Democrats & Liberals Archives

Flimsy Frames

The Republican Party is trying their hardest to stand up for the American people and stop, at all costs, President Obama’s takeover of healthcare. The only problem is that the Republicans are, in defining the terms of the debate as they have, standing up for nothing at all. Whether the proposed public health care option is good or not, it certainly isn’t a takeover of the health care business. Last time I checked UPS, FedEx, and DHL all provide cost effective alternatives to the government run postal system. And guess what, the government option turns out to be just as efficient as any of its competitors.

The problem with the healthcare debate is that not only is there no actual debate going on, but the points people are stressing tend not to be hard facts and concepts. Proof of this is in the Republican opposition to healthcare reform. It’s one thing to be against the proposed system because of fiscal concerns, matters of implementation, etc., but it is another thing entirely to use scare tactics based on outright lies and rhetoric to try and kill any reform at all. The Republicans aren’t trying to get the Democrats to propose a better bill—notice the GOP hasn’t proposed a bill of their own—they’re just trying to make sure that nothing changes, and that private insurance companies can continue to laugh all the way to the bank while tens of millions of Americans live in constant fear.

The American people have proven themselves quite gullible, and in most cases this comes from their own inherent ignorance—willing more often than not—of the realties of critical issues. It’s one thing for concerned citizens to show up at town halls and demand their representatives provide details of how this plan would work. But it is another thing entirely for people to show up screaming at the top of their lungs that the government is trying to take over everyone’s lives, or that the public plan would require death panels—which happen to exist with private companies already. Those who defend these sheeple try and point out that the plan is inherently flawed. That might be the case, but when people under the direct influence and mental guidance of the Republican Party are spouting such nonsense they obviously aren’t thinking very critically at all.

I would say it’s insulting that so many people fall pretty to this sort of political influence of thought, but I’m more ashamed that those of us who recognize this game are powerless to enlighten these folks to what is happening. Unfortunately one of the hardest things to do is change anyone’s mind about anything. Many opponents of the public option are simply finding a venue for their hate of the president, or are simply embracing deeply rooted concepts of what America is supposed to be and reacting with anger to the fabricated destruction of that false ideal.

There are times I am very proud to be an American, but those times are few and far between compared to the times I am thankful for being a human being. But the propensity for Americans to think lucidly about critical aspects of their lives, and collapse under the comfortable weight of stupidity and ignorance makes me, at times like this, ashamed to be an American and a human being. How a country founded directly on the principles of the enlightenment can have its collective head shoved so far up its perceived past is beyond me.

Posted by Michael Falino at September 2, 2009 5:54 PM
Comments
Comment #287374

Michael Falino wrote, “The American people have proven themselves quite gullible, and in most cases this comes from their own inherent ignorance—willing more often than not—of the realties of critical issues.”

Good point and I would like to reinforce that statement with a brief review of two of our largest social programs…Social Security and Medicare.

President Obama and his congressional supporters estimate that his health care plan will cost between $50 and $65 billion a year. Let’s take a look at the proposals and promises that were made with programs that already exist.

In 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion and the House ways and means committee along with President Johnson estimated that Medicare would cost an inflation-adjusted $12 billion by 1990. In 1990, Medicare topped $107 billion. Well, they only under-estimated by $95 billion.

Today’s Medicare comes to $420 billion and expected to grow by huge amounts each year.

Section 1801 of the 1965 Medicare Act reads; “Nothing in this title shall be construed to authorize any federal officer or employee to exercise any supervision or control over the practice of medicine, or the manner in which medical services are provided, or over the selection, tenure, or compensation of any officer, or employee, or any institution, agency or person providing health care services.”

I know for certain that my personal physician would disagree that that is the case today. How about your physician?

Let’s take a look at the proposed tax increases the WH and congress are proposing. During 2006, roughly 43.4 million tax returns, representing 91 million individuals had no federal tax liability out of a total of 136 million federal tax returns. If we add to the 91 million the 15 million households and individuals who file no tax return at all we have roughly 121 million Americans, 41% of the U.S. population who are completely outside the federal income tax system. It is not illogical to assume that since they have no federal income tax obligation, why would they care about higher taxes or tax cuts?

In a 1936 government pamphlet on SS we read, “After the first 3 years (1940) you will pay, and your employer will pay, 1.5 cents for each earned dollar up to $3,000 a year, and, beginning in 1943, you and your employer will pay 2 cents for every dollar and then, in 1949, you and your employer will each pay 3 cents on each earned dollar up to $3,000 per year.”

Congress said, “That is the most you will ever pay.” Ha…Ha!

The reality today is that Medicare payroll tax is 7.65 cents on each earned dollar up to about $107,000 in income or $8,185 per year.

If we attempt to project the future by studying the past how can we possibly have any confidence in the cost estimates being projected on national health care by the WH or congress?

To paraphrase Michael Falino,The American people have proven themselves quite gullible in the past, and in most cases this comes from their own inherent ignorance. Can we be a little more educated and smart this time around?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 2, 2009 7:26 PM
Comment #287377

People just don’t want to be smart. Ignorance, after all, is bliss. Try it. Don’t watch the news. Don’t read up about what’s going on online. Fall back on comfortable beliefs and traditional knowledge, and see how easy it is to jump to conclusions—either way—and shoot off your mouth. It’s great fun, really.

The reason we are in the state we are is that our founding fathers actually believed that people would take a modicum of interest in how they are governed and what happens after election day. We blame the government for being corrupt and yet at some point things had to have gotten to a point where the people could have voted for real change early on, but didn’t. We now have a system that is completly broken and cannot be fixed. We pretend that it matters which party is in power, but it doesn’t.

People can be educated about this health care issue until their eyeballs fall out, but is it in their hands in the end? When the time comes to elect the next group of representatives people will still fall back on party affiliations, local news papers written at elementary school reading and comprehension levels, and whatever someone who sounds smarter than them tells them to think.

We live in a time and country with the largest ever push of anti-intellectualism, and we expect things to get better?

People don’t want change, they want things “they way they were”, which happens to be a time that never existed…

Posted by: Mike Falino at September 2, 2009 8:04 PM
Comment #287381

Michael:

I am so glad we gullible Americans have liberals like you to enlighten us, and make our decisions for all of us.

I am glad you are the keeper of knowledge. Makes me feel secure inside!!

Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 2, 2009 8:26 PM
Comment #287389

Craig Holmes,
Like I said before. I wish republicans and democrats were not liberals, if only one major party was conservative. But I agree with you, education itself is a liberal idea.

Posted by: kudos at September 2, 2009 9:24 PM
Comment #287391

Craig Holmes, obviously you missed my point. Thanks!

Posted by: Mike Falino at September 2, 2009 9:42 PM
Comment #287398
[E]ducation itself is a liberal idea.

That is true, at least if you’re talking about educaton for the masses, but that is classic “liberalism” in a way that has nothing to do with how we define liberal and conservative in modern America. Arguably, the United States itself is an experiment in classical liberalism. And is it “conservative” to try to preserve this experiment? Yes indeed. I don’t know of any American “conservatives” who believe that only the clergy and royalty should be educated, which was an idea overcome by classical liberalism.

As for the Democrats’ healthcare proposals and the Republican reactions against it, there is plenty of lying, grandstanding, and attempts to mislead the public to go around.

How many people saying that opposition to these proposals is based on lies and deception have actually read the proposals themselves? Damn near zero percent. So how do they know the truths from the lies?

What they “know” to be the “truth” is simply what they’re being told by like-minded partisans. And since they already consider their political opponents to be dishonest, whatever they say must be a “lie.” Anyone noticed how many of their elected representatives stumping for health care reform actually admit that they’ve never even read the proposals?

Being an informed and educated citizen does not mean that you simply need to believe the press releases from either the White House or the Republican National Committee.

Posted by: Paul at September 2, 2009 10:40 PM
Comment #287408

Paul,

It would be nice for all of us to be informed and up-to-date on every bill before Congress, but it’s not very practical. We supposedly elect qualified folks to represent us who will read those bills and vote according to their understanding of them.

Our mistake is not in lack of understanding of the bills…our mistake is in selecting representatives who can’t or won’t read them…or can’t or won’t vote according to their understanding of them.

When a Republican official holds a ‘town-hall’ meeting and lies about the contents of a bill he/she hasn’t read, and then encourages individuals within the group to shout down those who would inquire of the content of the bill or who would like to voice a contrary opinion of the value of the bill, it is hardly ‘representative’.

When a Democratic representative conducts such a meeting, and cannot provide his/her take on the bill because those opposing shout down all normal discourse, it can hardly be called ‘representative’.

We don’t need a more knowledgeable constituency. We need a less ignorant constituency, and a constituency that is less easily lead down the uncivil road to anarchy. We need a constituency that refuses to listen to the likes of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, et al., and more willing to stay in tune with reality.

I’m not sure the American people deserve America.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 3, 2009 5:35 AM
Comment #287409

Well said Marysdude, the whole concept of our government is that we elect representatives so that we do not have to spend time toiling over and spending time with laws, bills, and matters of governance. And as much as the state of our country is directly the fault of our representatives, we are the ones who voted them in. But, further, what choices did we have to decide any other way? We picked these people, but how were we to know how bad they’d turn out? The problem is that we can not assume people who wish to hold public office do so for good, non-selfish reasons. And the rules they play by once in their position, even the few good ones that make it, force them to play by the same rules as the corrupt ones.

Posted by: Mike Falino at September 3, 2009 7:26 AM
Comment #287410

I agree that a more informed public is not practical. What we need is a less involved public. If congress didn’t feel like thay had to win an election every day in a town hall, I honestly believe they could come together and solve a lot of problems. They should face judgement at election time only.

Public involvement in every damn thing is the problem. Writing your congressman is the problem. Town halls are the problem.

Posted by: Schwamp at September 3, 2009 8:13 AM
Comment #287416

Mike, I think you missed Craig’s point.

Royal Flush,

That is a cogent argument, but misses a bigger picture.

You are simply citing inflation as a reason not to pursue healthcare reform. Yet, it is precisely because of the nature of healthcare’s balooning costs well ahead of inflation that cry’s out to be addressed. It may be fair to say that this plan doesn’t address those costs, but simply opposing it does the same thing.

Posted by: gergle at September 3, 2009 9:43 AM
Comment #287419

I don’t think people are stupid, or purposefully ignorant. I’m sure people don’t want to be on the wrong side of the facts.

But people don’t have all day to educate themselves. Most folks just want to live their lives. They’re not especially politically active, they don’t want the trouble. But they do hear from their friends, and what they hear concerns them.

The worst thing about the Tea Partisans in the town hall at this point may not be their overblown rhetoric, but all the attention they’ve grabbed as being a problem. A calmer, but more widespread campaign of information spreading might be in order.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at September 3, 2009 11:09 AM
Comment #287420

I think a lot depends on how our President handles himself before Congress next week. If he brings game…if he lets Congress know what he wants to see, in direct terms…and, if he points directly at the obstructionism and those responsible for it, we may end up with a workable reform. If he leaves it again up to Congress to come up with the plan, and if he ignores the negative aspects of the oposition…well…we all lose. He needs to take a page out of the ‘Truman Book’…the buck has stopped.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 3, 2009 11:25 AM
Comment #287424

michael

“Whether the proposed public health care option is good or not, it certainly isn’t a takeover of the health care business.”

here’s an idea. read the bill.

i won’t bother posting any links, because any source i do post will be ignored, and characterized as unreliable, or bias, so i won’t waste my time.

Posted by: dbs at September 3, 2009 11:46 AM
Comment #287426

royal flush

“To paraphrase Michael Falino,The American people have proven themselves quite gullible in the past, and in most cases this comes from their own inherent ignorance. Can we be a little more educated and smart this time around?”

amen brother, just look at who they elected president. an exellent point on michaels part.

Posted by: dbs at September 3, 2009 12:03 PM
Comment #287427

dbs, that’s pathetic. If you won’t post links then you have no argument. The burde of proof is on you. don’t assume you know what will or will not be followed, because it just shows that your argument is false. Please, show me where it says in the bill that the government intends to put out of business and replace the private insurence companies!

Posted by: Mike Falino at September 3, 2009 12:06 PM
Comment #287428

And dbs, were we supposed to elect John McCain and Sarah Palin? If not, then what was your alternative?

Posted by: Mike Falino at September 3, 2009 12:07 PM
Comment #287429

IMHO the high cost of health care is because of a broken “free market”. They still charge what ever the market will bear, but there’s no competition. A one payer system like Medicare can slow down the rising cost, but the system will still raise fees as fast as it can. Until someone can figure a way to make a truly competitive system where doctors and hospitals compete against each other, (which would probably be a very bad thing.) the free market approach will never work. IMHO we need socialized medicine like the VA.

As far as our unbelievable ignorance goes I like to blame the media especially the news media. They got rid of most of the investigative reporters and just report what the “two sides” say. Which usually misses a big part of the story.

Then again the news media is judged by how many people listen IE advertising revenue. The National Inquirer is a more profitable than Newsweek, there fore it’s a better magazine. There is absolutely no incentive for them to educate us. Add to that the special interests which spawned Fox News and you have a not only ignorant but misled public.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at September 3, 2009 12:11 PM
Comment #287431

gergle summed up my post by saying, “That is a cogent argument, but misses a bigger picture.”

The “big picture” as evidenced by the facts I gave on SS and Medicare is that we can’t rely upon congressional projections of cost. Politicians make promises that are, at best, wishful thinking. The rubber meets the road when we have to pay for their misjudgements.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 3, 2009 12:39 PM
Comment #287432


I am begining to believe that the health care debate has been a big charade with the Republicans providing cover for the Democrats.

I think we can safely bet where health care reform is headed by examining a majority of the major legislation that has been passed in the last two decades. Most of it can be catagorized by two words, corporate friendly.

All hail the Corpocracy. May it last a thousand years.

What’s next? the privitizing of unemployment insurance and workers compensation. If you want unemployment compensation you must purchase insurance from your friendly corporate unemployment insurance agent.

Once we have mandatory corporate health insurance workers compensation becomes unnecessary. Then companies and corporations can argue that legislation protecting workers health and safety are no longer necessary.

Perhaps environmental laws can be done away with as well. If you get asthme or cancer, you have mandatory corprate health insurance.

Posted by: jlw at September 3, 2009 12:49 PM
Comment #287455

“People don’t want change, they want things “they way they were”, which happens to be a time that never existed”

One day recently I noticed that I was wearing a 1996 Olympic t shirt, and when it got cooler later, I put on a 1996 Rose Bowl sweatshirt. 1996 is a time that actually existed, so let’s all enter our wayback machines and go there.

It’s a little funny that the articles in this column are all about the Rpblcns instead of the Dmcrts. Why not focus on who the people are that would benefit the most from your plans, rather than bemoaning the character of your opposition?

On the town hall meetings, I actually went to them before the current issue and accompanying media attention. They weren’t that much different back then. People haven’t get any dumber.

Links are requested, so here is:
Noam Chomsky on The Political system in the USA:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk8pxyAWTBk

and also on manufacturing consent, part 1 of 9

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJuqoDvyXOk

Posted by: ohrealy at September 3, 2009 5:00 PM
Comment #287465

michael

there is no clause in the bill that says we the gov’t intend to take over healthcare. the plan would eliminate private insurance over time through attrition. read lines 10 through 16.

http://energycommerce.house.gov/Press_111/20090714/aahca.pdf

1 SEC. 102. PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT
2 COVERAGE.
3 (a) GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COV4
ERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of
5 this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable cov6
erage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health
7 insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance
8 coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the
9 first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:
10 (1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT.—
11 (A) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in
12 this paragraph, the individual health insurance
13 issuer offering such coverage does not enroll
14 any individual in such coverage if the first ef
15 fective date of coverage is on or after the first
16 day of Y1.
17 (B) DEPENDENT COVERAGE PER18
MITTED.—Subparagraph (A) shall not affect
19 the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an
20 individual who is covered as of such first day.
21 (2) LIMITATION ON CHANGES IN TERMS OR
22 CONDITIONS.—Subject to paragraph (3) and except
23 as required by law, the issuer does not change any
24 of its terms or conditions, including benefits and
25 cost-sharing, from those in effect as of the day be26
fore the first day of Y1.
VerDate Nov 24 2008 23:22 Jul 14, 2009 Jkt 079200 PO 00000 Frm 00016 Fmt 6652 Sfmt 6201 E:\BILLS\H3200.IH H3200 jlentini on DSKJ8SOYB1PROD with

Posted by: dbs at September 3, 2009 8:01 PM
Comment #287467

michael

gov’t mandates are largely responsible for the high cost of healthcare now. how would even more gov’t mandates make it cheaper? reduction of mandates allowing insurers to offer a more varied selection of products, and tort reform would go a lot farther to reducing the cost, and increasing availability. why should one size fit all. many younger people would opt to just buy catastrophic coverage, and pay the doctor out of pocket. i had a policy like this when i was young, and it was cheap.

Posted by: dbs at September 3, 2009 8:11 PM
Comment #287471

michael

“And dbs, were we supposed to elect John McCain and Sarah Palin? If not, then what was your alternative?”

would have been an improvement IMO. otherwise maybe alferd e newman. still an improvement.

Posted by: dbs at September 3, 2009 9:28 PM
Comment #287483

The Republican Party has a plan, but the yodelling of Pelosi, Reid, Biden , and Barry have drowned it out.

Take what you have and make it better.

Had Barry appointed 32 “Insurance Czars” to parse out the current system and improve it, maybe there wouldn’t be a revolt (a revoly, BTW that is just starting to get traction).

Then again, with Barry’s penchant for appointing Socialists to executive positions without Congressionial scrutiny on a single one, you’d probably end up with the same result.

Don’t worry though. With Barry soon seizing control ofthe internet coupled with the Fairness Doctrine which will stiffle discenting opinion on the airwaves, pretty soon we will all be comrades anyway.

Every day that passes, he loses his political credibility.

Posted by: sicilianeagle at September 4, 2009 7:22 AM
Comment #287487

If they had a plan why did they not bring it to us when they had all the power under Bush. You remember the dark days.

Posted by: Jeff at September 4, 2009 9:29 AM
Comment #287514

President Obama campaigned on the premise that; 1)the system is totally broken and in need of radical reconstruction but promised that nothing would change for the majority of us…hmmmm, how can that be?

2)Medicare is bankrupting the country but $500 billion in cuts will have no effect on my care…hmmm, how can that be?

3) that he and congress will expand coverage while reducing deficits…hmmm, how can that be?

WE are being played for fools, and WE don’t like it.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 4, 2009 2:25 PM
Comment #287519

You’ve been played for a fool, why the different reaction now? Oh, yeah, the guy at the top is one youdon’t like…hmmm…welll…perhaps you should not vote for him next time.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 4, 2009 7:14 PM
Comment #287522

Sorry Marysdude…it’s got nothing to do with Mr. Obama and everything to do with the policies he and congress are trying to foist on Americans. Perhaps you would care to address what I wrote, what part do you disagree with?

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 4, 2009 7:32 PM
Comment #287525

RF,

Because trying to discuss real issues with Republicans is like peeing into the wind. I’ve given up on it.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 4, 2009 9:35 PM
Comment #287527

“Because trying to discuss real issues with Republicans is like peeing into the wind. I’ve given up on it.”

can you say WEAK! i thought you could. or it could be you have no real response.

Posted by: dbs at September 4, 2009 10:08 PM
Comment #287534


Ohrealy, thanks for the links, very informative.

Posted by: jlw at September 4, 2009 11:31 PM
Comment #287535

Sicilian Eagle,
The GOP proposal for health care is very similar to the McCain/Palin plan proposed in the 2008 election. It advocates deregulating the health care industry. This would be wonderful for health care corporations, since it would expand the ability of health care companies to deny coverage.

You would have to be stark staring crazy to like the GOP proposal… Unless you are a lobbyist or an executive for a health care corporation. Seriously, deregulating health care would be insane.

Royal Flush & SE,
“1)the system is totally broken and in need of radical reconstruction but promised that nothing would change for the majority of us…”

Correct. About 47 million Americans have no health insurance. In addition, millions more are denied coverage when filing, and millions more lose coverage due to the lack of portability, and the problem of pre-existing conditions. Nothing would change for the majority of us. We would still have the choice of keeping the same insurer and the same coverage and the same plan. A public option would be just that- an option- to cover others.

As for the second and third points, coverage for additional Americns can be made by the combination of savings with a public health option (there is no more expensive option than an uninsured person going to the emergency room) and restoring the tax structure to the same rates seen in the Clinton era.

Stopping the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would also provide the equivalent amount of funding.

Deficits and the national debt ARE a problem. However, they are not the first or even the second most important one.

About 90% of the current national debt was incurred by the Reagan, Bush #41, and Bush administrations. The 10% incurred by Democrats was NOT used for tax cuts for the rich and military spending. The Democrats incurred debt in order to prevent the economy from falling into another Great Depression.

The most important goal, preventing that fall, seems to have been achieved.

The next most important goal is job creation. Another jobless recovery like the last one we experienced would be disastrous. The stimulus package addresses that to some extent- I will personally direct almost six figures from a county to private companies for job retention next month alone- but it is not the only solution. We MUST find a way of preventing the export of American jobs. It is critical. Nothing else will matter unless we find a way to stop this.

After preventing Depression and after creating jobs, the next problem will be reducing defitics and debt. Resurrecting the economy has to happen first. Once that happens, reduction can occur through 1) restoring the Clinton tax structure, and 2) removing the cap on social security contributions. These moves alone would re-establish fiscal health.

Health care is part of the equation.

For the next year, private health insurers are projected to increase the cost of coverage by 10% - 23%. This is occurring at a time when there is NO inflation.

Two years ago, my company chose to go with a conmpany that was increasing its cost by 17%, because the other company was increasing coverage by 31%. After the switch, the increase for the next year would have been 24%, so we switched again.

The idea of deregulating these companies is a mind-bogglingly bad idea.

Posted by: phx8 at September 4, 2009 11:35 PM
Comment #287547

phx8 writes; “About 47 million Americans have no health insurance.”

When presented in this fashion it sounds like a no-brainer. Many millions of those included in your figure don’t want health insurance even though it is affordable. The actual number of “Legal American’s” who want and can’t pay for health care is closer to 15 million. Simple modification of Medicaid qualifications could solve this problem.

phx8 wrote; “Stopping the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would also provide the equivalent amount of funding.” He certainly knows that the President and congress can do this at any time. Why don’t they?

phx8 wrote; “As for the second and third points, coverage for additional Americns can be made by the combination of savings with a public health option…”

This is the same wishful thinking that lulled folks into compliance when SS and Medicare were introduced. I have written above about how wrong the cost figures were with these programs and have no reason to believe that another huge government entitlement will be any different.

For nearly all my 68 years I have listened to politicians of all parties tell me how they would save taxpayer money by this or that program. Once in awhile it was true…but not often. And during all this time I have seen taxes and fees balloon beyond all comprehension.

How many billions, if not trillions, of taxpayer dollars have been spent on fighting poverty. Is that war over. Do we have no poverty now? We subsidize poverty and get more of it. We subsidize Medicare and get less care. I know because I am on Medicare. How about education? Every federal dollar spent on education carries with it federal mandates. Would you say we are better educated for all these dollars and first in the world because of it. I don’t think so.

I could cite many other examples of government throwing money at a problem with horrible results. Unemployment just increased to 9.7% and expected to top 10% by the end of the year. Has money solved that problem? I don’t think so.

My friends, no country in the world has ever spent its way to greatness. Many have tried…all have failed.


Posted by: Royal Flush at September 5, 2009 12:08 PM
Comment #287549
After preventing Depression and after creating jobs, the next problem will be reducing defitics and debt. Resurrecting the economy has to happen first.

The huge problem with this kind of thinking is that it ignores the interconnectedness of these issues. The economy is a vast engine with many moving parts, and you can’t expect to make your car run better by gutting the engine and putting on a shiny new chrome tailpipe.

You can’t “create jobs” by government fiat while running up massive deficits, burdening those who actually create jobs with ever-greater amounts of regulation and red tape, and by printing whatever money you don’t borrow for China. The long term health of the economy and preventing a Depression cannot be achieved by destroying our economic foundations. It reminds me of what they said in Vietnam about needing to “destroy the village in order to save it.”

Posted by: Paul at September 5, 2009 12:24 PM
Comment #287550

paul

“you can’t expect to make your car run better by gutting the engine and putting on a shiny new chrome tailpipe.”

barrys defintely putting one hell of a shiney new tailpipe on this ride eh. thats a great analogy. funny as hell too. LOL!!!

Posted by: dbs at September 5, 2009 12:31 PM
Comment #287552

Thanks for the good laugh Paul. The car won’t run but it will look great sitting on the driveway.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 5, 2009 1:20 PM
Comment #287553

The car wasn’t running before…what a bunch of malarkey. Fixing a car is rarely as simple as we would think…that’s Murphey’s Law, but it can be fixed. Some haven’t figured out yet that wheezing on the climbs and spewing black smoke isn’t the way it’s supposed to run. It will never run right if you can’t even tell when it backfires…talking to Republicans is like peeing into the wind.

Posted by: Marysdude at September 5, 2009 1:35 PM
Comment #287559

I hope Marysdude knows to turn his back to the wind when peeing.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 5, 2009 3:46 PM
Comment #287560

Paul,
You’re right, there are connections between deficits & debt, job creation, and growth. However, we are faced with a series of bad choices. Inaction is a choice too. It seems to be the preferred conservative alternative. It has the virtue of not running up the debt & deficits in the short term. It has the drawback of allowing a very bad recession to turn into an even worse depression; that, in turn, would shrink government tax revenues and spending even further, resulting in a long term increase in debts and deficits.

Choices have to made, and despite the risks of interconnectedness, there has to be a prioritization. Everyone would prefer not to be in this situation.

No one likes what happened. Enormous debts and deficits were incurred due to tax cuts and military spending, and we were bled white by the War in Iraq. A conservative philosophy of privatization and deregulation resulted in the destruction of the financial sector.

The failure to address the health sector resulted in increases of 120% during the Bush years, during which the inflation deflator was only 37% (is that right? I’m going by memory). At the same time, 47 million Americans are uninsured, people who are sick face recission, the insurance is not portable during a recession that has seen the loss of over 6 million jobs (!), and so on.

By any statistical measurement, the US ranks at the bottom among wealthy countries for its health care system. Other “socialist” countries such as Australia, Japan, the countries of the EU, and so on, provide better care at approximately half the cost through government run systems.

Sorry. That’s just a fact. Our private system does not work as well as the government run systems of other countries.

Royal Flush,
Social Security and Medicare have been very successful programs. If conservatives want to abolish them, please, proclaim it to the world. Make sure everyone knows that is the conservative goal.

Choosing not to have insurance is a poor choice. It works for perhaps 80% or more of the people who make that choice. Unfortunately, it is like choosing not to have car insurance. The few uninsured who do have an illness, or a car accident, end of costing everyone far more.

Posted by: phx8 at September 5, 2009 4:15 PM
Comment #287561

phx8
I don’t know where you get your info on SS and madicare but I suggest you change your source, they were successful but now going broke because of mismanagement and to many hands in the cookie jar.

Posted by: KAP at September 5, 2009 5:54 PM
Comment #287563

KAP,
Medicare mismanagement can be corrected. As for Social Security, Gore promoted a “lock box.”

Appropriate policies can solve problems fairly quickly. For example, repealing the cap on Social Security would resolve that problem very easily. Restoring the Clinton era tax policies and withdrawing from Iraq & Afghanistan would more than cover the Medicare financials.

At the end of the term of Bush #41, the company faced huge deficits as the result of the Reagan/Bush tax policies. Deregulation of the savings and loans resulted in massive failures.

The tax hikes of the Democratic Omnibus bill of 1993-94 resulted in unprecendented economic growth, including the creation of @ 23 million jobs by the end of Clinton’s term. By the end, the projected budget surplus was 10 trillion!

Now we face an economy with huge deficits and massive failures in the financial sector. In those respects, it is very similar to the results of conservative policies under Reagan and Bush #41- huge deficits and financial sector failures. The projected surpluses disappeared, handed to the richest one percent with a nod and a nudge and a conservative wink, and squandered in the sands of Iraq. What a waste, what a waste.

There are solutions. I wish solutions weren’t needed, but that’ what happens when wrong policies result in problems. The right policies can put us on our feet again.

Posted by: phx8 at September 5, 2009 6:33 PM
Comment #287564

“Social Security and Medicare have been very successful programs.”

“repealing the cap on Social Security would resolve that problem very easily”

Someone is sipping the spiked tea again. And, as usual, all we need are more taxes. So simple. Let’s just forget all the nice prose and just come right out and say it…we need a socialist government. Chairman Obama and the politburo will take care of us. The NY (Pravda) Times will spoon feed us all we need to know. We can all pretend to work and they will pretend to pay us.

Down with capitalism, down with individual freedom, down with religion, down with personal responsibility, hail big government.

Posted by: Royal Flush at September 5, 2009 7:54 PM
Comment #287566

phx8
Royal Flush is right you’ve been sipping to much spiked tea. It ain’t never going to be fixed the way things are going.

Posted by: KAP at September 5, 2009 9:04 PM
Comment #287568

Royal Flush,
Can you explain why repealing the cap on Social Security is a bad idea? Why is that socialism? Normally, socialism is defined as ‘the ownership of the means of production.’ Neither Medicare nor Social Security meet the most basic definition of socialism.

I’ve been in “socialist” countries like Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. All have versions of universal health care. None lack individual freedom and none lack freedom of religion.

Think about what you are doing in your comment. You suggest I’m drinking “spiked tea.” Yet you use terms which are meant to be pejorative; you inaccurately use terms such as “socialism” without introducing facts or statistics to support your point. The intent seems to be to tar me with generalized slurs and pejoratives, as if this kind of denunciation somehow wins an argument.

If we should be chanting ‘up with capitalism,’ how do you explain the collapse of the financial sector in 2008? How do you explain the utter failure of mortgage derivatatives?

Taxation- usually progressive taxation- is a feature of every wealthy country on the planet. I suspect you confuse taxation and big government with “socialism.” Progressive taxation is a feature of every successful country on the planet. About the only countries I can think of that do not have government taxation are Somalia and perhaps Afghanistan.

“Hail big government”?

Posted by: phx8 at September 5, 2009 9:20 PM
Comment #287569

The causes behind 2008 collapse of the financial sector are very much in dispute, and I suppose that one’s political leanings will determine which story you believe. But just saying that the problem was “deregulation” seems a bit of a stretch when you consider how many government agencies and quasi-governmental agencies had their hand in it. If the government can’t regulate itself, where does that leave us? Do we need a government to rule over the government? And if we feel this way, then why do we want government to have a greater hand in healthcare. Do we want a healthcare equivelent to Fannie Mae?

I can buy that perhaps the wrong regulations were in place in 08, or that there were insufficent regulations in place in certain areas—in fact I do buy it—but the answer is never as easy as “regulation vs deregulation.”

Everybody agrees that we need laws, rules, and regulations. But being against public nudity, for instance, doesn’t mean that you think that women should be whipped if they appear in public without a burqa covering them from head to toe. I feel like the debate about “regulation” vs “deregulation” often poses these simplistic and reductive formuals, as if more or less of something is always better without being attentive to other factors.

By any statistical measurement, the US ranks at the bottom among wealthy countries for its health care system.

By any statistical measure? Really? That is impossible. Name specific measures that can be evaluated for their accuracy, but such a broad all-inclusive generalization deserves a bit more scrutiny than you seem to be giving it.

Statistical measures can often hide the truth in maelstroms of data, as anybody in the hard sciences, or even the social sciences, can tell you. The idea of “efficiency,” to cite one example, can be somewhat objectively measured. But what do such findings really teach you, even if you have isolated and measusured them with pin-point accuracy?

To use an extreme analogy, the witchdoctor in your village may be very “efficient” in arriving at your home with the goat he is going to sacrifice to cure your cancer. He’s much more cost-effective and reliable in delivering his services than the radiation oncologist who lives thousands of miles away and whose healing arts require bulky machines and teams of technicians, all of whom have recievied very expensive training. And who themselves rely on teams of researchers and the corporations and financial insitutions that back them.

So who do you want treating your cancer? Do you prefer the efficent and cost-effective alternative or the inefficient, incovenient and expensive one?

Of course this is an extreme anology, but not as extreme as it may first appear. Given the choice, patients in places with these “statistically superior” healthcare systems like those in Europe and Canada, are no different from people in a Swahili village whose only options are witchdoctors. If you put the choice on the table, the vast majority would rather be treated by America doctors in American healthcare facilities.

Can our system be improved? Everybody agrees that it can and should be, but making it a “conservative” vs “progressive” issue is why we have this unbreakable deadlock. We need to STOP looking to other countries as much as we do. What works for them won’t work for us, and not just because we have different and more diverse needs but because we have a higher standard for what we’re willing to settle for. And that standard is not as simple as what can be captured in statistics that lose sight of the big picture.

Posted by: Paul at September 5, 2009 10:10 PM
Comment #287576

Paul,
Statistical measures:

The US ranks 50th worldwide for life expectancy.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html

The US ranks 44th for infant mortality.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

The US is the only industrialized country in the world that does not have universal health care.

You write: “We need to STOP looking to other countries as much as we do. What works for them won’t work for us, and not just because we have different and more diverse needs but because we have a higher standard for what we’re willing to settle for.”

That makes no sense. Our needs are no different from other industrialized countries. We most certainly do NOT have a higher standard; just the opposite- I realize most Americans don’t travel, or even have passports, but really, there is this odd assumption that just by virtue of being Americans we are automatically exceptional or superior or somehow more free, and that simply is not the case.

Try telling an Australian or a Brit or a Canadian that the US has “higher standards”- they will laugh in your face.

Posted by: phx8 at September 5, 2009 11:23 PM
Comment #287578

Phx8, there are a whole lot of factors that go into life expectancy besides a country’s healthcare system.

This is exactly the problem I was talking about with using statistics to jump to conclusions. Even within the United States, people of different ethnicities and cultural habits have very different genetic and behavioral traits that have a huge influence on their life expectancies. In some third world countries, a lot of people get very very old with little or no access to healthcare, and it’s often because of genes, diet, and low stress levels as a result of not being part of the fast-paced modern world. I already said there is room for improvement in our healthcare system, but deporting the US population and bringing in somebody elses just to pad our statistics isn’t what I meant.

As for our high infant mortality rate, this claim has been thouroughly debunked. We count as live births many, many prematurely born and handicapped infants that are given a fighting chance at survival by our superior technology. Many of these still die, which increases our infant mortality rate, but elsewhere such infants are never counted as being born in the first place.

Perhaps a Brit or Canadian would laugh in our faces if we praised American healthcare. Good for them—loyalty to ones own can be a laudable trait. But when they’re really sick, where do vast numbers of them come for treatment? And how many Americans with life-threatening diagnoses have you heard of trying to get to Great Britian or Canada?

Posted by: Paul at September 6, 2009 12:00 AM
Comment #287579

Paul,

Here is another link comparing US healthcare with the universal health care provided by France, Germany, Britain, Japan, Switzerland, and the Netherlands:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=110997469

When statistics keep indicating similar numbers and leading to the same conclusion, again and again, it is time to stop making excuses and ask the question: what are other countries doing that is helping them do a better job of covering more people for less money, with better results?

I do not know anyone who has left this country for treatment in another, or vice versa. In terms of numbers, it is estimated @ 60,000 come to the US for treatment. I know of no number about people going to Canada for presecriptions or treatment or whatever. Most of the 60,000 who come from another country to this one are wealthy people from third world countries, especially Central and South America.

I am really not worried about coverage for the wealthy. That’s one of the nice things about being wealthy- wealthy people can afford to fly for the best care money can buy, whether they live in the US or abroad.

Posted by: phx8 at September 6, 2009 12:28 AM
Comment #287584

Paul,

“We count as live births many, many prematurely born and handicapped infants that are given a fighting chance at survival by our superior technology. Many of these still die, which increases our infant mortality rate,….”

Somehow it seems that despite our “superior technology” these infants are still dead.

“In some third world countries, a lot of people get very very old with little or no access to healthcare, and it’s often because of genes, diet, and low stress levels as a result of not being part of the fast-paced modern world.”

Perhaps it’s time to re-examine our “superior lifestyle” as it seems that this might be one of the causes of our higher mortality rate.
Regardless of our best efforts to pack as much “living” into our lives as possible, the pressure we put upon ourselves doing so leads to a shorter lifespan.

The man that dies with the most toys is still dead.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at September 6, 2009 10:20 AM
Comment #287585

Paul,

You may be surprised to learn that Americans are traveling in large numbers to foreign countries for medical care. The trend even has a name: “medical tourism.” According to a recent report by Delloite, the number of Americans traveling abroad for care in 2007 was estimated at 750,000 and expected to grow substantially in the coming years (See, Medical Tourism: Emerging Phenomenon in Health Care Industry, Delloite 2008).

While a significant proportion of the “tourism” is cosmetic surgery, much of the travel is for sophisticated procedures such as open heart surgery, hip/knee replacement, etc. India, Thailand, Israel and some Latin American countries are leading destinations for such procedures.

These countries offer sophisticated treatment at fraction of the cost while maintaining standards comparable to the US. A growing number of overseas hospitals are accredited under the Joint Commission International, the international arm of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization (JCAHO), which accredits U.S. hospitals and other facilities.

Posted by: Rich at September 6, 2009 10:38 AM
Comment #287591

Rocky,
Good points. As for stress, here is the amount of paid vacation for nine countries:

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0922052.html

It’s worse than it seems. While American worker productivity kept rising, real, after inflation wages for working Americans actually FELL during the Bush years. And even worse than that- the rise did not include health care or gas prices.

Posted by: phx8 at September 6, 2009 12:30 PM
Comment #287596

phx8,

That Americans are entitled to an average of 13 days vacation time is all well and good, however, I believe that there are more Americans that are self-employed (myself included) than any of those countries mentioned in your link.
I haven’t taken a vacation in several years, and even if I did it wouldn’t be covered as “paid” as I am self-employed.

It would appear that keeping up with the Joneses isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at September 6, 2009 2:03 PM
Comment #287597


Paul said ” But when they’re really sick, where do vast numbers of them come for treatment?”

Paul, do you have evidence to support your vast numbers claim? The population of Canada is about 34 million. How many Canadians coming to the U.S. for medical treatment would you consider to be a vast number?

There are about as many Mexicans receiving medical treatments in the U.S. as there are people in Canada.

Posted by: jlw at September 6, 2009 2:26 PM
Comment #287616

Rocky,

I worked for myself for a time, but enjoyed it more. Yes, I worked a lot, but in someways it was less stressful.

When I managed other people’s companies, I was constantly put in a position of having to do things I would not do. That is stress. Having less control over your work/actions is what studies find causes the most stress. CEO’s are often less stressed than a middle manager.

I no longer work for myself, but have taken a job without a lot of responsibility for others. I had a heart attack a few years back and decided less work and more relaxed lifestyle was more important to me.

Posted by: gergle at September 6, 2009 8:30 PM
Comment #287617

Royal Flush,

The rubber meets the road when we have to pay for their misjudgements.

Estimates are a funny thing. I do estimates in my line of work. Unless you know intimately the parties involved and what is likely to happened during a project, your estimate is likely to be a flop. That’s why legally you put all sorts of caveats and wherefores in any estimate. Happens all the time in private business, and those are just short term, small projects.

Where the rubber really meets the road is ignoring the reality if nothing is done we will have to pay for this misjudgement as well.

Simply repeating over and over the phrase government is bad, always does it badly doesn’t really reflect reality. In fact the collosal mess we find ourselves in today with regards to healthcare can’t really be laid at government’s doorstep, as Republicans want to keep what they’ve got. The sad truth is what they think they have, is slipping away as they rant.

Another collosal mess, part of a similar and somewhat related problem in terms of government revenue, is the deficit created by the lack of government oversite created by the anti government rantings of Bush and company. They’ve gutted the FDA,FEMA, SEC and other agencies to “drown them in a bath tub”. Well it worked. They are right, Republican governance is a collosal failure.

Americans voted them out largely because of these failures. We now have to pay to clean up their mess. Notice Reagan didn’t and Bush didn’t. While Carter had to ride out the Vietnam bubble.

This president is good at telling this bit of truth. Republicans continue to lie about it. We’ll see who loses again.


Posted by: gergle at September 6, 2009 8:47 PM
Comment #288560

@Mike Falino ,You said you have one point and the writer missed it what is that?

Posted by: medical tourism at September 28, 2009 3:25 AM
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