Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Conservative Conflagration

Conservatives are frustrated, confused and angry. They were positive they were right when they followed Ronald Reagan and merrily went about destroying government, which they were sure was the source of all our problems. The election of Barack Obama presented them with an extremely different worldview, one they find impossible to accept: Suddenly, government is no longer the problem; government is the solution. Thus we see unfolding a conservative conflagration.

Conservatives are indulging in a wild, emotional tantrum. They are like screaming adolescents who are sure they know better than their parents. They just yell and attack, whether it makes sense or not. They claim Obama is not a natural-born American, a socialist, a marxist, a fascist, a Nazi, a Muslim terrorist, a white-people hater; that he will destroy capitalism, is planning "death panels" to send infirm seniors to die, is preparing concentration camps and wants to destroy our liberties.

They attend healthcare townhall meetings where they scream, shout and interrupt the proceedings. They come with weapons! They do not want to discuss. They want to prevent others from discussion.

Of course, not all Republicans are emotional wrecks. But even many reasonable Republican leaders have lost their reason and are encouraging these emotional outbursts. They think chaos will hurt Obama and his liberal friends and bring back Republican conservatives to power. Boy, are they wrong!

Let's look at the basic political divide in this country between conservatism and liberalism. Conservatives believe in tradition, that government is the problem, and that the private sector should be free of government intervention. Liberals believe in modernism, that government can solve important problems and that the private sector needs to be regulated for the common good.

Most conservatives are well-to-do and white. Why should they change a system that is benefiting them so well? Most liberals are not doing so well economically and members of minority groups. For them, the system is not working very well, so they want to change it. They are a vast and growing majority.

Yes, it's more complicated than this. But these are the big differences.

In actuality, each of us is both conservative and liberal. For instance, I am liberal politically but conservative in money use and in social relationships. Similarly, many political conservatives may be liberal in money matters or in social relationships. I doubt very much that there are many people who are conservative about everything or liberal about everything.

As far as our democracy is concerned, we must have political liberals and political conservatives arguing with each other in order to solve our problems. We need conservatives to prevent liberals from going too far to the left, and we need liberals to prevent conservatives from going too far to the right. We need balance.

But we can't have balance when one side is hysterical. Far-right conservatives were terrified by Barack Obama's election as president. In a normal world (as they see it) this could not possibly happen. And yet it did. In complete disregard of a long tradition of white presidents, they are confronted with a black man as president. After years of free enterprise conservatism and a thriving private sector, they fear a Democratic government that will take over healthcare, which is about 1/6 of the total economy. After years of free conservative rule, they are running up smack against liberals who they claim will produce a police state.

These are the crazies. They are acting like chickens with their heads cut off. They scamper hither and fro screaming, yelling, shouting, threatening liberals and causing chaos wherever they go. They have no message. They just don't like things as they are. It's not really about healthcare. Whether healthcare reform happens or not, these crazies will rage on.

In this environment how do we get things done? What should Democrats do? There are those who say that now that Democrats are in power, they should ram liberal legislation through Congress and not worry about Republican support. I think this is wrong. It will force reasonable Republicans to support the crazies, thus giving the crazies more power to demolish our democratic procedures with their unhinged outbursts.

And there are reasonable Republicans who are forcefully speaking out against this know-nothing rage. One prominent Republican who favors stopping this emotional nonsense is David Frum:

It's not enough for conservatives to repudiate violence, as some are belatedly beginning to do. We have to tone down the militant and accusatory rhetoric. If Barack Obama really were a fascist, really were a Nazi, really did plan death panels to kill the old and infirm, really did contemplate overthrowing the American constitutional republic—if he were those things, somebody should shoot him.

But he is not. He is an ambitious, liberal president who is spending too much money and emitting too much debt. His health-care ideas are too ambitious and his climate plans are too interventionist. The president can be met and bested on the field of reason—but only by people who are themselves reasonable.

President Obama believes that it is smarter to indulge in what he calls bipartisanship. He knows very well that the chances of getting many Republican votes for healthcare reform are slim. His bipartisanship is not designed to get conservatives to vote for liberal policies, but to maintain a conversation with Republicans: Reasonable Democrats talking to reasonable Republicans to solve problems.

Democrats should follow President Obama's lead. Let's disregard the crazies, while at the same time talking to reasonable conservatives with respect. The result is bound to be better legislation. Also, the reasonable Republicans will rein in the crazies in their midst and eventually the health of the Republican Party will be restored. This will be good for both parties.

Democrats can quiet the emotional conflagration of extreme-right conservatives, thereby building a more democratic and prosperous society, by engaging in reasonable discussions with reasonable Republicans.

Posted by Paul Siegel at August 18, 2009 2:14 PM
Comment #286486

I very much agree with this assesment. The only problem is that conservatives win 9 times out of 10 because the average person responds way more strongly and acts more decicevly in the face of lie-bolstered fearmongering and appeals to deep-seeded fears and hatreds than to rational discourse. America is one of the largest centers of anti-intellectualism. People say they should be able to bring assault rifles to town hall meetings just because they are allowed to. This isn’t rational thought. People, especially the elderly, have responded to the health care reform just as the GOP knew they would.

A great book of which i cannot at this moment remember the title—I’ll post it later when I do remember—talks about the success of ruthlessness in poltics and in war. People must be able to be ruthless and then let go of that ruthlessness once the good has been done. Democrats by nature aren’t remotely ruthless, they are in fact quite weak compared to the absolute ruthlessness of the GOP.

It is nearly impossible to fight fanaticism—which the GOP is currently emplmoying expertly—with logic and reason. This is why health care reform will not work. This is why, in the end, the Republicans will always get their way even when they aren’t in power.

Posted by: Mike Falino at August 18, 2009 2:41 PM
Comment #286489

Contrary to all the ‘listen to the people’ rhetoric everyone espouses, politicians listen too much. Policy should be rammed down our throats. Judgement day should be election day. As it is, the voters want every day to be judgement day. This was intended to be a representative democracy for a reason.

Posted by: Schwamp at August 18, 2009 3:15 PM
Comment #286492


The basic flaw in your reasoning is that there are far more conservatives in America than Liberals. Conservatives now out number liberals by two to one.

Liberals are only about 20% of the populations. It is very hard to govern from the left.

There are to ways to divide the country, liberals, moderates and conservatives is one way. Democrats, Independents, and Republicans is another.

Republicans are pretty much out of favor with everyone including conservatives which gives Democrats currently an edge. What is bizarre is that Democrats are going down in flams almost the same way Republicans did. If Democrats continue on their path, Americans might need to start looking at the Republican party again. Already Republicans lead in some generic congressional polls.

If I were on the far left like you Paul I would enjoy your day in the sun. Governing from a 20% minority is something you will likely never see again in your lifetime.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at August 18, 2009 3:46 PM
Comment #286493

First off: This really is about health care.

Obama’s health care plan is a little thing called socialism. honestly. Conservatives aren’t just calling this plan a communistic idea for the fun of it.
The defense against this accusation so far has been that its only an option, and that you can keep your health care plan as is. But what happens when, like the majority of working Americans, your health care is payed for by your employer? Do you think that the employer will actually pay to have quality health care? or is he going to take the free option? of course he will go government health care. Not because it’s better, but because it’s free.
Then what? your stuck with the decision to pay for insurance that you weren’t currently paying for, and probably don’t have the money to any ways, or take the mediocre government plan.
And yes, mediocre. Have you heard the news about Canada? They’re all up in arms because they’re health care system is quickly imploding. The same model of health care Obama is pushing for.
Honestly i would rather get into the doctor right away for a knee replacement then have to wait three years that i can’t walk for a surgery.
By the way, what kind of quality doctors are we going to get, when they’re not being paid a fraction of what they were? Med school is expensive. Being a doctor is hard work. They deserve to be paid as much as they are. Who would want to go to 14 years of school and residency just to be paid like the average worker??

And conservatives don’t think government is the problem. We think too much power is a problem, which going to happen if we hand over a 6th of the economy to Obama, who has already got his paws on our car market.

So what I am saying is, conservatives aren’t just “chickens with they’re heads chopped off”. That’s just childish. If we’re going to call names, actually be able to back it up.

Posted by: Jack Denver at August 18, 2009 4:00 PM
Comment #286496

Jack Denver,
“Obama’s health care plan is a little thing called socialism. honestly. Conservatives aren’t just calling this plan a communistic idea for the fun of it.”

Do you consider Canada a socialist country? Japan? Greece? Turkey? The UK? France? Germany? Australia? The only wealthy country in the world which does not have universal health care is the United States. Very few people would refer to every other wealthy country in the world as socialist, or users of a “communistic idea,” but given the notorious insular and xenophobic nature of American conservativism, I suppose that may be the case.

If the US solution of private funding worked better than public funding, that would be great. However, that is simply not the case.

Ever wonder why the US has fewer doctors per capita than the UK? (Per capita, the National Health System in Britain has 2.5 doctors v 2.4 in the states). Ever wonder why Cuba actually exports doctors? The AMA intentionally restricts the number of doctors produced each year by our educational system. Don’t believe me? Ask any doctor. With US health care, it’s all about the money.

The best idea seems to be expanding Medicare to cover everyone. The system is already in place for everyone over the age of 65. Why not simply expand coverage?

Unless, of course, Medicare is a socialist, communistic idea.

Posted by: phx8 at August 18, 2009 4:42 PM
Comment #286497

The book I was referring to actually has a companion book. Both are by author Lee Harris. The Suicide of Reason, and Civilization and its Enemies. Both are phenomenal books that speak rather loudly about American politics, even if that wasn’t their goal or scope. Incidental brilliance is always great to behold.

Posted by: Mike Falino at August 18, 2009 4:49 PM
Comment #286498

Paul - I actually disagree with you on this one. When you look at electoral demographics you find that Republicans are very strong in the deep South - yet that’s where the most poverty is in this country. Liberals are strongest in the North-East - yet that’s where the money is. It’s not a question of affluence.

The real difference between conservatives and liberals is education. Anywhere you look, good schools lead to politics that tend to the left, and bad schools lead to politics that tend to the right.

I am being careful here to separate the concepts of education and intelligence - I’m not saying that liberals are smarter, I’m saying that the education that is provided to people who end up as liberals seems to be, on the whole, better.

I offer as evidence a chart I prepared a couple of years back illustrating the percentages of college graduates per state. I haven’t updated it, so you have to imagine number 3 (Colorado) and number 9 (Virginia) as blue states now. If you do, you find that the top 11 states for graduation are all blue, and the bottom 11 are all red. In fact, only 3 blue states are in the bottom half of the table, and only 6 red states are in the top half.

In addition, the college graduation rate in blue states is an average of 5% higher than in reds. The high school graduation rate is a less dramatic 2.7% - which is still a lot of people. (data gleaned from

Is this a coincidence? Doubtless our Republican friends will say so, but to me it seems that this, better than any other demographic data, is the real reason that we ally ourselves with one party or the other.

Well, except religion. But I’m not hitting that today…

Posted by: Jon Rice at August 18, 2009 4:58 PM
Comment #286499

Jack Denver,

Ask yourself some basic questions here.

Why does your employer offer you Health Insurance?

He does not have to.

He does it to compete for employees.

If a lower priced, comparable plan appears in the market place, what do you think other insurers will do?

If you are against a free market, then perhaps it is you who is advocating communism.

Can the government undercut insurance companies and force them out of the market? Of course they could. Would that be accepted by you or the rest of America? Doubtful.

The problem we have now is that Insurance is really a local market and dominated by a few companies. There are ways to improve this. Allowing cross state insurance and creating uniform standards for insurance are one way.

Having a public sector tax supported option, for those unable to afford any other, will eventually lower costs by allowing better care of chronic and acute conditions without resorting to emergency care.

If all employers run to this option, obviously something else would have to be done. Having a minimum wage has not caused employers to set all wages to the minimum. It isn’t likely all employers will set insurance to the minimum either.

Critical thinking is required in analyzing what is happening here. How did we get here? Who would lose out with a public option. Who would win if everyone was required to buy private insurance without a public option? Who is lobbying hard against reforms? Why?

If you cannot answer these questions, you aren’t doing any critical thinking.

Posted by: gergle at August 18, 2009 5:01 PM
Comment #286500


what i said wasn’t that Socialized health care would make it a socialist a whole communist nation, yet that it is a communistic idea.
so to answers your question, yes, all of those countries are using a socialistic view.

And if Cuban doctors are so great, why are thousands of Cubans fleeing to the US every year?
And how come thousands flock to the US from Canada, UK, Japan, Greece…, for our health care?

And yes, medicare is great for people over 65, because they aren’t working. they aren’t having insurance supplied to them by an employer.

And have you ever noticed the difference between all the countries with socialized health care and the US? The U.S. is the richest, most powerful nation in the world. We have seen by example in these countries that socialized health care isn’t working.
SO why would we want to follow them?

And please explain to me ho this isn’t a socialistic idea.

Posted by: Jack Denver at August 18, 2009 5:03 PM
Comment #286501


This is a deceptive article and while I haven’t researched the poll, if the article is accurate, then so is the poll.

Calculating percentages by state is a problem, because people don’t live by state. They mostly aggregate near large cities. This is where the most educated electorate resides. This is also where the largest liberal populations are.

Saying a state like Utah is conservative is fine, but the vast empty expanses of land don’t vote, people do. There is a reason the House doesn’t apportion members by state.

Posted by: gergle at August 18, 2009 5:05 PM
Comment #286504

The democrats can easily win the debate on health care. Simply inform the public that medicare will be gone within two years if a public option is not part of health care reform. Is it true? Who cares! Just keep repeating it. Death panels and euthanasia were not in the proposed legislation, yet these silly rumors continued for weeks and scared enough older people and independents to influence the bill. Watch them (senior citizens especially), respond to the fact that their medicare will be gone soon. The democrats have to show that two can play this game.

Posted by: Tom at August 18, 2009 5:17 PM
Comment #286505


That’s the thing, Who’s going to stop the government from undercutting the other companies? you say that it would be doubtful for that to be excepted. Lately all that’s been seen on the news is how everyone is overwhelmingly protesting this plan. Like Craig pointed out, the conservative ration is now 2 to 1. That’s twice as many people who don’t agree with this. And we’re still headed right for Obama’s plan.
So back to my point, you can’t compete with the government. when the government get’s involved with free enterprise, your just handing them more and more power and our freedom.

And who would win if we had to buy our own health care? Stats, and Obama say everyone with health care right now.
And the thing is, most hospitals won’t completely deny you care if you don’t have insurance. They are willing to set up a payment plan for you.

Who would loose out? lets imagine years down the road when socialized health care is the only option. you cant compete with something free, especially when the government is behind it.
Then what?

Posted by: Jack Denver at August 18, 2009 5:28 PM
Comment #286506

Jack Denver: ‘willing to set up a payment plan for you’????? I feel better already. Not.

Posted by: Jon Rice at August 18, 2009 5:31 PM
Comment #286507

Then we get the same good health care as places like the UK. Which, by the way, is nothing like what people are trying to make it seem like. Like most of the times someone decries something, the people who agree with it without questioning it often get what they deserve. People just assume its bad over in other places where health care is universal because they’re told its bad…

Posted by: Mike Falino at August 18, 2009 5:32 PM
Comment #286508

Tom, exactly! That’s what I mean by ruthlessness. It’s basically unfortunate that the only way for people to listen to reason is for the people trying to do the right thing to lie to them and scare them into accepting the truth. But the GOP does it now. Imagine if the Dems started doing that, the GOP would turn around and be like “look, they’re lying to you to get you to believe their lies!”

Posted by: Mike Falino at August 18, 2009 5:34 PM
Comment #286509

“And how come thousands flock to the US from Canada, UK, Japan, Greece…, for our health care?”

Wealthy people will always be able to fly to the country with the technological advances and expertise to treat them, whether it is Switzerland, the US, South Africa, or elsewhere. No one is concerned about the ability of wealthy people to obtain great medical care. It is the other 90% if the population we are attempting to address.

“And have you ever noticed the difference between all the countries with socialized health care and the US? The U.S. is the richest, most powerful nation in the world. We have seen by example in these countries that socialized health care isn’t working.”

I don’t understand this argument. The US is richer and the US has a bigger military. What does this have to do with socialized health care, other than indirectly noting the US spends as much as the rest of the world combined on its military? Also, simply saying “socialized health care isn’t working” in other countries does not make that true. The US has the most expensive health care system in the world per capita, yet our system does not cover 50 million people, lacks portability, and ranks behind the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. US health care ranks behind all of these “socialist” countries for “access to health care, patient safety, timeliness of care, efficiency and equity. Americans were also last in terms of whether they had a regular physician.”

Socialism is usually defined as owning the means of production. I’m not sure this qualifies as socialism, but does that matter if it works better than the current capitalist system?

Posted by: phx8 at August 18, 2009 5:45 PM
Comment #286511

Jon Rice,
So what your saying Jon is that honestly paying off a medical bill is just a terrible thing to even think about? You would much rather have the government hand feed you everything you need?

“A government big enough to supply everything you need, is big enough to take everything you have away.”
-Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: Jack Denver at August 18, 2009 5:52 PM
Comment #286512

The free-market pharmacies, the free-market insurance companies and the free-market medical corpaucracy, leaves out about 55,000,000 Americans from reasonable health care. That number is growing daily by about 30,000 per week, and all others are paying more for less care. If it takes a social program to fix that problem, so be it. No American, no matter how poor or insignificant a citizen is, he does not deserve to waste away for lack of care that the more fortunate take for granted. If we encourage that, we can hardly be termed ‘American’.

Lack of good regulation has brought a great nation to its knees, and the Republicans want to kick us over…go figure.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 18, 2009 5:58 PM
Comment #286513


I know! Isn’t it sad that the GOP is going to allow senior citizens to lose their health care benefits. Why would they do such a thing?

Posted by: Tom at August 18, 2009 6:01 PM
Comment #286514

Jack Denver,

It is what conservatives don’t know that they don’t know, which makes their ideology dangerous. America is a partly socialist country and has been since its inception. Since our beginning, Americans have entrusted our individual and collective freedoms to the power of government. Ever heard of the Police? Yes, our law enforcement and justice systems, those greatest threats to individual liberty and freedom, have from the beginning, been entrusted to the government, paid for by enforced taxation by government (the people’s representatives), for the public good.

Our military - Socialist and Centralized Authoritarian Command structure from George Washington to the present day.

Our Interstate Highway System upon which private sector business absolutely depends, Socialist in its creation and maintenance.

Our national guard, Socialist and Authoritarian run.

Our public education system, socialist by design.

Our Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services, Socialist, paid for with taxation and run by government.

Social Security. Socialist.

Veteran’s Administration - Socialist by design and the best and most cost effective health care to be found in America.

Our entire Air transportation network management, governed by the Federal Aviation Administration, Socialist by design.

NASA, Hubble Telescope, and the most profound cosmological discoveries of the last 50 years, all bought and paid for Socialist programs.

Our prison systems, still most Socialist, with dubious records and law suits piling up for some of those few private sector prisons.

Our National and State Parks, unprecedented in the world today, all Socialist by design and management.

If conservatives are so opposed to Socialism, they must, by definition, be anti-America, since our very governments themselves, federal, state, and local, are all socialist, funded and administered by public taxation, public servants paid for by socialized taxation.

Conservatives throw the word Socialist about like a 4 letter dirty word, when in fact, this nation was founded upon a mixed economic design of capitalism for the entrepreneurial and their labor force, and socialism for public infrastructure, defense, protective services and just a little later by growing socialist infrastructure like Land Grant colleges, public education, transportation management.

What conservatives don’t know, and won’t acknowledge, is that our mixed economic design of capitalism and socialism is responsible for our nation winning WWI and WWII, and becoming the greatest and most prosperous middle class on earth. Conservatives have an ideology that says all things capitalist and privately owned and managed are vastly superior to publicly owned and managed endeavors. But, that ideology is patently false, as the Savings & Loan debacle, and mortgage industry and banking sector and private Wall St rating agencies, not to mention private hedge funds and credit default swap markets have so amply demonstrated.

Private enteprise without socialized oversight and regulation is a doomsday scenario. Were it not our socialized approach to bailing out the banks last year from their capitalism run amok, unemployment would now be at LEAST double what it is now, and business bankruptcies would be triple or more than what they are now for the lack of credit availability, and the national debt and deficit would not be a lot different than what it is now, since federal revenues would have dropped precipitously with the doubling or more of unemployment and triple or more business failures reducing federal revenues.

It is the relative mix and interaction of socialism and capitalism that should be our nation’s and public’s focus and debate, not whether or not America is socialist or capitalist, because America has NEVER been one or the other, and NEVER COULD BE in the future.

But, conservatives, and liberals alike, adhere tenaciously to their extremist ideological views and demonize each other like two kids in a playground calling each other names, rather than accepting the reality of the situation they they are both in the playground at the same time and devising ways to make that reality a positive experience from and for both of them.

Democrats and Republicans are the ONLY two kids in the playground, and are responsible for everything that happens in it. Seems to me, it is time for them both to grow up and knock off the epithets and name calling, and get down to the rational adult business of maximizing their experience and management of their time and resources in that playground.

The private sector health care system is failing America economically, and failing to provide for the health management of nearly 50 million Americans, a growing number. If conservatives would work with the liberals instead of against them, a cost sustainable universal health care system could and would be devised. But, with the exception of perhaps 3 Republican Senators, Republicans refuse to walk down that path toward finding a workable resolution that will save our economic future. And there is no longer any intelligent debate over the fact that our spiraling private sector and public sector health care costs pose the greatest threat to our economic and financial future.

Stop demagoguing the issue and accept the reality that the GOP is the minority Party. If the GOP can’t handle their role as minority party constructively, why on earth should American voters trust them with majority party status in the future?

I read that in the current Committee health care bills, there are over 160 REPUBLICAN amendments which have been added. That should be great news but, it isn’t even known to the public because of the Grassley’s and Boehner, Rush and Palin commentary demagoguing the whole debate over false and irrelevant issues.

Trying to hurt the winner, out of spite and retribution for having lost, is about as immature and pre-adolescent a behavior as I have ever witnessed. And that is precisely the kind of behavior I witness every day coming from conservatives and Republicans alike. Not all of them. But, enough to really damage the image of conservativism and the GOP in the eyes of those who have learned the lessons of good sportsmanship, cooperation and the synergy benefits which cooperation provides for oneself and others, alike.

Socialism is not a bad word. And socialist policy is as American as public schools, police and fire departments, and our greatest military power on earth. Just as capitalist private enterprise entrepreneurial protections in law are as American and necessary as electric power companies and hot dog vendors at our sports arenas. Let’s move past this false and childish name calling toward solutions that will achieve our nation’s goals and objectives to remain and continue to aspire to become a more perfect union of people, not warring political camps of the immature and irresponsible.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 18, 2009 6:05 PM
Comment #286516

Jack Denver: Health insurance is just that. Insurance. Healthcare is provided to those who need it and the cost of that healthcare is defrayed by the people who don’t need it. It’s just like car insurance - it’s there when you need it, but you still have to pay it if you don’t.

I’m not saying that it’s a handout: in fact I’m surprised at the ignorance inherent in the question. A government healthcare insurance scheme would provide healthcare to those who need it, when they need it. It’s paid for by all of us, so that any of us can use it when it’s needed. What’s so hard to understand?

When I say that ‘we’ll set up a payment plan’ doesn’t sound very appealing, consider the circumstance. Suppose I need chemotherapy after an MRI, and am then presented with a $60,000 healthcare bill - that would take the rest of my life to pay off. If ever. What you’re saying is ‘honest work’ should be my response. What really happens is that the people who need the treatment don’t get it and die. Or they go and go bankrupt. Nobody wins when healthcare is impossibly unaffordable.

Or maybe you think that survival of the richest is the best way to deal with this?

Posted by: Jon Rice at August 18, 2009 6:12 PM
Comment #286517


If the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada all rank better than America for Health care, than why are they coming here?

It could do with the fact that You don’t have to wait 4 years for treatment here.

I checked your source which was oh so surprisingly from an ultra left wing sight promoting Obama-care. Those kinds of surveys are always completed with an agenda in mind, always wanting the outcome to be just they way they want it.

And my argument is, why would we be following the example of countries that have been failing for years?

“I’m not sure this qualifies as socialism, but does that matter if it works better than the current capitalist system?”

would you please give me one example where socialism has ever worked?

Posted by: Jack Denver at August 18, 2009 6:17 PM
Comment #286518

Jack Denver: repeating right-wing talking points doesn’t make them true. You don’t have to wait four years for care in the UK. I can’t speak about the others, because I never lived in those countries, but I repeat: you do NOT have to wait four years, three years, two years, one year, six months, or one month for treatment in the UK. Very occasional specialist treatments may take a while, but on the whole you’re treated immediately. I know this through personal experience. So tell me what it is that you do, that you have personal experience of the healthcare systems in the UK, New Zealand, Germany, Australia and Canada - it must be fun.

Posted by: Jonathan Rice at August 18, 2009 6:38 PM
Comment #286523

Our private insurance companies at work:

Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006. During that period, it paid its senior analyst in charge of cancellations more than $20,000 in bonuses based in part on her meeting or exceeding annual targets for revoking policies, documents disclosed Thursday showed.

….Health Net had sought to keep the documents secret even after it was forced to produce them for the hearing, arguing that they contained proprietary information and could embarrass the company. But….at a hearing on the motion, the judge said, “This clearly involves very significant public interest, and my view is the arbitration proceedings should not be confidential.”


Posted by: Tom at August 18, 2009 7:44 PM
Comment #286525


Again, Critical thinking is important here:

That’s the thing, Who’s going to stop the government from undercutting the other companies? you say that it would be doubtful for that to be excepted. Lately all that’s been seen on the news is how everyone is overwhelmingly protesting this plan. Like Craig pointed out, the conservative ration is now 2 to 1. That’s twice as many people who don’t agree with this. And we’re still headed right for Obama’s plan.

You are, and us liberals. I said elimination of real competition and choices would be rejected. It’s been rejected by Obama, if you listen to what he actually says.

What isn’t being rejected, by Americans, is real choice and competition which a public plan would bring about, instead of the oligopoly that exists now. Remember the right track/wrong track polls? McCain’s ideas about healthcare was way off on those.

What is actually in the “news”, if you read reliable sources and more than right wing tilted services, is a few loud protests and an organized PR campaign of falsehoods, not a massive rejection by Americans.

Conservatives, as vague as that term is, do not outnumber Liberals. Read my rebuttal to Craig. Simply repeating slogans and headlines will not leave you informed. In some ways I consider myself conservative, but I in no way align myself with the radical nonsense that “conservatives” who rant and rave on TV believe. I also think of myself as progressive or liberal in some ways, but certainly didn’t find myself aligned with peaceniks and hippies of the 70’s or even today.

I am a thinking centrist. I think you’ll find we are a true majority in America.

Posted by: gergle at August 18, 2009 8:28 PM
Comment #286527

Tom, because they honestly don’t care about anything but being in power and getting richer. There is honestly no way anyone can justify what the GOP is doing other than in light of greed and power lust. How else do you explain their actions, antics, and approach to anything that would benefit more, most, the majority of, or all Americans and put the few privileged elite on the same playing field as those who make $9.50 an hour? We preach that capitalism is so perfect, but when a system rewards greed and as a business practice screws as much people as possible to make the most money, how perfect is that?

I’ve said it before, some things have to be out of the hands of capitalist influence. If you make health care about profit, that’s all there will be, profit, no care!

Posted by: Mike Falino at August 18, 2009 8:36 PM
Comment #286528

Perhaps you would prefer statistics from the CIA Factbook, 2008.

Did you know the US ranks 50th in Life expectancy? We rank just ahead of Albania!

Did you know the US ranks 45th in Infant Mortality? We rank just ahead of Cuba!

Now, I’ve provided quotes from an acceptable source which demolish your argument. Clearly, the health care of so-called socialist countries does better than the US. By the way, it does that at a fraction of the cost!

You claim people wait for four years for treatment in other countries, and that they come to the US for treatment. I have to say, I’ve never known someone coming to the US from another country for treatment, but since you insist on stating this as a way of supporting your argument, please provide your source.

Posted by: phx8 at August 18, 2009 8:38 PM
Comment #286530

Here’s an example of pro-reform supporters actually getting out and making their voices heard. I’m actually stunned anyone is reporting on this. I guess its not all just people “scared and angry” about “moving this country towards socialism”. Apparently some people have a brain and free will and don’t just follow the kool-aid bandwagon…

Posted by: Mike Falino at August 18, 2009 8:48 PM
Comment #286535

Incidentally; from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

LIBERALISM: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class).

Bill Clinton had his Monica; we have this moniker. His wasn’t, and this isn’t, worth being scared of.

Posted by: Jonathan Rice at August 18, 2009 9:15 PM
Comment #286540

It’s like the universe knows…

Posted by: Mike Falino at August 18, 2009 10:26 PM
Comment #286541


While I don’t disagree with the sentiment of your post, I think that we should be careful with definitions. You mentioned the following programs as socialist institutions:

  • Our military
  • Our Interstate Highway System
  • Our national guard
  • Our public education system
  • Our Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services
  • Social Security
  • Veteran’s Administration
  • Air transportation network management

I question these as socialists institutions based on the commonly accepted definition of “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.”

Most if not all of these are not by any shape form of fashion concerned with making sure that the “means of productions” or “the distribution of capital” is done to the community as a whole.

Instead, the programs that you have listed are arms of the state:

  • Our military
  • Our national guard
  • Veteran’s Administration

Social security is a government savings program/ ponzi scheme. During the initial crafting of the legislation, it tetered on socialism; however, means testing was eliminated from the program. So the government is really just forcing us to save our own money.

Fire Departments and EMS services are not socialist institutions. They are really social insurance programs. They were developed because in the absence of private hands having any desire to do the job. There was no seizing of the means of production to do this. Citizens and then later government just organized to fill the niche. EMS services are privatized to a great degree in many cities. In others, they are an extension of the fire services (though they may be organized separately now).

Public Education competes among many other choices for education in this country. It was initially founded in the absence of better alternatives to service those not able to use the private options. In many ways it is analogous to the public option that is being proposed for healthcare. A private option will continue, but a public option will be there as a safety net.

The interstate highway system at its founding was also in the service of the miltary and essentially was a military product. This and the Air Transportation network, I’ve always considered the closest to true socialist programs that we have in the country. The roads in particular involved the seizing of land (in many cases, but not all) from the private citizens who owned it, and turning it over to the citizens.

I know this may seem like a difference without a distinction, but I think in terms of diffusing the criticism of the healthcare reform it is important not to let the terms of those against it become the sole language of expression.

Our entire Air transportation network management, governed by the Federal Aviation Administration, Socialist by design.

NASA, Hubble Telescope, and the most profound cosmological discoveries of the last 50 years, all bought and paid for Socialist programs.

Our prison systems, still most Socialist, with dubious records and law suits piling up for some of those few private sector prisons.

Our National and State Parks, unprecedented in the world today, all Socialist by design and management.

Posted by: Rob at August 18, 2009 10:51 PM
Comment #286542

I made a mistake in my last post, please ignore below “Our entire Air transportation…” these are David’s words that I mistakenly cut and forgot to delete.


Posted by: Rob at August 18, 2009 10:53 PM
Comment #286543

Mike Falino: my mother is in charge of swine flu preparation for a large county in England. She tells me that it will be by far the biggest health problem in the country over the winter, even possibly preventing walk-ins. Apparently the entire NHS is on high alert. Naturally the right wing nutjobs will be preparing too, telling us all that our socialist govt is lying to us. Plus ca change, eh?

Posted by: Jonathan Rice at August 18, 2009 10:56 PM
Comment #286544

Rob said: “I question these as socialists institutions based on the commonly accepted definition of “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.””

Au contraire, mon ami. Let’s take a look at these institutions against your definition.

# Our military

Does the government not own all the military bases and installations and the real estate which they sit upon? Does the government not employ those who work (production) in these installations? (We are afterall a predominantly service economy, not manufacturing, ergo, services have to be incorporated into your outdated definition from the early 20th century when we were largely a physical product producing nation.) And does not the military provide a service to the nation’s population as a whole?

# Our Interstate Highway System

Same deal. Government owns the land, and infrastructure upon it. Government maintains these structures in service of the nation as a whole.

# Our national guard

Same as military. Except by shared ownership between the State governments and the Federal, as with the Interstate Highway system.

Same facts apply to fire and police, Veteran’s Administration, and public public schools. Capital owned by the government, employees paid by the government, to service the needs of the public. All meet your definition to a TEE.

Which leaves Social Security and Air Transportation.

No reasonable argument can deny that the Social Security Administration is not a socialized institution. Just because their real estate and building holdings (capital) represent a smaller footprint than the military, doesn’t negate the definition.

Now, I may have to concede a bit on Air Transportation as a whole, in which the infrastructure and capital is largely privately owned. But, then, I didn’t refer to the entire system. I specifically referred to “Air transportation network management”. Whether government controls or owns outright the institution provding the market place’s demand for goods or services, is a minor point of pedantry. The government determines how that system shall be operated and maintained, in part, and controls customer access at will. I think that qualifies as a beneficial socialized management network even though it is shared in partnership with private entity corporations.

So, yes, America is a mixture of capitalist and socialist organizations and entities, and services. What is amazing is that this has been true from the beginning of our first public schools, fire and police departments, professional military and conscription. Then there were all those public works projects, the TVA, Hoover Dam, and thousands of others under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers and Department of the Interior, to include national parks, Bureau of Land Management, and the Soil Conservation Districts.

It is about the mix. The question of socialist vs. capitalist was answered a couple hundred years ago. Why conservatives and the GOP can’t catch up on their history is truly perplexing if one ignores the obvious motivation in ignoring its existence, to perpetuate a divide and conquer political strategy using the under educated as their population support base along side their corporate sponsors where their investments, or investment hopes lie.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 18, 2009 11:25 PM
Comment #286546
Did you know the US ranks 50th in Life expectancy? We rank just ahead of Albania!

Did you know that ‘life expectancy’ is a meaningless stat when discussing healthcare because it take into account too many things that healthcare cannot be responsible for.

For example: suicide, homicide, accidents (like automobile, airplane, etc), lifestyle choices like eating unhealthy or smoking cigarettes, etc.

The stat is how dangerous it is to live in the US, not how bad the healthcare system is. When you remove those types of deaths from the numbers, the life expectancy in the US suddenly goes much higher…

Did you know the US ranks 45th in Infant Mortality? We rank just ahead of Cuba!

Did you know the reason for that is they way that infant mortality is calculated?

Investigating Infant Mortality

It turns out that once we condition on infant birthweight–a significant predictor of infant health–the U.S. has equivalent infant mortality rates. In fact U.S. infant mortality is lower for low-birthweight babies than Canadian infant mortality for low birthweight babies. Overall infant mortality, however, is higher in the U.S. because the incidence of babies with low birthweight is higher than in Canada. This may be due to demographic or epidemiological factors, or it may be the case that the U.S. is better at having a live birth for a low birthweight baby.

Overall Mortality Differences

Why do Canadians live longer. One reason is due to the excess number of accidents and homicides in the U.S. compared to Canada. In fact 50%-85% of the mortality gap between American and Canadian adults in their twenties can be explained by the increased American accident/homicide rates. For people over 50, 30-50% of the difference in age-specific mortality rates can be attributed to the excess number of heart disease patients in the U.S. These heart disease findings are more likely driven by American lifestyle choices rather than the efficacy of the U.S. medical system.

The quoted text is from

Now, I’ve provided quotes from an acceptable source which demolish your argument. Clearly, the health care of so-called socialist countries does better than the US. By the way, it does that at a fraction of the cost!

And I’ve provided quotes that clearly show that the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Any thinking person would rather be seen by an American doctor than anywhere else in the world…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 18, 2009 11:29 PM
Comment #286549

Your dancing around.We can do better.Numbers don’t tell the whole story but they tell a story. Lifestyle choices, accident rates,violence ARE health problems.

Posted by: bills at August 18, 2009 11:57 PM
Comment #286554

“Lifestyle choices, accident rates, violence ARE health problems.” That’s kind of amusing, and it’s a devastating rebuttal, but it is also kind of sad. Rhinehold’s counter ignores the concept of preventative health care, counseling, and the possibility that Canadian doctors might actually be better doctors, because they prevent young people from dying of their wounds and injuries, and becoming homicide statistics or car accident fatalaties or whatever and so contributing to the life expectancy numbers.

“Any thinking person would rather be seen by an American doctor than anywhere else in the world…”

That is really an unfortunate comment. Think about it.

Posted by: phx8 at August 19, 2009 12:34 AM
Comment #286555

The way insurance actually works is something like this. A doctor used to visit a local retirement and nursing home, and bill medicare and private insurance companies for visits to all the patients, including those that the doctor never actually saw. After a fuss was raised, this doctor was replaced with another doctor, who came in with a team of 4 interns, and began xraying every patient, in order to have something to bill to justify the expense of the practice. Are these doctors good health care professionals that are helping people, or businessmen creating their own profits?

Posted by: ohrealy at August 19, 2009 12:34 AM
Comment #286557

phx8, especially since most of the best doctors here are from India or another Asian country. Almost every one of my mother’s doctors has an impossibly thick accent and most of them got their degrees not in this country.

I love how the thought that “everything American is better” is so pervasive that it is just assumed in this debate. It’s stunning really…

Posted by: Mike Falino at August 19, 2009 12:37 AM
Comment #286559

Mike Falino: I’ve experienced the American healthcare system during a catastrophic illness, and the English healthcare system after two serious accidents. (Crappy luck - both of them caused by other drivers.) There’s no comparison. The ‘socialist’ English system wins hands-down. Imagine getting hit by a car, then taken to a hospital, treated, cured, released, and receiving a card in the mail hoping that your recovery is going well. Yeah. That’s the English system. Now imagine getting a serious illness, getting arguments that you aren’t eligible for treatment, going home and getting sicker, getting admitted as an emergency patient, diagnosed two days later, told that you need to be able to prove insurance coverage (that they argue is a pre-existing condition) and finally, reluctantly, treated even though you have private health insurance. Yeah, that’s the American way - and now I have no insurance at all, thanks to the COBRA rules, I guess I’ll just politely die and make this forum a little easier for the people who think that healthcare is a privilege and not a right.

Posted by: Jonathan Rice at August 19, 2009 12:57 AM
Comment #286560

I should mention, before all the right-wingers come out accusing me of wanting a hand-out: between the years 2000 and 2008 I estimate that I and my employers paid over $40,000 into the pockets of my insurers, during which time I incurred a slight ear infection and a visit to the doctor for a persistent but untreatable shoulder injury. There’s no handout here - and I don’t even need my money back. I’ll refrain from imputing motives - I just dare any one of you people, left or right, who opposes universal healthcare, to tell me why I don’t deserve to live.

Posted by: Jonathan Rice at August 19, 2009 1:09 AM
Comment #286570

Rhinehold said: “For example: suicide, homicide, accidents (like automobile, airplane, etc), lifestyle choices like eating unhealthy or smoking cigarettes, etc.”

Pure opinion. And illogical and unfounded upon empirical evidence. A nation’s annual death toll outside of civil war, is hardly impacted by suicides, homicide, vehicular accidents, etc. Lifestyle choices do not affect the death rate. Everyone dies and will be included in the nation’s death toll rate.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 19, 2009 9:25 AM
Comment #286571

The Obama opponents are using exactly the same playbook that the Bush opponents used. Get use to it. Perhaps next we might even have a conservative anti war movement since the Left has decided Obaba’s conduct and escaltion of war is a better strategy than Bush/Cheny Rumsfeld. What a bunch of sniveling hypocrites

Posted by: phil at August 19, 2009 9:34 AM
Comment #286585

I do not understand your comment. I doubt anyone does. How is Obama using the same playbook as Bush? That makes no sense.

A majority of Americans, primarily on the left, believe we should withdraw from Afghanistan. The minority who support staying are primarily on the right. No one is dwelling on this because it’s a mess, and everyone wants to give Obama a fair chance to see if he can somehow clean it up. Personally, I think we should leave. The chance to make a difference flew out the window a long time ago, about the same time as when Osama bin Laden made his escape, and the US squandered its blood and treasure in the deserts of Iraq, along with buckets and buckets of Iraqi blood.

Posted by: phx8 at August 19, 2009 11:31 AM
Comment #286588

Here’s all I have to say about the current state of health care in this country. Mine just went up 40% with a private insurance company. Combine that with all the other rising costs that aren’t even mentioned and the public option seems to me to be the best possible solution right now. The private sector would just as soon watch you die than do anything to reduce your pain. Whether it be in your wallet on in your body. All they care about is money noone cares about anything else these days but money. Look back through history as to why civilizations crumble and fall and you’ll find your fair share of greed as the leading cause of decay.

Posted by: Victor R Romano at August 19, 2009 12:07 PM
Comment #286644


You said, “Au contraire, mon ami. Let’s take a look at these institutions against your definition.”

You only looked at the first half of the definition. There is a difference between the government providing services and the government distributing the fruits of those services. To be socialist, the government must not only own the means of production, but they must “of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.”

In no instance that you cited does the government do this. This is this difference between social services and socialism. In socialism, there is a notion of profit from the enterprise that is redistributed. Therein lies the difference.

Posted by: Rob at August 20, 2009 1:21 AM
Comment #286651

Rob said: “To be socialist, the government must not only own the means of production, but they must “of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.””

That sentence makes no sense. They must ‘of the means…’?

Please explain this non-sensical statement. There is a connecting word, adjective, or noun missing in its construction.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 20, 2009 7:19 AM
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