Monday, July 27, 2009

The New Discrimination

Political Correctness has brought us some of the more absurd moments in human history. Contrary to common sense and organic checks and balances, it sacrifices the war for small victories, time and again. You see it in the hope of helping minorities and single mothers through the Great Society, only to create more poverty and destroying minority families through perverse incentives. Feminism seeks to create equality among the sexes, yet its adherents are so off-putting, they often become caricatures who demand special treatment. The Gates' case in Cambridge last week is another example of the politically correct class seeking special treatment, and expecting discrimination when none exists. Even if Dr. Gates wins this battle, the impression he and the president have left has garnered no sympathy. And then there is environmentalism, a movement built around the adoration of life that is fundamentally at odds with human flourishing.

We've reached another milestone in contradictions this month. The American citizen is currently faced with a healthcare "reform" bill that would leave no option but to discriminate against those who need healthcare the most: the elderly. Simple reason should help us to see how this is the case. There are more folks poised to go on Medicare in the coming decade and cuts to that very program are necessary to pay for this legislation. Logically, how can we have more, better care, with less money in the system? The math just doesn't add up. Similar systems to what has been proposed (notably Canada's and Britain's) cut back on the care they offer to seniors as they are the most expensive and in the most need.

But aren't we the nation that goes out of its way (and rightly so) to ensure that no employer can discriminate because of age, among other things? I remember working as an executive recruiter when a story swept through the office. Apparently, a recruiter's office had been audited, and this recruiter had written "TFO" on top of many of the resumes that were sent to in. What did "TFO" mean? "Too freaking old" put it nicely. Needless to say, that recruiter faced fines or worse for his discriminatory practice. We were reminded that if we were to discriminate, to not make a note of it on paper or in the database. And such discrimination laws can be good, so long as they don't result in quotas or the inability to reject less qualified candidates regardless of their age, sex, race, ethnicity, etc.

So how did we get to the point where we discriminate against certain people on something as important as healthcare while its illegal to discriminate based on virtually any factor in the workplace? Amazingly, it's all part of the same incoherent philosophy. Both philosophies claim the moral high ground, and both claim to be for the people. Discrimination in the field of healthcare is necessary to insure that we can provide healthcare for all those who can't afford it. That's the compassionate thing to do. Right.

And of course, it's equally compassionate to regulate the hiring practices of corporations, even if corporations often have legitimate reasons for not hiring certain qualified individuals. Maybe a more senior candidate would expect too much salary, and would move on too quickly to a different job that pays more for his skill set. Maybe an older candidate wouldn't fit into the culture, an underrated but important qualifier in a corporate setting. Maybe they've been a manager before and would have a hard time reporting to a manager now half their age. Those strike me as pretty acceptable reasons for not hiring someone who is more senior, yet a corporation could never voice such concerns for fear of legal repercussions. But, it's okay to deny that same senior healthcare? I don't think so.

Environmentalism makes similar discriminations. In defense of everything from caribou to spotted owls to fish to the infamous polar bear, human flourishing is prohibited time and again. It must be. If humans cause global warming, and global warming has ill effects on the earth, then carbon must be restricted. And the only entity big enough to do so is the government, and the only way it can do so is through taxation, regulation and the inevitable cronyism that comes with such monopolistic power. Some environmentalists have been so honest as to admit that they care little for the human species at all. (I presume they don't feel that way about themselves.) It's not uncommon for beached dolphins to be mourned while the death of millions of humans via malaria is practically ignored. Yet another contradiction.

I'm sure others could point to data that says the elderly will be better cared for under this plan. If this legislation does pass, I hope that is the case. I just cannot comprehend why we constantly cut off our societal nose to spite our face. We make all sorts of advances as a civil society, respecting the rights and dignity of others naturally and freely. Yet we are in danger of chaining ourselves as a society, binding ourselves to a future with less choice and less dignity. If we just extended the same courtesy to the elderly with respect to healthcare that we do with those interviewing, I'd feel far better about the legislation working its way through congress.

UPDATE: From the American Thinker. Even the word "discrimination" itself is used by one of Obama's top medical advisers, Ezekiel Emanuel. "He explicitly defends discrimination against older patients: 'Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years'" (Lancet, Jan. 31). Is that not at least a little creepy?

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