[Marxism] Life, Death and the Bottom Line

Bonnie Weinstein giobon at comcast.net
Thu May 8 09:02:07 MDT 2014

Life, Death and the Bottom Line

By Bonnie Weinstein

It is certainly disconcerting to learn that when you or your loved one is being seen by doctors in capitalism’s command center, the good old USA, that decisions concerning patient care are based upon the cost of that care, and not it’s effectiveness. In other words, in medical care too, you get what you pay for, and profits come first.

In an April 17, 2014 article in the New York Times by Andrew Pollack titled, “Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors,”

“Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of healthcare, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care….

“In practical terms, new guidelines being developed by the medical groups could result in doctors choosing one drug over another for cost reasons or even deciding that a particular treatment—at the end of life, for example—is too expensive. In the extreme, some critics have said that making treatment decisions based on cost is a form of rationing….

“A review last year of clinical guidelines issued by 30 of the largest physician specialty societies found that 17 of them explicitly integrated costs….

“The cardiology societies say that the idea that doctors should ignore costs is unrealistic because they already have to consider the financial burden placed on the patient, if not society. ‘Protecting patients from financial ruin is fundamental to the precept of ‘do no harm,’’ the societies wrote in their paper outlining the new policy.”

The “Hypocrite-ic Oath”

In simple terms what they are saying is that if the most effective treatment turns out to be too expensive, let the patient die if they can’t afford it, or if it cuts into profits. And they rationalize this inhumanity by determining that the exorbitant cost for treatment that the patient may have to bear is, in and of itself, detrimental to her or his health and, therefore, against the Hippocratic Oath of, fundamentally, “do no harm!” What hypocrisy!

At no point does the article question the fundamental connection between the profit-driven, multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical and healthcare industries and the cost of treatment to the patient.

At no point does the article challenge the gluttony of the CEOs of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries!

Just to give one example, Richard M. Bracken, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hospital Corporation of America earned $1,387,474 in salary; a $3,358,320 bonus; $21,989,866 in perks; and $11,824,290 in options, for a total of a 49.9-million-dollar income in 2012.1

At no point does the article demand that the multi-trillion-dollar oil, gas, manufacturing, food, tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceutical, etc. industries, “do no harm!”

At no point does the article challenge the right of industries to make decisions about life and death based upon the bottom line of profit above all else—profits which rightly belong to those who actually do the work.

“Good and Evil”

If there is “good” and “evil,” then “good” is the potential to nurture each other and protect our environment. Above all to make democratic and rational decisions based upon need, want and the health of our planet and not on the accumulation of private profits for the few.

“Evil” is the system of capitalism itself, whereby the private ownership of the means of production, and the profits produced by our labor, are owned and ruled by the commanders of capital—a tiny minority of individuals, who are not only constantly at war with one another—but are universally at war against us, in order to get more of the profits we produce.

The common good

I am an optimist. I truly believe that humanity is fundamentally good because it’s in the best interests of all to live peacefully and cooperatively on this planet. I believe we are naturally, organically and materially destined to create a Paradise on Earth. Nothing is impossible and we have nothing to lose, and a Paradise to gain. That’s socialism in a nutshell.

1	 “Executive Pay by the Numbers”


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