May 13, 2009

Know Your Enemy

Filed under: Freedom, Health Racket Bailout — Russ @ 5:47 pm
Everywhere we look in America today we see systemic problems. In finance, health care, agriculture, education, energy, the environment everywhere it’s the same. It seems that everything is crammed together ever more tightly, with ever greater suffocation. Meaningful, coordinated motion becomes impossible. All that’s left is to thrash around in desperation, vainly seeking a little space and air. Even this grows impossible. This is the way things seem, perhaps the way they will truly become.
But if we think about it, is it really true that no workable solutions exist? Or are the many problems really different versions of one, simpler problem? We have an example today with health care. [In what follows I’ll talk about health care within the context of the fossil fuel economy, pretending Peak Oil doesn’t exist. In the future I plan to write about health care under Peak Oil.] America’s health care system is a notorious disgrace to an allegedly advanced, wealthy country. The problem boils down to cost and the uninsured. As a technical matter, both can easily be solved through a single-payer system. So both problems are really the result of social parasites – in particular the private health insurance “industry”, which contributes nothing to the economy but cost and complexity, while not even doing the job it’s supposed to do, cover all Americans who are not in Medicare.
This is what you get when, for purely ideological reasons, the government abdicates on its core responsibilities in favor of a rent-seeking pseudo-private racket. So the solution to the health care problem is obvious. The American government must resume its responsibility and institute a single-payer system with a rational cost-effectiveness regime. There is no objection to this other than feudal ideology.
Now of course the Obama administration proposes no such thing. (In line with its usual appeasement procedure, the administration gratuitously declared that single payer was “off the table”, again showing its utter incompetence where it comes to negotiation. Any child knows that going into a negotiation you start out with demands in excess of what you really want, and give away nothing without getting something in return. Unfortunately, just as with the stimulus and tax cuts, Obama shows that this is beyond his comprehension. This also begs the question of why you would negotiate with the Republicans at all, since they are 1. purely obstructionist, clearly not real negotiating partners, only rank vandals; and 2. weak. We see again that Obama like Clinton is right of center, feels he has more in common with republicans than with true progressives, and sees the former as potential allies vs. the latter, who are the real enemy.)
It proposes meek reform to expand coverage and cut costs within the status quo framework.
The trouble is that there is no basis for such reforms to be enacted at all. Obama’s tedious, deluded premise (and that of liberals, the MSM, and other fugitive “good civics” types) remains that America’s political actors are good faith participants in a give-and-take political process. But this is not in fact what we have. What we have is rather a zero-sum pantomime civil war, and so far only one side is fighting to win. That’s why, even though both demographics and policy fundamentals favor the Democrats, the Republicans still manage to win elections and propaganda wars. It’s because of the basic confusion, indiscipline, spinelessness, and lack of ideological consciousness on the part of any putative opposition. (It’s a truism that in the last two elections the voters went against the Reps, not for the Dems. The Dems simply won by default, and as things are that’s the only kind of victory they’re capable of winning.)
The fact is that to entrenched interests there is no difference between a single payer system and Obama’s anodyne idea of removing the regressive tax deduction for employer-based health insurance (which idea is an absurdly paltry tinkering relative to the obscene regressivity of the tax system in general). Obama thinks the latter is a reasonable compromise upon which everyone should be able to agree. The stupidity here is in believing the enemy is “reasonable” by good civics standards.
Know your enemy. The notion of “America” no longer functions. Existing special interests, however pointlessly wealthy, are no longer willing to compromise or sacrifice even a little bit, even for the sake of their own longer term survival. The watchword everywhere is dig in, hold the line, scorched earth. Those who are still accumulating wealth aren’t going to be willing to forego even a few pennies of today’s wealth to try to reinforce their own system for tomorrow. They’re trying to hoard every last cent while standing guard with a shotgun. To give an example in pseudo-political terms, this manifests as the private insurance racket saying in theory it supports reform (as it said the other day in non-committal and therefore empty words) while lobbying furiously vs. cost-effectiveness intelligence and implementation. Meanwhile Obama is running up against resistance even among Dems on the employer insurance deduction.
This is why Obama, if he were to take off the ideological blinders and pay attention, would find that his idea of reform within the system, so reasonable and feasible in his eyes, is actually less politically practicable than aggressively seeking the single payer system. This is the logic of political revolutionary change, while picayune reform has no logic. As I said, both face the same obstruction. The former could muster passion and will to destroy this obstruction. The latter can muster nothing but the feeble petty-reasonableness which everyone damns with faint praise as he secretly despises it.
Single payer would be easier to achieve, since the act of seeking it would require and enforce political clarity. The public interest is trying to save itself in the face of a murderous attack by the forces of sociopathic entrenchment. The fight can be fought only through real, assertive action which starts from the premise that status quo politics are terminally bottlenecked. To maintain faith in the existing framework is a craven, passive approach. It is intellectually stunted and morally moribund. It’s the mindset of appeasement and defeat.
But if we dared to dare, if we broke free of these ropes which are by now so frayed they could never restrain anyone who willed himself to be free and kicked away the debris of the dead system; if we woke up new, free, and innocent, and turned this innocent eye on health care reform, land reform, education reform, energy reform, legal reform, transportation reform, environmental reform, we’d see how all these problems have clear and attainable solutions.
I said earlier the many problems comprising the bottleneck can be distilled to one problem. Indeed, as the health care nightmare vividly displays, this is the bottleneck itself: we are ridden with dug-in parasites. They produce no social value and no economic value, yet they consume immense resources and as a disease act to hinder all vital social and economic functions. From a true capitalist, free market perspective they are an odious drag on all vitality.
There is no problem in America which is not at its core this same problem. In every case the solution is clear, easy, and felicitous. Keynes made the call: “Euthanasia of the rentier”. Blast the entrenched interests out of the entrenchments. Be clear that you cannot negotiate with them and you cannot compromise with them, because they are not willing to compromise the slightest bit. They are utterly unwilling to do productive work, nor are they even willing to accept any limitation on their bloodsucking. The problem is existential.
To solve it requires nothing more than a dual act of freedom. First the exercise of simple, wholesome intellectual freedom, to see the problem as it is. Second, the actions of freedom. The moral and spiritual willpower to act – to reclaim our country, to bring the criminals to justice, to redeem America. 


  1. “Existing special interests, however pointlessly wealthy, are no longer willing to compromise or sacrifice even a little bit, even for the sake of their own longer term survival.”
    As I’m sure you know, Marx called this game 150 years ago. The death knell of capitalism is the move into pure rents /the finance industry. He said Capitalism “creates it’s own gravediggers”.
    As for healthcare, a single payer system is the only feasible option and I think it’s day is closer than ever. People will get desperate enough to put aside their myths and support it. There just isn’t another bubble out there to smooth things over this time.
    I still have hope for Obama. I see him giving a lot of suicidal institutions a lot of rope. Maybe he’s more devious than he looks.

    Comment by Juliet — May 14, 2009 @ 9:11 am

  2. I know those who want to believe in Obama yet who recognize how almost everything he’s doing so far is bad hope that he’s really playing some deep game; that he really does understand what’s going on and has some master plan.

    I hope so, but I can’t believe it myself. That rope he’s giving them is the rope we needed to climb down from the precipice. Instead they’re going to get to use it first as a lasso and noose for others before they finally hang themselves.

    Comment by Russ — May 14, 2009 @ 3:06 pm

  3. well, yeah there’s that, too : (

    Comment by Juliet — May 14, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

  4. Sorry to be so pessimistic sometimes. It’s still early yet, so maybe he’ll still find the will to attempt real change – once he sees how even his modest reform-lite attempts are obstructed across the board.

    Comment by Russ — May 15, 2009 @ 8:18 am

  5. You see systemic problems? Good, because the perception of the problem also allows for an understanding of the solution. All of our political, economic, and religious institutions are archaic social structures that have outlived their usefulness and are preventing further development.

    Having the attitude that you must ‘fight an enemy’ is also a hinderance to progress. There is no need to spend time fighting a wall standing in your way when you can simply fly over it.

    Comment by Zeitgeist — May 16, 2009 @ 4:40 pm

  6. Zeitgeist, we agree completely on reactionary social structures.

    However, archaic as they are, these structures are still being used very aggressively as status quo interests try to prop up their status quo wealth and power for as long as they can. In fact I expect their assaults to become more violent and oppressive over the next few decades.

    Given this, it’s not possible to pretend a wall isn’t there in order to fly over it, as you say. This may have been possible for individuals and small groups back when there still existed a frontier. And the rich can afford to “internally emigrate”, to wall themselves off and ignore everything. But there’s no longer anyplace to go for anyone else.

    To give a core example, while there’s lots of excellent thinking going on about relocalization and intentional communities, on the whole such things remain a middle class luxury. This is because the land necessary for the millions of small farmers we need is simply bottled up. Therefore nothing can be done without land reform. And this cannot be accomplished without facing, fighting, and defeating the vested enemies of such reform.

    Comment by Russ — May 17, 2009 @ 5:26 am

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