Opinions on Healthcare from a Philosopher

The assignment was to create three questions regarding healthcare then find someone you don’t know to answer these questions.

I interviewed Philosophy professor Shane Gronholz; I take Shane’s Philo 1001 class, but I’ve never been to his office hours or had a conversation outside of class. In my mind I really didn’t know him all to well except for the lessons in philosophy.

Prior to the interview I learned Shane was still in graduate school getting his Ph.D in Philosphy, and has been teaching for three years at Cu Boulder.

VG: Should all Americans have the right to healhcare?

SG: Okay so as a philosopher, the first thing I want to do is draw a distinction between a legal right and a moral right. So….I think for the moral question it’s a very difficult question – If someone is just born with a right to healthcare. I am actually inclined to be pretty skeptical of that claim because I don’t really know what ground such a right or where that comes from. And well also I’m actually pretty suspicious of rights anyway. Rights aren’t my favorite thing to talk about and sometimes I’m like I don’t even think there are such a thing as rights. But obviously there are legal rights and I do think we should all have a right to healthcare…I’m talking as a philosopher. Even if I don’t think there is any such thing as a moral right I think it’s good… I’ll just say I’m for single payer and universal healthcare.

VG: Healthcare has been seen by some as a socialist practice grouped along with food stamps, welfare, and housing subsidies. Do you think it would disrupt economic productivity because of offering free healthcare? Care to elaborate?

SG: No. I guess some people might say like well if some people don’t need their job to have healthcare maybe they’d quit. But there is also a good component about that if people are only staying at there job for that reason then there are bad things associated with that. So for the most part no, but this is an empirical question to some degree but has there been disruption? The things that I read mainly say no, but there are people who get upset, but I don’t know if its harm to the economy so far and I don’t have any reason to think it.

VG: The Affordable Care Act it taxes higher income such as individuals who make over $200,000, families who make over $250,000, and big business that make over $250,000. Do you think this is justified?

SG: Yeah…so…yes I do I think it is justified and I am in favor of it. I am not a full blown consequentialist to use terms from class but I lean heavily towards that way. The argument to that is supposed to be you know you’re just basically taking money away form us to help other people and if we want to donate to a charity then fine, but you’re basically saying you have to give me money to care for these other people. And so some people think there is something wrong with that but I just don’t really care about that. If you have a lot of money…I mean (sigh) yeah the consequences are just so much better if we do that. Yeah they’ll have a little bit less money but the good that can be done. Are there rights being violated in some way? I guess but not in a way that I care about that much.

VG: That’s very utilitarianist.
SG: Yeah yeah so I’m not a utilitarian but in my the majority of cases the utilitarian answer is the best one.

VG: Even in the case that you made $300,000 and you were taxed you would be fine with that?
SG: Yeah I would be fine with it….in fact well this again goes back to like I think if you’re a good utilitarian it might be hard in a lot of those cases to make those sacrifices. So what would be the best is if we just vote for utilitarian policies ’cause then it kind of compels you to do it, and it makes sure everybody else does it. So it makes sure nobody is having to do more than they should. I’m sounding like a better person than I am, but I am always in favor of higher taxes for better social programs even if I am made worse off.

VG: Even if it is imposed on lower income and middle income families?
SG: Well because of diminishing margin utility like the more you have the less it hurts you when it’s taken away.  So I do think it does matter…so that’s why I think it makes perfect sense like to have higher taxes on the rich; because they’re gonna miss it less. If it was taxes on the middle class…at this point it would be cost benefit analysis. On one hand, I would be taxed higher but then it would be making up for money that I would already be losing through my paycheck if that is going to healthcare or if I am on private insurance plan. Even if I am taxed more as a middle class person….this is really making it simple economically if it turns out that yeah I am taxed higher, but now I get free healthcare especially if it’s like single payer then that would be just a wash or I might just benefit from that.





Commercialism Ruins Everything Even Everest

Michael Kodas writes a poignant book accounting the horrific crimes that happen 8,000 meters high, aptly named High Crimes: The Fate of Everest In An Age of Greed. Kodas an award winning journalist with a Pulitzer under his belt, does a remarkable job reporting and story telling detailing bittersweet expeditions in 2004 and 2006 to Everest’s deadly summit. One about Nils Antezana, a 69 year-old American who’s ambitious mountaineering hobby naively drove him to attempt the mountain on it’s south side from Nepal. Nils would eventually meander to the summit but on his descent was stricken from health problems and abandoned by his guide Gustavo Lisi, and sherpas (Tibetan locals who act as guides and porters for mountain climbers). The disappearance of Nils Antezana was deeply investigated by Fabiola Antezana his daughter who spawned a journalistic career after looking into her father’s death. Simultaneously in 2004 on the North side from Tibet, was Michael Kodas at the time reporting as a journalist for the The Hartford Courant taking part on the Connecticut Everest Expedition team providing coverage as the team reaches the summit.

The expedition would flabbergast not just the Connecticut team but Everest in itself. The expedition team leader being led by Romanian-bred George Dijmarescu, who was Kodas neighbor and his wife Carolyn Moreau who also took part in the Connecticut expedition team. In 2006, Kodas decided to return for another shot at an expedition to the summit but due to health problems and bad weather it didn’t happen. The reveal in both Nils and Kodas accounts is the conclusive problem that plagues Everest – the greed of man. The amount of crime Kodas discovers happening atop the mountain especially at Base Camp is nothing short of theft, drugs, extortion, prostitution and violence. While Nils Antezana would deal with problems of avarice in Everest. Gustavo Lisi, the guide Nils paid for to arrange the expedition would turn out to be selfish and irresponsible for his actions and with falsified experience sadly unknown to Nils. Nils would pay with his life as Lisi headed his way to the apex of the mountain. Accounts from Nils’s diary on the trek to the summit would yield a deteriorated relationship wishlist, his guide that would leave Nils the 69 year old man to fend for himself.

High Crime is not just two stories of an adventurous expedition gone wrong but a plethora of accounts on the choices people have chosen out of glory that rest atop the summit of Everest. Kodas goes to extensive lengths to get interviews and coverage in the novel pieced together like a crescendo to keep the reader anxious of every character and journey up on the mountain.The process of verifying facts on a mountain 29,000 ft. high was no easy task for Kodas. His primary sources were witness accounts even though armed to the teeth with media technology it would not suffice. What goes on in the mountain could only be deciphered with first hand and second accounts by the witnesses luckily enough to offer their side of the story. A chilling surprise about Everest that is the amount of corpses that appear on the mountain. Some of the most questionable information came when climbers or Sherpas recalled seeing a missing climber on the mountain and either gave up on their climb and rescued them or left them for dead and went on their way.

Death and violence on Everest is devastatingly real as Kodas uncovers the savage tactics of climbers cutting the ropes of other climbers, throwing tents off the mountain, robbery, and tensions that end in physical violence. The first hand account provided by Kodas offers surreal insight into the derailing Connecticut expedition. He relives a haunting moment between Dijmarescu and Laphka in a firsthand narrative:

“George [hooked] a blow with his right hand into the side of his wife’s head. The rest of the Connecticut team saw Laphka crumple onto the rocky ground just inside the door. She cried hysterically as George grabbed the scruff of her coat…”I’ll show you how to get this piece of garbage out of here,” George shouted, grabbing his unconscious wife and throwing her onto the rocks outside”. ( 223)

Dijmarescu would be the “expedition team leader” accompanied with his wife to lead the Connecticut Everest Expedition and proved to be the type of guides that mountaineers with prestige would deplore.

Ascending Everest has always seemed a worthwhile pursuit but what comes with fame follows the instinct of ambition. Everest has undergone serious problems of commercializing for it’s ambitious goal to reach the summit where others strive for the purpose of exploration and wonder it becomes stagnated by the rudimentary principal of greed. Everest has become in a way the get-rich quick scheme for those adventurous enough, those that are successful enough to reach the summit and descend, are revered as “World Class Mountaineer”. Others “transformed into motivational speakers, authors, television personalities, sponsored athletes, mountain guides, or “life coaches” (11). Learning about the stories of Nils and Kodas as they are unveiled piece by piece illuminating the on going crime on Everest. Kodas captures the hidden lawless underworld that exist on Everest, he goes so far into his investigating that it puts his own life at stake.

Kodas a veteran journalist upholds an investigative standard in his writing and that certainly adds to the story telling element within the novel. It gives the reader an unreal sensibility of the decline on Everest as it turns into a mountain of sins. The factors contributing to the decline are numerous: the Chinese and Tibetan governments lack of authority in the mountains. Culturally, the impact Everest has brought to local inhabitants may have brought tourism to the country but it also brings in pollution, inexperienced and zealous climbers, and criminal activity. The economic factors behind climbing Everest are another concern. Expeditions are not cheap, and if there was anything to take from David Sharp, a British mountaineer that realized his “toes are worth more than $35 apiece” when he decided to not haul out for warmer boots, then lost his toes to frostbite climbing to the summit and his life. People pay more than an arm and a leg in money for guides and Sherpa to lead an expedition to reach the summit with the most capable and experienced of climbers but the problem in the business underlined by Kodas is that many guides take people with no experience and then attempt to climb Everest and for some climbers it becomes their graves. Kodas does more than tell a dramatic story on a climb to Everest he did what any great journalist does reveal the truth. Every detail disclosed in the book contributes to the point that the principles of mountaineering and in some situations human morality are lost on Everest.

I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in crime or environmental awareness. The pace of the story really keeps the pages flipping,and it is easy to visualize the thrill of Everest from the perspective of Kodas. This.This form of journalism is the type we need to be reminded of exist when anyone mentions the word journalism or question journalism is dead.High Crimes keeps hard hitting investigation at its sharpest edge it is more than a quick PSA about Everest it is a lesson in man’s nature not one to admire but one that we may never have been aware of to begin with.