To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Friday, July 23, 2021

Observercast

Reducto Ad Absurdum

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BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD

Literally, the Latin phrase reducto ad absurdum means reduction to the absurd. It is used primarily in philosophy and similar areas of academic discourse to prove a proposition false by carrying it to its own ultimate conclusion of absurdity.

The method implicit in this term was applied to demonstrate the utter fallacy of the Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s budget plan last week by Martin Wolf, noted macro-economist and chief economist and associate editor for the Financial Times. Wolf was backed by Paul Krugman, Nobel economist and columnist for the New York Times. The ridiculing logic offered by two such men of repute in the field made a strong impression on this writer.

These and various other critics have pointed out the more obvious flaws of the Ryan-Republican House budget and deficit reduction plan. Throwing senior citizens out of Medicare and onto the streets with a shopping voucher for private health insurance, questionably available, is seen quickly as nothing better than a cruel hoax to be perpetrated on defenseless old people. Who is dumb enough, or heartless enough, to follow that alternative?

Putting invalids and the elderly poor out of the nursing homes on the sidewalks, cutting benefits to sick kids, and adding another 50 million poor people into the ranks of the uninsured would be the consequence of Ryan’s proposed cuts of Medicaid. Surely anyone would see this as an absurd ending.

Meanwhile, as the poor and the elderly are being thrown to the predators, Ryan’s plan proposes more tax cuts for the rich. All this is done in the name of job creation, of course.

Republicans believe that tax cuts for business and for the wealthy will create jobs. That notion was heralded by Ronald Reagan. It did not work then, as deficits skyrocketed to the highest seen at that time. It did not work for the Bush tax cuts, whose claims for prosperity were followed by diminution of wages for workers, the largest job losses in history, big deficits, the near collapse of our financial system, and a recession threatening to be another Great Depression.

Expecting these to work now exemplifies a major trait in mental illness – repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different outcome.

One very serious flaw in the Republican House budget plan is that it does not actually reduce the net deficit over a 10-year period at all. The tax cuts for the rich cost more than the spending cuts save. The presumption that tax cuts increase income is wrong.

An important, but little mentioned, problem is that the new voucher system privatization of Medicare removes the only really effective cost control we have over increasing health care charges.

Have you ever looked at a hospital bill to see what people without protection are asked to pay for the same procedure a Medicare claim is discounted by 90% or so? That is frightening. What kind of cost protection is there for that private insurance voucher – just the modest discount the insurer can negotiate with hospital management, doctors, labs, and providers? Without Medicare as a pace-setter, such discounts would likely turn out miniscule.

Medicare is the only insurer that can get by saying to providers, “This is what we will pay for this medical procedure and hospital stay.” They can do so, because the provider has no practical choice. If you think they are not happy with Medicare reimbursement, just watch all the TV and newspaper ads seeking to woo older patients to choose their hospital.

The nation needs desperately to control health care costs. Our economic viability and prosperity depend on lowering these in relation to our gross product. In order to do this, we desperately need a single payer health insurance plan like Medicare for all our people. This may well be the only solution to our dilemma of health costs and competition in the global economy.

Republican rejection of the Affordable Health Care Act [ObamaCare], only a small step, is against the national interest. Throwing out a successful program such as Medicare is double-dumb, and it is obstructing to the nation’s economic and social future.

It is almost unbelievable that the Republicans would actually propose radical changes which make no sense in human values or in economics. If this is the Tea Party influence, what is wrong with those people?

Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

 

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.