Friday, December 18, 2009

Greenwald on Creeping Corporatism

Not surprisingly, Glenn Greenwald has a good take on the latest rift that is dividing progressives over the Senate health care reform legislation:

There are many reasons for the progressive division on the health care bill. There are differences over the narrow question of health care policy, with some believing the bill does more harm than good just on that ground alone. Some of it has to do with broader questions of political power: if progressives always announce that they are willing to accept whatever miniscule benefits are tossed at them (on the ground that it's better than nothing) and unfailingly support Democratic initiatives (on the ground that the GOP is worse), then they will (and should) always be ignored when it comes time to negotiate; nobody takes seriously the demands of those who announce they'll go along with whatever the final outcome is. But the most significant underlying division identified by Kilgore is the divergent views over the rapidly growing corporatism that defines our political system.


The health care bill is one of the most flagrant advancements of this corporatism yet, as it bizarrely forces millions of people to buy extremely inadequate products from the private health insurance industry -- regardless of whether they want it or, worse, whether they can afford it (even with some subsidies). In other words, it uses the power of government, the force of law, to give the greatest gift imaginable to this industry -- tens of millions of coerced customers, many of whom will be truly burdened by having to turn their money over to these corporations -- and is thus a truly extreme advancement of this corporatist model. It's undeniably true that the bill will also do some genuine good, as it will help many people who can't get coverage now to get it (though it will also severely burden many people with compelled, uncontrolled premiums and will potentially weaken coverage for millions as well). If one judges the bill purely from the narrow perspective of coverage, a rational and reasonable (though by no means conclusive) case can be made in its favor. But if one finds this creeping corporatism to be a truly disturbing and nefarious trend, then the bill will seem far less benign.


Even if one grants the arguments made by proponents of the health care bill about increased coverage, what the bill does is reinforces and bolsters a radically corrupt and flawed insurance model and and an even more corrupt and destructive model of "governing." It is a major step forward for the corporatist model, even a new innovation in propping it up. How one weighs those benefits and costs -- both in the health care debate and with regard to many of Obama's other policies -- depends largely upon how devoted one is to undermining and weakening this corporatist framework (as opposed to exploiting it for political gain and some policy aims).

It is important to remember that the public option was the compromise down from a single-payer system. Despite this, there are many good-hearted progressives who continue to accept compromise after compromise on this legislation. Even after Sen. Lieberman's episode this week successfully removed the public option and the Medicare buy-in, there are some who continue to defend the Obama Administration and call for passage of this bill. White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs even called Howard Dean "irrational" the other day for opposing the Senate's bill.

These continued "compromises" have led to the weakening of health care legislation. Who will these co-called "compromises" benefit? Just like always, the answer is the corporate interests. Greenwald is right to comment on how corporatist the government has shown itself to be, but one must wonder where the line be drawn with some of these progressives?

No comments: