Jul 05 2009

We’re in the Twilight Zone, Part 1

Category: government,healthcare,left,legislation,politics,societyharmonicminer @ 8:27 am

There is a Twilight Zone episode called “Button, Button “ in which an unhappy couple is given an unusual offer. Push a button on a box and someone they don’t know will die, but they will get $200,000.

Mr. and Mrs. Lewis are unhappy. Their car is broken. They live in a cramped one-bedroom apartment. They’re often bickering. One day, their doorbell rings but there’s nobody there. A package addressed to both of them was left by the door. Inside it is a wooden box with a plastic dome on the locked lid. A note on the bottom says a “Mr. Steward” will come that night. He comes on schedule and explains the offer to Mrs. Lewis. If she unlocks the lid and pushes the button under the dome, someone they don’t know will die and she’ll receive $200,000, tax-free. She tells the details to her husband and he’s adamantly against it. He opens up the bottom of the box and finds nothing inside. Cynical, he throws the box into a dumpster but she retrieves it after he’s asleep. They continue to argue about whether to push the button. Finally, Mrs. Lewis presses it. Mr. Steward appears and gives them their $200,000. They’re incredulous and wonder what will happen to the box. Steward explains that it will be reprogrammed and the same offer will be given to another couple, “somebody you won’t know…”

The story is based on a short story by Richard Matheson, with a slightly different ending, but the gist of the story is the same, namely the willingness of people to receive benefits that don’t belong to them, when the only risk — really, certain doom — is to strangers.

It seems to me that this is a perfect model for the desire of many people who want to have nationalized health insurance of some sort.  Particularly if they are people who don’t now have health insurance, and want a national system to give it to them, they are perfect examples of the willingness to damage other people –  all strangers, of course — for selfish gain.

Imagine a rewrite to the story.  You are offered a button which, if you push it, guarantees that a stranger will not receive the health care they’ve always paid for, resulting in their likely death, but the reward for pushing it is that you have a minimal level of health coverage for life.

There seems to be a lot of people who are only too willing to push the button.

Of course, the entire class of people who stand to benefit the most from national healthcare — the Lefty political class that will claim it has done America a great service — will be the group that doesn’t have to live with the arrangement.  Does anyone think that the political class will settle for the DMV standard of medical care to which the rest of us will be doomed?

Button, button, who’s got the button