Fox News The Wall Street Journal has yet another stellar opinion piece in today’s paper that reminds us, once again, who owns it. In “Obama's Senior Moment”, the editorial staff at the WSJ warn seniors that maybe President Obama doesn’t want to kill them with death panels, but it does want to kill them by rationing care.
I have a profound problem with this. No, let me rephrase that, I have several problems with this, but one of them is profound. I am a card carrying member of the Journalism Fan Club*. I believe in its place as the fourth, and most important, estate. Think of everything said about the importance of the press throughout history and know that I would make t-shirts with those quotes on them if I wore t-shirts with quotes on them. I believe the hallmark of a successful democracy is a free press, or as Thomas Jefferson once said, "Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe."
Because I believe in the importance of a free press to our republic, I expect the press to be honest. I'm not saying that news agencies shouldn't be opinionated, but they must be honest. It is their obligation to tell the truth. Besides, if you can't make your point without lying, you should probably just shut the hell up.
As such, I would like to issue some abuse towards the Wall Street Journal's editorial board.
Dear Wall Street Journal Editorial Board,
All kidding aside, it sickens me that the WSJ is following the lead of NewsCorp's pride and joy, Fox News. I understand this is an editorial piece, but "editorial" doesn't mean, "feel free to lie".
A brief tour of any reputable news outlet makes it apparent that, in fact, the health care initiatives being considered by Congress will not be rationing care. Scaring old people is a special kind of shitty. Hopefully, all of those lovely older folks are keeping up on their AARP reading:
"Myth: Health care reform means rationed care.
Fact: None of the health reform proposals being considered would stand between individuals and their doctors or prevent any American from choosing the best possible care.
Fact: Health care reform will NOT give the government the power to make life or death decisions for anyone regardless of their age. Those decisions will be made by an individual, their doctor and their family.
Fact: Health care reform will help ensure doctors are paid fairly so they will continue to treat Medicare patients.
Bottom Line: Health reform isn't about rationing; it's about giving people the peace of mind of knowing that they will be able to keep their doctors and that they will always have a choice of affordable health plans."
On a side note, AARP is awesome. I'm not saying that because they are helping me tell the WSJ to suck it, but because they have literally saved my grandmother's life with their amazing advice and recommendations for seniors.
The WSJ tries to make its case not using facts, but with this lovely piece of reasoning, "Far from being a scare tactic, this is a logical conclusion based on experience and common-sense." Oh, okay. Don't worry about the facts, just scare the pants off of my mom because of what you perceive as "common sense".
It's not common sense. It's a conclusion someone that the WSJ came up to further smear health care reform. A very good example of common sense, on the other hand, is derived from actual, you know, facts:
"Health care is being rationed right now and this is an ugly truth that almost everyone ignores. If you do not believe me you should consult some of the forty-seven million Americans without insurance, or the millions denied treatment by their health insurance company, or the hundreds of thousands denied treatment by Medicare or Medicaid." (link)
The WSJ piece then goes on to say that "okay, we admit private insurance companies ration care, but it's far worse when the government does it." Really? Why? The WSJ article mentions how governments with universal programs limit care based on age and risk tables. Someone who is 85, is going to have a hard time getting a heart transplant. This is true. Private insurance, on the other hand, likes to deny treatment to moms with young children and seven-year-olds.
My very favorite part of the WSJ piece, however, is when it contradicts itself in two consecutive sentences:
"But Mrs. Palin has also exposed a basic truth. A substantial portion of Medicare spending is incurred in the last six months of life."
"From the point of view of politicians with a limited budget, is it worth spending a lot on, say, a patient with late-stage cancer where the odds of remission are long?"
Okay, WSJ, which way would you like to have it? Is it bad to spend so much money on the last six months of life or is it bad to ration care to old people? You can't have it both ways... or actually, you seem to think you can.
This is apparently the new version of "death panels". Maybe the government won't kill you, but it will ration your care! The government has done a pretty damned good job for more than four decades of making sure seniors have access to affordable health care. Trying to scare the elderly into voting against a plan that would be not only in their best interest, but in the best interest of their children and grandchildren is nothing short of immoral. Shame on the WSJ and their shoddy "journalism".
* - The Journalism Fan Club doesn't really exist, but if it did, I would proudly carry its card.