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Friday, July 17, 2009

Comments

Profound commentary on a critically important testimony.

Thanks, John.

it's a mistake to focus exclusively (or even primarily) on individuals when examining the evil done by institutions.

Exactly. One of the main functions of governmental or corporate structures is to enable people to do monstrous things without being monsters themselves (because the supply of real human monsters is always much less than the number of monstrous acts that must be committed to keep the system going.) Systems help to place some distance between the perpetrator and his victim, of course, so a Cigna exec could kill Nataline Sarkisyan merely by mouse-clicking a "reject" box on a screen - rather than having to strangle her in her hospital bed.

But systems also help to generate rationales that can let those Cigna employees sleep at night. Every one of them, I'm sure, must have self-justified their actions as follows: "Yes, this little girl's case is heart-breaking, but if we approve this procedure, we open the floodgates, and the resulting bankruptcy isn't going to help anyone - just think of the millions of people we're 'helping' now! Sadly, Natalia must be sacrificed for the greater good."

You're welcome as always, Bjorn, and I appreciate the appreciation.

SteveB: ...because the supply of real human monsters is always much less than the number of monstrous acts that must be committed to keep the system going.

Nicely said.

Systems help to place some distance between the perpetrator and his victim...

Yes, and that's crucial. In fact Potter says that the turning point finally came for him when he saw people lined up in the rain to get medical treatment in animal stalls at a country fairground, which "drove it home to me, maybe for the first time, that we were talking about real human beings and not just numbers."

Are you really congratulating a murderer for not being a murderer any more?

There's prisons full of murderers who aren't murdering anymore, because they're in prison, where they belong. Where Mr. Potter should be. And would be if his gang of thugs were black instead of white. He actually ADMITTED to the murder. His inaction cause a death.

I hope the non-violent offenders in jail get half the sympathy you've shown to someone who actually did kill someone. But rich, white guys who confess to murder seem to get off pretty easy, huh?

Just another McNamara. He'll be dead before we get the chance to try him.

Are you really congratulating a murderer for not being a murderer any more?

No, I'm pretty sure I'm not doing that.

I'd call my use of "kill" hyperbole, but you're stretching the limits of exaggeration to the breaking point. It's not a murder even if we're just talking about CIGNA; first, the procedure may not even have saved Nataline's life, and second, refusing to help someone who's dying is not murder by any definition. And as for Potter, he was just the spokesperson for CIGNA—he didn't have the ability to authorize or deny care for anyone, so there's no reasonable argument that he's responsible (much less a "murderer"). And I don't see that his wealth or skin color has a thing to do with it either.

Look: we all have our hot buttons, and yours apparently somehow got pressed. But I'd gently suggest that you've gone pretty far off the rails. I doubt anyone here would disagree that street crime is treated far more seriously than corporate crime, but it's pretty much a non sequitur in regard to this interview or my comments about it...and your implication that I think otherwise because I'm in thrall to rich white guys is, frankly, pretty hard to fathom coming from someone who's apparently been reading the site for a while.

I'm impressed that Potter chose stood outside his bubble. He told Bill Moyers last week that finding out about health clinic expeditions taking place across America was a revelation for him, and that it hit him like a lightening strike. This is a very positive development, because the bubbles that need popping most are the ones around people, not the bubble economy or any thing like that. Change is definitely on the horizon, and Obama was just a small manifestation of these changing times, so there will be change whether his administration is for it or not.

Anyways, good stuff John.


I am glad he changed, and yes impressed that he finally saw the humanity of the people the corporate machine he spoke for was crushing. And yet... And yet...


A line from G.B. Shaw's St. Joan keeps running through my head: "Must a new Christ be crucified in every generation for those who have no imagination?"

Must a new Christ be crucified in every generation for those who have no imagination?

Brilliant. My education in literature is so sorely lacking; I'm thankful to those who have one.

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