist argument that is as immoral as it is unacceptable. Even the health care reform that we are now dealing with, where men are expected to subsidize the corrupt reproductive health benefits of women and where the young subsidize the elderly is already shaping up to be a total meltdown. Among the many semantic games played in this book is the consistent disdain the book shows for calls for increased patient responsibility within the health care debate (even as the authors themselves decry the large amount of smoking and obesity within American society, while managing to blame the companies that sell those products and not hold the American people themselves accountable), while at the same time calling for increased accountability for others with regards to insurance companies.
Often a book and the perspective of its author can be best understood by examining what it dwells on obsessively and what it ignores completely. This particular book harps on the supposed superiority of the Canadian and European health insurance programs to those of the United States (while consistently condemning any sort of free-market solution to health care, as well as the fact that wealthy foreigners enjoy going to the United States for health care that most Americans, including myself, cannot afford) while deliberately skewing and biasing the case in favor of socialized medicine and against the actual facts of the matter or anything approaching a balanced approach. The book states that European countries merely avoid taking heroic measures to save the lives of elderly and fail to mention the problems of euthenasia that have become rampant in European countries. The book also continually seeks to use the 9/11 disaster as a way to show the need of socialized health care for all in order to show appropriate community feeling, which has not been found. The book also avoids any sort of understanding of the virtue that is necessary for there to be gains in health care or any other serious interest. It is the lack of corporate virtue, which this book relentlessly focuses on, that has led to the call of many for health care reform, an idea that at least in its general sense that is widely popular, but the book completely avoids the issue of personal virtue, considering that too right wing and individualistic.
What is most sad about this book, and others like it , is the wasted opportunity such works present. Almost no one is satisfied with our present system, but the fact that health care reform (and many other reforms) is being presented as a false dilemma between some form of socialized medicine for all where government coercion is being used to endorse corrupt solutions and a system of obvious injustice where the commonvolk suffer because of corporate greed and massive exploitation. Quite honestly, I don’t trust health companies or pharmaceutical companies and I am savage in my criticism of their greed and exploitation. Sadly, I trust our government even less than I trust those companies, though, and so I am at a loss to figure out any options out of the morass that we are in, unless there should be some sort of increase of virtue among our people and our leaders. I do not consider that a likely possibility, but all of the other options are calamitous, as we are discovering right now in our health care debacle to our peril. If we had some treasure of virtue in our society, there could be somewhere to turn, but the corruption goes all the way to the top and all the way to the bottom. It appears that the meltdown has already arrived.