Friday, March 05, 2010

Simulacrum Reforms Won't Fix Anything

None of the current batch of simulacrum "reforms" in healthcare or finance will fix anything; their only purpose is to manage perceptions and enable the status quo to continue on untouched.

This week's theme will be familiar to anyone who has seen the original Star Wars films in which Luke, Leia or Hans Solo utter the ominous words "I've got a bad feeling about this..." just before a crisis strikes.

I've got a bad feeling about the "reforms" being offered in healthcare and finance because they are merely simulacra of real reforms. Readers of Survival+ have noted I over-use the word simulacrum, but no other word in English quite captures the full meaning of the word, which implies a carefully executed simulation of reality for the purposes of managing perception. And what is that managed perception?

1. That the Powers That Be are "fixing" things--really, really, really.

2. That the Power Elites are not really in complete control of the State (government).

3. That the status quo systems "work"-- excesses and exploitations are being "fixed."

4. That the debt-serfdom/powerlessness/marginalization of the citizenry will once again become bearable after the "reforms" are passed (with much pomp and rhetoric extolling "change," the American Way, apple pie, motherhood--anything other the extortist grip maintained by various Protected Fiefdoms).

Let's start with a real-life example of the true state of affairs in "healthcare," a.k.a. sickcare. A young couple of our acquaintance just had a baby. Labor had to be induced, the baby was delivered via C-section, and there was a brief period of worrisome complication (fluid accumulating in the mother's lungs) which was resolved with a simple diruretic. All this led to a five-day hospital stay as opposed to the usual two or three-day stay.

The bill topped $140,000. In our completely distorted perception, this number is now "normalized" as "typical" in healthcare; $80,000 for this procedure, $120,000 for that, $250,000 for this--we have lost the ability to be surprised.

Perhaps we should ground our analysis of simulacrum reforms by starting with the typical annual household income in the U.S. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in 2008 was $50,303. (This number has undoubtedly fallen due to the Great Recession.)

Even assuming a mortgage deduction and a dependent child in the household, after all taxes (income, Social Security, property, sales, vehicle, local and state, etc.), we can reckon that the typical household is doing quite well to end up with $40,000 net income (a 20% total tax rate--higher income households pay much more).

So having a baby with a few extra days of care costs 3.5 years of net income. A few hours in the recovery room was $17,000. An MRI was $4,000. The list goes on and on, until the five days total over $140,000.

"This is just what it costs now," we're told with a sigh, as if Heaven designed the system and the cost structure, and we mere mortals are incapable of adjusting it.

If you have a credit card with a balance, then you've seen the wondrous results of banking/credit card "reform." There is now a little box on the statement revealing the unspeakable: that if the cardholder pays the minimum balance, they will pay off the balance in 33 years.

This level of "reform" is truly heartwarming. I find it refreshing to have my debt-serfdom spelled out so clearly.

Does anyone really think that tweaking the parameters of the sickcare fiefdoms' swag (currently 16.5% of the entire GDP, with 45 million uninsured and tens of millions of citizens with declining health due to "lifestyle" diseases) will "reform" a system this catatonically disconnected from reality?

As the economy devolves/shrinks and the sickcare fiefdoms tighten their grip, we shall soon see 20% of the GDP devoted to sickcare--as if that is sustainable.

Does anyone really think that the parasitic banking/mortgage/financial cartels have been neutered by the laughably tepid "reforms" which have been put in place?

One of the key concepts in the Survival+ analysis is integrated understanding.What this means in "healthcare" is rather obvious: "refoming" the system means reforming the way food is grown, packaged and sold, reforming the American diet, reforming the "entitlement" that everyone "deserves" to eat out often, that they "deserve" to be "repaired" (if you can't repair me, I'm gonna sue you!), preferably at no cost to themselves, that the sad state of our fractured communities, lax fitness, education systems and mental health have no bearing on our deteriorating health as a nation--and so on.

We are what we eat, and we are what we do (and borrow) every day. Here are two charts of the results:

The only way to truly "reform" the American sickcare system is to revolutionize our understanding of health from the ground up, and carry that revolution all the way through governance, as the State is currently captured by cartels and unions of "special interests."

I have laid out the case that such real reform is impossible in the status quo, and so the eventual "reformation" of the failed sickcare and financial systems must await the insolvency of the State and the nation. Only when the bills are no longer paid and the ability to borrow money cheaply are gone will true reform be possible.

Until then, our best option is to grasp control of our own lives by avoiding debt and the sickcare system as much as possible--by "opting out" as much as possible.

NOTE: Due to work overload and obligations in the real world, my time online will be severely limited this month. My apologies for being unable to respond to all email and thank you for your readership.

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