Sunday, November 22, 2009
The Death Panels Live!
Sen. John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, was just on "Fox & Friends" this morning, making the point that the Democratic healthcare bill, now moving forward in the US Senate, would have the effect of codifying the power of advisory commissions into policy and fiscal reality. A reality that will kill people.
As Barrasso explained, if a seemingly innocuous panel, such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, recommends that women should have fewer mammograms, that's not just ivory tower academics talking--that's a recommendation with real legal force.
Barrasso volunteered that his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40s, and that she has needed three operations to deal with her illness. The point being, if you don't catch it early, breast cancer is serious--deadly serious.
And now federal policy is going to come down hard on the side of fewer checkups. Some will claim that such decisionmaking bodies are not literally, "death panels," but whatever they are, they are certainly not long-life panels.
J. Taylor Rushing of The Hill caught this exchange between Barrasso and his fellow Republican, John McCain of Arizona; the subject is death panels, or something close:
In a scripted exchange with Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), McCain assailed a recent recommendation by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services panel that women receive regular mammograms once they reach 50 years of age, instead of the traditional 40. McCain used that to revive a criticism of the Democratic-written healthcare bill that Palin raised over the summer, that advisory boards could create polices that would make them become "death panels."
"Isn't that the kind of advisory board that this legislation could put into law, that those kinds of mandates could come down which could literally jeopardize the health and lives of Americans?" McCain asked Barrasso.
Barrasso's wife is a breast cancer survivor, a fact he referenced.
"This type of legislation would have cost my wife her life," Barrasso said. "She is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed by a routine screening mammogram. And she was in her 40s when that mammogram was performed... It was a screening mammogram that saved her life."
A grinning McCain then asked, "You would not describe that as a death panel?"
Barrasso replied, "Some people might."
Above is a Photoshop rework of a 1983 Michael Douglas movie, "The Star Chamber," about vigilante justice; the title is a play on the very real Star Chambers of mid-millennium England.
Here at SMS, we don't approve of vigilantism, but we can observe that whenever the elites botch the job of doing something important, the masses will find their own way of doing--or at least trying to do--that important thing. In so doing, the masses might well do a bad job, because they aren't experts, aren't trained, and so on, but at least they are willing to try. Ergo, vigilantism. We note that the popular vigilantism--seen in movies of the 70s and 80s, such as "Dirty Harry," "Death Wish," and "Star Chamber"--mostly faded away when the law enforcement/justice elites started taking seriously the issue of crime and crime control. Which is to say, the elites usually have it within their power to squelch populist upsurges, through the simple expedient of solving the problem.
And now the same with healthcare: If the elites aren't to be trusted--if the elites have decided that the peasants are getting too much attention and should get less--then the masses will step forward with their own ideas, their own theories of explanation, which will all too often be labeled "paranoid," or "McCarthyite."
Thus if Sarah Palin chooses to dub the likes of the US Preventive Services Task Force as a "death panel," well, that's the people speaking. And if the elites don't like what the people say, or how they say it, they should look first to themselves. The elites should ask themselves: "What are we doing wrong that has caused the populace to lose confidence in us?" After all, since the elites have the power and the expertise, they should be able to fix whatever is wrong--at least they should get the first whack.
It's not all that often that the elites possess that sort of introspection, of course. Most of the time, the elites simply dismiss popular concerns, and so the populist rebellion continues to grow.
Posted by James P. Pinkerton at 9:26 AM