Julien Sorel wishes to make his fortune. With intellectual talent but not much creativity, he understands that there are only two paths upward from his petty bourgeoisie background: the priesthood—the black—or the military—the red. He chooses the black.
Two centuries’ time has changed a lot since Stendahl’s nineteenth-century novel The Red and the Black, but not human desires. And not the deep structure of the economy. Today’s Julien Sorel strivers who want to make a lot of money but don’t much care how have different options: the blue and the green—the medical and financial industries.
So I was struck by Paul Krugman’s column about Obama’s legacy:
The 2008 election didn’t bring the political transformation Obama enthusiasts expected, nor did it destroy the power of the vested interests: Wall Street, the medical-industrial complex and the fossil fuel lobby are all still out there, using their money to buy influence.
I haven’t seen the phrase “medical-industrial complex” used before in mainstream journalism. It should be used more.
Perhaps this is a sign of slowly dawning awareness that there are reasons we’re not getting much health from our medical system.