The “Callous Right-Winger” in Me


Glen Greenwald recently Tweeted a link that I blindly followed to find this:

It really is amazing, though. I didn’t flinch when I heard this story [Conservative pundits making fairly egregious claims.], but then again, I live in an area where people make the calculation to not do anything about a sore tooth until they can justify getting it pulled- because that is cheaper than a root canal or anything else. I know people who don’t check their blood sugar, or who don’t take their meds, because they simply can not afford the equipment or the treatment. And they all work. They all have jobs.

Now, most of this statement seems to be hyperbole. However, the writer may know a few people that have to skip taking medication because they can’t afford it…but if you don’t check your blood sugar because you can’t “afford” a testing device, that seems like a case of ultra-extreme hyperbolic discounting…on the level of; you’re walking through the store and because you have to pass the snack food aisle, you can never make it to the pharmacy with your wallet intact.

A cursory search of Google is all it took to come across this, which costs $11.95 (auction puts it at $3.95!). WalMart also offers $4 prescriptions for a fairly good range of medications. Also, here are average prices for tooth extraction and root canal, which are relatively expensive, but not astronomical…

It may just be the “callous right-winger” in me, but I don’t think Mr. Cole isn’t making a very good argument. Two-thirds of his grievances are things that the market has more or less taken care of…or does it not count when WalMart does it? Does everything need to be perpetually high-priced and then subsidized by the government? How does that make anyone better off?

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5 thoughts on “The “Callous Right-Winger” in Me

  1. I clicked on your link and found out that you indeed can buy a blood glucose meter for $12 (on sale from $70). That’s cheap! Then I scrolled down and found out that the test strips, which you have to use every time you test, are $30 for 50 strips (on sale from $55) and lancets, also used every time you test, are $12 for 100 (on sale from $17). That’s $36 for 50 tests. Still pretty cheap, unless you know someone, like my cousin, who is supposed to test his blood 5 times a day, which is approximately 150 tests a month. That’s when you figure out it costs him over $100 dollars a month to test his blood. He also has mental and emotional problems, which affect his job performance and makes it almost impossible for him to hold down even a minimum wage job. What if his parents were dead and couldn’t provide for all his needs? What if his 6 month marriage had produced a child? Would you tell him to go ahead and spend the $100/month on himself instead of his dependents?

    The only thing thing I’m going to say about the $4 Walmart prescriptions is that I am on one medication where there is no generic that costs $200 a month. I’m pretty sure I can’t get that at WalMart for $4 (but I will check for sure). Good thing I don’t have my cousin’s problems, or I wouldn’t have my well-paying job with the half-way decent insurance plan to help pay for it. Of course, I can’t quit like I want to so I can start my own business because of my pre-existing condition, but I guess that’s just a combination of tough luck and bad genetics, huh?

    1. Thank you for your comment!

      So why not give poor people cash? Or, if you’re feeling paternalistic, a voucher-based medical savings account in which they can purchase routine care products and services from a marketplace, and subsidize the cost of catastrophic insurance, and long-term care?

      I think you’re misunderstanding my position as being; “let everyone fend for themselves”, when it is clearly not.

      As far as your drugs are concerned…I’m assuming you favor FDA safety and efficacy testing. I’ve argued elsewhere on the internet (and may do a future piece here) on patent futures markets in medicine (and music…and all patents for that matter). Is that something you have considered? Or do you want to nationalize pharmaceutical companies? I’m wondering because you seem to have an issue with costs…but I’m guessing you have a strong anti-market bias (at least when it comes to medicine).

  2. Patent futures market? So we should put our trust in medical safety to a bunch of speculators with little or no interest in the actual health of those affected?

    Geez, at best you nutbaggers are psychopaths.

    1. I’d be ok with a semi nationalized system whereby patents can be bought and retired, but manufactures are left to compete. A patent futures market isn’t something I’ve considered a whole lot; I’ll be looking forward to your blogs on this later.

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