Tuesday, May 10, 2011

These days whatever the industry, the scams look alike

Paul Krugman on the Washington Post's misleading coverage of the healthcare and budget deficit cutting debate: 
As Jonathan Chait and Jamelle Bouie note, today was another VSP day at the Washington Post, with both the editorial page and the fact-checker tut-tutting at Democrats who insist on describing the Republican plan to dismantle Medicare as a plan to dismantle Medicare.

Because it is, you know, a plan to dismantle Medicare. When you transform a program that pays seniors’ medical bills into a program that gives them a voucher that almost certainly isn’t enough to buy adequate insurance, you can call the new scheme Medicare, but it isn’t the same program.

What the Post fact-checker seems to want, nonetheless, is for Democrats to talk about what Republicans are proposing only in big words and complicated sentences, so that the public doesn’t understand what they’re saying.
It's important to keep in mind that the Washington Post Company is essentially a for-profit education firm--one of the industry's leaders.   American kids take out student loans and -- with increasing frequency -- they spend these loans on obtaining degrees from overpriced for-profit universities and vocational colleges.  American kids go into debt -- with the help of the government --paying exorbitant tuitions at for-profit institutions for poorly recognized credentials.

A simple parallel can help to explain the appearance of so many misleading WaPo (Kaplan) editorials about health-care.  Think of health care vouchers as the medical equivalent of student loans:  If the government were to give elderly people "vouchers" to spend on for-profit health insurance that would be analogous to the government doling out "loans" that students are free to spend on for-profit education.

Just as it's misleading to equate patients with consumers, it is also misleading to equate students with consumers.  Most members of both groups lack sufficient information to make discriminating choices.  Government-backed loans or vouchers allow savvy corporations to profit at the expense of taxpayers.   

Ideologically, America's for-profit higher education industry mirrors the US health insurance industry. This holds true to the extent that in both industries the profits are taxpayer-subsidized and tend to be at once more costly and less efficient than not-for-profit or public alternatives.   The ideological foundation of one scam is the foundation for the other.

The big difference is that in American higher education, there's a public option.  Perhaps with the drastic cuts being made to state budgets that will change.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.