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September 05, 2008

Quote for the Day

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

From the Washington Post's Robert J. Samuelson:

For most Americans, living standards are increasing, albeit slowly, over any meaningful period. But rising health spending is eroding take-home pay, and immigrants are boosting both poverty and the lack of health insurance. Unless we control health spending and immigration, the economic report card will continue to disappoint. Unfortunately, neither Obama nor McCain seriously addresses these problems.

Fun fact from Samuelson's very interesting column: "Since 1990, Hispanics numerically account for all the increase in the number of officially poor."

More here.



posted by Michael at September 5, 2008


The cost of health care is a very tough issue. While we seem to be looking for somebody to blame, I think that the problem is that health care, particularly on the level that we want, is extraordinarily expensive.

There is no easy fix for that. In the Philippines heath care is very high quality and very cheap, but insurance is available only to a very few. If you can't pay for medical care at the time of treatment, you won't get treated.

The cost of the last few years of care for the elderly, and the last few weeks of care for the dying is astronomical.

I'll skip the immigration debate, since I think that all that can be said has been said.

Uncoupling health insurance from employment might be a good idea, or it might lead us to bankruptcy. I don't know which.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on September 5, 2008 6:06 AM

The cost of the last few years of care for the elderly, and the last few weeks of care for the dying is astronomical.

Which is why health care "reform" without some sort of outcome-based rationing is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Posted by: Peter on September 5, 2008 9:53 AM

Now Michael. The debate about immigration does not exist, as you should know. The only permissible debate, and it in highly constrained form, is about how to talk about immigration, not what position to take. You are NOT PERMITTED to ask any questions, refer to any facts, construct any argument about immigration that in any way mentions any ethnic or racial group. This especially applies to [CENSORED]ics.

Don't you know anything? Have you learned nothing? To even speak of immigration while so much as mentioning [CENSORED]ics is to risk inviting accusations of THE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE EVIL R THING THE BAD BAD BAD R THING NAZI NAZI NAZI HITLER R THING EVIL as well as descriptions of you as being [CENSORED]ophobic.

I love you Michael. But you are in many ways terribly naive.


Posted by: PatrickH on September 5, 2008 11:00 AM

Patrick is right. All immigration is good, all the time, in any form legal or illegal and to criticize anything about that is to be an ignorant racist. Our strength is in our diversity, and even if wages bottom out and we're all in a crime state, well, we're still "strong" because we're diverse.

Let's have really relevant arguments from now on about what things we CAN ban. Like foie gras! And Twinkies! And men taking their shirts off in stadiums! Isn't that what's really destroying the country?

Posted by: Days of Broken Arrows on September 5, 2008 6:01 PM

The reason McCain and Obama aren't talking about regulating immigration is that they know Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. We need an ever-increasing number of payers at the bottom to channel money up to the collectors at the top.

Without immigration to fund this fraud, both candidates would have to face the much harder task of true Social Security reform. And since the Social Security Trust Fund can only "invest" in government treasuries, the Fund is the entity covering a big chunk of Washington's overspending by buying up the IOUs. So true SS reform means hampering the Washington crowd's ability to curry favor through pork-barrel spending.

So don't hold your breath on SS reform. Get used to the US turning into a third world country solely because of the greed and cowardice of our representatives in Washington. Makes you really want to pull the lever in November for any one of these guys, doesn't it?

Posted by: Bill on September 5, 2008 7:43 PM

Bill, immigration doesn't help with Social Security and Medicare because the immigrants are not net taxpayers. They cost more than they pay in taxes.

Posted by: Randall Parker on September 8, 2008 12:43 AM

immigrants are boosting both poverty and the lack of health insurance. Unless we control health spending and immigration, the economic report card will continue to disappoint.

Gah! Who cares about the "economic report card"? This is a bogus factoid from someone who should know better. Completely aside from whether more immigration would be good or bad, this claim misses the point.

If an immigrant moves from a very-poor country to the wealthy US, he get's richer. That's why he moved. He doesn't make any Americans poorer (directly anyway), even though he brings the average wealth/income down by his mere presence.

Think of it this way: If a bunch of short immigrants moved to the US, the average height of US residents would go down. However, this would NOT be evidence of malnutrition shriveling up America's youth. It wouldn't be evidence of rising malnutrition even if the incoming immigrants were shriveled up and malnourished.

Even if you think that immigrants are on net bad, (or that they drive up health costs by getting free care at emergency rooms) that doesn't make the poverty effect on the "economic report card" something to worry about.

Posted by: Alex J. on September 8, 2008 2:31 AM

Interesting Alex J, that you think that if the immigrants benefit and but native Americans don't, that's somehow all right.

The most important reason to let in immigrants is to benefit the existing population, not the newcomers. A net wash economically is itself enough of a reason not to let immigrants in.

Posted by: PatrickH on September 8, 2008 5:46 PM


1. I'm talking about legal immigration.

2. I said nothing about Medicsre.

3. Whether immigrants are net users of the spectrum of social benefits has nothing to do with my argument.

4. I said immigration is being used to increase the payor pool for Social Security. Until immigrants reach retirement age, they are contributors, not users of funds.

Posted by: Bill on September 10, 2008 10:27 AM

Patrick, try reading the post again.

Posted by: Alex J. on September 11, 2008 12:13 PM

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