Democrats & Liberals Archives

Democratic Socialism makes People Happy

The truth is finally out. Not only do people in countries with national health care live longer, people in liberal democratic socialistic countries are happier.

Maybe it is because liberals have more fun. That stick in fuddy duddy conservative colons is probably a real drag on happiness... ...or, if one is to judge by recent sex scandals, perhaps the stick is the source of conservative happiness - I just don't know... Conservatives believe walk softly with a big stick... ...you are supposed to carry it...

Denmark is the happiest place on earth. See: Denmark 'happiest place on earth' Why would that be? It is nowhere that I want to be. The weather: Cloudy and gloomy, windy winters, cool summers - California it aint. The usual pollution. Middle income people pay at least %50 of their money in taxes. Why would anybody be happy there?

According to the CIA World Fact Book:

The Danish economy has in recent years undergone strong expansion fueled primarily by private consumption growth, but also supported by exports and investments. This thoroughly modern market economy features high-tech agriculture, up-to-date small-scale and corporate industry, extensive government welfare measures, comfortable living standards, a stable currency, and high dependence on foreign trade. Unemployment is low and capacity constraints are limiting growth potential. Denmark is a net exporter of food and energy and enjoys a comfortable balance of payments surplus. Government objectives include streamlining the bureaucracy and further privatization of state assets. The government has been successful in meeting, and even exceeding, the economic convergence criteria for participating in the third phase (a common European currency) of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), but so far Denmark has decided not to join 15 other EU members in the euro. Nonetheless, the Danish krone remains pegged to the euro. Economic growth gained momentum in 2004 and the upturn continued through 2007. The controversy over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad printed in a Danish newspaper in September 2005 led to boycotts of some Danish exports to the Muslim world, especially exports of dairy products, but the boycotts did not have a significant impact on the overall Danish economy. Because of high GDP per capita, welfare benefits, a low Gini index, and political stability, the Danish living standards are among the highest in the world. A major long-term issue will be the sharp decline in the ratio of workers to retirees.
The Danish government pays for all education - not only does it pay tuition, it pays you a living salary to go to school as long as you maintain passing grades - outrageous. The conservatives in this country would poop a stick if you tried to do something like that here. The average work week is less than forty hours per week. People take 6 weeks of vacation every year. Yet according to the CIA above, Denmark maintains a "comfortable balance of payments surplus." Americans should be so lucky as to work less than 40 hours per week, get full paid scholarships and still have a trade surplus. No wonder the Danes are happy. There is a different way to live. There is a different way to run a country. Danes are not as materially driven as Americans. They get their basic needs met for food, housing, and health care. They have a social safety net so they are secure. They seek work that is meaningful and fulfilling, they spend time with their families, and they are content. They don't need a bigger SUV. They don't need a bigger house. They need peace within their heart and they have it.

The key to happiness in Denmark is nothing special about the Danes. It is the relative lack of materialism and the fact that the gap between the richest and poorest is relatively narrow. Studies consistently show that large disparities in wealth create unhappiness.

The disparity between the richest and poorest Americans has grown - especially under Republican leadership. Especially sense Reagan. Remember, of course, that even our hero Clinton, continued much of the Reagan legacy and gave us NAFTA. Clinton was so "good" simply because he wasn't as bad.

Poor people in American ghettos have a higher standard of living than middle class people in poor countries, yet people in relatively poor countries are often happier than all Americans. Studies show that once a country is able to meet the basic needs of its people for food, shelter, and medical care, increasing wealth has no effect on happiness.

People in American ghettos are unhappy because they see the 200 foot yacht anchored in the harbor and they feel a sense of lack when in reality they have abundance. They feel powerless, used, exploited, disenfranchised... There situation is hopeless. They have absolutely no hope of attaining parity - of being "successful" in this society when the bar of success is set at 200 foot yachts. They medicate that sense of lack with drugs. They resort to crime in an attempt to get their piece of the pie. As a result, we all suffer - not from poverty. We suffer from wealth disparity. In Denmark where the wealth disparity is smaller, everyone feels empowered to fairly compete for their fair share of the pie. With a narrow wealth disparity, no one feels like a complete loser, so no one feels driven to extremes - like a crime spree - or killing everyone at the office...

Posted by Ray Guest at February 19, 2008 9:00 PM
Comments
Comment #245774

To preempt the inevitable impression that I think that the poor in this country have it made. I need to make it clear that I think that poverty here is grinding. When I talk about there abundance, I am talking in comparison to poor countries and neglecting the crime that many have to live with in the neighborhoods that they get trapped in. But part of what makes poverty grinding is the wealth disparity and powerlessness (the “loser” status), that allows a whole class of people to be left to die in Katrina. See: Stephen Daugherty’s article: Justify the Screwup

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 19, 2008 9:26 PM
Comment #245780

Ray,
The BBC report on Denmark generated some conversation in my family. Some of my close relatives are immigrants who became US citizens. They travel, and they used to be staunch conservative Republicans. That changed with Bush. Some of their friends in this country tried trotting out the “this is the best country in the world” line, and my relatives informed them this is most assuredly no longer so. The objection that Denmark is “socialist” came up, of course. But when it is obvious the Danes enjoy a better standard of living- albeit a less materialistic one- then what is left to say?

I visited Australia this summer and spent some time with relatives. They enjoy a version of universal health care, and six weeks vacation. Life is good Down Under, too.

It is time for the US to make some changes.

Posted by: phx8 at February 19, 2008 10:13 PM
Comment #245781

The reps/cons and a good majority of other-leaning people in the US would like to believe and would like you to believe that nothing ensures happiness and prosperity like pure, unregulated, flat-out capitalism; they would like you to believe that if only (in the words of, I think, Grover Norquist) government was reduced to the size that it could be drowned in a bathtub, we would have nirvana here - a paradise on earth.

Of course, that demands a rather fantasy view of the history of capitalism. I guess you, to start with, have to forget about

the current mortgage crisis
Enron
Worldcom
Tyco
the Ford Pinto
taxpayer subsidy of corporate farmers, especially those growing products for ethanol
taxpayer subsidy of oil companies
taxpayer subsidy of the defense industry

and on and on. Eventually it occurs to you that maybe capitalism isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be, especially as far as “efficiently allocating capital”. When you get right down to it, I think as many selfish, self-serving, wrong decisions are made wite ensuing unintended consequences by capitalists plying their capitalism than a government might ever dream about doing.

It’s bad enough when you’ve got people in power who believe that the government can make a positive difference; but when you’ve got some clowns in power who adhere to the motto “Government is not the solution; government is the problem”, that is when you have stuff happen like 9/11 and the response to Katrina andf the clusterfwck going on in Iraq that we may never leave if John McCain has anything to say about it.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 19, 2008 10:19 PM
Comment #245783

they would like you to believe that if only (in the words of, I think, Grover Norquist) government was reduced to the size that it could be drowned in a bathtub, we would have nirvana here - a paradise on earth.

Ahhhh….. A dream within a dream.

When you get right down to it, I think as many selfish, self-serving, wrong decisions are made wite ensuing unintended consequences by capitalists plying their capitalism than a government might ever dream about doing.

You might want to ask a Holocaust survivor or a former gulag inmate about that one.

The Danes only think they are happy because they haven’t been to the U.S. to find out what happiness really is.

My message to the government. Print my money, defend my borders, and get out of my face.

Posted by: Duane-o at February 19, 2008 10:31 PM
Comment #245786

Ray-

You know if you did the “free state” idea but chose Massachusetts instead you could end up with a Denmark over here. They are already working on the the universal health care; just adopt the rest of Denmark’s society and you could have a socialistic Utopia right next to the free staters over in New Hampshire. A good 10th Amendment argument should get you around the drug issue.

Meanwhile the rest of us can carry on with our miserable existences as slaves to the the mighty dollar with the understanding that we were merely promised justice for all and not equality for all.

Poor people coveting yachts, rich people coveting their neighbor’s G5, the cycle just never ends. Except I guess in Denmark.

Posted by: George in SC at February 19, 2008 11:06 PM
Comment #245795

The formulation of democratic socialism is a artifact of early 20th century academics. A more meaningful distinction in this area is the amount of economic freedom. There is a very strong correlation between economic freedom and general well being. Of the 157 countries ranked on the index of economic freedom, Denmark ranks 11, Switzerland in number 9.

Compare the maps of happiness and the map of economic freedom and you find that, with very few exception, they match. With only two exceptions I can see from my quick comparison of the maps, with only two exceptions, ALL the unhappy countries are also socialist and lacking economic freedom.

What else do the happiest countries (Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland & Austria) have in common? They are small, homogeneous and northern European, orderly and not very diverse. Most people have been there a long time. Many people in these places can trace their family history back hundreds of years. They have deep roots. These are not conditions that any political or economic system can create.

Put another way, cultural and traditions trump economic and politics. Big, diverse & mobile do less well than smalll, honogenous & stable

The U.S. does surprisingly well, given that it is big, diverse and mobile. We are the only country with a population greater than 50 million to be rated as “happy”.

In general, the democratic socialism correlation is not significant. The top countries have becoming LESS socialist (if we insist on using that outdated formulation). Unfree in the economic sense also means unhappy.

BTW - I spend significant time in Denmark, Austria & Switzerland (never been to Iceland). The other thing they have in common is pleasant scenerly and good beer. Those things are probably better indicators than “socialism”.

Posted by: Jack at February 20, 2008 12:13 AM
Comment #245796

Duane-o,

Thanks for your comment.

You wrote:

The Danes only think they are happy because they haven’t been to the U.S. to find out what happiness really is.

Talk about: “A dream within a dream.”

George,

Thanks for your comment.

Lets just continue being slaves to the mighty “privately owned” Federal Reserve Bank that prints our “mini-might” dollars (at interest) in our completely unfree market economy under the top down monopolistic campaign financed control of the corporatist oligarchist (soft fury fascist).

phx8, spongeworthy,

Thanks for your comments:

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 20, 2008 12:13 AM
Comment #245805

My God, I woke Jack up. I am so excited. I have to go read what he said…

Good points Jack… I know most alcoholics in America are happy… well except for the dry drunk in the White House…

It is true that culture plays a big role, but these folks are descended for viking raiders - drunkards, plunderers, pillagers, rapist, and murderers - not really a happy lot…

Economic freedom. Sounds great. What does it mean exactly? Paid education? National health care? Beyond the basic needs of food, shelter, and health care there is no correlation between increasing wealth and happiness. There is a correlation between wealth disparity and unhappiness.

I chose the word socialism here because conservatives describe everything that Denmark does as socialism. Like for example, national health care which conservatives describe as socialized medicine. Conservatives claim that socialism is completely discredited and never works - yet: Our uniformed military is socialized. Our roads are socialized. Our urban water and sewer systems are socialized. All work great.

Socialism, at least in a mixed system like Denmark and America - works fine. Socialism does not work well in areas that require a lot of consumer choice and creativity like manufacturing cars and producing music. Socialism works very well in areas of human endeavor that benefit from a lot of centralized control. Like the military. Like planning a road system or a water and sewer system.

The health care system is mixed system. Individuals need to be free to choose their doctor and treatment plan. So, at that level free market principals need to be retained and would be retained under the: Proposal of the Physicians’ Working Group for Single-Payer National Health Insurance

But health care also benefits from a lot of centralized planning. Do you need another MRI in Scottsdale AZ. There is a lot of money there, so private enterprise will waste money and put one there. But Scottsdale probably does not need one. The Navajo reservation up north probably does need one.

Another MRI in Scottsdale will probably be bad for peoples health. Private industry will push more MRI scans on those fat cat rich people in order to make more money. The problem is that cancers will actually wind up being detected too early as a result. People will wind up getting dangerous, sometimes deadly, surgeries for cancers that never would have even developed into life threatening conditions if left alone. People will die from these unnecessary surgeries. It is OK though. Private industry will make a huge profit.

That is why socialized medicine is better. Free market principals of personal choice are maintained at the level of service delivery, but the advantage and efficiency of centralized planning is applied to providing resources, treatment options, and efficient delivery systems.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 20, 2008 1:05 AM
Comment #245807

I could be a whole lot happier knowing I had health care for life and that I didn’t have to worry about being without insurance (fewer & fewer employers are providing it as a benefit)because of the exhorbitant cost (for less coverage!) or Medicare being underfunded plus knowing Part D was put in place by, for, and of the drug companies…

Knowing my grandkids could all go to college without taking out expensive and long term loans would make me pretty happy, too.

I’d love 6 weeks of vacation…currently, I’m at 80% workload and so I get zero, zip, zilch, nada…not even 80% of 6 weeks!!

See, it’s not the “stuff” that makes me happy…it’s security…the ability to enjoy life and health…and the U.S. provides very little practical security for any of its citizens.

Posted by: Rachel at February 20, 2008 1:07 AM
Comment #245813

Jack & Ray

There are circumstances where socialism works well. Some where it does not.It works better than capital direction for institutions that we all MUST use. Transportation systems,defense,fire department,water supplies etc. I would submit that the health care delivery system in the US is one such circumstance where a major shift toward public control is past due.

I wonder about happiness. I am about to move off to the Philippines. Its one of the poorest countries on earth. The wealth disparity is huge with a few families basically owning the place that virtually above the law. They import food.Unemployment is staggering. They are extremely diverse even though they look the same to us Kanos. They speak some 200 different languages(not dialects). They have had a Muslim AND Communist insurgency forever. The climate is hot,very hot. They get smacked by typhoons on a regular basis.That being said when you walk a block in Cebu you are likely to see more smiles in twenty minutes than you would see in NYC or SF in a week. Go figure.

Posted by: BillS at February 20, 2008 4:06 AM
Comment #245818

Ray and BillS

The word socialism is one of my problem. I think we need to look at the economic freedom and forget about the word. Judge by what happens, not what people say is happening. The trend in the developed world has been AWAY from what we used to call socialism. It is kind of yesterday’s ideology. We have to be careful to keep updated.

Government has a role to play, but it is not THE role. Society depends on individuals, NGOs, social groups etc. They work in a dynamic tension. Government is good at the big things,not so good at detailed ones or those that require flexibility.

Small countries like Denmark have the advantage of small size. The bureaucracy is limited by the size. Denmark in the U.S. context would be a medium sized state. Iceland would be a very small (pop) state. There is no federal level in our context.

Re the specific health care - I exerienced Euro medicine. I spend a night in intensive care there after being hit by a car and my youngest son was born in Norway. It is not as nice as you guys think. I personally like the tougher love approach they use over there. But if we just think they are going to have the level of care well insured Americans enjoy today - just given to all - they are mistaken.

There is no free lunch, not matter what social programs you have in place.

THe key to success if flexibility - and that is what markets give us. We need some government direction, but NOT government management.

Posted by: Jack at February 20, 2008 5:16 AM
Comment #245831

I was talking to an Israeli yesterday about the housing market. He builds high end spec houses ($1-2 million) in Texas. I asked him what do home buyers want? He said nice master bedrooms and $30,000 in kitchen appliances.

We spoke further about immigration, he said there needs to be a green card to allow immigrants to come in the country to work. He noted that the two operators working on his site were getting $10 per hour( BTW he was a competent, skilled operator). White operators, that I know, get $25 to $30 per hour. He stated that the subcontractor couldn’t afford to work for him if he paid comparable wages. He thought the green card would make the laborers pay taxes, which would be a good thing, in his opinion. It wouldn’t occur to him to take less profit. He has to make his annual trips to Israel.

Ray, while I’m having some issues with getting your stick images out of my head, I think you missed one point about capitalism. In this country it was based on slavery, and apparently continues in that vein today. It may not be slavery, but is a close facsimile.

This is the disparity. For those who don’t know, mark up on home construction is aproximately 100 percent. So this guy who makes nearly a million a project, believes that the issue for Americans is that a guy he refuses to pay more than $10/ hour doesn’t pay enough tax. Anyone want to bet he has offshore accounts? We see the same game in health care. I got mine, screw you.

Frankly, what is needed here is less, “let them eat cake” and more pointed sticks. With the demographics changing in border states, we may soon see another John Brown.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 20, 2008 8:48 AM
Comment #245832

Jack-

I made a half hearted attempt at the same point. Mass has about the same population as Denmark. Had California gone universal it would have been about the same size as France. 300M is a much bigger number.

Bills, almost all of our scocialized delivery systems are localized (education, fire, rescue, police, medicare, medicaid, etc.) Why is health care so important that is needs to rise to the federal level? Isn’t it good that Mass can decide on universal coverage and mandates for its population while California can reject the same idea?

Posted by: George in SC at February 20, 2008 8:53 AM
Comment #245841

“That being said when you walk a block in Cebu you are likely to see more smiles in twenty minutes than you would see in NYC or SF in a week”

NYC and SF are not the entire US, BillS. You can also get more smiles walking a block in Ruraltown US than you would at either of those places.

There is a reason why most rural areas are red or purple and urban areas are blue. There is a reason why people are happier outside of the urban areas and there is a reason why we fight so hard to keep the lefts version of govt from being pushed onto us: Freedom and the happiness that comes with it.

So change your cities into little Denmarks if that makes you happy, just leave us alone and let us keep our American way of life. Its what makes us happy.

Posted by: kctim at February 20, 2008 10:14 AM
Comment #245847

Thanks all for your comments. I have decided to write another article titled: Market Principals and Health Care. So I will address many of your comments in that article. In that article, I will also address the benefit of “economic freedom,” so, I would appreciate a good definition of exactly what you mean by that.

googlumpugus,

Excellent point. The notion that illegals do jobs that Americans won’t do is a red herring. Illegals do jobs that Americans won’t do for that price. That said, we do want our borders open to the brightest and best. Open borders have fueled American dynamism.

We have to be careful about guest worker programs. Conservatives want the illegals and guest workers here in order to third worldize the U.S. and drive wages down. Often guest workers are exploited and enslaved even worse than illegals because they have to dance with the one that brought them.

American corporatists predatorily exploit Mexicans in Mexico creating economic desperation there. Then they predatorily exploit there economic desperation when they come north. Then they use them to break the back of American labor creating economic desperation here - which they then predatorily exploit.

I am not sure what the solution is.

Clearly:

We do need to control our borders. We do need to demand that Mexican workers be allowed to unionize in exchange for NAFTA. We do need to legalize our Hispanic brothers here so that they are less predatorily exploitable.

Conservatives want free markets except when workers use free market principals to band together, there by controlling the availability of labor, to empower labor and drive wages up to their own advantage. Labor is not allowed to use free market principals to corner and monopolize the market, but corporatists can do that, which proves that the “free market” banner of conservatism is a pure bald faced lie. People can band together in a corporation to own and monopolize the means of production, but the laborers of that corporation cannot band together to control and monopolize labor.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 20, 2008 11:20 AM
Comment #245858
the current mortgage crisis Enron Worldcom Tyco the Ford Pinto taxpayer subsidy of corporate farmers, especially those growing products for ethanol taxpayer subsidy of oil companies taxpayer subsidy of the defense industry

IT seems to me that most of these are failures of government, not capitalism…

Why this government seems to think that supporting monopolies (Enron) is a good idea, Ill never know.

I gave up the full use of my legs in defense of this country, the county that believed in liberty and freedom. And then I read the trash posted in columns like this that try to convince people to do what our enemies could not, tear down those notions of liberty and freedom.

It makes me wonder why I bothered…

Posted by: Rhinehold at February 20, 2008 12:55 PM
Comment #245861

“Because of high GDP per capita, welfare benefits, a low Gini index, and political stability, the Danish living standards are among the highest in the world. A major long-term issue will be the sharp decline in the ratio of workers to retirees.” Posted by Ray Guest at February 19, 2008 09:00 PM

Ray, a couple of thoughts come to mind. If Denmark is the happiest place on earth why are they not flooded with immigrants? Could it be that they don’t allow those they don’t want into their country to sap their finances, lower their wages, and cause discord and unrest? Should we do the same in the U.S.? And, you say a long-term issue is the declining ratio of workers to retirees. We already have that problem in the U.S. as witness Social Security and Medicare. An extension of your statement would seem to indicate that in the long-term they can’t sustain their happiness based upon their socialist bent. What happens then? Will they still be so happy when government takes 60% or 70% of earnings? Will fewer workers be willing to pay more from their labor to support those who don’t work? At what point will Denmark workers revolt?

Less government and more individual freedom is the basis of our country. Food, clothing and shelter for those unable to work, is a charitable and righteous gesture from a great nation. Those on the public dole because they won’t get off their lazy asses is something else indeed. It’s a well-known axiom…you get more of what you subsidize. Encouraging public dependence with tax dollars is wrong, demoralizing, and a strategy for failure.

Posted by: Jim M at February 20, 2008 1:25 PM
Comment #245867

Here’s some of the wonders of our political capitalistic system:

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve on Wednesday lowered its projection for economic growth this year, citing damage from the double blows of a housing slump and credit crunch. It said it also expects higher unemployment and inflation.

The next president has his/her work cut out for him/her!!

Posted by: Rachel at February 20, 2008 2:35 PM
Comment #245868

I only make $32,000 a year and I say chalk me up in the “very happy” column, that is until someone like Barack Hussein Obama seizes power in this country.

Posted by: Duane-o at February 20, 2008 3:18 PM
Comment #245872

Comparing the US to Denmark is patently ridiculous. We are a culture based on immigration and assimilation of groups of people that the majority of the population have always resented, and will never want to provide with the kind of social services we are talking about here. These have historically been provided by the most prosperous members of immigrant groups, which extend those services to others as they feel secure about their position in our society. I was born at Norwegian American Hospital, my sister at Swedish Covenant, and the largest employer where I live is Lutheran General Hospital. I am not Norwegian, Swedish or Lutheran. Immigrant groups set up these institutions, which benefit later and earlier immigrant groups.

The most recent immigrant groups always have trouble accesing services. The US government has always pandered to the baser instincts of the population, and does more to prevent people from getting social services, than providing them.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 20, 2008 4:09 PM
Comment #245876

Rhinehold,

I’m sorry for your loss.

Perhaps you bothered for the liberty of ideas which stand or fall on their own merit. Just because you believe that capitalism, as practiced in the U.S. equals liberty as opposed to economic equity through rigorous enforcement of fairness, doesn’t mean your ideas are accepted by all. Some see your ideas as lacking merit, much as you see other’s falling short.

My experience is that soldiers fight for the soldiers that fight with them, not some nebulous ideal of liberty, but that’s my experience.

It seems to me we are pursuing the ideals of liberty by posting on this website, rather than tapping out code in a gulag. I only wish that there wasn’t advantages given to some, through omission, for access to this kind of freedom.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 20, 2008 4:38 PM
Comment #245879

Duane-o,

Siezes power? You mean by winning an election? Horrors!! Imagine if some idiot like Bush gets elected instead!

Thanks for the spin. Try to change the channel off of Fox once in a while, it’s been demonstrated to rot one’s brain.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 20, 2008 4:45 PM
Comment #245880

Rhinehold,

BTW since you blame government for Tyco, Enron, Worldcom and the Pinto.

Why didn’t Capitalism stop these things from happening?

I agree with you on subsidies and half way agree on the credit crunch.

Since you clearly think Government didn’t properly do it’s job in preventing these things, I have to assume you are for a shake up of regulatory agencies and increased funding for things like the SEC, NTSB, among others. How does this jibe with your small goevernment notions?

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 20, 2008 4:56 PM
Comment #245888

Ray, while democratic socialism does indeed work very well some other nations, it is a logical error to claim because it works elsewhere, it could work here. The variables involved in each nation’s level of success or not, border on the infinite, but even excluding the relatively inconsequential, the variable numbers are still very high. History, sociological and psychological predisposition, education, homogeneity of a nation’s people, and raw population numbers and densities are but a few of the many variables shaping whether or democratic socialism would work better there and not elsewhere.

Lastly, Denmark, like the U.S. is a mixed economy of free enterprise capitalism and social policy and supports. To say they are a democratic socialist nation and we are not is a patently false perspective. Their mix of socialist / capitalist apportionment is different than ours, but, theirs is nonetheless, a mixed economy like ours.

Our mix is about to change to get weighted more to the socialist end in 2009. It will no doubt be cause for relief and appreciation by some, and remorse and grief for others, especially if balancing our budgets becomes a priority, which it must. If the U.S. were to suddenly adopt the Denmark system across 2009 and 2010, our nation’s economy and society would go down the tubes for generations. The infrastructure of our nation and economy would not support such a radical transition, nor would our Treasury’s Bond ratings be able to withstand the dramatic increase in debt allowing such a transition to continue.

Your point is well made, that socialist policy is not an inherently negative nor a counterproductive pursuit for nations. But, the right mix of it for any particular nation is a much more difficult thing to achieve. Ask the managers of Venezuela’s economy and their people. Denmark has managed it well for a small nation with what, a tenth our population? Good for them. But, the U.S. is a dramatically different animal, and the mix that has worked so well in Denmark would not work well at all here in the USA.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 20, 2008 5:33 PM
Comment #245889

Rhinehold said: “And then I read the trash posted in columns like this that try to convince people to do what our enemies could not, tear down those notions of liberty and freedom.

It makes me wonder why I bothered…”

Understandable since you proclaim liberty and freedom to the exclusion of society and continuity across generations. Certain liberties, and certain freedoms should be retained by individuals, and individuals must yield to the society and democratic will beyond those defined liberties and freedoms protected. Much more complicated than the view that one sacrificed one’s legs for liberty and freedom and therefore liberty and freedom should reign over all other considerations, especially when they are freedoms and liberties defined and undefined by Rhinehold the Great sacrificer.

We all sacrifice for certain things, and we all own the responsibility for our sacrifices and decision to make them. Parents sacrifice for children, friends sacrifice for friends, firemen/women and police sacrifice for both paycheck and livlihood as well as law and order for themselves and their loved ones. Doesn’t mean others must adopt their values or perspectives because of a decision they made for themselves.

America is the most charitable nation on earth. It is one of America’s longstanding strengths over the last 70 years. Charitable not just at the personal level but at the state and national and international levels as well. Taxes support that charity in one way or another either through direct giving or indirect preferential tax treatment for the donor. Ron Paul comes along and says screw charity, we all want to keep every cent we earn and to hell with the recipients of our tax dollars in charitable giving. That in turn would have dramatic international and domestic long term consequences of a very negative nature in all liklihood.

Sometimes flaunting good sounding half baked patriotic symbols like freedom and liberty to the exclusion of all other virtues and considerations, or half baked appeals to personal greed and selfish motives have a particular appeal to some. And that’s fine.

What isn’t fine is when such proponents act indignant when others don’t and won’t buy into their ideologically extremist positions or half baked appeals. Not fine for the proponent that is.

In time the proponent is ignored and fades frustrated, depressed, or infuriated. Of course, that is not healthy for the proponent, but, that too was their choice. Hopefully they will have insurance to aid them with the aftermath of their 15 minutes of audienced cause or, our charitable society will have continued extending assistance to such as these without insurance through government assistance and aid.

America has a very high rate of mental illness and it is everywhere evident in our headlines, in our blogs, our schools, our prisons, our courts, our highways, and for far too many, in our homes. It should be a public policy issue on the forefront of election issues. But, it’s not. America is ashamed of its mentally unhealthy and even more ashamed at their alarming numbers. Besides, most insurance plans offer only paltry and very limited coverage for mental health, if at all. So, best to keep the issue out of sight and off the issue platforms.

Our psychiatric hospitals were once full of Napoleons, Teddy Roosevelts, Jesus’s and other saviours and great sacrificers for humanity as well as exploiters of others without care for the consequences of others. But that was before the advent of pharmacology as the failed panacea for what ails us mentally and emotionally.

Today these same type persons now blog, drive cabs, work in post offices, and teach school, under guises of normal and healthy. Until of course, they reveal the inconsistencies and lack of integrity in their blogging, or crash the cab in a case of road rage, or shoot fellow employees in their post office, or have affairs with their barely post pubescent students. We hear these stories on a weekly if not daily basis and go about our business as if they have nothing to do with us.

Afterall, freedom and liberty to be mentally or emotionally unhealthy is a Right, is it not, until the person takes out 15 others after yielding entirely to their unhealthy mental state? Or, does society have a role to play in a widening epidemic of mental and emotional disease besides cleaning up the dead and hiding away the destroyed lives of their victims? Wouldn’t any such societal attempt to address the epidemic infringe upon freedom and liberty for all?

Nah! Best we not go there, eh?

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 20, 2008 6:14 PM
Comment #245890

And then you have socialized medicine… Yegods, what that must be like… Never that for us in the good ol’ USA, right? You’ve got those long lines and that poor care and can’t find a doc when you need one… we never have bad crap like that with capitalist medicine, right?

Well, actually of course, we do have all that and more.

Ever try getting emergency care for a non-life-threatening medical and had to wait hours to be seen?

Ever tried getting in to a specialist like an orthopod or cardiologist or even your generalist for a checkup and had to wait months?

And that’s just if you have insurance. If you don’t have insurance you either go without until you wind up in the emergency room waiting with all the other emergency and non-emergency patrons.
And who pays for the care of people without insurance? Well, the people who do have insurance are charged extra to keep the hospital from going broke provided the care to non-insured.

And think about what insurance means in the first place: it means that those who have a lot of medical charges are subsidized by those who have less.

As for finding a doc when you need one, other than immigrants coming in to practice, we’re losing doctors, in many cases because it costs so much to get the training then insurance companies come along and tell you what to do and how much to charge.

Sounds like socialism to me.

This all might not be so bad if we only got the most tip-top care for our hard-earned capitalist bucks, right? But unfortunately we in the US have the tenth lowest life expectancy, while hospitals and drug corporations rake in massive profits.

I’m sure glad we don’t have socialized medicine.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 20, 2008 6:21 PM
Comment #245894

spongeworthy, excellent observations. We have excellent health care coverage. The wife lay in pain for 8 hours in ER on a Saturday to get treated for an infection which was a direct result of surgery she had done 2 days prior. And of course, the ER wanted all kinds of tests, which I told my wife to refuse. All they needed was a White Blood count, her temperature, perhaps a sonogram, and a call to the surgeon’s office to verify the surgery 2 days earlier. 8 hours later of refusing their other treatments I finally insisted they call the surgeon and issue a Rx for an antibiotic. The doctor at first refuse to prescribe the Rx without the additional tests. I told him he has a post operative patient with a fever, an elevated blood count, and if he refuses after 8 hours of lying there subjected to the allowed tests to prescribe an antibiotic he would be subject to a malpractice claim upon our leaving. He called my wifes surgeon who advised him to prescribe an anti-biotic, and we went home, and the wife got better in 36 hours.

That is with insurance and a husband who knows a bit how to challenge doctors gratuitous grab for unnecessary billing and profits and procedures. Think of what it would be like for the uninsured without the education to coerce fair and responsible medical treatment. Our portion of the ER bill came $700, and the insurance’s portion at $1100. Remember, all that was administered was withdrawing blood and a WBC, taking temp and BP, a sonogram and a prescription for an antibiotic.

Think of how vastly improved America’s health system would be with with weekend Emergency clinics everywhere instead of the exclusive monopoly of monumentally expensive Hospital Emergency Rooms handling weekend traffic for flu and minor cuts and abrasions. A nationalized health care system would promote such weekend Emergency outpatient clinics. Our current for profit oligopolistic system won’t stand for the competition for profits.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 20, 2008 6:45 PM
Comment #245896

Spongeworthy, where in the hell do you live? Even on Rocky Top Mountain care is more available than the picture you paint. I carried private insurance until I became eligible for Medicare. There was never a time in my 67 years, living in 5 different states, that I experienced anything close to what you describe. Admittedly, I have worked all my life and either had health insurance thru my employer or as a self-employed business owner. Sometimes it was difficult to budget the premium when other demands and desires competed for my money, and, I choose wisely and paid premiums. Millions of Americans choose not to pay premiums thru their employer or on their own and whine that I, and others, don’t do it for them. Well, tough shit. A motto I have lived by may help in your life as well, Today’s decisions are tomorrow’s reality.

Posted by: Jim M at February 20, 2008 6:58 PM
Comment #245897

I live in the midwest, in a metropolitan area.

OK, Jim, when was the last time you went to the emergency room? I did last year, having split my chin open while ice skating. I waited 6 hours in a suburban emergency room to have it sewn up, along with uninsured people needing what would be regular office care. The ER was understaffed, and the girl who sewed up my lip was an intern, i.e. she wasn’t a real doc yet. It was either her or wait another 2 hours until the plastic surgeon came off his regular schedule.

I waited 5 months to get in to see my orthopod about a cyst near my knuckle.

I’m currently waiting since December 20th to get in for a checkup. It’ll happen on March 22.

As far as I’m concerned, for-profit medical insurors are the single best argument in proof of failure of capitalist markets: we have worse care than most of the world, the most (percentage)people receiving very little care at all (because they can’t afford it without insurance) and we spend more money on it but most of the profit goes to the insurors’ investors, not to the docs. We have the best medical technology in the galaxy, yet people die every day because there aren’t enough nurses to provide adequate care.

I don’t know about Rocky Top mountain, but I seriously doubt things are much better there, regardless of what you might think.

If I was prez, the first thing I would do is outlaw for-profit medical insurance.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 20, 2008 7:18 PM
Comment #245898

>Why this government seems to think that
>supporting monopolies (Enron) is a good idea,
>Ill never know.

Uh, Enron was no monopoly but its downfall came about due to unbridled, ruthless greed by the guys at the top. How do you figure that was a government failure?

>I gave up the full use of my legs in defense of
>this country, the county that believed in
>liberty and freedom.

I’m sorry that happened to you.

>And then I read the trash posted in columns like
>this that try to convince people to do what our
>enemies could not, tear down those notions of
>liberty and freedom.

You lost me there. Assuming you’re not independently wealthy, do you really think you have liberty and freedom when it comes to “free-market” capitalism in general and medical care in particular? You’re going to have to convince me because I don’t think you or anyone else who is not independently wealthy does. But I now notice you said “notions” and I’ll agree with that: all we in the US have is notions of freedom and liberty under “free-market” capitalism - not the real thing. In this regard, our enemies see our faults better than do we.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 20, 2008 7:26 PM
Comment #245900

hey sponge,

Move to eastern Kentucky. I am 67 years old, on Medicare, with several medical conditiions, including a diagnosis of B cell lymphoma cancer. My primary doctor has never caused me to wait more than 20 minutes past my appointment time(usually available within a week), my specialists seldom keep me waiting more than 5-10 minutes(unless the doctor gets delayed at the hospital during rounds), and the emergency room we use(when an actual emergency happens) is on top of things within 20 minutes from the time we go through the door. Your characterization may be right for you, but it sure isn’t for our neck of the woods. By the way, we moved here from central Arkansas, and the situation was the same.

Posted by: Old Grouch at February 20, 2008 7:53 PM
Comment #245901

>>“When you get right down to it, I think as many
>>selfish, self-serving, wrong decisions are made
>>wite ensuing unintended consequences by
>>capitalists plying their capitalism than a
>>government might ever dream about doing.”

>You might want to ask a Holocaust survivor or a
>former gulag inmate about that one.

I guess I should have specified I meant a US government rather than just any government, since you could also consider the governments of the Caesars or the French aristocracy.

But I failed to make my point which is to say that compared to the unintended consequences of vicious unbridled greed which epitomizes free-market capitalism, the unintended consequences of the US government is probably pretty close to the same all else being equal. That’s debatable of course.

And I would also point out that I was talking about a comparison of letting the “free” market do things capitalist companies do like provide services and make and sell things compared to letting the government control those same things. I don’t think capitalism has yet progressed to trying to make a market in genocide, but stranger things have happened…

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 20, 2008 7:57 PM
Comment #245904

>Move to eastern Kentucky.

Thanks for the invite, but no thanks.

Posted by: spongeworthy at February 20, 2008 8:04 PM
Comment #245905

Okay, it’s confirmed, I’m not the only french being only half happy.

:-\

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at February 20, 2008 8:36 PM
Comment #245908

Old Grouch,

My family is from eastern Kentucky, and I’ll back up your claims. My mother died of cancer there, and had excellent care. The big difference I noted is that people are treated like people, rather than numbers. Maybe it’s the small town enviroment, maybe it’s hillbilly hospitality, but I never felt so welcome anywhere as there. As a tip to Saturday Nite Live’s Hillbilly hospital, I did have a distant cousin that had to have a bottle removed from an inconvenient place, but that was technically in West Virginia!!:)

David, I’m hoping that the bloggers with mental health issues comment wasn’t directed at me, but the voices keep telling me it was!:)

Even though I feel I’m being followed, excellent post. I’ll consult with Josephine about this.;)

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 20, 2008 9:19 PM
Comment #245911

Rhinehold,

Thanks for your comment. I will meditate on it for the time being.

Jim M.

The Danes have a looming demographic problem just as we do. Our demographic problem is nothing compared to the Japanese and Chinese. There is no way of knowing how they will handle that or we will handle it. If the Repubs get their way… Reagan stole our Social Security payroll deductions and put them into the general fund. Bush looted the general fund and gave our payroll tax deductions to the rich as a tax break. Now the country is broke and we are going to get screwed…

Rachel,

You wrote:

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve on Wednesday lowered its projection for economic growth this year, citing damage from the double blows of a housing slump and credit crunch. It said it also expects higher unemployment and inflation.
Higher unemployment and inflation??? Isn’t that stagflation? That is where the Repubs have brought us. Their desperation shows by the fact that they are going to continue lowering interest rates in spite of inflation. Lower interest rates fuel inflation. They have created a real problem.

Duane-o,

Obama’s middle name is not Hussein and you know it. Are you basing this typical Repub Swift Boat Veterans for Lies tactic on that lying Faux News email that has been going around? Please tell me you know better than to believe that.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 20, 2008 9:42 PM
Comment #245912

OK, a lot of people need to stop eating the rye bread when it gets mouldy.

Old G., you sound like a real McCoy, how much does a fifth of Maker’s Mark cost there?

Mental Illness is the final taboo. I have been offered some work with an agency whose clients are mostly autistic, but they want me to start out with with the IED (intermittent explosive disorder) guys. I have been working with terminally ill clients for the last few years, and before that with rehabilitive wervices clients. MS and spinal cord injury patients wore me out. The state funds part of these services, local charities fund more of it, and the Federal government does almost nothing aside from minimum social security.

Posted by: ohrealy at February 20, 2008 9:43 PM
Comment #245914

ohrealy,

Haven’t the foggiest. Haven’t bought any spirits or brewed stuff in over 40 years.

And, bless you for your service to the last, the least, and the lost.

Posted by: Old Grouch at February 20, 2008 9:57 PM
Comment #245915

Ray-

Not that it matters, but I thought Obama’s middle name was indeed Hussein but that he didn’t use it. I’m I wrong?

Thanks.

Posted by: George in SC at February 20, 2008 10:21 PM
Comment #245917

Barack Hussein Obama Jr.’s middle name is indeed Hussein. It’s a shame that I know more about your anointed one than you do, Ray. How uninformed does someone have to be in order to be a writer in the blue column?

Barack Hussein Obama’s Wikipedia article

A biographical site

And of course, snopes.com, while debunking the Muslim legend, confirms the name.

Posted by: Duane-o at February 20, 2008 10:48 PM
Comment #245921

David Remer,

You wrote:

History, sociological and psychological predisposition, education, homogeneity of a nation’s people, and raw population numbers and densities are but a few of the many variables shaping whether or democratic socialism would work better there and not elsewhere.

Your comment is thought provoking. I started to respond but decided to save it for my coming article. The point that I am trying to make in this article is that social safety nets and narrow wealth disparity are indicative of a population’s sense of well being. As others have pointed out the homogeneity of population also affects their sense of well being and their willingness to provide a social safety net. There are many factors affecting happiness. Social safety nets and narrow wealth disparity are 2 major factors.

You also wrote:

Their mix of socialist / capitalist apportionment is different than ours, but, theirs is nonetheless, a mixed economy like ours.
Yes, but theirs certainly leans much farther in the direction of what the conservatives claim is discredited socialism.

You also wrote:

The infrastructure of our nation and economy would not support such a radical transition, nor would our Treasury’s Bond ratings be able to withstand the dramatic increase in debt allowing such a transition to continue.
More importantly, the American have drank the conservative coolaid. The political spectrum has shifted to the right - I say off, or at least close to the cliff on the right side of the road. We may steer left, but we aint goin anywhere the left side of the road. Americans are not going to pay %50 taxes - not with a rich and powerful corporatist elite controlling the media and campaign contributions…

You wrote: “and the mix that has worked so well in Denmark would not work well at all here in the USA.” I think that it would - but it is not going to happen. The small steer to the left that we do make needs to be done well - but it won’t be - the corporatist won’t allow it - they will use campaign contributions in order to turn it into a wasteful boondoggle…

Thanks for responding to Rhinehold. I agree generally - except I don’t believe America is all that generous. Our foreign aid is low on a per capita basis as is our charity.

spongeworthy,

You wrote:

Well, actually of course, we do have all that and more.
I couldn’t agree more.

David Remer,

You wrote:

Our current for profit oligopolistic system won’t stand for the competition for profits.
Sorry to hear about your wife - glad she is doing better. Apart from the profit motive of selling extra tests, doctors run a bunch of unnecessary tests in order to cover themselves against malpractice. They don’t want to find themselves in court answering the question: Well, did you test for northern Angolan spoor virus?

During the 8 hours that your wife laid there in pain, your wife could have gone into toxic shock. This story is outrageous. Not only did this doctor waste health care resources - someone was waiting while he twiddled his thumbs for 8 hours tying up a bed, but your wife’s health was jeopardized.

Some of the blame for this belongs to trial lawyers. As a liberal, I am pro trial lawyer. I believe trial lawyers are our last line of defense against real injustices. On the other hand frivolous lawsuits do cause doctors to practice CYA medicine. If we limit rights to sue, we limit the ability of trial lawyers to protect us. I don’t what the solution is, but this is not working.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 20, 2008 11:10 PM
Comment #245922

spongeworthy,

Thanks for answering Jim M.

You wrote:

If I was prez, the first thing I would do is outlaw for-profit medical insurance.
Absolutely. This is good place to provide a link to my article titled: National Health Care Solution? in which you will find a link to the “Proposal of the Physicians’ Working Group for Single-Payer National Health Insurance” which makes the exact same point that you just made.

Thanks all for your comments. I will be back tomorrow.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 20, 2008 11:19 PM
Comment #245923

Duane-o,

Thanks for the spanking. I needed that before i went to bed. You are correct. I forgot. But the tone of your comment sounded like you were buying into that email, so I reacted instead responding.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 20, 2008 11:24 PM
Comment #245945

So Barack’s middle name is Hussein. What does that have to do with socialism or anything? Its not like he picked it. It is used as a scare tactic nothing more and is (I feel) or should be beneath any poster here to use it.

As for socialism and capitalism. There is a lot of black and white talk here. Life is never black and white. Neither system is perfect. No system will ever be perfect. So I say lets take the best of both worlds and mold them together.

Why does it have to be either or?

Posted by: Carolina at February 21, 2008 7:34 AM
Comment #245954

Ray-

The tort issue is one of the many differences between the French and the U.S. health care systems that goes overlooked. They’ve gone to a single payer system for malpractice suits as well; you don’t claim against the doctor but rather a judge settles your claim against the national fund (similar to Workman’s Comp here). I doubt that would go over with your trial lawyers….


Posted by: George in SC at February 21, 2008 9:41 AM
Comment #245977

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: dbs at February 21, 2008 12:42 PM
Comment #246014

clarencec, what a juvenile remark that was. This is a political debate site and while all remarks found here are not well thought out, they are nearly all far more mature and educated than yours. Contribute something worthwhile to the debate, and leave the 3rd grade stuff for your teachers.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 21, 2008 5:13 PM
Comment #246016

Ray, thanks for the thoughtful responses. We agree for the most part, the exception being I know one size cannot and will not fit all nations. They are too different along too many variables for a one size fits all system to work.

Obama’s plan circumvents Hillary’s unanswered question: “What does the government do to citizens who choose not to, or can’t afford to pay, the mandatory universal health care premiums? Jail? A Fine, making them yet poorer? Until Hillary answers that rudimentary question, Obama’s is vastly superior in that it does not mandate participation, but, will over time, present the financially preferrable option for nearly all Americans for Basic health insurance, preventive care, and emergency coverage. Even the wealthy will find their overall premiums reduced when factoring in the this basic coverage and their premiums for extra coverage for face lifts and tummy tucks.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 21, 2008 5:21 PM
Comment #246022

I found an interesting piece in the London Daily Mail 2/21/08. Use this link to read the whole story.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=515332&in_page_id=1770

To summarize, Britain’s government recently mandated that National Health Service hospitals leave emergency patients waiting no more than four hours for treatment. So, how did the government-run hospitals meet this requirement? By leaving patients outside the emergency room, still in their ambulances, because the four-hour clock starts running only once they move indoors. Is this where we are headed? Is this the change envisioned by liberal democrats? It doesn’t sound too “swell” to me.

Posted by: Jim M at February 21, 2008 5:42 PM
Comment #246029

Some of the remarks here suggest that because of his name Barack must be muslim and therefore a terrorist and what if he is muslim-what would be wrong with that.

Not all muslims are terrorists thats like saying because of the evil things Blackwater has done all Americans are bad.

Personally I find this whole train of thought disgusting. I voted for John Edwards now that he is no longer in the race-I will support the democratic candidate. If it is Barack and he just happened to be muslim, I would still support him. There is nothing that says presidents must be christian although I know that christians think that is the only right way to believe. I have had enough of christian politics to last me a life time. Bush has certainly proven that being christian doesn’t mean that you are christ like.

Posted by: Carolina at February 21, 2008 6:35 PM
Comment #246040
David, I’m hoping that the bloggers with mental health issues comment wasn’t directed at me, but the voices keep telling me it was!:)

I assure you, it wasn’t directed at you…

Posted by: Rhinehold at February 21, 2008 8:55 PM
Comment #246046

Carolina,

You wrote:

Why does it have to be either or?

Absolutely agreed. I think that the ideal mix involves socializing the things or aspects of things that benefit from central planning and

capitalizing (or applying market mechanisms to) the the things or aspects of things that require creativity or personal preference.

George,

You wrote:

you don’t claim against the doctor but rather a judge settles your claim against the national fund (similar to Workman’s Comp here)

Interesting. It provides a safety net for taking care of people who get hurt but controls cost. But how are incompetent doctors and irresponsible institutions held accountable for malpractice. Our trial lawyers will either drive them out of business or $$$force$$$ them to reform even if licensing boards fail to act.

dbs,

You wrote:

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”
-Thomas Jefferson

People in Denmark work and pay taxes. The government does not give them everything. They just have support for basic human rights; health care and education - and a safety net. The CIA report said:” up-to-date small-scale and corporate industry” - small scale means entrepreneurial. One thing that helps a population be entrepreneurial is a social safety net - that and a good bankruptcy law encourages people to try things.

ohrealy,

You wrote:

OK, a lot of people need to stop eating the rye bread when it gets mouldy.
I kind of like the buzz - but the witches and their familiers…

clarancec,

You wrote:

If Osama asked Obama to Plant A Bomba would he do it for his Daddy and not his Momma?
If you have a substantive contribution to make to this discussion, please make it, otherwise please stop commenting on this thread.

Oh I see that David already addressed you comments.

Jim M.

Good link. I don’t like the British system either. They have some real problems over there although I think their system is still better than ours. I need to do some more research on this, but I think that I like the Canadian system. There are many ways to skin this cat. Of course now that I mention the Canadian system, you will start talking about waiting lines for non-life threatening conditions like knee replacement. So how long are the waiting lines for knee replacement in the U.S. for someone without health insurance? We avoid waiting lines by rationing care.

Carolina,

You wrote:

Bush has certainly proven that being christian doesn’t mean that you are christ like.
I second that. I am an atheist of course, but there are real Christians that do try to be Christ like… They usually live their faith quietly though and they don’t try to ram it down other peoples throats or act self-righteous.

Thanks all for comments.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 21, 2008 10:41 PM
Comment #246049

Rhinehold,

Don’t be so sure. While it was a joke on my part, I certainly have been called crazy before.

While the comment could be read as a violation of the rules, I’m sure that wasn’t his intent, but it motivated my comment.

Of course, since neither of us are in his head, neither of us can really be sure, but it does give us an opportunity to be honest and open about how things are sometimes misinterpreted here.

The one good thing about a blog like this is that it allows us to vent our political frustrations in a more productive way than screaming at the TV or Newspaper.

I for one always find both yours, and David’s comments insightful, challenging to my intellect, and sincere on each of your parts. I find the debates between nearly all the posters here, though at times exasperating, always enlightening even if I feel the position is completely wrong. It will often give me a new look at a position that I may, in part respond to emotionally, but not agree with.

Personally, I think everyone that doesn’t agree with me is a little disturbed or at least misinformed, don’t you? “It’s good to be King, in my own little world.” - Tom Petty

I sincerely hope you don’t truly feel your service was a waste, though I can understand your feelings. I certainly have benefitted from your perspective and contributions here, even though we often disagree.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 21, 2008 10:51 PM
Comment #246051

Rhinehold,

I see Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as the principle voices of our Constitutional foundation, while I’m less familiar with Adams writings, I have read several biographies of Jefferson.

I have come away with a disconnect between his ideas on liberty and equality and his eighteenth century American distortions on race, women and manifest destiny.

We have certainly moved away from Jefferson’s principle’s I suspect this has a lot to do with the loss of our frontier. Now that we have a viable black and woman presidential candidate, I find it to be a time when Jefferson’s split personality on these topics are brilliantly highlighted. It is a time where we need to look at the meaning of those words anew.

While I’m not exactly sure what Democratic Socialism actually is, a blend of those two ideas seems to have propelled us to a modeern situation where some social engineering has made this possible, in a purported democratic society.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 21, 2008 11:16 PM
Comment #246054

googlumpugus,

For the purposes of this article democratic socialism is intentionally not well defined. Denmark is democratic and does lean further toward socialism than we do. But i was using the term loosely. Conservatives have succeeded in turning liberal, progressive, and socialist into dirty words and they tend to call all safety nets socialist as if it were one thing. I am just rehabilitating the word and sticking a finger in their eye for fun.

Rhinehold,

I have had good debates with you in the past as well but I did not know how to take your comments here. I was not sure exactly what you meant and they did not seem that substantive to me.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 21, 2008 11:50 PM
Comment #246085

>>the current mortgage crisis Enron Worldcom Tyco the Ford Pinto taxpayer subsidy of corporate farmers, especially those growing products for ethanol taxpayer subsidy of oil companies taxpayer subsidy of the defense industry

IT seems to me that most of these are failures of government, not capitalism…

Why this government seems to think that supporting monopolies (Enron) is a good idea, Ill never know.

Rhinehold,

How are these failures of government? The only way government has to prevent these events, is through regulation, which capitalists vehemently oppose, unless it gives them an advantage over their competitors. If Enron wasn’t playing a shell game, to inflate its profits and bring its shareholders increased profits, there would be no need for government intervention. If manufacturers didn’t produce and sell shoddy or unsafe goods, there would be no need for the FDA or the Consumer Product Safety Division and other government agencies. If capitalist companies didn’t pollute the environment, there would be no need for the EPA. So don’t say these examples are just failures of government.

Posted by: Hotshot at February 22, 2008 10:02 AM
Comment #246096

Government at times must act as a referee, but should never determine the outcome of the contest. As I read these blogs and comments by the most liberal writers I wonder if they understand the difference. My conservative philosophy embraces equality and justice under the law. I do not embrace government mandated results with respect to our individual lives. Freedom also means a freedom to fail. Forcefully conscripting the legal property of one to give to another is not freedom or justice.

Posted by: Jim M at February 22, 2008 11:43 AM
Comment #246113

I was hoping someone would not drag out that old myth about how malpractice lawsuits caused the rise of malpractice insurance and hence driving out the doctors.
But here it is:
Some of the blame for this belongs to trial lawyers. As a liberal, I am pro trial lawyer. I believe trial lawyers are our last line of defense against real injustices. On the other hand frivolous lawsuits do cause doctors to practice CYA medicine. If we limit rights to sue, we limit the ability of trial lawyers to protect us. I don’t what the solution is, but this is not working.”

I find it interesting that even here, we find that people have not been well-read enough to be aware that during the last big increase in malpractice insurance it was discovered that the increase was not tied to some, unexplained, drastic increase in malpractice suits or settlements — au contrair — those appeared to have been right on track with the standard of the past decades
Sooo, what then to attribute the drastic rise in Malpractice Insurance Premiums???
Hmmmm, it seems the insurance companies investments were hit by the stock market and their profits (which mainly do come from investing the premiums, not the premiums themselves) were drastically reduced.
Hmmmm, how to build their investment portfolios back up?? well, we need to reach out to our “investors” (errr I mean our Clients) for additional seed Capitol (err, I mean premiums)
and blame it on those dirty rotten trial lawyers and “frivoulous lawsuits”.

Posted by: Russ at February 22, 2008 3:00 PM
Comment #246119

Russ, rarely have I found it necessary to label a comment bullshit, but just couldn’t resist. Your theory is unsound, unproven, unusual and unwelcome. I have been writing all types of insurance for many years and in the case of term life insurance, rates have actually come down in the past few years. Long-Term Care insurance premiums have also been reasonably stable. I just re-negotiated both my car and home insurance, choose another company and saved money on both. Bashing insurance companies and other main-stream, well-respected, and necessary businesses is almost always a liberal exercise in the blame-game for some perceived political advantage. Hate withers where intelligence reigns.

Posted by: Jim M at February 22, 2008 3:35 PM
Comment #246128

Jim M,

You may have been writing policies, but you are apparently unaware of the facts surrounding insurance companies.


While I don’t agree with Russ’ analysis, there is truth in what he says. Insurance did in the recent past hike rates due to losses in other investments. These are capital investment pools. They are there to make money, same as the rest of us. That is not a crime, however when investments return higher profits, mysteriously rates don’t decline.

Homeowners policies, auto insurance, and especially professional liability and medical malpractice have NOT declined nationally. Porfessional liability and malpractice rates have skyrocketed. Inspite of recent losses Insurance companies have reported record profits in Hurricane zones.

The only decreases that have occurred are in the area of coverage. If you are going to talk rate decreases you have to compare apples to apples. An exclusion for mold damage SHOULD be accompanied by a rate decrease.

It is accurate to say these rate and profit hikes are not entirely commensurate with a rise in risk or efficiency.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 22, 2008 4:50 PM
Comment #246138

Googlumpugus, from where are you getting your statistics? What facts am I unaware of? What is accurate in your claim as stated?

I carry professional liability in the form of errors and omissions insurance. My premiums have been stable with increases for inflation. As an insurance broker representing many companies I match my client with the best policy at the lowest premium. Following my own lead, I check my auto and home coverage yearly and let numerous companies compete for my business. Some years there is no advantage to change companies. This past year I saved $300 on my auto coverage and nearly $500 on my home policy with higher limits. Competition and capitalism is alive and well and works for the thinking person willing to do some comparison shopping. Please don’t make these blanket statements as some fool is likely to believe you.

Insurance companies can not just decide some morning over coffee in the board room to raise rates. Each state exercises control by virtue of their Department of Insurance. If you have a problem in your state, check with your Department of Insurance and demand to know why they are allowing rates to increase. Perhaps the increase is justified, perhaps not. Just bitching about it changes nothing.

For your portrayal and that of Russ to be believable would require another vast conspiracy. Please don’t spread these kinds of wild accusations as it hurts everyone when truth is stretched or broken to further a blogging point.

Posted by: Jim M at February 22, 2008 6:02 PM
Comment #246153

Let’s address your conflicting statements.

I carry professional liability in the form of errors and omissions insurance. My premiums have been stable with increases for inflation

Yet in your previous post, you claim:

rates have actually come down in the past few years.

OI course, cherry picking a policy and time period to make this point is a mere convenience.


Next you say:

Competition and capitalism is alive and well and works for the thinking person willing to do some comparison shopping.

Of course, you next point out:

Each state exercises control by virtue of their Department of Insurance.

Which is it free markets or government control?Insurance is not a free market, that is why there is government control. It is monopolistic in nature. Why is it insurers and agents must be licensed?

The problem arises when insurers lobby state governments and recieve unfair increases. The game goes something like this. Allstate asks for 29% rate hike. Insurance board denies rate hike. Insurance company gets 21% rate hike. Everyone is happy. Politicians win. Insurance profits rise. Oops, the “isnured” get screwed.

Google State Farm or Allstate rate hikes and you will find a plethora of articles where they have been found to be overcharging, denying claims and general theft in monopolistic practices. BTW they are two of the largest insurers in the country.

As to professional liability, yes it has stabilized in the last couple of years after enormous increases just a few more years ago.

I find it interesting that a licensed insurance agent is unaware of the fraud conducted by insurers in the Katrina situation. You really don’t want to go into health insurance do you? Why do you think there is a healthcare crisis?

I’m not condeming the entire insurance industry, there may well be a few honest companies. Yes, you can save money by shopping around. Good Advice. What percentage of the public does that? How does an average consumer compare costs on widely varying policies? How do insurance companies increase profits in a regulated enviroment, or any enviroment for that matter?


Posted by: googlumpugus at February 22, 2008 10:59 PM
Comment #246195

Googlumpugus, I have answers for your questions but don’t feel you want to read and understand, just parse my words to mean something else.

Example: I said rates have come down for “term Life insurance” and you parsed that to imply I said rates came down for my E&O insurance.

Example: You make the insane statement that the insurance industry is monopolistic when, in fact, there are thousands of individual companies that exist to serve the public.

Finally, the company that won the bid for my home insurance is Allstate, one of the companies you blast with charges of illegal action.

If the public is unwilling to comparison shop for the best deal…blame them, not the insurance companies who prove every day the value of competition.

Many liberals continue to attempt to peddle their philosophy that Americans are too stupid to make their own choices and decisions and need the all-seeing, all-knowing, all-beneficent government to do their thinking. A good reason to not follow their, and your, lead.

Posted by: Jim M at February 23, 2008 1:29 PM
Comment #246265

Jim M.

Again, I am not attacking all insurance companies.

The problem I have with them is what they sell is a promise.

Since a large portion of these companies have begun to create an image of back dealing and shyster behavior, that promise is little more than fraud. I don’t believe liars and shysters.

I’ll leave you with this link, and leave it alone.

I am not attacking what you do for a living, but I for one, only buy two forms of insurance. Health and auto liability. One because hospitals have become elitists, who feel their work is more valuable than the wealth of the majority of the population, in part due to the lack of oversight of insurance payouts, and the other because the state requires me to buy it to drive. I love the sales pitch of a local auto insurer: buy our product, because you’ll go to jail if you don’t. I have never had a claim against me (although I have been denied a claim when hit while sitting at a light by Farmer’s) , and I resent being forced to pay tribute to a fraud, backed by thugs.

On the rest, I’ll take my chances. The reason I know about professional liability is that I did the research for a company I worked for. The odds are in my favor. That’s the business model of insurance, after all.

Posted by: googlumpugus at February 24, 2008 9:55 AM
Comment #246280

Hotshot,

You wrote:

The only way government has to prevent these events, is through regulation, which capitalists vehemently oppose, unless it gives them an advantage over their competitors.
Well said… Bears repeating - often.

Jim M.,

You wrote:

Forcefully conscripting the legal property of one to give to another is not freedom or justice.

That ship has sailed. Since the time of Abaham and Moses people have been tithing 10% or more. The tithes were often legally mandatory and were always socially mandatory in order to be a member of the “tribe.”

The tithes supported the “church” but the “church” has always been, and still is, a part of the government’s control of the people and the “church” provided the social safety net in primitive societies and, thanks to Bush putting the government in bed with the churches, under our society as well.

Even in the most primitive hunting / gathering bands the shaman is an extremely powerful leader. If he says no - it don’t happen. From an archaeological stand point, you can tell when a society becomes more politically organized and develops the ability to marshal large groups of people by the size of the religious monuments that they build. In other words, the first thing that the political leaders do once they get power over the people, is to build symbols of the power of the priesthood. The pyramids of Egypt are an example of this. The Pharaoh was god… The relationship between government control and religion, is a symbiotic relationship - even here - even now.

Surrealistically, as I sat here at Paneras writing this, a Christian youth group sat down next to me and started talking about tithing and service to the church. As an atheist, I don’t like the brain washing of the children - on the other hand they are raising some fine compliant, honest, lawful, socially responsible young citizens for the government…

The point is that people have been paying mandatory taxes / tithes for 10,000 years. It is a part of the human social evolutionary social contract called being civilized. We give up our caveman ways and we get; security, wealth, ect., ect.

I am tired of conservatives using this absurd argument that forcefully taking someone’s wealth in order to achieve societal objectives is an inappropriate violation of freedom. It is a violation of freedom - caveman freedom that is, but it is part of being civilized.

Is civilization good? For an old man like me that could not survive naked in the wild, it is. For you maybe not… If want to be a caveman, then strip off your clothes and walk into the wilderness. If you want to be civilized then talk about; what the ideal amount of caveman freedom that should be given up is, in exchange for the ideal amount of what benefits. But please don’t use this naive and juvenile argument that it is fundamentally wrong to forcefully conscript wealth in any of my threads anymore. I am tired of it.

See:Tithe War

See also:Tithe

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 24, 2008 12:12 PM
Comment #246287

Ray, your post above makes for enjoyable reading and I could smell the sulphur. What I find odd and discordant is that while my statement conforms to the constitution you find it objectionable. Where exactly in the constitution, or amendments to it, do you find the enabling sentence to legally confiscate my wealth or property to give to someone else? I understand the need for taxation and don’t believe our founders ever intended the “Democratic Socialism” which was the original post upon which we are commenting. What exactly is democratic socialism anyway? Is it legalized stealing from one’s neighbor until everyone is equally miserable?

Posted by: Jim M at February 24, 2008 12:58 PM
Comment #246290

Russ,

You wrote:

Sooo, what then to attribute the drastic rise in Malpractice Insurance Premiums???
Hmmmm, it seems the insurance companies investments were hit by the stock market and their profits (which mainly do come from investing the premiums, not the premiums themselves) were drastically reduced.
Hmmmm, how to build their investment portfolios back up?? well, we need to reach out to our “investors” (errr I mean our Clients) for additional seed Capitol (err, I mean premiums)
and blame it on those dirty rotten trial lawyers and “frivolous lawsuits”.
Thanks for the correction. I am not surprised to learn that the problem is the super human greedy capitalist corporations.

I guess that it is like the conservative urban myth of the welfare Mom that just does not want to work, there are some out there, there some frivolous lawsuits as well, but it is not the real problem.

I am aware of some frivolous lawsuits. Doctors do practice CYA medicine.

I also know that corporations, doctors, hospitals, ect., get away with a lot of injustice because it happens on a small enough scale that it is not worth a lawyers time to address.

For example: My father passed away in 1993. Long story, but in 1985 he had to go into a nursing home - ulcerated bed sores and he needed physical therapy - he needed skilled care. He had excellent Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance that would cover him for 2 years of skilled nursing home care. He met all of the criteria. The nursing home met all of the criteria. Every time that Blue Cross denied the claim for this excuse or that excuse, I sent them documented proof that he and the nursing home met the criteria for coverage, then they would change the story of what the criteria were, then I would send them proof that he met those criteria as well. In the end they ran out of excuses and would not give me an excuse, they just said no. The claim was denied. There was only about $10,000 dollars involved. I had an attorney send them a letter - claim denied. It was not enough money to make it worth while for a law firm to take on the entire legal staff of Blue Cross. I had an excellent, high priced attorney. It has been a long time, as I recall, I think that he charged about $250 an hour then - over $1000 now. You get what you pay for. In America, you get all of the justice that you can afford.. He had taken cases to Michigan Supreme Court and won. If he could not win a $10,000 case in about 13 hours, it wasn’t worth filing. The insurance company could just say no, and get away with it and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, being one of the best insurance companies out there, was a good enough insurance company that it would not have been easy to pull together a class action suit against them. They are screwing with my meds now…

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 24, 2008 1:11 PM
Comment #246300

I will get back to the rest of your comments later, but now I am going down to work on Obama’s campaign…

I will Jum M. now though.

You wrote:

Where exactly in the constitution, or amendments to it, do you find the enabling sentence to legally confiscate my wealth or property to give to someone else?
Jim, where exactly in the Constitution does say it say anything about the bed rock underneath the ground that they stood on? There is bed rock there though. In any communication there are unstated assumptions. The Constitution gave the government powers. The government has always used its powers to raise money. where exactly to get money from without conscripting wealth??? The government still uses its powers to raise money. The government of president George Washington used its powers to forcefully raise money in order to reach societal objectives. General George Washington forcibly raised money to reach societal objectives. The founding fathers apparently did not think that people were so naive that they needed to spell out the fact that in a civilized society, a government will use its power to forcefully conscript the wealth that it needs to meet societal objectives. What they did was to attempt to give the people the power to determine what those societal objectives would be. That constitutional power has been subverted and given to corporations with the help and support of conservatives who try to gut the liberal intent of our founding fathers and shred the constitution by so literally and narrowly interpreting the constitution that it becomes meaningless.

I understand that our founding fathers were trying to be explicit, but they took some things for granted. You cannot communicate anything without taking some things for granted. I assume that you have some understanding of English. If I were going to communicate with you without that assumption, I would have to assume that you were a human being and shared a human experience. If were going to communicate with you without that assumption, I would have to assume that you were at least a sentient being and shared the experience sentience. If I were going to communicate with you without assuming that were at least sentient, I would have to assume that you were like a computer, lacking sentience, but having an ability to mechanically interpret symbols of some kind… No communication happens without assumptions. There are assumptions underlying the Constitution.

By the way, anytime the government conscripts wealth, they give some / most of it someone else. They don’t just take money from you and then give it all back although if you are a corporation, you may get more than you give but your money is still mixed with and given to other people.

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 24, 2008 1:55 PM
Comment #246308

ray

“That constitutional power has been subverted and given to corporations with the help and support of conservatives who try to gut the liberal intent of our founding fathers and shred the constitution by so literally and narrowly interpreting the constitution that it becomes meaningless.”

the liberal intent of the founding fathers you speak of would be classic liberalism, allowing the people the freedom to live thier lives as they pleased, and to persue thier own path of happiness in life. the liberalism you speak of which includes the redistribution of wealth from one citizen to another, in order to right some concieved societal injustice, was not thier intention.

the conscription of wealth you speak of, or taxation was only allowed to be collected in order to fund a the operation of gov’t, defense of the country, or maintaining nessesary infrastructure. the taking of the fruits of the labor of one in order to give it directly to another was not part of thier plan.

this is IMO how modern liberals have attempted to shred the original intent of the founding fathers.

Posted by: dbs at February 24, 2008 3:20 PM
Comment #246316

Our founding fathers were looking back at ancient aristocracies, filtered through the lens of the contemporary ones, and added some egalitarian principles more prevalent in Scotland and the Netherlands to get popular support, to establish their own aristocracy.

Although the religious trend in the 1770s was against slavery, favoring manumission in Virginia as well as the north, the property owners and property dealers won and protected the right of inheritance of their property, which reformers did not intend to confiscate.

People who had been complaining to the British government about the slave trade, found themselves living under a new government, more determined to enforce property rights, in spite of the claims of egalitarianism. For census purposes and apportionment, property was only counted as three fifths of a person, so two fifths of the property were already confiscated.

on sourciness, see
http://wikiality.com/Wikiality

Posted by: ohrealy at February 24, 2008 4:06 PM
Comment #246344

Jim M.,

My last comment to Russ, pretty much covers your last comment to him I think.

I was going to jump in between you and googlumpugus but decided to save my comments for my next article…

Posted by: Ray Guest at February 24, 2008 10:38 PM
Comment #247977

In this thread, I promised to write an article titled: Market Principals and Healthcare - so here it is.

Posted by: Ray Guest at March 14, 2008 9:42 PM
Post a comment