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BACK ON TRACK: Last week’s Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare is a victory for decency and against cruelty
CLINICAL (read scientific, testable) evidence has yielded proof that there are three -- and at this point to my knowledge only three -- foods that plainly are anti-carcinogenic. The first was broccoli.
The second was green tea: and the deeper one went into provincial China, as the tea got greener, the cancer lessened.
The third was stewed tomatoes; stewed because the cooking releases an enzyme that fights cancer. This was suggested by the lower rates of colon cancer among Italians compared to the French; the significant difference was pasta sauce, read stewed tomatoes.
Now, broccoli is not universally loved, though the Chinese celebrate it with oyster sauce. President George H.W. Bush famously said "I do not like broccoli and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm president of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli." It sounds ominously like whines from his longer-serving president-son.
It is thus monstrously illustrative that in the debate over "Obamacare" in the US, including during recent weeks in the Supreme Court, the issue became, "if you can force a person to pay for health insurance, you can force people to eat broccoli".
I guess a majority don't like it. Broccoli has a strong taste, it doesn't mix well with many foods, but made into a soup or eaten raw as an hors d'oeuvre with a sauce it -- at least for me -- is one of the finest foods.
It turns out to be extraordinary that the Supreme Court, thanks to the swing vote of the highly conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, has affirmed the Obama plan, by which at least 30 million people in history's richest country will finally have health insurance.
Broccoli becomes a vital ingredient in an Obama re-election. Of course, the Congress's power to tax is of a different order of magnitude in comparing its potential to force anyone to eat broccoli. A majority of the court saw it that way, thank heavens.
The court had what a New Yorker writer called a "wicked decision", as compared with a "tame" one. A wicked one is where there are downsides, upsides, no simple path to progress.
A tame one is like Kennedy's decision that America would go to the moon. It was simply a matter of finding solutions to a series of immensely complicated challenges.
This was a wicked decision because there was fierce opposition, indeed Obamacare had become central to the anti-Obama-obsessed, and they thought they could use it to defeat the president. Humiliate him in his greatest achievement -- indeed the most important contribution of a president in 50 years. The Obsessed thought they could win on broccoli.
Well, maybe the chief justice happens to like broccoli, or likes healthy food. But this was a victory for decency and against cruelty. The uninsured or potentially uninsured (those hovering on the brink of unemployment) now are mandated to get insurance. The total additional cost to the budget in the next 10 years happens to be a third of the tax cuts to the rich that come up for renewal soon. It is a mixture of public and private.
But let's understand the main point. People without means now can head off potential cancers or at least not just die on the streets. And this is an insidious process. I know that all my medical costs will be paid in America from Medicare -- socialised medicine for "seniors". My back operation cost almost half a million ringgit.
Now, medical care here in the Philippines is excellent and very cheap, but Medicare stupidly limits coverage to and within the 50 states.
I know that when I have too many bills, I'll wait until the end of the month to get a check-up at the nearby new Manila hospital.
If I do that at my upper-middle class income level, one can understand why a genuinely poor person, or middle class with kids' tuition at college to pay, would avoid American hospitals even if serious symptoms appeared. It costs over a thousand dollars to enter an American hospital and get even the simplest treatment.
I paid a thousand ringgit in Manila to have a routine surgery done on my wrist. In America the procedure would be free to me, to the public RM36,000 -- but then I'd have to pay RM5,000 for the round trip. So I know that we don't think of medical care as a necessity but a cost/risk analysis.
This just shouldn't be so, but this decision follows in the path of enlightenment that expanded the vote from the few to the many, or to the empowerment of minorities like African Americans.
Things are moving back in Barack Obama's direction.