Corporate/Public Partnership During a Worldwide Plague

As I’ve noted, Nazi-admirers and other authoritarians (and our greediest wealthy citizens) wake up every day on fire to consolidate and expand their power.   They eagerly use any means necessary, since they believe themselves in an existential struggle against a host of murderous evils.   They see themselves as underdogs, eternally under attack and fight like well-organized, maniacally disciplined devils for what they deeply believe in.   They believe themselves surrounded by superhuman enemies, and therefore they give no quarter in their quest to prevail over these inhuman creatures.   They go to sleep dreaming of the glorious fight and wake up fighting violently to change the world.

The large masses of average people just want to live decent lives, share adventures, take care of the people they love, help strangers when they can.   They tend not to be organized into quasi-military hierarchies, not to march in huge, angry rallies, not to brandish weapons and chant things like “Death to the Other!”   They seldom threaten to break anyone’s bones, burn anyone alive or hang traitors from lamp posts.  The masses of ordinary people are, as these tough-minded warriors see them, a bunch of passive pansies fully responsible for their own powerlessness. And, of course, contemptible for their weakness.

I’ve been trying to use my own unfortunate situation regarding twice-canceled public/private health insurance to illustrate how far this authoritarian belief system has come in recent decades.    If you are low-income, tamp your expectations for fair treatment, quaint things like “due process,” way down — there is a whole separate body of laws that protects what you losers believe to be your rights.  Our Free Market explicitly blames the poor for their poverty, the homeless for living outside, the weak for needing our help.   This is the prevailing public narrative of our “Free Market” system — a system which, naturally, provides generous support for our largest private enterprises and our most successful hoarders of wealth.    

The unexamined truism among many hardworking people is that if you had every opportunity not to be low-income, and were too lazy to work hard for it, something is fundamentally wrong with your values if you choose to live a life of outsized degradation.  If you choose to live this kind of disempowered lower class life, you have only yourself to blame for the unfair treatment you might receive.

Here, in a nutshell, is what our Free Market does when it comes to profit-driven health care, which grinds on obedient to the corporate bottom line, even during a worldwide plague.   You are notified that you have successfully re-enrolled for low-cost health insurance in 2020.   You call to pay and are told you missed a ten day grace period.   This private company insists that no notice is required before they can terminate your policy, lawfully, during this once-a-year chance for private insurance companies to terminate unprofitable, low-cost health insurance policies subsidized by the government.   You manage to get this “erroneous” ruling overturned and have your insurance restored.    Three months later, with notice from a government agency only to the private insurance company, your insurance is summarily canceled without notice.   You only find out by accident that you have no health insurance, during a plague, ten days after it is cancelled.

Fair is fair, of course.  No court in the nation will hear your case, particularly in a nation currently overwhelmed by mass infection, frightful deaths and dislocations. Two documents are produced by the State that offer the fig leaf of proof of the notice you never received.  It is the word of an angry person who made a clear error of omission (fixed 45 days too late) versus the word of government/corporate partners who claim to have followed the law to its letter, whatever that law might be.  

A law that, by the way, you have no right to know.  The government agency that regulates the private insurance company does not know the law, or if they do, they’re not obliged to inform a member of the unwashed public.  In fact, the agency returns your call to reiterate that it has no jurisdiction, you must appeal to the separate agency that administers programs for poor people, they operate under an entirely separate, but presumably equal, body of law.   The law has an apt phrase for this: “de minimis non curat lex” — the law doesn’t give a rat’s armpit for your hurt feelings, jerk-off.

Nothing to see here!  

Look, I am actually privileged, very much so.  I will have my insurance back in a few days, as opposed to the four and six month waits the last two times it was cancelled or held up due to the overwhelmed NYS agency’s own errors.  I have no major disease or health crisis requiring immediate medical care.   I am not at risk of homelessness, starvation, preventable death from undiagnosed heart disease or cancer or any other silent killer.   Tens of millions of Americans are in desperate situations, increasingly facing hunger, terror and actual death — I am not.      I live on a modest income but I am not suddenly unemployed and hopeless in a nation where the CEO of the non-profit corporation that twice terminated my low-cost health insurance in 2020 made $1,900,000 last year.  FAIR IS FAIR.

Thankfully, this headless galloping insanity might be slowed after November 2020, assuming the bulk of the electorate is allowed to cast ballots.   The opposition candidate, the gaffe-prone near-octogenarian with the million dollar smile, the man who can turn this all around and give us back both Hope and Change, is keeping pretty much quiet during this historic crisis.   A wise strategy by his strategists, minimize the damage he can do to own his campaign by staying as low on the radar as possible.   Hope and Change, baby!   Leadership on demand.  The best losers can hope for, one supposes, certainly the best we deserve.  And if not, blame us!


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