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October 19, 2008

More AWOL Campaign Issues

Friedrich von Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards,

I was so taken with Donald's discussion of AWOL Campaign Issues that I came up with a few of my own. At least his issues were hot topics of discussion at one point, whereas most of mine don't seem to be on very many people's radar.

My list of problems:

1. The U.S. trade and current account deficit that is forcing us to be ever more dependent on foreign central bank purchases of our debt. The kindness of such strangers as the governments or central banks of China, the Gulf oil states and Russia (uh oh) is essential to US plans to balloon its budget deficit for purposes of economic stimulus and financial-sector bailouts. If we had to raise the required trillions from domestic investors interest rates would skyrocket, making our current economic problems seem trivial.

2. The excessive U.S. household debt and lack of U.S. domestic savings (hey, we don't need to save, we've got all that equity in our dot com stocks and our, wait a minute...) and our closely related policy of subsidizing borrowers and intermediaries (banks, hedge funds, money managers, etc.) at the expense of savers and investors (have you looked at bank Certificate of Deposit rates lately?). This is, of course, related to #1.

3. Mercantilist trade partners who manipulate their currencies and have other peculiar economic rules and regulations that make a mockery of the notion of 'free trade' (and yes, I do mean China, but they ain't the only ones) while targeting various domestic US industries with the connivance of US trade policy (think the Clinton-Bush mantra: "Who cares about manufacturing, we'll sell the world financial innovations.") This is, of course, related to #1 and #2.

4. The completely dysfunctional U.S. health care system that is, even as we speak, bankrupting public finances, seriously reducing take home pay for workers and not delivering nearly the health-enhancing value that many other investment choices could bring at a small fraction of the cost. The sharply escalating cost of this system, of course,is one of the causes of #2. (I grant you, this has been discussed on the campaign trail, but only in terms of how to make the problem worse, i.e., how to get even more customers, money and jobs into the already grotesquely overinflated U.S. healthcare sector.)

5. Ways to better insulate public decision-making from the baleful influence of rent-seekers; note that the current worst short-term offender (the financial sector) and the current worst long-term offender (the healthcare sector) are #1 and #2 sectors in terms of money put into campaigns and lobbying over the past few decades. Remarkable coincidence, no? This is, of course, related to problems #1-#4.

6. The drying up of fundamental technological innovations (e.g., atomic power, jet air travel, computers, transistors, integrated circuits, fiberoptic communications, satellite communications and remote sensing, lasers, the Internet, major advances in material science, etc.) formerly provided to the U.S. economy in a steady stream by the military R&D apparatus. It would of course be my preference to ramp up such fundamental R&D (i.e., the type of thing that the VC boys in Silicon Valley really cannot do) while abstaining from expensive hot wars unless absolutely necessary. (Think Eisenhower, not Bush.)

As I've long said, the U.S. might think long and hard about forgetting this election altogether and instead hire an really capable turnaround manager (think Lou Gerstner fixing IBM) to deal with these interrelated issues.



P.S. Just don't hire a guy named Paulson, he's a bit too close to the financial sector for anybody else's good. This is of course related to #5.

posted by Friedrich at October 19, 2008


On healthcare Democrats are talking about ways to make things better. Either the Canadian or the French system would be an enormous improvement, but it would mean wiping out the insurance companies and HMOs. We pay more for paperwork and intermediaries than anyone else. There are non-government bureaucracies, you know.

Most of the good plans would reduce doctor's incomes somewhat, but there will always be doctors. Doctors will just cease to be the top of the ambition pyramid. A lot of doctors working for HMOs have already seen the worst effects.

Posted by: John Emerson on October 19, 2008 11:33 AM

The campaign has degenerated into competing give-aways, with no recognition that cost is a factor.

Let me interpret the "Change" Obama presents. Politics has become a battle between the young and the old. The young want the old to step out of the way and hand over the reigns. This is what Obama represents.

The young (under 40) have lived through an era of unprecedented prosperity. They do not understand or acknowledge any limitations, because they've never experienced any.

Listen to Obama. He promises a laundry list of give-aways, and he doesn't even bother to explain how the give-aways will be funded. He's appealing to the young who do not understand or acknowledge limitations to our wealth. McCain has been cast as the grumpy old white man who refuses to play Santa Clause. And, in response, McCain has unravelled and tried to play the Democratic game.

Throw in 50 years of indoctrination aimed at the young people. They've been told that ending racism will lead us to Utopia, and they believe it. Electing a black man, in their eyes, is a step toward salvation.

I think that the young probably will win this election, they'll get a chance to try out their idealistic notions, and they'll find that it works to a certain extent. Then, they will discover the tragic reality of human nature.

Obama is just a corrupt human, like all other humans. He's just another machine politician from Chicago, not a racial savior. Perhaps, there will be something gained when our young people are confronted with this reality. Obama will solve some problems, and he'll create a whole mess of new ones.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 19, 2008 1:18 PM

Man after my own heart, FvB. Neither of the two tools running for office substantively addresses the fundamentally important issues you outline here. McCain, I think, takes the honors for being the more ignorant (if not downright surreal) in his public comments on these topics. But though Obama has made some glancing contact with, e.g., trade issues, it has not been in any way that suggests he understands the scope and the cause of the economic gutting we're undergoing, or that he has any intention of substantially changing the status quo (which is after all very pleasant for his and McCain's sponsors, if disastrous for the nation).

"The drying up of fundamental technological innovations", is, of course, not only related to changes in military R&D, but is intimately tied up with your points 1, 3, and 5. Despite the decade of b.s. on the subject from the people who benefit from the current trade regime, innovation lives alongside industry and manufacturing. In the end, a nation that doesn't make things, doesn't innovate (and doesn't stay wealthy, and advanced). An advanced technological nation is the work of generations, and depends on there being viable careers in a large number of engineering and skilled-trade niches, from low-end to high-end, for workers. That technological base can, alas, be destroyed in one or two generations. (UK Commentators had a couple of good posts on this topic this week.)

Yours in pitchforks, torches, tar, and feathers, etc.

Posted by: Moira Breen on October 19, 2008 3:10 PM

so what u goin to do about it michael?

Posted by: ramesh on October 19, 2008 10:09 PM

Yes, the slowing down of technological innovation is worrisome. Thank God that Moore's Law has another decade or so to run.

Where's my flying car?

Posted by: Steve Sailer on October 20, 2008 9:25 AM

I recently met a woman who said that, in her experience in three countries, the British health service was worst, the Canadian mediocre and the Icelandic best. I conclude that Iceland should stick to healthcare and leave banking to the Canadians.

Posted by: dearieme on October 20, 2008 10:50 AM

Regarding #4: The candidates are dealing with healthcare only in terms of policies that will make it worse, because those are the only policies that the electorate will entertain. On this topic at least, the people pull the politicians strings, and the people are foolish.

HMOs were one entity that might make some change in the right direction. But they were vilified for doing exactly the thing (rationing) that might reduce costs. And I don't think that this was because of a successful PR operation. The vilification was successful because the typical person hates the idea of rationing health care.

I'm a programmer, so the innovations with which I am most familiar are the Silicon Valley ones. Consider that Silicon Valley is about as far from DC (and NYC) as it possible to get in this country, geographically, but also financially. Silicon Valley succeeds at innovation without begging for favors from politicians. It also succeeds at innovation without so much capital from big finance.

In contrast, big pharma must navigate patent law, the FDA and face zillion dollar liability lawsuits. The big companies have to lobby to protect themselves from destructive regulation, but they can all agree on allowing regulation which constrains small upstarts more than themselves. (Like software, however, the big innovations still start in small companies.)

Consider the probable fate of this major medical innovation: a pill that largely halted aging. To my mind, such a thing would be so valuable, that it would be politically impossible to sell it at a profit. It would be far too innovative to receive a government research grant. It would help so many people that any private body that attempted to distribute it would be immediately demonized.

Nowadays, innovation has to be cheap (like software) or politically savvy. More or better or different regulation from DC isn't going to help. We need less.

Posted by: Alex J. on October 20, 2008 11:43 AM

FWIW, I think we will get cheap health care and education when we can't afford the expensive kind. We will get an isolationist/neutralist/non-interventionist foreign policy when we can't afford an interventionist one. We will get end our dependence on foreign oil when we can't afford to import it. We will buy more local manufactures when our dollars won't buy imports. We will repel foreign investment when our economy no longer attracts it. We will stop attracting immigrants when our country is no better than the places they come from (for whatever reasons).

Unfortunately, I think our various levels of governments will retain their ability to disrupt economic cooperation indefinitely. Looking at most of the world over the past 100 years, soiling your own nest is cheap and easy.

Posted by: Alex J. on October 20, 2008 12:00 PM

The problem with health care is that the government demands that hospitals give treatment to those who don't pay, and shafts the hospital for full payment for those who receive medicare and medicaid. Its the government that created the health care problem by passing mandates and not funding them. And now you want the governemnt to completely take over the system? What the hell is wrong with you people?

If you don't pay, you don't get. What's next? Will people be able to walk into the grocery store and walk out without paying? Will the government mandate that? You need food to live, you know. Then the problem will have to be solved by the government taking complete control over the grocery business.

The health care problem is a payments problem, created by the free-loaders which this country is full of. Its so bad that honest American citizens are flying to India and the Philipines for treatment, because they can't afford health care here (they actually pay their health care bills-suckers!) while foreigners fly here or sneak over the border and get free health care. What the fuck is wrong with this picture? Wanna fix that first?

People's groveling for socialism in this country is sickening. These two asshats running for president are a new low in US politics, and that's really saying something.

But presidents don't run anything anyway. The people who give them hundreds of millions of dollars to run do. They're just a lying, ugly face to blame while the ropes are pulled behind the curtains. I refuse to vote for either one of these losers in this farcical ritual.

Posted by: BIOH on October 20, 2008 4:04 PM

You've got my vote, FvB. You actually sound like a tough, experienced, realistic, somewhat statist type. I like that. One caution is that it's necessary to manage the transition to a higher-savings society carefully, so as not to end up in a self-reinforcing macro depression-type spiral.

The closest thing the U.S. gov't ever saw to a national turnaround expert was Paul Volcker, and he's currently advising Obama. A shame he's so old.

Posted by: MQ on October 20, 2008 4:56 PM

In the caring and giving public spirit of BIOH, here is a suggestion. Whenever someone shows up at an emergency room without private health insurance, just execute them. Soon people will learn to either buy insurance or deal with their medical problems quietly at home so as not to upset the good citizens who are insured or paying their own medical bills in full.

While we're at it, any kid who needs a lunch voucher should be expelled from public schools, they are likely to drag down the school's test scores and might infect fellow students with socialist ideas. And let's deport or execute anyone who can't speak English, doesn't have an advanced degree, and can't prove American citizenship with western European ancestry. In fact, let's try to get every red blooded, English speaking, European ancestry American male to join a local militia and carry a weapon at all times. These New American Militiamen can be authorized to execute anyone they deem a threat to the homeland. What a wonderful country we'll have then!

Posted by: Chris White on October 20, 2008 5:48 PM

John E., answer this one.

I have this growth on my left pinkie that sprouted out about 6 weeks ago. I also had a lot of pain in my right knee, which has bothered me for 35 years (career as a baseball catcher and football nose tackle in my youth). I called my PCP, and got an appointment with his office mate 3 days hence.

Saw the doc, and she gave me a scrip for a new pain med for the knee, and made suggestions as to which specialists I should see at Mass General, one of the world's top hospitals, where this particular group is affiliated. She made the appointments from her office. I saw the hand specialist/surgeon the following Tuesday, and the orthopaedic doc for my knee two days later. Both ordered an MRI, and I had them done within the next 2 weeks. I had the follow-up with the knee doc first; I have a torn meniscus and osteoarthitis, but he feels surgury is not necessary, given the healthy state of the ligaments and muscle tissue. He ordered a scrip for Synvisc injectors, essentially a joint lube produced by Genzyme. Suffice to say that I'll not be leg pressing 1,000 lbs. ever again!

I saw the hand specialist 2 days later (thank God for job flexibility) and he told me I have a giant cell tumor that needs to be removed. I need to get back to his office to schdule day surgury, which I'm putting off until my Synvisc regimen is complete (3 weeks).

So let's review:
6 weeks
1 PCP visit with scrip: out of pocket $45.00 for visit and meds.
2 magnetic resonance imaging scans: out of pocket $150 each, according to my HR department, but I've not received a bill yet.
4 visits to Harvard Medical School affiliated specialists: out of pocket $25 each for visits and $30 for the 3 Synvisc injectors.

Let's see you get THAT done in the Canadian or NHS systems!

Chris, what happens if someone crashes into you on the Maine Turnpike and fucks you up real good? Maine Medical Center is going to strap your messed-up ass into the med-flight and they're flying you down here to Mass General or Beth Israel or, if you're really lucky, Boston Medical Center, the best trauma hospital in New England (because it sits on the border of the gentrified South End and Roxbury, Boston's "darkest" and most violent patch; BMC gets plenty of trauma practice). They will make you well. They will also strip your insurance company of every cent they can, because the steady stream of druggies and drunks falling and breaking something, gangbangers all cut and shot up, immigrants and their relations who arrive from wherever to BMC's ER with chronic conditions, for which they ALL receive competent and FREE care, are bankrupting the system.

And you've got doctors and nurses who are sick and tired of these patients, repeat customers with a variety of health issues that have nothing to do with society and everything to do with how they choose to live.

Posted by: Brutus on October 20, 2008 8:49 PM

As a self-employed guy who has worked in the arts for decades I'm uninsured. The museum I worked for years didn't offer it. The plan I got when I helped create a small group couldn't hold together because every time the rates went up we lost a member or two. When we couldn't replace them fast enough, the policy got canceled. So, it's been a combination of positive thinking, paying out of pocket and charity ever since. Now I have enough "pre-existing conditions" that every time I go looking for coverage I realize it would take about 40% of my annual gross to cover me and the wife, with a very high deductible, of course.

So, if I get in that accident on I-95 please just leave me to die beside the road, because if I get that fancy medivac copter ride to the trauma center and all that wonderful care, by the time we're done my wife and I will be living in a cardboard box. But, hey, there's only 46 million or so of us, so just point us all to the dumpster you seem to think those of us who've "made bad life choices" should go because "free market" health care works so well for you. It is so obviously better than "socialized medicine"! That means "rationing" of health care ... and waiting for elective surgery ... and people you don't like able to see a doctor ... the horror!

Posted by: Chris White on October 20, 2008 10:44 PM

Chris, the term "starving artist" is a cliche for a reason. And yes, like my girlfriend's crackhead patients, you choose your medical situation. But you'd better stay in Maine, because down here in the People's Republic, you are required by law to have medical insurance. It's those pesky people off the radar that complicate things, and the Commonwealth hasn't found the guts to turn off the "free" care spigot, never mind that the cost of the whole program has been refigured upward exponetially since it passed. You remind me of the contractor's wife at my gym bitching about having to pay to get health insurance "because my husband is self employed and it's too expensive!" and they'd have to sell the vacation house on Sebago Lake. Please...

A torn meniscus is "elective"?! Maybe it is under socialized medicine. It's elective like that poor woman in England's brain tumor; you know, the one in the news who died the same day Ted Kennedy began his special drug regimen for the same type of cancer. The UK's NHS considers the drug too expensive, so people have to die.

So which system do you want, the one that gives good care to most (ie. productive members of society), or minimal care to all?

And we'll make sure you don't get left on the side of the road; we'll leave you in the middle lane so a logging truck can make sure the job you want done really is.

Posted by: Brutus on October 21, 2008 9:04 PM

Brutus - Your compassion and humanity are overwhelming. Yeah, everyone who didn’t “choose” to be a pro ballplayer or hedge fund manager deserves what they get in life, including dying due to lack of medical care.

Now, if I had a vacation home and drove a luxury SUV and still had no health insurance that would be good evidence of me being irresponsible, but I don’t and I’m not. I’m just one of the many trying to prioritize on a very limited budget. Let’s see, can we pay the mortgage? Having done that can we keep the power on this month, or maybe get some oil for the furnace? How about signing up for a basic health care plan with a very high deductible that won’t cover pre-existing conditions (ie. anything we already go to the doctor for) and that still costs almost half our gross income? Not possible again this month, I’m afraid.

Why virtually every other industrial nation has found it possible to have health coverage for the entire population and we have not is testament, not to the wonderful quality of our system (a notion quickly shot down by every quantifiable metric), but to the lobbying clout of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

It is so obvious baseball catchers are vital to the needs of our nation and therefore you are a real “productive member of society” while working in the arts is just a bad lifestyle choice so I am merely trash to be tossed beneath a logging truck. Have a nice life you sanctamonious …

Posted by: Chris White on October 22, 2008 8:23 AM

Chris, these weepy stories you tell are admirable pieces of propaganda, but I'm beyond having my feelings manipulated by leftist stories of hurt feelings and death.

People die. The poor die because of bad karma, bad habits and self-inflicted wounds. Your belief that somebody else can change that... well, that's absurd.

People in the insurance and pharmaceutical industries want to make money and protect their own interests. So what? These people (and I know them... many of them are in my immediate family) never lived the way you do. It's obvious in reading your writing that there is a remarkable difference.

For instance, my sister who is an RN and professor of nursing, never enjoyed an adolescence of horsing around, drinking and drugging and listening to bands. She worked, literally, 24 hour days seven days a week during her adolescence to acquire knowledge and technical skills. She learned hard, boring skills. She never tried to make a living out of her opinions... which I gather is all you do.

My sister married an OB/GYN who worked (and continues to work) harder than you can even imagine. They work at a service job with their hands in the muck. They know how to measure medications and heal wounds. You don't.

You've lived a lazy self-indulgent life, Chris. That's why you find yourself in your position. You've never been interested in anything except the bullshit of opinions and art, which are about the same thing.

So, you get a lot less. My wife and brother-in-law are rich, and they deserve it. They sacrificed the arty individualism in favor of a life of acquiring hard knowledge and doing tough service. They've done a lot of good, and they don't want the government running their business.

In fact, like most medical and pharmaceutical professionals I know, they do a massive amount of charity work.

Chris, you made your bed. Nobody can bail you out of it. It's just a fantasy on your part that political will can fix your decision to live a lazy, opinionated life. I made the same decision years ago, and I realize that I've got to live with it. Some years ago, I finally got it through my head that I had to learn some hard skills if I wanted to survive. So, I did.

It takes two years to get an LPN degree at a community college, Chris. So, here's the solution to your employment and insurance problems. Get off your ass. Learn some technical skills. Quit imagining that you have a right to a living and medical care because you are a BS artist with a lot of opinions. People can do without the arts and opinions.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 22, 2008 10:13 AM

"So which system do you want, the one that gives good care to most (ie. productive members of society), or minimal care to all?"

That's a false dichotomy. People with means will always be able to afford better health care, there's nothing wrong with that. It's the people without means who are currently uninsured who will benefit under a more universal type of health care. And as far as I've read, it will be cheaper to have them under such an umbrella rather then them flooding the emergency rooms, which are much more expensive. So those of us who have insurance will keep what we have while those who are uninsured will be brought into a universal (but most likely bare bones, which is better than nothing) plan. And that bare bones plan would be available to all of us, if we so choose.

I'm all for that.

Posted by: JV on October 22, 2008 3:34 PM

ST, could you please come up with a spreadsheet outlining which occupations are worthy and which are not, and assigning the appropriate levels of services each are entitled to? That would be of great help to all of us.

Come on, man, your sister and her husband are being duly rewarded for working hard by making lots of money. There are other occupations outside of those necessary for survival that are also valid and require far less training. And guess what? Most of the people in those jobs, myself and yourself included, make far less money than your sister and brother-in-law. So it all comes out in the wash.

Posted by: JV on October 22, 2008 3:44 PM

ST - Your projection of who I am and what I have done with my life is both insulting and filled with ill-disguised contempt for anyone who doesn’t share your own interests and values. I hope your luck holds, but if it doesn’t maybe you’ll rethink some of your self-satisfied illusions about success being directly connected to hard work and making smart choices while luck and external circumstances have no impact.

Roll the dice. If you win, you’re a smart person who deserves every good that comes your way, lose and you’re an idiot who made bad choices. Or maybe it’s just the roll of the dice. Without going into all the details of my life, let me say that, like everyone, I made choices based on a combination of my interests, talents, opportunities, available facts, limited options, speculation, and all the rest. A different break here or there and I’d be comfortably well off. Too many of those breaks went the wrong way, so I’m not. But I’ve had a great marriage, raised a daughter to adulthood, kept close to my family and recognize that I’m still better off than probably 95% of the planet. C’est la vie.

Posted by: Chris White on October 22, 2008 4:56 PM

Another thing about the "choices" people make. Let's say one person "chooses" to become a doctor and another person "chooses" to become a roofer. Now, both occupations are quite important, but one makes a shitload of money while the other mostly gets you skin cancer and is seasonal work to boot. Now, should we denigrate the roofer because if his "choice" when the role he fills is very useful? When he can't afford health insurance during his time off because COBRA is incredibly expensive, should we say, "Hey, you made your choice buddy."

I don't think so.

Posted by: JV on October 22, 2008 8:10 PM

There's something about these web conversations that doesn't entirely communicate thoughts. Chris, JV, you don't seem to have noticed that I placed myself in the same category as those other folks who opted to express their individuality and artiness.

"ST, could you please come up with a spreadsheet outlining which occupations are worthy and which are not..."

This is not very hard to figure out. Talk to a traditional Chinese, Japanese, Indian or Filipino kid. That kids doesn't choose a course of education. His parents tell him his options and choose for him. They instruct him to learn a technical trade that requires, ahem, memorization and hard rote learning. So, just itemize the trades that that Asian-American parent will allow his kid to study, and you've got your answer.

Chris, I do not have long term security in the bag... and the fault is... 100% all my fucking own doing. If I had chosen a trade at age 20 that required hard rote learning, difficult study, etc. ... I would have long term security in the bag. I wasn't lecturing you. I was saying: Don't you do what I have done.

Now, I am well aware that I fucked up. I wanted to express myself and have a good time. I was well into my 30s before I got serious about learning a difficult trade. And, I'm hanging by a thread today because of that. Work dries up and I'm dead.

It's not hard to figure out how to avoid this. I knew better when I was 20. I'm not accusing you of anything, but you undoubtedly were/are a wiseass just like me... and most of my friends... Remember all those endless lectures about how people who toed the straight and narrow were boring automatons? You got taken in by this BS, just like I did.

While I, too, would like to know that medical care is always available without regard to my economic circumstances, I'm a little wary about blaming people for the fix I'm in. I know too damned many people who were straight arrows, did what their parents told them to do, entered a practical course of study and retired after 20 years to take their pension.

Chris, we brought this on ourselves. I brought it on myself. In addition, I'm dreadfully aware that my sister and brother-in-law know one hell of a lot more about how to run the medical business than I do. Somewhere along the way, I stopped spouting off like a moron in front of them about something I know nothing about.

You don't know a damned thing about what's involved in running a medical business, either.

Has it ever occurred to you that our liberal Rhetoric 101 TA did us a tremendous dis-service by indoctrinating us in the belief that we were above just doing as we are told by the elders?

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 22, 2008 10:27 PM

ST - Thanks at least for toning down your accusatory and presumptious tone.

As someone old enough that I should be considering retirement it is a little late for me to begin a new career path. Since I have an impressive list of “pre-existing medical conditions” there are quite a few trades that are completely out of the question anyway. And, to the topic at hand, those “pre-existing medical conditions” mean if I were to get a job with insurance coverage there’s a high probability I would not get coverage for the very medical services and prescriptions I need the most.

While the image you project of me may be some kind of rebel who ignored his parents and skipped blithely down the path of “horsing around, drinking and drugging and listening to bands” on my way to a life trying to peddle my artsy opinions for a living this is extremely distorted from reality. Now, it is true that my parents advice about life and work was not the same as your idealized Asians. They stressed that since one is going to spend a lifetime working it made sense to find work that one enjoyed doing and found satisfying. Not to say they didn’t also stress the absolute neccesity of working to earn one’s way in the world. So I began working before I legally could, washing dishes in an elegant upscale inn’s restaurant. The owners looked the other way while a dozen or more underage or undocumented kitchen workers shared time cards with a few legal workers. They paid in cash and we split the funds according to our actual hours. A great early lesson in how the world really worked behind the façade of elegance and propiety.

The issue here, however, is not whether you or I made the best life choices but whether the structure of our national health care system is appropriate for competing in the 21st century. I would argue that it is not. Basing it primarily on employer provided private insurance is inefficient and unfair on many levels. For example, given the cost of private insurance for small business that does provide health care is at a competative disadvantage with one that does not. And even the Big Three (Big Two and Half?) automakers have pointed out that they are competitively disadvantaged relative to Japanese and European automakers due to our American health care system.

It has become a hallmark of the American approach to capitalism to privatize profits and socialize risks (see current financial crisis). This is true of health care as well as a host of other areas, including some that are intertwined. When, for example, we allow forms of coal mining that pollute the air and water while exposing not only workers but surrounding communities to the negative health effects of their actions in a manner that those negative effects are paid for by the community at large (read the taxpayers) while the company reaps the profits, something is wrong.

Either we’re a nation and it’s E pluribus unum or we’re a horde of individuals and it’s every man and woman for him or herself. I still believe in the ideal of the nation.

Posted by: Chris White on October 23, 2008 9:02 AM

"This is not very hard to figure out. Talk to a traditional Chinese, Japanese, Indian or Filipino kid. That kids doesn't choose a course of education. His parents tell him his options and choose for him. They instruct him to learn a technical trade that requires, ahem, memorization and hard rote learning. So, just itemize the trades that that Asian-American parent will allow his kid to study, and you've got your answer."

This doesn't answer my question regarding the necessity of shitty, low-paying jobs. Of course no one wants their kids doing them, but they are necessary for our society. So again, ST, I ask you, what of the roofers, the highway road workers, the field laborers, all those bottom rung jobs that allow the rest of us to pursue avocations both more lucrative and more rewarding? Are those people making "bad choices?"

Posted by: JV on October 23, 2008 11:22 AM

The roofers can pay for their own medical care. And that medical care should be a hell of a lot cheaper if the illegal aliens and ghetto dwellers were forced to do the same. What's this crap about "competetive health care" for the 21st century"? What the hell are you talking about? How is socialized/totalitarian /communist health care competitive in a system with no competition?

If you want "affordable" health care, then get insurance with a high deductible. Mine is $5000. My rates are low because I basically self-insure myself for all but the most serious stuff. So I get a break. Try that.

I feel sorry for those who can't afford insurance, but the answer is not to give medical care away to illegal aliens who don't pay. The "feel sorry" society has now come back to bite you in the ass and you wan't more of it!

Blowbama and his crowd will institute a national health care system. And with it will come the same rationing and crappy service as other socialized health care schemes. Chris White's great fear of being denied care and thrown under the bus because of his age is far more of a reality under the rationing system of socialized health care than the market one. The irony!

Posted by: BIOH on October 23, 2008 1:02 PM

BIOH, for what it's worth, I don't think illegal aliens should be given access to a universal health plan.

Posted by: JV on October 23, 2008 1:46 PM

... "what of the roofers, the highway road workers, the field laborers, all those bottom rung jobs that allow the rest of us to pursue avocations both more lucrative and more rewarding? Are those people making 'bad choices?'"

Depends, I guess, on what you mean by "bad choices."

These types of jobs are often what musicians do "between gigs." So, believe me, I know plenty of people who work those jobs.

Over the course of a lifetime, these jobs are so destructive to your body that you either get out or you get crippled. Everybody I know in these jobs gets the hell out fast as their bodies begin to deteriorate.

If you're asking me whether we should institute a nationalized healthcare system... well, I'll be damned if I know. In principle, I'm against it. The massive theft perpetrated by both parties in the past couple of months has forced me to rethink this. If our wealthy, educated class is this corrupt and decadent, then why shouldn't the rest of us get our share of the swag?

The euphemisms "down-sizing" and "reorganization" mean, in reality, dumping workers over the age of 50 to replace them with lower paid workers. If corporate America is going to dump its responsibility to provide benefits, then I suspect that the fed will be forced to pick up the slack by default.

In any event, I expect the healthcare mess to become even more of a nightmare because that care is enormously expensive and the evolving system will be a cancerous nightmare of corruption. Do you trust the people who brought us the mortgage meltdown to fix the healthcare system?

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 23, 2008 2:17 PM

I hear you, ST. I too know a lot of people who do or have done those jobs. I agree that for most of them, it's a transitory occupation, but the fact remains that the services those occupations provided are needed. That is my main point. So just because they are low paying jobs does not mean they aren't important (in fact, it's been my experience that the lower paying the gig is, the more crucial its role to society). For that reason, I find it distasteful to think of those doing the crap jobs as having made bad life choices. Maybe they have, maybe they haven't, but those jobs need to be done, so thank God someone is doing them. And the people doing those kind of jobs FAR outnumber the people doing less "crucial" jobs that also are low paying.

As for trusting those who gave us the mortgage crisis, you're right, I don't trust them. However, those people are the last people to be pushing for universal health care. The people pushing for that are the same who pushed for more oversight of the financial industry, so I'm OK with them.

Posted by: JV on October 23, 2008 3:18 PM

While anecdotes are interesting for their “human interest” quotient, let’s talk statistics for a moment. Here’s a link to the Wiki entry with a chart of life expectancy. Now I’m not saying being 45 is bad exactly, but one would think as the world’s one remaining super power we could be doing better. And if one were to ask what the 44 nations and territories ahead of us have in common it would be that most of them have … that dreaded horror … some version of national health care. Now, there are no doubt many factors at work, but it would seem reasonable to argue that since so many industrialized nations (Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, etc.) have both greater life expectancy and national health care that just maybe there is a correlation.

And as for rationing of health care, this is a semantic game. When nearly 48 million Americans have no health insurance and therefore cannot or do not get medical treatment, especially non-emergency preventative care, then we are “rationing health care” as well. Some are so wrapped up in labels and distorted equivalence that any effort to discuss shifting to a more appropriate and effective system for providing health care to the entire population rather than only those who can afford services under the privatized system we have becomes “socialized/totalitarian/communist”. Only someone still mentally and emotionally living in the 1950s would believe that health care for all is a slippery slope to Stalinism.

As for the question, “Do you trust the people who brought us the mortgage meltdown to fix the healthcare system?” there are a number of answers. The obvious one is NO! But you then need to decide who brought us the mortgage meltdown. If you think it was Democrats “forcing” lenders to make loans to poor folks who couldn’t pay, then it becomes an argument against government moves to fix healthcare. If you say it was the financial services industry successfully lobbying for lax regulation and oversight so they could “innovate” with things like “credit default swaps” then it becomes a different equation. You might then say you don’t expect the existing insurance, pharmaceutical and private health care industries to fix the problem. Which means “we the people”, acting through our government do need to solve it.

Posted by: Chris White on October 23, 2008 3:42 PM


How about those of us who think that both parties played their role in the mortgage meltdown?

You keep misstating the argument. I think that you are doing this on purpose. Democrats and Republicans both supported the programs that led to lending to unqualified borrowers. Lenders were not "forced" to make loans to poor people who couldn't pay. Lenders knew that the government would ultimately indemnify them against these bad loans, so they had every incentive to make them. The risk for making these loans was removed, and the lenders were guaranteed a return. Indeed, ultimately the lenders were paid back for making bad loans. You and I were given the bill. Lenders were given a license to steal. Now, try to get this straight in your head. You've got the basic facts wrong.

In your haste to provide an excuse to the poor that you identify with, you are missing this crucial aspect. Nobody is blaming the poor. You keep harping on this argument. Nobody is making it but you. A program that was proposed as a benefit to the poor was used by both parties to pick our pockets. This is the normal course of human events.

Since both parties were up to their elbows in this corruption and self-dealing, where are the people you trust to administer a national healthcare system?

You are just wrong that this is an issue of one party against the other. You keep repeating this nonsense that somebody out there is "blaming the poor" for this mess. This is just a fantasy on your part.

Your idealism is the problem, Chris. You keep thinking that a type of person exists who isn't corrupt and self-dealing. What started out as an idealistic program, i.e., extending home ownership to the poor, got hijacked by the corrupt nature of humans... both parties.

And this is the problem with national healthcare. It will be administered by those same people. Democrats or Republicans... it doesn't make a fucking bit of difference.

Yes, executives and traders went nuts in the mortgage meltdown... precisely because they were indemnified against risk and they knew it. They knew the fed would pay them back for taking bad risks. The chief executive of Fannie Mae walked away with $100 million!

No matter how well-intentioned your desire to help the poor might be, the money to do it is going to go through the hands of the same people who brought us the current calamity. It is just a fantasy on your part that your ideals will play out in any other way.

This is the entire problem with your thinking, Chris. It's called the "fallacy of good intentions." In a way you refuse to take responsibility for how your ideals play out in reality. All that concerns you is that your ideals sound great.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 23, 2008 4:29 PM

Excessive verbiage alert! ST's comment directed at me called for a complete response. It is longer than I like for a blog thread, but it is what it is.

How about those of us who think that both parties played their role in the mortgage meltdown?

As I've said myself, repeatedly, go back and re-read my comments.

You keep misstating the argument. ... Democrats and Republicans both supported ... programs ... lending to unqualified borrowers. ... Lenders knew that the government would ultimately indemnify them ... they had every incentive to make them. The risk ... was removed ... lenders were paid back for making bad loans. You and I were given the bill. Lenders were given a license to steal. Now, try to get this straight in your head. You've got the basic facts wrong.

Go back and re-read my comments on the financial crisis threads. We agree on these points!

Dems and Pubs are equally at fault; I have expressed this repeatedly. Mortgage companies, investment banks, et al lobbied and contributed to campaigns of both major parties to structure the regulations that were then laxly monitored resulting in the mess we're in; I have expressed this repeatedly. We as tax payers and consumers are paying the bill; I have expressed this repeatedly. How many times and how loudly do I need to say this?

Nobody is blaming the poor. You keep harping on this argument. Nobody is making it but you.

Perhaps you need to review some of the other comments as well. Since we are currently trading comments in this slightly different context I suggest you start with Brutus and BIOH for examples of "blame the poor" comments which led to my response.

Since both parties were up to their elbows in this corruption and self-dealing, where are the people you trust to administer a national healthcare system?

The short pessimistic answer is, of course, nobody. I don't trust government; I don't trust the insurance industry; I don't trust the pharmaceutical industry; I don't trust the HMOs; I don't trust the for-profit hospitals. Now what?

We can give in, give up and permanently bend over for the elite's convenience. We can break up into secessionist states. We can mount an armed rebellion. We can fight to improve things within the constraints of the system. What choice do you recommend?

Since the last option seem the most prudent and realistic it is the approach I take. I've made my primary political issue "Instant Runoff Voting" hoping (if far from convinced) that it is both possible to achieve and might, if enacted, enable voters to break the strangle hold the Republicrats who serve the oligarchy now have on our elected government. It may be quixotic, but it's worth a shot.

Absent achieving that kind of structural change when the topic on the table is some current issue I try to make the case for options that seem at least remotely plausible within the system we have that are closer to what I see as the optimum.

Your idealism is the problem, Chris. You keep thinking that a type of person exists who isn't corrupt and self-dealing.

Just how biblically do you mean this to be read? Are we talking about Original Sin? That none can be absolved from some degree of corruption and self-dealing?

Perhaps you approach life with the idea that everyone you meet is out to cheat or harm, if not destroy, you. If so, you have my sympathy because it must make life a very unfriendly place.

In day-to-day life I'd make the case you are wrong. In my experience most people are reasonably honest and, while self-interested, not prone to take excessively unfair or illegal advantage of their position, whatever it may be. I assume most of the diverse cast of characters who comment here are not "corrupt and self-dealing". Some have even (by one definition or another) been bureaucrats working for or sub-contracted to government agencies.

Whether I'm an idealist or not changes nothing. Whether one believes in people or not, people operate within a system. Systems nearly always need constant upgrades. Every effort to make positive changes will have negative side effects and bugs. Some will find these to be "features" rather than bugs because these negative side effects will have unintended (or intended) beneficiaries. Either we keep going, trying to make the next upgrade, or else we sit around complaining about the bugs in the current system until it finally crashes permanently.

This is the entire problem with your thinking, Chris. It's called the "fallacy of good intentions." In a way you refuse to take responsibility for how your ideals play out in reality. All that concerns you is that your ideals sound great.

We return to the same point. Life is the struggle between ideals and reality. We each have some conception of the ideal society. "Free market" capitalism is one such ideal. It is the ideal that has dominated in our country since the late 1970s ... if not longer. Its advocates refuse to take responsibility for the negative impacts it has had on many, arguably the majority, of us as it plays out in reality in health care, mortgages, real estate values, and the credit crisis. They are still desperately claiming that their "ideals sound great".

I will continue to make decisions in the real world based in part on my ideals. I think we all do.

Posted by: Chris White on October 23, 2008 8:03 PM

Chrissy, my first question still stands. Maybe the international community posting here can estimate how long it would take to get the care I did in 6 weeks and $100 (so far) out of pocket.

And come on, be a big boy; if you want to call me a name, just get it out. You'll feel better, and might not need any care.

And while you're at it, try and figure out what else all those countries you listed have in common that we don't here in the US (thought it's changing, and will begin to show in the demographics in about 10 years). And while you're casting about for "facts" to support your ideas, try Googling the percentage of med school graduates in the UK each year decamping for pastures WAY greener than those of the NHS.

I don't know what the laws are in Maine, but here hospitals have to treat you, period. My girl thinks her hospital employs more translators than doctors; a common scam is for aliens with chronic conditions to show up in the ER for treatment of symtoms, are diagnosed with said condition, and receive free meds.

Don't carp to me about compassion. Like ST's relatives, my girlfriend, only child of a single mother with a drunk father who did nothing to support his child, worked her way through school and fulfilled her dream of becoming an RN. She'll still tell you her most rewarding time professionally was her first 8 years as a nurse working on the spinal cord injury floor at the same place she is now, back when it was Boston City Hospital and NO ONE wanted to end up there, EVER (and which introduced me to the nursing term "digge stim). She'll tell you that the drain on the system is not my meniscus, it's her drug-addled, HIV-positive, repeat customer patients, her 17-year old with 3 children patients, her visiting from Canada patients that stroke out and the health autorities in Snow Mexico won't cover the care they're getting here, never mind transport back to the Great White North! She's disgusted by what she sees now; the Tragedy of the Commons as relates to healthcare has already begun in most of the industrialized world. As an added bonus, we have the same people with a proven inability to run anything properly, the government, moving to take charge of healthcare. They've done such a good job controlling the cost and quality of education...

JV, universal means just that. Illegals get care in my state now. Are you and the compassionate Chrissy saying we have to discriminate against the poor illegals?

Good jobs, shitty a former drywaller was quoted as saying recently, a drywaller could afford a home and a family before the government thought it would be a good idea to open the floodgates to the foreign hordes.

Posted by: Brutus on October 23, 2008 10:19 PM

Original sin is a good place to start, Chris. This is where your ideas fall apart. You do, indeed, refuse to acknowledge your own innate sinfulness. You keep putting on that halo and playing out your "only good white man" fantasy, saving the world from the rest of us Klan members.

Sure, your friends are good people. Certainly, they are not out to screw anybody. Put them in the position that those bureaucrats were in... having the opportunity to loot the public till... and they would do the same damned thing. So would you. You just have never had the opportunity.

It's fun to argue with you, although it is hopeless. Once again, you simply refuse to consider what happens when your ideals meet the reality of human nature. Arguing with you is like arguing with my 20 year old self. I think that's why I keep doing it. It's exasperating that somebody can hold onto that nonsense that I believed when I was 20.

The people who engaged in the mortgage thievery are just the same as you and your friends... well, except that they have ambition. Ambitious people will always be the ones in control. Like all things, this is both good and bad. The reason that you can pretend not to be like them is precisely because you are not ambitious. You have no desire or intention to put yourself in the meat grinder of public life, so you imagine that you are sainted. No, you're just afraid. Public life is horrendously mean and brutal. You know it, and you don't want any part of it. Ambitious people accept the meanness and brutality, attempt to do some good, and begin to think that they deserve a little bit more (and more) to compensate them for their service and for the beating they endure.

All of the solutions (including revolution) that you keep putting forth have been tried and all have failed. The reality of human nature refuses to change. Your refusal to accept the reality of human nature is a very dangerous thing, or would be if you ever actually tried to enact your ideals.

For one of the funniest testaments ever to the inevitable corruptibility of humans, I suggest Milos Foreman's old movie, "The Fireman's Ball."

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 24, 2008 7:31 AM

Unfortunately something went awry in my coding intended to make ST's quotes ital so my own responses would be distinct. Also my earlier link to the Wiki chart showing life expectancy failed to work. I need to work harder at double-checking code before posting since there is no preview function. Sorry, I'll try to do better and find a better way to preview.

Brutus - Does using a diminutive make you feel more manly? Shall we head down the path of middle school taunts? Is that where you feel most comfortable?

First, while you are offering your anecdotal case with its $100 out of pocket expense, where is the total amount paid out by your private insurance, and an amount you and your employer have paid in to that insurance, in your cost calculation? And if under a different system you needed to wait a little longer to get your surgery because more life threatening cases were handled on a priority basis is that evidence that the other system is terrible.

Second, one of the main arguments behind changing to a system where everyone has coverage is that emergency rooms have become the de facto primary care providers for a huge number of uninsured Americans. No doubt this is a large part of your girl friend's complaints with the current state of affairs. And the cost is still ultimately borne by us all through a combination of higher rates on the insured, higher bills for those who do pay, greater subsidies from government for public hospitals, etc.

While my link failed, the fact that our life expectancy is below that of all those other nations, most of which have some version of universal health care, it would seem a good argument for adopting a version of it ourselves.

And, since I have no illusions I'm going to change your mind about any thing, I'll just end by saying that, like ST, this eventually becomes a case of conflicting ideals. Your ideal seems to be every man, woman and child for themselves and anyone that gets in the way of your own personal best interests is a competitor to be crushed. Mine is that we are a nation as a whole, a community in which all deserve the basics required for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Access to basic medical care should be a given, not a commodity.

Posted by: Chris White on October 24, 2008 7:54 AM

"JV, universal means just that. Illegals get care in my state now. Are you and the compassionate Chrissy saying we have to discriminate against the poor illegals?"

Brutus, yes that is what I am saying. You can play semtantic games if you want, but my definition of universal healthcare is care for all legal citizens.

Posted by: JV on October 24, 2008 11:11 AM

"And, since I have no illusions I'm going to change your mind about any thing, I'll just end by saying that, like ST, this eventually becomes a case of conflicting ideals. Your ideal seems to be every man, woman and child for themselves and anyone that gets in the way of your own personal best interests is a competitor to be crushed. Mine is that we are a nation as a whole, a community in which all deserve the basics required for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Access to basic medical care should be a given, not a commodity."

Nicely put, Chris. That really is what it all comes down to, and all this arguing and linking and anecdotalizing (on both sides) are just attempts to justify our most likely chemically based positions.

Posted by: JV on October 24, 2008 11:40 AM

ST - As noted previously and repeatedly, I strongly suggest you would benefit from a refresher course in reading comprehension. Your ability to grasp the meaning of sentences expressing anything other than short, simple, declarative, bumper sticker sound-bites seems less than ideal. Combine this with your tendency to project onto me the persona of some imaginary Woodstock hippie burnout, along with a similar tendency to ignore those parts of my comments that don't suit your fantasy of who I am and what you assume I'm saying does indeed make these exchanges rather surreal at times.

You offer up a long list of points that I supposedly missed, nearly all of which I've previously made myself in various comments on multiple threads. What's with that?

You then move on to this "idealist" versus "realist" line of reasoning mixed in with religious concepts of original sin and so forth which you then toss together with my supposed halo polishing. To what end?

Bank tellers are put in the position every day to literally loot the till. Very few give in to that temptation. Internal checks and balances, supervision, and the legal repercussions of being caught makes "honesty the best policy" the path of enlightened self-interest. Not to mention that most bank tellers are fundamentally honest.

Your misanthropic view to the contrary, most people are not corrupt. They are inclined to do their jobs with a reasonable amount of integrity. I doubt you ask yourself each time a client contacts you how much you can rip them off, how many bogus hours you can get away with billing them. Are you unique or a halo polisher lacking ambition if you treat your clients with honesty and respect? Or have I misjudged you? Are you so ambitious and cynical about everyone else and their motives that you bilk your clients for everything you can get away with? I'd really like an answer to this. I've set it up exactly as you've applied it to me, as a dichotomy between two poles. Are you a halo polishing idealist or an ambitious thief?

More to the point here, why would a bureaucrat on the government payroll administering health care benefit coverage be any more inclined to perpetrate fraud than a bureaucrat on the payroll of a private insurance company? Is there some difference in the private sector that morally elevates those working there? If the former sees their job as providing optimal health care within overall budget constraints and the latter sees their job as maximizing profit for the company, regardless of the health care outcome for clients, which is more likely to produce the best results for society as a whole?

It is the human condition that, as someone once put it, "the only way out is through." Short of lying down in front of that logging truck, we each move through this imperfect world, doing the best we can. The compelling thing about nearly every religion is their injunction to believers that they strive for the ideal, knowing it will be impossible to achieve on this plane of existence.

So, we return to the actual topic at hand, the relative merits of changing our current system for health care based primarily on employer provided private insurance (with the number of uninsured climbing toward 48,000,000) versus some change aimed at achieving universal coverage. Nearly all quantifiable metrics show our system is not achieving better results for the overall health of the population than are seen in those countries with either some form of a NHS or a public/private hybrid (Germany, for example) that covers everyone. Given that, I will continue to argue it is logical and desirable to change our system.

Posted by: Chris White on October 24, 2008 1:03 PM

An interesting op/ed piece about how health care in the US could be optimized to be both cheaper and more effective.

(Note to NT Times haters: Newt Gingrinch is one of the authors of this piece.)

Posted by: JV on October 24, 2008 2:57 PM

How many bank tellers do you know, Chris?

My girlfriend knows a mess of people who are in low level bureaucratic positions with access to Other People's Money.

You'd be surprised how frequently one of these people is hauled off to jail. They are caught after a lifetime of stealing a few pennies a day, or asking the contractor who wins a town contract to pave their driveway as payback. High school superintendents who've apparently played by the rules their whole lives sometimes get caught in the grinder. Several in northern Jersey have been indicted in the past year for using school personnel to renovate their houses, then billing the school district for the work.

I attend a yearly convention of my girlfriend's business associates. Every year, the talk of the convention is the latest low level clerk in her profession caught with his/her hand in the till.

Yes, the first thing I check out about a potential client is whether they actually pay or have a history of stiffing people, because stiffing people happens with some frequency in my business. With large, well-known corporations, this is seldom a problem. With small firms and start-ups, getting stiffed is a constant worry. I absolutely refuse to work for Woodstock hippie businesses, because you can count on them stiffing you. Guaranteed.

If it isn't nailed down and it can be stolen, somebody will steal it.

I'm as honest as I can afford to be. Generally, employers are willing to pay me well. This makes me inclined toward greater honesty.

My views don't make me a misanthrope. I like people the way they are, not they way they should be in the ideal, as you do. I have a sense of humor about their innate sinfulness. It's a funny, if maddening, part of humans.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on October 24, 2008 3:50 PM

Chris White and JV,

You guys should just give it up. National health care would be a disaster and both of you know it. I'm sorry you can't afford insurance, Chris White, but all the hordes of illegal alien freeloaders and ghetto ne'er do wells has bankrupted the system. This is what you get when you give away freebies--a growing line of those seeking a handout and a diminshing line of those who can afford to fund the system. Its a recipe for collapse.

I also love the idealism. Shouting Thomas is dead on when he shows you that the new socialized system will be worse than the existing one, but you guys just won't listen. America keeps getting more and more sovietized, and you tell us that soviet America will be a Utopia. You're wrong--it will be a hell, just like soviet Russia.

As far as life expectancy, you don't make a breakdown of that. Do you think that all the murders by our large black and hispanic populations contributes to this?

One point you leftsts don't bring up is that your national healthcare system will be a truly corporate one. You know, just like the banks, where the corporations think up all kinds of "health care" schemes to get us hooked on drugs and get expensive operations, and then get the Congress to mandate those. Meanwhile, alternative treatments will be banned. In Canada, they are trying to make vitamins available through prescription only! How corrupt is that? You can also forget getting significant treatment after age 55-60. If you don't have any kind of work horizon, you will just be refused care. And the government will lie about the longevity statistics, like the do about everything else. Utopia, here we come!

You leftists created the problem, and now it has come back to bite you in the ass. Freedom and responsibility are the cures. Getting something for nothing is theft, and there are hordes of big-level thieves and small-time thieves in this country.

You still haven't answered my observation that honest, bill-paying Americans are leaving the US to get cheaper medical care abroad, while hordes of illegal aliens are flying here to get free medical care, while 48 million can't afford insurance. What's wrong with that picture?

And by the way, you should realize that just because you don't have insurance doesn't mean that you don't get care.

You should change your name to some Polish one and speak with an accent. Then go to the ER and say you don't have insurance. Problem solved, at least for you. That's the system you guys cheerleaded us into. Don't complain, its working so well!

Posted by: BIOH on October 24, 2008 4:21 PM

BIOH, the current system is indeed fucked up, Chris and I are suggesting an alternative. Since you also agree our health care system could use some work, what are your suggestions?

As I previously stated, my preference would be universal health care available to all LEGAL citizens, with the option to purchase a more comprehensive plan if you so choose. I've already got health care and am happy with my coverage, but realize the system as a whole needs work.

Posted by: JV on October 24, 2008 5:07 PM

My alternative is that if you don't have insurance, you are liable for the full payment of your bill, no exceptions. Hard cases can apply to charities for help. The federal government has no role in the system.

Problem solved. Illegal aliens and ghetto ne'er do wells stop sucking the system dry, insurance rates drop immediately, and people can afford insurance again.

No pay, no play. Time to grow up and live like an adult.

Posted by: BIOH on October 25, 2008 4:30 PM

Wasn't it Scrooge in Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" that had the line about the sooner the poor die and ease the problem of excess population the better as far as he's concerned?

"You have a small tumor, Mr. Jones. It is operable and if we remove it, since you're only fifty and otherwise in good health, you should be fine and live a long life."

"But I don't have insurance, Dr. Smith."

"Hmmm, that is a problem. If you don't get the operation you'll be dead in two years, so I suggest you ought to get your affairs in order. And be sure to pay for this visit on your way out; I hate having to deal with probate courts to get paid."

It warms the heart to see the care and compassion shown by some to the question of health care for those below a certain income level. Just one question, if tens of millions can't afford and are therefore denied heath care, what does that do for the rest of the population in terms of infectious diseases and so on? I'm really looking forward to all those folks no longer "sucking the system dry" running around with resistant TB, rubella, mumps, etc. Aren't you?

Posted by: Chris White on October 25, 2008 5:17 PM

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