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Rant: The Case for Killing Newsweek

newsweek09212009.jpgI am aghast. Yesterday afternoon I was at Barnes & Noble, and at the checkout stand I saw what must be the most appalling magazine cover ever to appear on a mainstream US magazine. It wasn’t on Hustler or Soldier of Fortune. It was on the latest Newsweek.

I don’t dabble in politics much here, and I haven’t had much to say about the health care debate that others haven’t said many times, and probably better than I would. But I want to make my position clear: If health insurance reform collapses, it won’t be due to any vast, right-wing conspiracy, not with ol’ Newsweek leading the charge. Salon ran this piece back in August. Same gist. Similar stupid title.

There is a meme abroad, and while I don’t know if it has a name, I call it “Lammism.” The gist of the meme is that the elderly are an expensive extravagance, and money spent on them would be far better spent on younger people. This is not a new thing. I gave the meme its name in honor of former Democratic Colorado governor Richard Lamm, who famously said in 1984 that the ill elderly “have a duty to die…and let our kids build a reasonable life.” I guess it’s us or them, Dick, right?

It doesn’t matter that the Newsweek article is far more nuanced than its moronic title suggests. It doesn’t matter if “society needs to have this conversation with itself.” All that matters is that we are scaring the living crap out of our elderly, and if the elderly don’t sign on to health insurance reform, we don’t have a bill. Furthermore, if we dismiss their fears out of hand and pass a bill anyway, there could well be another party in control of Congress after the next election.

The elderly are not simply being paranoid. They know that Medicare is a very sweet deal, especially compared to the insurance situation of a great many younger people. They know that the government spends a huge amount of money on their care and sustenance. Given articles like those I mention above, they can be forgiven for fearing that when the government goes looking for health care cost savings and “waste,” that they will be first in line for close examination. They know that without fairly constant and often expensive medical intervention (paid for through Medicare) many of them would be disabled, dependent and suffering, and a great many more would simply be dead. Small wonder that they’re willing to believe the fearmongering lies of death panels that do not exist.

(The elderly might wave the magazine and reply: Yet.)

In Newsweek, we have a classic example of a print publication floundering to survive, and willing to risk it all on a misleading and alarmist cover line that bears little connection to the cover story. The plug on the cover of the latest issue isn’t connected to Granny. It’s connected to Newsweek.

Please join me while I pull it.

5 Comments

  1. Bruce C. Baker says:

    Interestingly enough, Lamm turned 74 on the 12th. Maybe he’s learned that life is no less sweet in one’s 70s than at any other age? It would be fun to ask him! 😀

  2. Newsweek hasn’t been good in years. I think your assessment is spot on. Wonder how many of their advertisers are insurance companies?

    -JRS

  3. Bob Fegert says:

    Newsweak needs to just die so we will no longer be burdened by their stupidity.

  4. Alan Earnshaw says:

    Maybe my corner of the country is an exception, but many of the senior citizens I know do not seem to realize the amount of money their health care costs. Actually, most of the people I know of *any* age do not seem to understand the true costs of health care.

    For example, one gentleman I know was covered by a retiree health care plan provided by his former employer. The employer renegotiated its union contract to greatly reduce the retiree health benefits, and two drugs (one for him, one for his wife) were not covered under the new plan. He was completely stunned to find out he would have to pay almost $1000 per month to buy each of those prescriptions from Walgreens. He was accustomed to paying the $15 co-pay and never saw the underlying price.

    Reform is definitely needed, but there are no easy answers. And with lawmakers making the decisions, we can almost count on things getting worse.

  5. […] of Newsweek’s execrable “The Case for Killing Granny“: Slate endorses death panels. Way to make friends for health care reform, guys. […]

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