French Fried Health Care Philosophy

From the Wiki from Jean Baudrillard (I know it’s a wiki but this is pretty good)–my emphasis

In contrast to poststructuralists such as Foucault, for whom the formations of knowledge emerge only as the result of relations of power, Baudrillard developed theories in which the excessive, fruitless search for total knowledge lead almost inevitably to a kind of delusion. In Baudrillard’s view, the (human) subject may try to understand the (non-human) object, but because the object can only be understood according to what it signifies (and because the process of signification immediately involves a web of other signs from which it is distinguished) this never produces the desired results. The subject, rather, becomes seduced (in the original Latin sense, seducere, to lead away) by the object. He therefore argued that, in the last analysis, a complete understanding of the minutiae of human life is impossible, and when people are seduced into thinking otherwise they become drawn toward a “simulated” version of reality, or, to use one of his neologisms, a state of “hyperreality.” This is not to say that the world becomes unreal, but rather that the faster and more comprehensively societies begin to bring reality together into one supposedly coherent picture, the more insecure and unstable it looks and the more fearful societies become. Reality, in this sense, “dies out.”

Sounds like nothing if not the current US health care (non)debate to me.

Now we could do a joint French pomo po-struct. thing here and also add in where power (Foucault) comes into this debate.  The power of shouting emotionally at someone in a crazed manner, organizing “spontaneous” responses, and calling a guy the next coming of Hitler.

A John Milbank would say modernity is nothing but power and violence (it’s ontology is propagated in violence).  Others say it is the loss of the modern constructs into the (hyper/un)reality of postmodernism that has brought violence to the fore.  Whether you think this post-modern world is the inevitable final reflection of modernity or a separate thing unto itself, the results are the same.

This is a problem for the left to the degree that it overemphasizes the value of (pure) democracy.  This is a problem for the right insofar as eventually those crowds that they have riled up in order to support corporate power will one day I imagine turn on or away from them.

Baudrillard understood that reality was what you say it is.  [Foucault added the degree to which you back that up with various forms of biopower].  Mssr. JB understood that the now quaint notion that the media should be referees in our political fights or that people shouldn’t take people’s quotations out of context and turn them into something else is at this point expecting too much.  It’s gone.

In that sense, Obama’s death panels are real and true.  Of course someone could take that sentence and then make it to be not what I said it to mean by claiming I’m validating the realistic charge of actual death panels which of course if you follow what I’m doing is exactly what I’m not saying.  Nevertheless  even that messup will be hyper-real in this world we now live in.  It will be an iteration in post-structural terminology.  It will have it’s own life out beyond my ability to claim “original context” or “full quotation”.  I will have said in the way someone else will make it to mean because it has been made to mean the very opposite of what I originally intended.

Original intention and “reality” and facts and everything are dying out.  They lack legitimacy.

Where I think these crew of postmodernists (I mostly have the famous French ones in mind right now) were naive was how horrific the outcome of the tendencies they discussed would be for the contemporary world.  In particular how the postmodern world becomes a market-state.  How market capitalism, state monopolies, plus liberalism would simply re-adapt to this new situation and embed themselves even deeper into the world.  A corporate-tocracy.  Or at least a corporate capture of the political class.

Seems to me our French philosophers thought their critique would lead to some deconstruction of the conventional bourgeoisie world potentially freeing up (at least relatively) some elements of human society.  Or at least individual minds in a kind of politico-philosophic gnostic awakening.

Instead we seem to be devolving.  The fact that reality is dying out and power decides leaves those without scruples to bum rush the show and takeover.

With those heartwarming thoughts in mind, let me come of out the more philosophical realms and discuss the actual health care (non)debate as a kind of act of humorous self-contradiction.

Here’s an excerpt of a fascinating interview with Dr. Delos Cosgrove from the Cleveland Clinic:


How would you characterize the health-care debate taking place right now?
I think the conversation has morphed from health-care reform to insurance reform.

Is that a semantic distinction?
No, I don’t think it is. In the beginning we were talking about access, cost, and quality, and now it seems we are just talking about access and cost-shifting, because there’s very little in the program that seems to be going to reduce the cost of health care in the United States. If you give access to another 40 million people, there’s going to be more cost.

Just to be clear, Cosgrove is not anti extending insurance, but his point I think is very valid. There’s nothing comprehensive about our still described comprehensive health care reform debate.  [Did anyone just hear Baudrillard’s ghost moan?].

It’s become solely a question about insurance (access) reform.

If Team Obama did (as it seems they to be the case) make a backroom wink-wink nudge-nudge deal with Big Pharma to stop the state using power to “negotiate” down the price (cost) of medical care, then Cosgrove’s point is even stronger.  I fear a classic American worst of all possible worlds scenario in which we extend the power of the state but give it no teeth to actually do anything useful. Now that the public option appears increasingly DOA, then this worst of both worlds might also apply to the coming health co-operatives as well.

If we were having an actual comprehensive debate, then we should discuss not just access and what entity constitutes the most effective vehicle for access (govt and/or private insurers) but something along these lines as well–namely that the whole philosophy of medicine is backassward and arguing only about access isn’t cutting it.  In fact what that article discusses is something not covered at all by the generally named big three of access, cost, and quality.

The point of that article is that quality is still assumed to be drug and heavy medication related.  The concept of what constitutes quality care, what constitutes health is not on the table.  It is being assumed as the drug-heavy, over-medicated, over-tested, high technology super fixes.  That is the meaning of quality assumed in this debate. To the country’s detriment.

With that definition of quality assumed, then everyone only argues over how best to deal with the access to that “quality” while ignoring the discussion of costs.  Costs only come in insofar as they are talking points for those who want to use government budgetary deficits to mask their argument for corporate profits (the other side of course of costs).

And the result is well….the result you’re seeing.






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4 thoughts on “French Fried Health Care Philosophy

  1. Mssr. JB understood that the now quaint notion … that people shouldn’t take people’s quotations out of context and turn them into something else is at this point expecting too much. It’s gone.

    To “take a quote out of context” usually means, and is understood to mean, to knowingly attempt to misrepresent what someone else was saying/writing in order to misrepresent the beliefs/intentions of the speaker/writer. But what should we call it when the person doing this does not believe he is misrepresenting the intentions of the speaker/writer? What do we call it when the person doing this believes, instead, that he is actually exposing the ‘hidden’ intentions that the speaker/writer was himself attempting to conceal? If I was already convinced that Obama does want “death panels”, because of my pre-existing beliefs about his intentions, and is using euphemisms and even lies to conceal this from people, then is it really accurate to say I am taking his quotes out of context when I (apparently) twist his words in order to back up my assertions?

    This isn’t always just for nutters (though, for the record, I think the “death panel” nonsense definitely is). People do lie. People do obfuscate. People do use euphemisms to conceal the truth. People sometimes do speak in “code” that, like an inside joke, has ‘hidden’ meanings that cannot be seen just by taking the words at face value. I know this because I’ve done it.

    How do you break through to a person like this and get him to question the underlying assumptions?

    Sorry if this seems pedantic, but it’s something on my mind now.

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