My friend writes,
there is no place left in the US for private workers, they apparently suck. Let's get nationalize everything, get federal workers to run and do everything and see what happens.
Maybe you are one of the people who, like Grover Norquist, hate government-- the government that helped pay your way through college, when college was $300 a term, not $500 a credit, like your alma mater is now (dear to the right, libertarian, college buddy.) That's because the philosophy has changed. Instead of subsidizing students like they did when you were a freshman, they now expect the students to subsidize the B school. If you are a Norquist type who hates government, then you hate roads, police, firemen, parks, public schools, the space program... for starters. Government IS We the people.
Salon has done a good article on how non-military leaders in the Pentagon privatized Walter Reed and the health care services for the military in an effort to save money, rather than taking decent care of the returning wounded.
Iraq is one example of how the neocons experimented in this war with their academic, ivory tower theories of economics-- and failed miserably. It appears that simpy head Bush also had his appointees experiment with privatization of the healthcare of returnees. His bad.
It's not that privatization is always bad. You have to put it into context. When the management philosophy is aimed for cost cutting not quality, when the contract criteria emphasize monetary rather than compassion or care-- you get what we see in Walter Reed. When right wing a**holes trying to make a lot of bucks-- not just a fair profit-- off of one-eyed, brain damaged wounded soldiers-- what the heck- business is business-- then you can expect privatization to produce what it did in Walter Reed.
If walter Reed is not an anomaly, then that means that disrespect for soldiers and devaluations of the importance of taking care of them is the standard for this administration. And don't even think about comparing Bush to Clinton. Bush threw over half a million troops into war, into the face of massive weaponry. There is no comparison. When your troops are being injured you give them first rate service. You don't apologize for sourcing policies that lower quality of care. You don't use Walter Reed as an example of why government is bad and privatization is good. You look at the situation, see that it is wrong and fix it.
To be fair, my friend points out that the VA health system is rated as better than private health care and he cites:
A few articles for those really open minded:
from Money "The improved care at the VA hasn't been lost on veterans. This year (2006) the agency expects to treat 5.4 million patients, up sharply from the 2.9 million people it treated a decade ago. Customer satisfaction with the veterans' health system, as measured by the University of Michigan, has exceeded that for private health care in each of the past six years.
"The care is second to none," says Tom Bock, national commander of the American Legion, the nation's largest veterans' organization.
What's more, the VA has achieved all this while containing costs. As more vets have come in the door, the agency's overall budget has nearly doubled since 1996, to $30 billion. But the cost per patient has held steady at roughly $5,000. Over the same period, total health spending for the average American shot up more than 60 percent, to $6,300."
The thing is, Walter Reed is not VA. It's military. That means that Cheney's been able to get his grubby hands on it and treat it like he has treated Iraq. And we know what that means. The prisoners in Abu Ghraib know. The hundreds of thousands of soldiers with untreated Post traumatic Stress Syndrome also know.
The good news is that Americans are totally outraged by the way the soldiers are being treated. This has a better chance of being corrected than the levees in New Orleans and the flooded and still devastated portions of New Orleans where blacks lived.
The good news is that America MUST shift to a universal, single payer health care system and the model should be the VA system. This awakeneing will make it better and will increase, ultimately, people's trust in the system.
One reader, a veteran, a Major-- wrote to tell me that the failure to maintain the readiness of the military, the failure to treat the returing wounded properly-"these are impeachable offenses. And rightly so. Rightly so. How many crying wives and mistreated soldiers-- the ones who have survived in spite of inadequate gear-- does it take for the congress to wake up?