Sunday, January 22, 2012

Of Intellectual Enclaves and Self-Reinforcing Media: Crossing The Health Care Reform Divide

Watch for and report any
contrary opinions!
There's an interesting Saturday Essay in The Wall Street Journal that describes the self-perpetuating socioeconomic-neighborhood enclaves that separate America's "haves" and "have nots."  It's turning out that zip code is not only associated with health, it's becoming associated with destiny.

Not only fascinating, says the Disease Management Care Blog, but the essay reminds it of the pernicious twin intellectual enclaves in the health care debate.  While the progressive-liberals and the market-oriented conservatives in D.C. remain stuck in their closed information loops, the political process has been boiled down to the Supreme Court's nine lawyers and vague threats to unilaterally "repeal Obamacare."   Yikes, says the DMCB, the Dark Knight's Joker had it right: we deserve a better class of politician criminal.

And if you think Newt is being wacky over the media bearing some responsibility, check out this NPR interview with the author of the book The Information Diet.  Unrepentant lefty Clay Johnson points out that the news outlets are becoming less of a solution and more of a problem.  By serving pre-digested and refined reports that cater to our pre-existing biases, organizations like CNN, Fox, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are creating an epidemic of intellectually obese brains that are hooked on the sugar and fat of what we'd like to know, not what we should know.

Which is why the DMCB steeled itself, stepped outside its right-of-center comfort zone and sat through this C-SPAN broadcast of pro-Obamacare Jonathan Gruber being lobbed softballs by the fawning attendees at a Seattle Town Hall.  It makes for a spirited retread of the merits of enlightened central government, the villainy of the health insurers and the intrusion of politics, even as Dr. Gruber characterizes opponents as either 1) uneducated or 2) mistaken.  That's why he's written this comic book designed to help both classes of simpletons.

The DMCB suspects its readers won't need to order a copy.


As an aside, the Penn State graduate DMCB sadly notes the passing of Joe Paterno, the recently fired Penn State football coach. Despite his legendary stature, even "JoePa" was no match for the toxic Sandusky scandal.  It wasn't too long afterwards that Coach Paterno was diagnosed with what was eumphemistically characterized as a "treatable" form of lung cancer.  Occasional news reports since then described an increasingly frail 85 year old man struggling with the side effects of his cancer treatment.

Like many friends and colleagues, the DMCB wondered if the "stress" of his ignominous departure was the real cause of his death.  According to this Psychosomatics case series of 43 lung cancer patients based on used of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, baseline depression was associated with a poorer 6 month survival, but not overall survival

In other words, they die sooner.
Image from Wikipedia

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