The Reasoned Review

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A Hole in the Universe

with 2 comments

There is a gaping hole in our scheme for “universal” healthcare, and Ezra Klein was good enough to mention it, albiet offhandedly.

As President Obama thundered during his speech, so-called “illegal” immigrants will under no circumstances benefit from his proposed health plan. Representative Wilson got his 15 minutes by shouting “You Lie!”, but unfortunately this is a rare example of verisimilitude from our commander-in-cool. Klein and others have noted that the proposed scheme will require proof of documentation in order to participate in the “health insurance marketplace”, effectively barring anyone who doesn’t have their papers in order.

Senator Conrad has since promised that undocumented residents will be able to purchase insurance, but cannot receive subsidies. He does not mention, however, that documentation will still be requested upon application in the current scheme, which would effectively bar anyone unwilling to disclose their status (read: everyone). So it amounts to the same thing – a cruel exclusion of “illegals” not only from subsidized health care, but indeed, any health coverage whatsoever.

One often hears the “moral hazard” argument applied to this situation. If illegal immigrants are allowed free healthcare, the argument runs, the only effect will be to exacerbate the immigration problem. Such reasoning assumes the only reason Mexicans and Central Americans begin the often deadly road to America is to take advantage of our “freedoms”. If that be the case, however, the end of the traveller’s dangerous journey must come as an utter disappointment.

They arrive as second-class citizens, and so they remain, barred even from minimum wage employment, under the constant threat of deportation, possessing no true rights of which to speak. Most barely eke out a living picking vegetables or doing dangerous construction for criminal wages, sending all but the most essential money back to their impoverished families.

Very, very few commentators in our mainstream discourse will dare to mention the real root of our so-called “immigration problem.” The North America Free Trade Agreement (or NAFTA) allows the US to dump its subsidized grain surpluses on Mexico (in the name of “free trade), undercutting their traditional farmers and driving them out of business. In the years since NAFTA’s inception (in 1994) the wave of dispossessed villages and out-of-business farmers has flown north, in search of some sort of livelihood.

Our economic policies drove these villagers to risk their lives to become second-class American citizens. And while the prospect of “free healthcare to illegals” seems difficult to swallow, the economic calamities wrought upon them (largely by our hand), should be doubly so.


Written by pavanvan

September 14, 2009 at 3:04 am

2 Responses

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  1. do u have a good source about how NAFTA fucked things up?


    September 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm

  2. The “NAFTA” link in the article provides some pretty good information. You can also download this OXFAM report which goes into the problem with a considerable amount of detail.


    September 14, 2009 at 4:50 pm

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