Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tanner Everett's Final Report, Parts 1 AND 2

Before I begin, I just want to mention the fact that I had initially planned to split this report into two parts as we are instructed, but after I got into writing this I realized that it simply flowed better as one complete essay, so this technically is both parts one and two of my final report. For this assignment, I decided to pick up a book that we used last semester in environmental ethics, to try and draw some parallels to bioethics from it. I chose Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate. Specifically, I decided to focus on chapter 3, “Public and Paid For: Overcoming Ideological Blocks to the Next Economy. This is focused primarily on the “re-municipalization” of the sources of energy, taking the power out of the hands of the private sector and putting it back into control of the city. I believe that many of the points and arguments that Klein makes throughout this chapter translate very well into a number of areas of bioethics, but in particular I want to look at how these can be applied to the de-privatization of healthcare.

            I would like to point out that Klein actually does mention healthcare specifically in this chapter of the book when she is recounting her experience in assisting Nastaran Mohit with providing relief to thousands in an impoverished area of New York after hurricane Sandy. Klein tells us that “according to a Harvard Medical School study, as many as 45,000 people die annually in the United States because they lack health insurance…This works out to about 12 deaths per minute.” After describing in detail the near-apocalyptic state of this neighborhood in New York, Klein tells us about the fact that many of the victims of the storm were trying to get prescriptions filled at pharmacies and that there was so much bureaucratic red-tape that these people would have to go through for insurance that it took many of them three or more trips to finally get the medicine they needed, and some of them ended up not being able to get it at all. Klein quotes Mohit in saying “We need universal health care, there is no other way around it.” And Klein continues on to say “Anyone who disagreed should come to the disaster zone, because this ‘is a perfect situation for people to really examine how nonsensical, inhumane, and barbaric the system is’ (quoting Mohit).”

            As I previously stated, many of the arguments Klein makes in regards to switching to clean energy work very well in arguing for universal healthcare. Here Klein delivers a number of hard-hitting quotes in this section of her book, one of which is “Residents would have greater democratic say in their energy system, they argued, rather than having the decisions that affect them made in distant boardrooms.” If you simply substitute “healthcare” for “energy system,” one can quite succinctly sum up many Americans’ view on instituting public healthcare. In the same fashion that people don’t want life-altering decisions about the health of the planet made simply on the value of the “bottom-line,” nobody wants to be denied life-saving medicines or procedures simply because they cannot afford it; you cannot place a value on human health and life, these are simply rights that each person has.

            Klein gives us another quote, this one actually originating from Wiebke Hansen: “For people it’s self-evident that goods on which everybody is dependent should belong to the public…” Again, this resonates with many people as simply denying human beings with the basic, standard human right to good health.

I mean, imagine Oxygen became a commodity in the private sector. Just your standard, average Oxygen that each of us needs roughly 550 liters of every single day. So, unless there was very rigid government intervention, I’m afraid that many of us simply would not be able to afford the Oxygen we need to survive. Unfortunately, this is the same scenario that tens of thousands of Americans find themselves in every day, not being able to afford something that is essential for them to continue living.

            On the topic of government intervention, it is absolutely deplorable the recent moves we have made as a society. While the Obama administration’s healthcare plan Obamacare certainly was not perfect, it was at least a step, or rather a huge leap, in the right direction. But unfortunately our current administration was very quick to dismantle much of the progress that had been made, and for what? To give even more money to the already hyper-rich, elite, bourgeois of the country? I cannot image any other argument against free healthcare for all other than something to the effect of: “These people’s lives are simply not valuable enough to save. It is more important that we ensure our bank accounts have $600 million instead of a lousy $500 million. That is more important than a veteran receiving the physical and mental health care that they need, or than a cancer patient getting the operation that could save their life.”

            So where do we go from here? Well that’s a loaded question with a vast array of possible avenues to take, though I think one crux of Klein’s argument in this chapter is imperative: there has to be a vast mobilization and outreach from all of us in support of the changes we want to see, whether that cause is clean energy or universal healthcare (or both!). There must be action taken to show our governments that not only do we support this change, we will not stand idly by; even enacting real change in our local governments, which Klein would possibly argue are even more important in starting this kind of movement, is a great place to get begin with this project. And equally as important as getting started, I believe, is being able to pick up the pieces and continue the fight, even when we inevitably get more Donald Trumps that seem to exist solely to destroy everything that we have worked so hard on. In fact, hundreds of years from now historians may be able to look back at this volatile time in our society and say that the election of Trump turned out to be one of the best things for universal healthcare and climate change, because thanks to him and his unfounded, unscientific, and downright inhumane policies, people have mobilized and are protesting in numbers we have never seen before. As they say, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

1088 words

link to Sydney's post that I commented on

Link to Mason's post that I commented on


  1. "this technically is both parts one and two of my final report"- okay... if you get any constructive feedback you want to incorporate, or if you just have further thoughts to share, feel free to edit before May 2.

    Great parallel with Klein's discussion of the health of the planet to the health of our health-delivery system. We've commodified priceless goods, in the name of market fundamentalism. At some point, surely, widespread public reaction against this unhealthy state of affairs must "change everything."

    “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” - indeed. Thanks for your optimism, cynicism is a luxury we can't afford. But we need to balance it with realism. Bill McKibben's piece in the Times Magazine yesterday was sobering: "we have only a short window to deal with the climate crisis or else we forever lose the chance to thwart truly catastrophic heating..." Same goes for the health crisis, in particular for those presently battling mortal illness without adequate public support. Hurry, dawn!

  2. I had no idea that "as many as 45,000 people die annually in the United States because they lack health insurance"! It's so easy to take healthcare for granted: whether it's because we still fall under our parents' health insurance, get by with affordable though limited university healthcare, or have been lucky enough not to need serious healthcare. The example of oxygen commodification is really hard-hitting and eye-opening. It reminds me of a David Firth skit set in a future where basic necessities have become so expensive people have to little bits of their lifespan just to survive (Here is the link. Fair warning, it's a bit dark: https://youtu.be/idCFV0KF4uo?list=LLu3YlmafGvzif1We9ptp6fA).

    I appreciate your optimism in the face of the health crisis! Thanks for sharing.