Getting Rights Right

What is a “right”? The answer is not so simple as you might think.

On todays Wall Street Journal editorial page one article discusses last week's arguments for and against a Second Amendment "right" to individual ownership of firearms. Across the fold a second article discusses the Supreme Court career of Clarence Thomas, giving us a little insight into how these rights get cooked up or boiled down. Both articles, though, assume we all know what we mean by the notion of a "right". I'm not at all sure we can take as much for granted.

The immediate context of my consideration of the issue is the matter of health care and discussions on the subject of privacy last week. If, as we seem to believe as a culture, health care is a "right" it follows that it is also an obligation. What I have a "right" to consume you have an obligation to provide. Given that there is a burden placed on the providers of the obligation this concept is a little troubling.

Such notions extend beyond health care, too. In the age of welfare we have made not only life a right, but also the means for its continuation. This obligates us to provide food, clothing, and housing for many. I'm not opposed to such things in principle, as long as it is understood people can't simply obligate society to their support without providing society some benefit in return. There are people, however, whose right to life grants us no benefit whatsoever. People on death row or imprisoned for life have already cost society dearly, then, for some reason, we are obligated to sustain them at the cost of the opportunity for productive employment of many other people. What obligates us to this tremendous burden?

In the matter of privacy, which has become a portable right in an era of private transportation, society's burden may extend to a sacrifice of public safety. For each "right" there is a burden, and sometimes multiple burdens.

Getting back to medical care for a moment, I recently read "The Great Influenza" by John Barry. The first part of the book details the rise from a practice of medicine hardly distinct from that of Roman times in the America of the Civil War to an era of scientific medicine at the turn of the century. The culture of science was transformative and from 1900 to 1920 increased the average lifespan by more than 20 years, most of that through improvements in public sanitation. To say that medical practice as it exists today owes much to the power of that culture is an almost comical understatement. Medicine today is the product of that transformation. It is possible, because of the debt physicians owe to scientific medicine and the institutions made possible by a cohesive society that teach it, to say they are greatly priviledged to be able to benefit by the prior accumulation of knowledge to which they were given access. They do owe a certain obligation to that society. However they also must work very very hard, and are held to levels of perfection almost unknown in most of society. If we burden our medical industry too greatly with what we think their obligations should be we could cause its collapse- and lose its benefits.

We all know a right is society's obligation to the individual, but that also makes it our responsibility to the whole of society. We can talk about this sort of distinction between us and the society because of the protections that are society's fruit to us. Rights, therefore, only happen in the context of a society. If you meet a hungry tiger in the deepest jungle and try to protest of your "right to life", well...

I have a "right" to free speech, a "right" to assemble, "rights" to freely associate, a "right" to pursue happiness, and numerous unstated rights as well. I am curious as to what this audience perceives as its obligations in these and many other "rights".

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at March 22, 2008 2:54 PM
Comments
Comment #248892

What’s the reason for us to have policing forces paid by the American tax dollars, if we can all own guns to fend for ourselves. Let’s all return to those historical days of our Founding Fathers or to the Wild Wild West, so that we can shoot everyone we suspect as our enemies, and claim defense as in those days. Wake up, we’re in the Modern Age, and times have changed!

Posted by: Bilbo983 at March 22, 2008 4:29 PM
Comment #248896

The definition of rights depends entirely on who is defining them, for what purpose, and when, (e.g. individuals or groups, religions or governments).

You are obviously discussing legal rights, as defined by law. Ergo, since the government is involved in this law, it is the government that will define this right from a legal standpoint, and some individuals will continue to define it for themselves regardless of the law.

Ultimately, however, the right to bear arms comes to down whether the Supreme Court treats the 2nd Amendment as an individual right, or a State’s right, (thanks to that perplexing comma between militia and the people).

This court will define it very likely as an individual right. A court in the future may define it as a State’s right superceding with limits, individual right’s to bear arms.

Then of course, that Court must wrestle with the definition of ‘arms’, which in the day of its writing meant flintlock rifles. Were the Founding Fathers to draft the same Right today with the prospect of suitcase nukes, they would surely redefine the word ‘arms’ to some other term or range of weapons and rather specifically, if it was their intent to define the individual’s right.

Bottom line, the right to bear arms is what the Supreme Court says it is, right up until the people overthrow the Court and establish their own version individually or collectively.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 22, 2008 5:35 PM
Comment #248908

Bilbo983

“What’s the reason for us to have policing forces paid by the American tax dollars,”

police aren’t, and never were intended to be bodygaurds to the general public. they enforce the law. when a law is broken they are responsible for bringing the criminal in to face justice. you are responsible for your own safty, end of story.

” if we can all own guns to fend for ourselves. Let’s all return to those historical days of our Founding Fathers or to the Wild Wild West, so that we can shoot everyone we suspect as our enemies, and claim defense as in those days. Wake up, we’re in the Modern Age, and times have changed!”

if this were the case then states and cities with the most strict gun control laws would also be the safest, but just the opposite is true, DC is a prime example. emotion, and an irratoinal fear of something does not make for sound policy.

david

i agree that we’ll be stuck with whatever the court decides, but that doesn’t mean that they are right. the first ten amendments to the const. are rights the founders believed were derived from our creators whoever you believe that to be. they are individual rights everyone of them. they were not granted by the gov’t therefore the gov’t hasn’t the authority to take them away, even though they may posses the physical power to do so.

Posted by: dbs at March 22, 2008 6:01 PM
Comment #248910

lee

“Rights, therefore, only happen in the context of a society. If you meet a hungry tiger in the deepest jungle and try to protest of your “right to life”, well…”

rights even though they me be god given are only absolute as long as we protect them. vigilance comes to mind. there will always be those who choose not to recognize them, the tiger is a good example. we are therefore responsible for watching out for the tiger in order to keep him in check.

Posted by: dbs at March 22, 2008 6:12 PM
Comment #248915

dbs said: “the first ten amendments to the const. are rights the founders believed were derived from our creators whoever you believe that to be. they are individual rights everyone of them.”

And the Supreme Court has amended, redefined, relaxed, or tightened most if not all of those amendments since they were written.

Example: 1st Amendment: ‘Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech,’

Redefined by the Court as political speech, subjecting other forms of expression and speech to abridgment, such as pornography laws, or speech which causes immediate and predictable physical harm to others like yelling fire in a theater. The McCarthy era was a consequence of the original version of the 1st Amendment. Libel and Slander for example had to be defined, regulated, and punished if civil order was to be kept in these United States and other individual rights were to be observed.

The original Constitution was far from a perfect Constitution for all time. And the original Bill of Rights was far from adequate to insure civil harmony, justice, and well-being as a consequence of the actions of others. But, certainly improvements have been made. Civil Rights for African Americans for example, which finally completed the promise inherent in the Amendment abolishing slavery.

It is the Supreme Court’s authority and responsibility to interpret the Constitution when changing social conditions and new or unanticipated behaviors, technologies, or cultural norms place the Constitution’s Bill of Rights at cross purposes with themselves, or with the intent and spirit of the original Constitution.

The court can be forced to review and modify the interpretation of the Bill of Rights also when the original preceding interpretation lies at cross purposes with the majority of the people to the extent that prolonged civil disorder or revolution threaten the Union or the constitutional government.

That’s my take, anyway, from what I have read, and agree with. Rhinehold and Doug might take issue with my interpretation with some valid counterpoint of their own.

Posted by: David R. Remer at March 22, 2008 7:11 PM
Comment #248919

david

“Redefined by the Court as political speech, subjecting other forms of expression and speech to abridgment, such as pornography laws, or speech which causes immediate and predictable physical harm to others like yelling fire in a theater.”

what you’re speaking of could be considered abuse of the right to free speech. while yelling fire in a crowded theater could cause panic, and chaos, it’s still legal to talk in a crowded theater. should we outlaw talking in a theater because someone might yell fire. would that be acceptable? i’m guessing not.


“It is the Supreme Court’s authority and responsibility to interpret the Constitution when changing social conditions and new or unanticipated behaviors, technologies,”

it is the supreme courts job to decide what laws are constitutional, and which aren’t, according to the original intentions of those who wrote the const.

“The court can be forced to review and modify the interpretation of the Bill of Rights also when the original preceding interpretation lies at cross purposes with the majority of the people to the extent that prolonged civil disorder or revolution threaten the Union or the constitutional government.”

no they can’t, there is only one way to inerpret the const., and that’s the way the founders intended for it to be. we argue about thier intentions, and what they actually meant. to say we can change the interpretation depending on which way the wind blows would mean we could make it mean what ever suits the majority at that peticular time. this would make the entire document meaningless. remember the const sets limits on gov’t, not the other way around.

Posted by: dbs at March 22, 2008 7:51 PM
Comment #248928

dbs,
An “activist” court is in the eyes of the beholder. It depends on who’s ox is being gored.

If there was only one way to interpret things we’d all agree on everything.

Posted by: googlumpus at March 22, 2008 9:04 PM
Comment #248936

DBS:

Since the folks who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights aren’t here, it’s all interpretation, isn’t it? Just differences of interpretation.

Posted by: womanmarine at March 23, 2008 12:42 AM
Comment #248938

Changing laws according to the progressing needs of society is the function of the legislative branch, elected by that particular society.
The judicial branch is confined by precedence or how it has always been interpreted in the past. So absent of new law, the founder’s intent applies.
An activist judge inserts his own ideals when they have failed to pass by the established public means.
When the separation is breached between public will (laws makers)and those who apply it to the public (judges) tyranny results.


Posted by: Kruser at March 23, 2008 10:37 AM
Comment #248939

Thomas Jefferson on inalienable rights and pursuit of happiness,

“The evidence of [the] natural right [of expatriation], like that of our right to life, liberty, the use of our faculties, the pursuit of happiness, is not left to the feeble and sophistical investigations of reason, but is impressed on the sense of every man. We do not claim these under the charters of kings or legislators, but under the King of Kings.” —Thomas Jefferson to John Manners, 1817. ME 15:124

“Natural rights [are] the objects for the protection of which society is formed and municipal laws established.” —Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 1797. ME 9:422

“[It is a] great truth that industry, commerce and security are the surest roads to the happiness and prosperity of [a] people.” —Thomas Jefferson to Francisco Chiappe, 1789. Papers 15:405

Posted by: Kruser at March 23, 2008 10:56 AM
Comment #248940

One thing lost on the discussion so far is that the authors of the Constitution clearly considered rights to be something preexisting the document. The Constitution didn’t establish the right to free speech, for example, it recognized it. While we consider the Constitution a protection of our rights (I think mistakenly), what it actually does in practice is to set a series of markers, like the piles of stones set by the Children of Israel in the desert, to remind ourselves of the important ideas we must preserve. If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance these are the warning markers that give place to the danger.

I disagree with David in that it is not, in the long run, the courts that determine what our rights will be. It is we, by the electoral process, determining whose philosophies will choose judges, who will determine how those rights will be determined. As always my great fear with the courts is that they represent the only branch of goverment that can truly determine the extent of their own powers, since we can’t refuse to reelect them after a given period of time.

I still think we’re looking at a pretty narrowly drawn definition of “rights”, though. In that larger context the Founders were looking at are not rights the means by which the individual is recognized as a vital, integral functioning unit in the fabric of society? In feudal societies the individual simply didn’t exist in the lower classes.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 23, 2008 11:05 AM
Comment #248943

“As always my great fear with the courts is that they represent the only branch of goverment that can truly determine the extent of their own powers, since we can’t refuse to reelect them after a given period of time.”

Lee, It was wise that the SCOTUS was allowed by law to not have to face the voters or to be forced out of their positions on the bench. Any decision made by the SCOTUS on laws written by our elected representatives can be used to re write the law to meet the intent of the constitution. Should the Judges be forced to make decisions based upon the electorate well… then they would be politicians not judges wouldnt they.

BTW great article.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 23, 2008 12:35 PM
Comment #248944

womanmarine

absolutly true. my issue was with davids comment that we that we could intentionaly change the interpretation to suit the political landscape. i still believe the first ten amendments refer to individual rights, as the gov’t has no rights, only powers which are enumerated in the const.

Posted by: dbs at March 23, 2008 12:37 PM
Comment #248945

DBS:

But, that’s exactly what the court does. Or so it appears. That’s why some precedents are overturned and new decisions and challenges made.

Posted by: womanmarine at March 23, 2008 12:56 PM
Comment #248947

womanmarine

would you accept the court deciding the first amend. was not an individual right, but a collective one designed to protect only the press from the force of gov’t? while i realize we can differ on the intent of those who wrote the const. it seems to only be the 2nd amend. that the collective argument is made, and generally by those who don’t like guns. if the interpretation can be changed to suit the will of the majority, it then ceases to protect the individuals rights from the will of the majority, which i believe was the true intention.

a document whos meaning can be changed at a whim is useless as a tool to protect the rights of the individual.

Posted by: dbs at March 23, 2008 1:29 PM
Comment #248951

lee

i think someone once said that societies go through stages, enslavement, revolution, freedom, complacency, and back to enslavement. don’t know if i said it correctly, i just remember that from somewhere. i think we have fallen back into the complacency stage.

Posted by: dbs at March 23, 2008 1:45 PM
Comment #248952

The Declaration of Independence clearly states that the founders held the right of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness to be “self-evident and endowed by their Creator” not man. It is governments obligation to “secure these rights”.

Even under the most tyrannical government these rights exist as they come from the Creator even though they may not be protected by that government. No supreme court or any other body can dis endow these rights, but rather, only prevent them from being exercised.

With regard to the 2nd Amendment, does anyone believe that the constitution would have been ratified if the signers of the various states believed that their citizens were prohibited from the possession (in their homes or elsewhere) and use of arms. Ours was a frontier country demanding that each citizen had the means to protect themselves from harm. Clearly the founders did not intend for government to deny the right of citizens to bear arms.

If one wishes to deny citizens the right to bear arms then the 2nd Amendment must be repealed. I hope in my lifetime we see the repeal of the 16th Amendment and the establishment of the Fair Tax.

Posted by: Jim M at March 23, 2008 1:51 PM
Comment #248953

DBS:

I never said nor implied that interpretation be based on the will of the majority. I don’t know how you got that from what I posted. Nor did I address a particular amendment.

I do believe that the court can be partison, which is why appointments to the court can be such an issue during elections, and confirmation. I think we all know this. I hate that it is that way, and that it can have an effect on the interpretation of many things.

Posted by: womanmarine at March 23, 2008 1:57 PM
Comment #248954

womanmarine

i wasn’t implying that you were taking that stand, sorry if you misunderstood my point. i think with the bill of rights we all generally believe the rights protect the individual. it only seems to be the 2nd which is always in question. maybe i just strayed a bit, or that 4th cup of coffee is scrambling my brain ;). lee started by mentioning the DC case, and then talked about rights in general, thats why i mention the second amend. as for your second statement i think you’re correct. got any suggestions how to fix this? it’s to bad political agendas always seem to get in the way of honest interpretation.

Posted by: dbs at March 23, 2008 2:21 PM
Comment #248957

DBS:

:)

If I knew how to fix it I’d run for President!!

Posted by: womanmarine at March 23, 2008 2:59 PM
Comment #248959

dbs,

Complacency? I don’t think so. Just look at the enthusiasm among Democrats for the current election. The real issue is loss of the sense that one’s vote makes a difference-a direct result of the courts, the overweening bureaucracy, and corruption taking the issues away from the people.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 23, 2008 4:52 PM
Comment #248960

Everyone should look in on Kruser’s comment #248939 above. A couple of people have made points about natural rights and his notes on Thomas Jefferson’s ideas are really on point. They also imply the chief way governments determined to deny rights go about the process. They take people’s freedom to be masters of their own bodies away.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 23, 2008 5:05 PM
Comment #248962

All seem to be avoiding the fact that the original intent was for the militia to have the right to arms. That language is still contested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Posted by: janedoe at March 23, 2008 5:24 PM
Comment #248963

janedoe,

Jim M makes a good point above when he asks if anyone thinks the second amendment (and, in the context of the day then, the Constitution as a whole) would have been ratified at all if the people had seen their right to own guns as dependent on their being a part of a militia. The answer in a nation dominated by frontier, wild animals and “wild” Indians would clearly have been “no”. Weapons were a necessity of life. Period.

By the way, I use Wikipedia all the time, but I would never dream of its expertise of the day being authoritative.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 23, 2008 5:51 PM
Comment #248965

“All seem to be avoiding the fact that the original intent was for the militia to have the right to arms. That language is still contested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Posted by: janedoe at March 23, 2008 05:24 PM”


Maybe the reason we are avoiding that “fact” is because it’s not a “fact”.

The Bill of Rights, otherwise known as the first ten amendments to the constitution were all written to protect INDIVIDUAL rights. Why would one of those ten amendments apply to only a collective group, thus protecting the government?

The link you gave clearly shows there is a dispute between your “fact and my “fact”.

I got this in an e-mail from my son today. It kinda sums up the perception from the right of the left’s view of rights.

OLD VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!

MODERN VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show u p to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green.’

Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing, ‘We shall overcome.’ Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper’s sake.

Nancy Pelosi & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.

Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill Clinton appointed from a list of
single-parent welfare recipients.

The ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him because he doesn’t maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.


MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote!

Posted by: BOHICA at March 23, 2008 6:04 PM
Comment #248967

Moral of the story, twisting a fable demonstrates little, except bias, and someone who misses the moral of the story in the first place.

Posted by: googlumpus at March 23, 2008 8:08 PM
Comment #248969

In my opinion, a right is nothing more than something someone believes is worth fighting for. If society doesn’t agree, that “right” will not be realized. Monarchs, believed they posessed a right to rule. If the right “resonates”, people will pick up it’s cause.

In a modern nation, with significant wealth, providing basic healtcare, independent of employment, seems a reasonable expectation of a population. I believe that has resonance. Rights make great rhetoric, but it is actuation of those “rights” that is the acid test. We are what we “see” ourselves to be, when we put those ideas into action.

Finding some way to pay for basic healthcare without the random rationing that we currently use, is the real issue

Posted by: googlumpus at March 23, 2008 8:22 PM
Comment #248971

Pursuit of happiness or recipient of happiness?
Inalienable rights exist outside economics and confiscation, are non debatable, non partisan or obvious to all honest men dispite ideals.

Posted by: Kruser at March 23, 2008 9:41 PM
Comment #248974

Bohica, I’m not sure what that fractured fairy tale was supposed to relate, and I also am not sure why you’re not accepting the language from the 2nd. amendment….it is fact in its’ original intent, and that it’s being challenged doesn’t alter that. It’s even okay that you don’t like the original language….still doesn’t change it.
Guess that’s good that we won the freedom and right to change things as the times and conditions need, and allow for.


Posted by: janedoe at March 23, 2008 11:31 PM
Comment #248980

The Second Amendment, as passed by the House and Senate, reads:

“ A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. ”

The original and copies distributed to the states, and then ratified by them, had different capitalization and punctuation:

“ A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Why is this so hard to understand, especially in the one without the commas(the original)? It’s saying that the people have the individual right to bear arms because without homegrown militias like those so useful in the American Revolution, the security of a free state goes out the window. The National Guard is not a militia, it’s a military outfit taking orders from the government. Militias are the people. The people protecting themselves FROM the government. The Bill of Rights tells us what the government CANNOT do. If times change and a part of the Constitution becomes obsolete, we have a way to bring it up to date. It’s called the Amendment process. That’s the only way the dot of one “i” gets changed in the Constitution. Judges are to interpret the original intent of the author, and nothing more. You want the right to bear arms taken away? Get enough support from your fellow citizens to pass a Constitutional Amendment. Can’t do that? Too bad.

Posted by: Duane-o at March 24, 2008 5:16 AM
Comment #248981

-In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

-In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

- Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

-China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

-Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

-Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

-Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated’ people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

-Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.

-It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by their own government, a program costing Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars. The first year results are now in:

List of 7 items: Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2 percent Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6 percent Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent)!
In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent. Note, that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not, and criminals still possess their guns!
While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.
There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the ELDERLY. Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has decreased, after such monumental effort, and expense was expended in successfully ridding Australian society of guns. The Australian experience and the other historical facts above prove it.

You won’t see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information. Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens.



With guns, we are ‘citizens’.
Without them, we are ‘subjects’.

During WWII the Japanese decided not to invade America because they knew most Americans were ARMED!

Posted by: Duane-o at March 24, 2008 5:23 AM
Comment #248985

The Bill of Rights were in fact based on the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man:

12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to whom they shall be intrusted.

and the 1689 English Bill of Rights, which was concerned about “Protestants” being disarmed, among other things.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 24, 2008 9:31 AM
Comment #248986

googlumpus,
That is exactly the sort of comment I’m looking for. Yes, monarchs selfishly believed they had a “devine right” to be the rulers of society. American society, founded in a more widely distributed set of rights (and obligations) made such devine right societies obsolete- even the ones like the Soviet Union that purported not to believe in the devine.

In a sense we already have an element of the “basic healthcare” right at work in society. It clearly is in society’s best interest not to have disease running rampant and, in truth, we already do pay for the system that exists today, however badly cobbled together it may be. the real issue now is that we don’t have a conceptual handle on how we represent that mission of public health to ourselves.

Kruser,
I operate under the belief it is impossible to receive happiness from others. We can only provide a society that tries not to choose winners before their deeds are done and does not present the interchanges of life as zero-sum experiences. In a sense that is to say even if a right seems inalienable it can’t simply be given to someone. They must agree to take it up. They must stand up for it. They must be responsible for its sustenance, and they must think enough of it to pass it down the generations.

Duane-o,
The mystifying part of the push for a “living” Constitution is the notion that the courts need to be able to change the meaning of the document at will in spite of the fact their is a process for making LEGITIMATE CHANGES. Many people, frankly both liberal and conservative, act as though the amendment process is too arcane for the needs of the modern day. If the people believed the only way to make the government do what it must do was to change the Constitution, though, they would realize the inherent empowerment of their vote and would rally political support for the amendment process. That amendment process, because it keeps power in the hands of the people, is an inherent protection of our rights. When the power to change the Constitution is entrusted to the courts our rights are inherently compromised.

Can you source that last statement about the Japanese? I’d love to be able to use that with my kids.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 24, 2008 9:53 AM
Comment #248988

ohrealy,

Below I am posting the 1689 statement of rights as taken from magnacartaplus.org. The point about protestants having arms is made in the seventh paragraph.

The document as a whole is entitled- “An Act for declaring the rights and liberties of the subject and settling the succession of the crown” and came at a time of particular unrest in British history after the reign of James the second (and only thirty years after the death of Oliver Cromwell) when the members of Parliament were taking seriously the concepts of representative rule. There is a good deal in it that rings familiar to our ears.


That the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal.

That the pretended power of dispensing with laws, or the executions of laws, by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal.

That the commission for erecting the late court of commissioners for ecclesiastical causes, and all other commissions and courts of like nature are illegal and pernicious.

That levying money for or to the use of the crown, by pretence of prerogative, without grant of parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal.

That it is the right of the subjects to petition the King, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal.

That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of parliament, is against law.

That the subjects which are protestants, may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law.


That election of members of parliament ought to be free. That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament.

That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed; nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in trials of high treason ought to be freeholders.

That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction, are illegal and void.

And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, parliaments ought to be held frequently.


Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 24, 2008 10:24 AM
Comment #248992

Lee “the predominance of nordic culture generally” Jamison, the point that I was making on this particular right is that it was clearly intended, based on precedents, to refer to the supporters of the government. ” A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state. ” , state being substituted for men and citizens. The full text of both documents are published here:

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/

Both declarations complain about monarchies a lot, but since you quoted the one, the relevant sections of the other are:

6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents.

7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the law shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an offense.

8. The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary, and no one shall suffer punishment except it be legally inflicted in virtue of a law passed and promulgated before the commission of the offense.

9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner’s person shall be severely repressed by law.

10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.

11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.

12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to whom they shall be intrusted.

13. A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means.

14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes.

15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration.

16. A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all.

17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.

What is most interesting are not so much the similarities, but the differences, especially in reference to free elections and corruption in office (the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration).

Posted by: ohrealy at March 24, 2008 11:20 AM
Comment #248993

Jane Doe you do realize the wikipedia link is disputed and not neutral. The founders intent was clear “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. Not only can we as individuals keep arms, we can use them. Doesnt mean we can use them against each other for personal gain. But without a doubt we can use them to defend our selves as well as our home, town, state and country from those that would do us wrong. The right to bear arms is essential to the pursuit of liberty. To rely on only the police for protection is not realistic nor would we want it to be. To rely on the military only should our country be invaded is also not realistic.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 24, 2008 11:32 AM
Comment #248997

Responding to the idea of health care as a “right”:

Rights are fundamental and belong to individuals. The government is meant to secure these rights. Built upon these rights, every man establishes his individual moral obligations. While I agree most people believe that doctors are morally obligated to provide some basic level of health care, to suggest the government has the right to enforce a moral obligation is absurd. This situation implies that the government has the authority to suspend a doctor’s right to the fruit of his labor to provide someone else with their “right” to health care. Thus, a “right” to health care is impossible because it will always infringe on another individual’s right to the fruit of their labor.

This logic also applies to gun ownership. Your right to own a gun infringes on no other individual’s rights. While someone may use a gun to infringe upon your rights, the government does not have the means nor authority to insure you against this possibility. It is your responsibility to secure your life and liberty, and the government’s responsibility to protect your right to do so.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 24, 2008 12:13 PM
Comment #248998

ohrealy,
Just to quibble over timing, does not the Bill of Rights (Sept. 27th 1789) stand as an effective contemporary of the French document (Aug 26th, 1789)? Given that travel times from France to America were measured in weeks at the time, I think it would be difficult to say that the two documents didn’t develop together in a world in which well educated people in both countries were thinking along the same lines.

Would that the French, once they had launched their own revolution, had paid more attention to their own ideals.

In any event, regardless of parentage, the Second Amendment could not divorce itself from the world in which it lived. All the wild game in France and Britain belonged to the Crown. There were no real dangers on the frontiers of Britain and Europe not associated with either pirates and brigands or state enemies. Not so in either case in the United States. Hunting was both a necessity and a great industry in the American West and real dangers of all sort abounded long after the Constitution was well in place. An American understanding of the need for arms simply could not be represented in European precedents.

In context, of course, the comment on “Nordic culture” was a reference to the cultures that predominated in the British Isles around the years from 800 through 1100. This was both direct, as a result of the constant assaults of the Norsemen, and indirect, due to Norse influence on the Danes (who were the source of about half of old British place-names), the Old English, and the French “Normans” who conquered Britain in 1066.

The Norse, by the way, had a sort of people’s council that is recorded to have met annually as early as 800 A.D. That is after the earliest Christian influence, so there may be a Roman tint to it, but the character of what little I have read of it seems to have been more tribal than senatorial.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 24, 2008 12:16 PM
Comment #248999

You know…I have guns of my own…have for as long as I can remember and for purposes of hunting, target shooting and personal/home protection should the need arise.
I’m only trying to get certain factors to understand that the original intent was quite different than the current interpretation. And the language of “living document” does allow for adaptation. Citizens were allowed and encouraged to posess and bear arms, to join forces and collectively protect and fight for our young country.
Don’t think our forefathers gave any thought to certain people feeling the need to posess bazookas, or rocket launchers as part of their own private arms collection.

Posted by: janedoe at March 24, 2008 12:25 PM
Comment #249000

“This situation implies that the government has the authority to suspend a doctor’s right to the fruit of his labor to provide someone else with their “right” to health care. Thus, a “right” to health care is impossible because it will always infringe on another individual’s right to the fruit of their labor.”

By paying the doctor for the fruit of his labor via a single payer system there would be no violation of the doctors rights would there Mr. Haney?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 24, 2008 12:48 PM
Comment #249003

j2t2,
“By paying the doctor for the fruit of his labor via a single payer system there would be no violation of the doctors rights would there Mr. Haney?”

If, as in the Canadian system, people were forbidden to engage in private transactions in the process I think the question would be problematic at best. In effect medicine would become more exclusive than even armed service is. If Doctors were able to practice outside of that single-payer program, and consumers were able to contract their services outside the system their rights would, indeed, be preserved.

Can we do that and make the thing work?

That’s a tough question.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 24, 2008 1:07 PM
Comment #249005

“I’m only trying to get certain factors to understand that the original intent was quite different than the current interpretation”

The original intent was to help insure We the People would have the means to resist tyranny, while the current interpretation says govt can give us permission to shoot clay targets, if it feels like it.

“Don’t think our forefathers gave any thought to certain people feeling the need to posess bazookas, or rocket launchers as part of their own private arms collection”

And don’t feel like our forefathers gave any thought to certain people talking via phone or email to our enemy overseas and instantly corridinating acts of war against their country either.

Our govt was given limited power and our rights helped keep govt in check. Our fears gave up those rights, gave govt the power over us and now our govt goes unchecked.

Posted by: kctim at March 24, 2008 1:23 PM
Comment #249006

janedoe,
I hear what you are saying, and do not want my neighbor to be able to have an M1 Abrams tank, even for self-defense. On the other hand, I think for obvious reasons, I wouldn’t want the ownership of small arms in the United States to be limited to “friends of the state”. Widely distributed small arms are demonstrably an extremely effective deterrent to tyrrany, as long as they are posessed in an effectively governed nation-state.

All over Africa one sees the tyrrany of terror from distributed small arms absent effective statehood. In Duane-o’s #248981 comments above the opposite is at work. It appears that, for the rights of the individual to be most effectively preserved it may be necessary to maintain a tension, somewhat in the manner of a suspension bridge, between governement control and individual gun ownership.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 24, 2008 1:32 PM
Comment #249007

j2t2:

“By paying the doctor for the fruit of his labor via a single payer system there would be no violation of the doctors rights would there Mr. Haney?”

This question is moot. Your implied premise is that the government has the authority to establish a single payer system in which citizens must participate. I believe it holds no such authority.

However, to address the question, it would not violate the doctor’s right because the doctor could decide whether or not to provide his/her services at the price determined by such a system. However, it would infringe upon my right to the fruit of my labor by suspending my ability to chose whether or not to pay into a system.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 24, 2008 1:36 PM
Comment #249022

The debate over whether or not health care is a “right” obscures (deliberately, I think) a more significant question of which of the two systems we have in this country (single payer or for-profit) is more efficient, more cost-effective and, really, a more moral way of delivering health care.
We have single payer now; right now. It is provided to most of the people whom the for-profit system does not want: the elderly, the disabled civilian and the disabled veteran communities.
The for-profit system is a first-class one for heathy people. So long as you stay healthy and make no claim for your dollars paid you will always be provided with almost unlimited choice in price of service and benefits. Once you do have a claim you will be put on the downward slope to oblivion. You must stay with your insurance, choice is gone. With your claim your insurance carrier, because it is a for-profit business, is now engaged in a game to get rid of you as quickly as possible: Your application is reviewed for any omissions or inaccuracy, your proposed treatment is reviewed for an possible reduction in service, and, if you have been injured while engaged in what is considered a risky activity or become ill with a reoccurring illness (Say, cancer), your policy is cancelled if it is legally and practically possible.
Instead of debating the rather theoretical issue of whether or not health care is a “right”, a debate that has no chance of being resolved, why not discuss which system works better?
Which system results in lower infant mortality?
Which system results in better care for the elderly? (No debate here, as the for-profit system stays as far away from a commitment to the elderly as possible)
Which system yields longer average life spans?
Which system is more cost effective? (after all, shouldn’t a system that provides for longer life spans logically be a more expensive one?)
Finally, (the answer to this is most revealing) which system has yielded the first reduction in average life span since the 1860’s.

Posted by: charles ross at March 24, 2008 4:34 PM
Comment #249023

“Your implied premise is that the government has the authority to establish a single payer system in which citizens must participate. I believe it holds no such authority.”

Mr Haney doesnt the Government, by charter,have the obligation to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,and secure the blessings of liberty to the people of this country. If the general walfare of the people is to be part of the obligation of the government and life is one of the blessings of liberty then perhaps those acting on behalf of we the people are dutybound to provide for healthcare. Much like the military that spends our tax dollars and doesnt let us go shopping for the best deal the healthcare system with a single payer plan would violate no rights the military doesnt.
So I guess it all comes back to interprepretation and the realization that the constitution is a living document that is vital to the freedom of all of us as well as the duty of all of us to hold those acting on behalf of we the people to the interpretation we as a whole want.
I have read some on the founding fathers and the revolution but healthcare doesnt seem to be mentioned one way or the other. Do you have any specifics on healthcare and the thoughts of the founding fathers? I would think that it wasnt at the top of the list of problems that generation faced. However now as technology and free market competition have caused the costs of healthcare to skyrocket it does seem to be closer to the top of the list and hopefully will be dealt with.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 24, 2008 5:07 PM
Comment #249024

“why not discuss which system works better?”

Because you must first take away individual rights in order to implement a forced single payer system.

The first question should not be “which system is better,” it should be “which system respects the rights of ALL.”

Posted by: kctim at March 24, 2008 5:13 PM
Comment #249027

In 1789, Jefferson influenced both documents, but one came before the other, and the differences are instructive. Both are to some extent based on the 1689 document, and the differences there are also of interest. That is where we see the “right to bear arms”, in a religious context. In the later documents, arms are linked with the militia.

I was being sarcastic on the Nordic thing, but you know they were just looking for a steady supply of beer and bread. The further north you go, the more likely the people would be eating what they fed to their animals. In England, more than a third of the land was growing crops used in make beer and ale.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 24, 2008 5:19 PM
Comment #249030

Kctim, your individual rights are “taken away” or reduced or modified daily in hundreds of ways right now. Do I really need to provide you with a list?
Individual rights as a concept does not trump all else and is not, in every case, the most important consideration. There is a balance of individual rights and community rights. The arguement whether or not a single payer system, in which all citizens must contribute, is of course an infringement on your choice (although, see my above comments re: your suppossed choice) and therefore your individual rights but the discussion about whether or not this is a reasonable infringment or not is not resolveable, as all infringment is a matter of degree isn’t it?Why should a community prohibit you from going as fast as you want in your car, or compel you to carry liability insurance on same car? You are, of course, not against the infringement of your rights in this example are you?

Posted by: Charles ross at March 24, 2008 5:36 PM
Comment #249034

charles,

“Instead of debating the rather theoretical issue of whether or not health care is a “right”, a debate that has no chance of being resolved, why not discuss which system works better?”

If the government has no authority to be running a single payer system, there is no point in discussing if it works better.

“Which system is more cost effective? (after all, shouldn’t a system that provides for longer life spans logically be a more expensive one?)”

Under current circumstances, those operating under the for-profit system subsidize the single payer system so I really don’t see your point. The cost shifting that is done between these two systems will obscure accurate statistics supporting either side. A better question might be, which system gives health care companies an incentive to provide my care and continually improve its quality? My answer would be that doctors and scientists at drug companies may be motivated by moral benefits of their work, but the people that pay them are motivated by profit.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 24, 2008 5:50 PM
Comment #249036

No need to provide a list Charles, I know it and I watch it grow almost daily.
Individual rights are not a “concept” to me, they are why we are Americans and nobody else is even close.

“but the discussion about whether or not this is a reasonable infringment or not is not resolveable, as all infringment is a matter of degree isn’t it?”

It is resolveable IF we respect each others individual rights. It only breaks down to a matter of degree when we do not respect each others rights.

“You are, of course, not against the infringement of your rights in this example are you?”

Yes, I am.

Posted by: kctim at March 24, 2008 5:59 PM
Comment #249039

“If the government has no authority to be running a single payer system, there is no point in discussing if it works better.”

But Mr Haney the government does seem to have an obligation to provide healthcare in my opinion. If the government has no authority to provide any healthcare then certainly the VA wouldnt exist. But since the VA does exist and does provide a healthcare system then why not the merits of a healthcare system that works for we the people.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 24, 2008 6:25 PM
Comment #249042

Lee:
Execellent post. Nice thought provoking piece, that is neither accusatory nor party partisan. IMHO it sparked an excellent debate that is based on ideology but did not degrade into the “street fight for political points” that is the norm.

DBS, David, Womanmarine, JaneDoe, Googlumpus, Duane-o, Ohrealy, J2t2, Kctim, Mr. Haney, and Charles Ross:

My hat is off to you for making multiple posts without falling into the usual traps that can/will change the debate into useless words. You have disagreed with others with respect and measure. This has made this IMHO the best debate I have ever seen on this site.

I have my own strong feelings on this topic, but am afraid they may take away from what you have going here, so I will wait to post them.

For Goodness sake, keep it up all!!!!! This is what our Country needs!!!!

Posted by: submariner at March 24, 2008 6:58 PM
Comment #249046
Why should a community prohibit you from going as fast as you want in your car, or compel you to carry liability insurance on same car? You are, of course, not against the infringement of your rights in this example are you?

I’ve pretty much avoided this topic… but I had to respond here.

The difference?

You do not need to drive a car to exist. It is an activity you choose to perform. Your actions in performing this activity may violate the rights of others so a requirement is placed on that activity.

Can you say the same in regards to simply breathing?

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 24, 2008 7:13 PM
Comment #249049

j2t2:

I want to address the comment you made:
“But Mr Haney the government does seem to have an obligation to provide healthcare in my opinion. If the government has no authority to provide any healthcare then certainly the VA wouldnt exist. But since the VA does exist and does provide a healthcare system then why not the merits of a healthcare system that works for we the people.”

As a user of the VA system, I would like to point out a couple of things:

1. The VA system was set up as part of an incentive package for a small percentage of the populace that preformed duties that required them to relenquish their basic freedoms and liberties to accomplish. These peoples not only gave up thier God given rights, but put their lives on the line also.

2. The VA system has never, EVER been fully funded. As a matter of fact, not all services are offered after hours. I could not even get an emergency ultrasound the day before my gall bladder was removed during emergency surgery. I had to go to a public ER for this and then have the surgery in a civillian hospital. I am a 30% service connected disabled vet that has had 7 surgeries on my service connected disability.

3. Other vetrans have been denied VA healthcare that they were promised. They did not get “in to the system” by a certain deadline. Others that served their country are denied the VA due to not fufilling their obligations for honorable service. I personally served with a few that lost their benefits due to one character flaw or mistake(pot use being the primary reason).

4. IMHO in the VA system, the quality of treatment has improved dramatically since the VA has had the ability to charge private insurance companies. There exists signs at my VA claiming the billions of money that have been paid by insurance companies. Based on my experience, if that money dries up, quality decreases. Again, in my personal experience had I not posessed insurance from my employer, I would have suffered over a weekend without treatment.

5. This is to expound on point #3. We were awarded the use of the VA system as a reward for living up to the UCMJ and our code of conduct. If heathcare is a right and the VA is the proof, why then are there conditions placed on the eligibity? Is anyone that believes that “healthcare” is a right willing to submit the general population to the same requirements for eligibility?

I would like to end with a disclaimer. The people I encountered at the VA could not be more professional. Where the resources are available the care could not have been better or have been done by more caring people.

Posted by: submariner at March 24, 2008 7:50 PM
Comment #249050

“We have single payer now; right now. It is provided to most of the people whom the for-profit system does not want: the elderly, the disabled civilian and the disabled veteran communities.” Posted by: charles ross at March 24, 2008 04:34 PM

Charles, you make the same error many others make and don’t include the millions of working Americans who have access to employer provided insurance but who choose not to participate in the premium.

Also missing from your list are illegal aliens who could, if they wished, purchase insurance using the same identity info they used to obtain work.

The elderly, (those on Medicare and Medicaid) are not unwanted (as you say) by the insurance industry as they already have coverage.

Combined, just these groups number in the tens of millions. You need to be more honest when you make statements such as that quoted above. If your argument can’t stand without the hyperbole, then it is a false argument.

Posted by: Jim M at March 24, 2008 8:05 PM
Comment #249052

janedoe “And the language of “living document” does allow for adaptation. Citizens were allowed and encouraged to posess and bear arms, to join forces and collectively protect and fight for our young country.Don’t think our forefathers gave any thought to certain people feeling the need to posess bazookas, or rocket launchers as part of their own private arms collection.”

janedoe I agree with you that weapons technology has improved to a great degree and its not wise to think all weapons are protected by the 2nd amendment. While I feel a rocket launcher is a tad inappropriate for hunting it may fit into the self defense category for some. However be that as it may rocket launchers should be outside of the 2nd amendment right to bear arms. You would think that if our founding fathers could sign off on the declaration of independence and formulate the constitution and bill of rights together and get them approved while facing the gallows our generation could compromise on a modification to the bill of rights that would work. But it seems that may be more than we can ask for.


Posted by: j2t2 at March 24, 2008 8:15 PM
Comment #249056

Our for profit health care system is a classic example of the health insurance industry socializing the cost of health care and privatizing the benefits. What I’ve said in my first post above is entirely reasonable and logical.
The issue of “individual rights” is, to the companies benefiting from the current system, a simplistic catch phrase used to reinforce an illogical, outrageously expensive health care system. Do you hear auto insurance companies protesting that “individual rights” are being violated because of mandatory insurance laws? Of course not. Why? Because although insurance company’s are always willing to trot out the argument of “choice” and “individual rights” when it is of benefit to them, the truth is, they don’t give a damn about your individual rights. The health care industry is a huge pie that government threatens to make smaller. These people will employ any argument they can to prevent this.
I see no functional difference between government compelling drivers to obtain liability insurance and compelling people to fund single payer health insurance, both through taxes and use fees.
It doesn’t work to have people driving around without minimal liability insurance and in that case your individual right to drive without insurance is less important than society’s right to be assured that you, as an individual, have some financial capacity to be responsible for your actions as a driver.
There most certainly an argument to be made for individual rights and choice in just about any situation but that suggests a balance between the rights of society and the rights of the individual not a complete abdication to “the rights of the individual”.
I guess in this case I’m less interested in principle than what works (a dangerous thing to say, I admit).
Does the “for-profit” system of health care in this country work? I don’t think that one can rationally look at how we deliver health care in America and say that it does. Even providers would like a change. I suspect that many would be willing to accept a single payer system that reimburses at Medicare rates for the benefit of downgrading their A/R department to ten percent of their office instead of the current thirty percent now required (I’m guessing, but I suspect those percentages are not far off.)
If you reread my orginal post I think it clearly shows that the choice between “choice” and “single payer”, I believe, is a false one.

Posted by: CHARLES ROSS at March 24, 2008 8:58 PM
Comment #249058

Lee Jamison, I don’t think the 2nd amendment would be necessary for hunters and trappers, since that would fall under the category of historic rights, that did not need to be enumerated:

“In 1787, there was a sizable block of delegates who were initially opposed to the Bill of Rights. One member of the Georgia delegation had to stay by way of opposition: “If we list the set of rights, some fools in the future are going to claim that people are entitled only to those rights enumerated.’” from TWWs1epTSL

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
from:
http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights.html

Posted by: ohrealy at March 24, 2008 9:06 PM
Comment #249059

Submariner said “We were awarded the use of the VA system as a reward for living up to the UCMJ and our code of conduct. If heathcare is a right and the VA is the proof, why then are there conditions placed on the eligibity? Is anyone that believes that “healthcare” is a right willing to submit the general population to the same requirements for eligibility?”
Good questions all submariner let me start with this
1. I didnt say healthcare is a right. I said “If the government has no authority to provide any healthcare then certainly the VA wouldnt exist”. Whether it is a right or not will be determined by someone besides me. I am not convinced either way right now and so I sometimes ask “devils advocate” questions to people that have strong opinions on one side of the issue.
2.However for the sake of discussion my general belief is that with any rights come responsibilities. I would agree that in order to participate in the VA one had to perform satisfactory military service to qualify. That would seem to say that if healthcare is a right then our rights have not been recognized or that our rights have been abused. Either way the point still remains that the government is not prevented from providing healthcare.
3. The obvious answer to the question of a means testing for a right is no because then it would be a privelege not a right. However in order to carry or buy a fire arm in most states a permit is required so it would seem that rights do have strings attached. So whether universal healthcare is a right or a privelege the government can have its part in it. I would think that perhaps means testing such as service to the country whether it be military or other service should be considered as a topic for debate on the subject. It will give me some food for thought though submariner.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 24, 2008 9:12 PM
Comment #249065

j2t2,

Now from my quick reading of the Federalist Paper #41 and some subsequent analysis, the phase “promote the general Welfare” was not intended to be a blanket statement that gave the federal government unlimited power. It is quite the contrary. That phrase was intended to be a synonym for the powers enumerated within the rest of The Constitution. A document seen as granting unlimited federal power would have never been ratified as it would have diluted/eliminated the sovereignty of individual states. Clearly, the states had no interest in such an agreement.

The bulk of the abuses in The Declaration address an inability of Americans to establish and maintain the rule of law or manage their own economic affairs. These topics also comprise a bulk of the powers enumerated in The Constitution. Earlier Kruser used the quote, “[It is a] great truth that industry, commerce and security are the surest roads to the happiness and prosperity of [a] people.” Applying this idea to our founding documents, it would seem the establishment and protection of equal rights and the unhindered exercise of free enterprise is all the founders believed was required to “promote the general welfare.” To use this phrase to allow any well intentioned government program is precarious because it moves the role of the government from promoting the general welfare into managing the welfare of the people. It is my opinion that, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” –Benjamin Franklin

submariner,

Thank you for addressing the issue of the VA.


Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 24, 2008 9:47 PM
Comment #249067

Mr Haney yes I dont think anyone wants the government be it federal state or local to have unlimited powers. However the “unhindered exercise of free enterprise is all the founders believed was required to “promote the general welfare.” is a little biased IMHO and the cause for many of our problems considering the morphing of our economic system to where it is at today. This is how Thomas Jefferson felt

“Agriculture, manufacturers, commerce, and navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are then most thriving when left most free to individual enterprise.”
Thomas Jefferson

and the most important:
“”I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a
trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
Thomas Jefferson, 1812
Source:Liberty Quotes

So it seems that what you call the “free market” is the problem not the solution. Healthcare is not one of the 4 pillars of commerce and corporations are not what the founding fathers meant when they said free enterprise. So as the corporate arostocracy has gotten larger and extended its claws into healthcare and other non business areas of our country it would only make sense to grow our government to fight the blight caused by the corporations. Afterall it was fraud or a mistake that allowed corporations to be considered human entities and not business entities.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 24, 2008 10:15 PM
Comment #249077

You know I hate to burst the bubbles of so many that have used this quote but this might be an interesting read for those that quote Franklin. Seems the quote “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” –Benjamin Franklin may have more history than we all realize.


http://www.futureofthebook.com/stories/storyReader$605

Posted by: j2t2 at March 24, 2008 11:10 PM
Comment #249079

j2t2, thanks for that. The most disconcerting thing about search engines now, is how often the top results come from wikipedia. These are entries that are edited from other sources that contain material that the person editing excludes if it contradicts their viewpoint. You inspired me to look up a quote on alltheweb, which I couldn’t remember the source for years, and I finally found it.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 24, 2008 11:26 PM
Comment #249083

ohrealy, I found it interesting to, as I have used this same quote and attributed it to Franklin previously without questioning the authenticity of the quote. Although it doesnt sway the topic of healthcare as a right of the people, an obligation of the governemnt or a free market opportunity one way or the other it is none the less an interesting tidbit.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 25, 2008 12:02 AM
Comment #249087
“”I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” Thomas Jefferson, 1812 Source:Liberty Quotes

So it seems that what you call the “free market” is the problem not the solution.

Wrong.

It is a common misunderstanding though by people who think that by ‘free market’ you mean ‘no limits’. In fact, you can’t have a truly free market if there is a monopoly, for example. You can’t have a free market if there is no one enforcing contract law.

Anything that interferes with the supply and demand prevents the market from being free. And yes, large monopolistic corporations do that very often. That is why there should be no monopolies. And why I don’t understand why we want to create more of them.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 25, 2008 12:39 AM
Comment #249088

About the quote, the researcher is right that the quote has been modified, I’ve seen this before. There is also discussion on whether he wrote it or if he just used it. This wasn’t the only place it was used in Franklin’s involvement. However, the quote does represent the views of those in that day and was not something more recent like the wrongly attributed ‘society goes through several phases’ quote that is used as well. At least the original quote, which is not that contextually different than the altered one, is something we know that Franklin was at least involved and agreed with if he didn’t actually write it himself, which I think it is stil safe to assume he did.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 25, 2008 12:45 AM
Comment #249098

j2t2,

First, free markets are not the problem. Special interest legislation, a long, convoluted tax code, and an overreaching federal government (to name just a few) are the problems. These things don’t allow free markets to work efficiently. Those with power and money help enact legislation to maintain their power and money by subverting the free markets. While this is clearly wrong and should be corrected, I still believe our current economic engine works well and (relative to the rest of the world) is very efficient. It could always work better, but to eliminate this abuse of power, we must remove those who are enacting the legislation.

“So as the corporate arostocracy has gotten larger and extended its claws into healthcare and other non business areas of our country it would only make sense to grow our government to fight the blight caused by the corporations.”

Second, Jefferson didn’t mention health care as a pillar of prosperity because it barely existed, so to imply that the founders would see not see it as an area of free enterprise is just silly. Furthermore, aren’t all the products (drugs, gloves, needles, etc.) consumed in providing your health care manufactured at some point? First, could you define exactly what are the “non business areas of our country”? Second, at what point do the use or exchange of these medical supplies and equipment enter the “non business areas of the country”?

Quite simply, I believe a larger government only provides for a larger opportunity for corruption through lobbying which, therefore, increases influence of corporations. It also gives both entities little reason to fear the citizenry.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 25, 2008 2:07 AM
Comment #249104

Aren’t corporations blocks of citizens who hold stock? They do this by choice. Many politicians hold stock. There is nothing evil in forming corporations. Any time a faction or large group of people get together and form associations there is an increased chance of tyranny or monopolies. This includes religion, government and the markets.
This realization caused the writing of our constitution with its checks, balances, and bill of rights.

Posted by: Kruser at March 25, 2008 9:27 AM
Comment #249105

ohrealy,
Going all the way back to your #249027, and understanding the philosophical foundations of your argument in #249058 having a clear prohibition of gun seizure (however muddled it may seem in the context of the modern world) does prevent the sort of things we’ve seen in places like Germany, China, etc. There is nothing in the Tenth Amendmant, for example, that prevents the states themselves from weapons siezures. The Ninth, while being well meaning in its afterthought, is so vague as to be virtually unenforceable, as the years have proven.

On the Nordic stuff, you weren’t too subtle. It would be silly to take offense. All really interesting ideas seem bizarre until one understands why they are not.

Submariner,
Thanks for the complement. This group is a remarkably thoughtful one and each and all have been willing, at various times and on many topics, to cut through the fog of talking points to make contributions that rose above emotion and partizanship.

Americans, as a people, have made the error of letting the elected set down the rails on which our civic discussion would roll. That distracts us and empowers them. If we really want solutions to the problems besetting society, though, we must get beyond the points they feed us and reacquaint ourselves with the really foundational issues that are the reason this nation exists in the first place.

I had been unaware, for example, of the two documents (see #248985 and #248992, above) ohreally introduced us to earlier in the discussion. They are deep and important statements of human rights which did not bear fruit in the lands of their birth, but found flower in the United States, instead.

We, especially in America, take it for granted that we understand what “rights” are, but we no longer engage our children in serious explorations of the concept. Nor, save in exceptional schools or families, were we ourselves so engaged. That is in spite of the fact that no other single concept is more central to the very existence of this nation or how it so radically differed from the governments that existed across the globe when this government came to be.

Politics is about how people bend issues to their advantage. It is to their ultimate advantage to make slaves of us. Discussions like this are how we can place our heads above the fog of their advantage.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 9:40 AM
Comment #249108

j2tj, Mr. Haney, and Rhinehold,

The conflict between government and corporate entities, as we commonly view it, is seen as a conflict between two fundamentally different kinds of creature. Actually this is not true. Both corportations and official government are simply forms of organization, different kinds of “corporation” that are inherently in competition with each other.

We see this sort of thing in other areas as well. Organized crime can be seen as an emergent competitive government. When Standard Oil was forming its great monopoly it was doing so, quite self-consciously, to provide order in chaotic oil markets. It behaved like a centralized government authority even to the point of charging what were effectively taxes on non-associated oil companies that used rail transportation with railroads under contract to Standard.

The genius of American free enterprise is that it has usually struck a balance in the tension between one sort of governance and another, giving neither market driven corporations, nor tax financed government the trump card.

With that idea I will reiterate a point made earlier that rights don’t exist in a vacuum, but are the product of a tension between people or other entities and the government.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 10:00 AM
Comment #249109

Submariner and j2t2,
If healthcare is a right then, clearly, the practice of medicine is an obligation. No matter how I look at that statement it makes me wince to say it.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 10:08 AM
Comment #249116

“First, free markets are not the problem. Special interest legislation, a long, convoluted tax code, and an overreaching federal government (to name just a few) are the problems. These things don’t allow free markets to work efficiently.”

The biggest portion of the special interest causing this legislation are the corporate lobbiest. I keep thinking insurance companies while you keep referring to drug companies. Insurance companies are the problem with the healthcare system today. We actual think they have a right to overcharge and abuse us because they are a corporate entity. When you think that our system of healthcare is controlled more so by insurance companies than the government or those practicing medicine it is fairly simple to see what the problem is. Government regulation is the excuse not the problem.

“Second, Jefferson didn’t mention health care as a pillar of prosperity because it barely existed, so to imply that the founders would see not see it as an area of free enterprise is just silly.”

Is it any sillier than to say that because they didnt mention it specifically that their is no right to healthcare? I agree it wasnt an issue at the time however it certainly is now. While the free market is excellent at many things healthcare has proven not to be one of them.

“First, could you define exactly what are the “non business areas of our country”?”
I was thinking primarily of the medical fields to include hospitals doctors and privatized ambulance services used in many parts of the country as far as this conversation but the military comes to mind as well as police and fire departments.Things the free market doesnt handle as well as government can and does.

“Second, at what point do the use or exchange of these medical supplies and equipment enter the “non business areas of the country”?”

When it comes time for the medical personnel to deliver health care. Again insurance companies that think of the dollars instead of the patient are the problem. Drug manufacturers are a seperate issue that could be dealt with through the free market.Im not against the free market for most things I just think that as corporate influence grows so must the government. Much like most of you I to at one time thought the problem was big government but came to realize its the manipulation of government by corporate influence and the power of corporations that need to be curbed to allow free enterprise to exist in this country and around the world. By giving rights to a corporation we have as Mr Jefferson has warned caused our own aristocracy. Which of course is what the founders were fighting against.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 25, 2008 10:49 AM
Comment #249117

Rhinehold said “Wrong. It is a common misunderstanding though by people who think that by ‘free market’ you mean ‘no limits’. In fact, you can’t have a truly free market if there is a monopoly, for example. You can’t have a free market if there is no one enforcing contract law.Anything that interferes with the supply and demand prevents the market from being free. And yes, large monopolistic corporations do that very often. That is why there should be no monopolies. And why I don’t understand why we want to create more of them.”

Rhinehold see above response to Mr Haney. But on the bigger question you have not yet graced us with your thoughts. Is healthcare a right or obligation of the government?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 25, 2008 10:54 AM
Comment #249121

Healthcare is the obligation of the individual.

Posted by: kctim at March 25, 2008 11:19 AM
Comment #249124

Lee -

Organized crime are organizations that provides in demand goods and services that the government or the corporate marketplace can not provide.

It’s natural that all three of these entities interact with each other at some level so that one’s marketplace is clearly defined. The first thing a good mob boss does is go pay off a high ranking official.

Posted by: George in SC at March 25, 2008 12:04 PM
Comment #249125

Insurance companies compete in the marketplace for the health insurance premium. Some thrive and some fail and go out of business. Competition is fierce and as an agent, I know that premiums vary widely for the same benefits.

Government is not allowed to fail or go out of business no matter how badly mismanaged or how mis priced their product as witnessed by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Those who refuse to pay premium for insurance thru their employer have that right contrary to all the frothing done by some on this site and Hillary Clinton. Those who refuse to work have that right as well and must be content to live with what society is willing to give to them.

Posted by: Jim M at March 25, 2008 12:05 PM
Comment #249132

Lee Jamison, local governments here pass all kinds of laws all the time that make so many things illegal, that they could arrest almost anyone they want on some excuse at any time, or levy fines for incorrect behavior.

“Healthcare is the obligation of the individual” sounds about right. If health care is a right, will the government have the right to requiree the recipient of the care to submit to a psychological examination to determine if the person is a hypochondriac, and resources are not wasted treating people who do not actually need what they may be requesting? Will doctors be allowed to refuse to treat people who still smoke for conditions caused by their smoking? Will doctors be penalized if they tell patients to get off their fat lazy asses and get some exercize?

Posted by: ohrealy at March 25, 2008 12:58 PM
Comment #249141

ohrealy,
As to your comment on local government, it would be so nice a world if that were the worst of it! Think of how tax laws are intended to intimidate us even as they are designed to tempt us into misdeeds. What waiter or waitress would not be tempted to underreport tips? I recently had a client express shock that I report all my cash sales for both state sales taxes and for federal taxes, but as someone who sometimes irritates the powers that be what kind of fool would I be to do otherwise? All of this hems in the freedom of individuals to expose themselves to close examination when they take a political stand.

Even when you do the best you can differing interpretations of tax and other rules can be used to criminalize or grant the appearance of criminalizing when it is convenient to the powerful.

Say what they may, those who love to tout government over private industry can’t claim industry can throw people in jail unless a corrupt government cooperates in the effort.

Why people are not perpetually in fear of the powers of government is beyond my capacity to comprehend.

As to health care, by the acid test of my earlier post I have to agree with you. I have a right to eat, though not to be fed, a right to speak, though not necessarily to have an audience, a right to live, though not necessarily a right to have my health prolonged (even against the consequences of my own life choices). And your examples are perfect for the reasons why a “right” to health care is deeply problematic.

Can we allow people to ride motorcycles if we must repair their wounds when they fall? Can we permit people to eat hamburgers when they are overweight if we must medicate them for arteriosclerosis? Can we permit people to languish before TV sets on Sunday afternoons if their lack of fitness attacks the public pocketbook?

A “right” to be PROVIDED health care MUST intrude on freedoms we take for granted! More and ever more power to the government is the only conceivable result.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 1:54 PM
Comment #249143

Well said Lee. Thanks! As a tobacco user I am charged more by the insurance company for my life and long-term care insurance as well as my Medicare supplement. I expect to pay more as I present a bigger risk than someone who doesn’t use tobacco.

I am already considered a 2nd class citizen by my government as I am unfairly taxed for a legal product I wish to use and in some cities, may not even use this legal product outside on the street or in the park.

Government mandated and provided health insurance will surely lead to oppression of those who choose to smoke, are overweight, or pursue any other lifestyle not considered correct by those in government. Why is it so difficult for liberals to understand that their privacy and choices will be curtailed.

Posted by: Jim M at March 25, 2008 2:21 PM
Comment #249144

Lee, right now, in our “free market” health care system, we impose restrictions on people who engage in a couple of the activities you just listed: many state laws require motorcycle riders to wear helmets, cigarette sales are regulated and taxed by both state and federal governments. Has the world ended?

Government can serve a valued service by providing STANDARDS for products, services and even behavior. Can it go too far in regulating behavior? Sure. Can we as voters, citizens, taxpayers prevent them from going too far? Of course. (I’m starting to sound like rummy here!) Do you really want to ride in a car that doesn’t have government standards for safety/polution? To hell with government, let the free market decide, you say?
“Let’s not buy that car, honey, I hear a lot of people die in it”.
Is that how you want things to be?
What about your statement: “perpetually fearing the powers of government”. What is that about? It implies that YOU are perpetually living in fear of the powers of government. There is really no rational argument, debate, conversation to be had if that is true. I can only suggest that if we truly had the ‘every man for himself’ society that you seem to envision, we would all lead short, brutal lives (except for the bond traders, of course, they always seem to come out on top!)

Posted by: Charles ross at March 25, 2008 2:29 PM
Comment #249148

The world wouldn’t end if we outlawed abortion either, how do you all feel about taking away that individual right of choice?

Posted by: kctim at March 25, 2008 3:11 PM
Comment #249149

For most of the population, it is more important to get the medication that they are prescribing for themselves for conditions that they are well aware of, rather than having a priest/doctor, to provide a religious/medical consultation.

The most annoying thing that happened in this area for me was that they took the medication out of AFRIN, and I couldn’t believe it when I got a cold this winter. The government made them take the medication out, because they were fearful of it being used to make something illegal.

Smokin Jim M, go visit some COPD patients, and see if that is where you really want to go. Emphesema is fun too, friends and relatives will start avoiding you if you cough and spit all the time.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 25, 2008 3:21 PM
Comment #249150

Charles ross,

I do always fear the powers of government. I also always fear the business end of a gun and the damage I can do quite by accident with an automobile. That makes me a careful user of all those things. But, for the time being, I am very deeply concerned with people who seem not to understand the damage government-the-tool can do.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 3:58 PM
Comment #249153

“Smokin Jim M, go visit some COPD patients, and see if that is where you really want to go. Emphesema is fun too, friends and relatives will start avoiding you if you cough and spit all the time.”
Posted by: ohrealy at March 25, 2008 03:21 PM

What I choose to do with my life is my business ohrealy. You obviously missed my point but I expected nothing less. Many on this site would have us believe they are perfect persons with no human failings or harmful behavior. I want you and government to stay out of my personal life and pocketbook. Go peddle your nonsense to another lib. OH, WAIT, a true liberal wants the freedom to live as they wish also.

You ohrealy, are apparently a control-freak who sees only the failings of others. My personal habits are not taking a dime from your pocket and do no infringe on any of your rights.

Posted by: Jim M at March 25, 2008 4:23 PM
Comment #249154

The media continues to make a big deal about Sen. Hillary Clinton and her comments pertaining to Bosnia. Unlike Sen. Clinton, her opponent, the Senator from Illinois has yet to visit any war zone. Having protected President and Mrs. Clinton and President and Mrs. Bush in foreign countries, I know what the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) would brief any civilian visitor. I am sure that Sen. Clinton recalls what she was told by the USSS or her military escorts that most likely briefed her “she had to be aware of snipers”. I am sure that the same USSS or military advisors briefed her that if attacked by snipers, she would have to stay low and run to the nearest bunker or vehicle as she recalls. As an officer that lived in all three war zones that is what I regularly briefed civilian visitors. I am convinced that this is why she recalls the event the way she did.

No one is safe in a war zone. Having served in the Balkans (i.e., Bosnia), Iraq and Afghanistan I can assure all Americans that snipers can kill you from afar. Ask the families of thousands of American soldiers that have died from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). IEDs are deployed from afar and like snipers, both are deadly. He’d rather talk about it than put his words into action. As a soldier my hats are off to Sen. Clinton. As for any media comparing this event to the Senator from Illinois pastor’s behavior, I find this repulsive and totally unethical. But then the American news media is known for attacking Sen. Hillary Clinton. Americans should not forget the so-called sound bites against America and yet the Senator from Illinois is defending his pastor as he would an uncle. Even recently, Sen. John McCain has been reminded that he misspoke.

Posted by: Dr. Rene, USAF Retired, Recently at March 25, 2008 4:33 PM
Comment #249155

Jim M said “I am already considered a 2nd class citizen by my government as I am unfairly taxed for a legal product I wish to use and in some cities, may not even use this legal product outside on the street or in the park.”

Jim M do you also feel you are considered a 2nd class citizen for not being able to go out in the street or park and fire off a few rounds after a few drinks? I know it sounds good to blame the government for feeling like a 2nd class citizen but I think it is yourself and perhaps some of your fellow citizens that make you fell that way. If it was the government wouldnt there be some paperwork for you to sign? :)

ohrealy said ““Healthcare is the obligation of the individual” sounds about right. If health care is a right, will the government have the right to requiree the recipient of the care to submit to a psychological examination to determine if the person is a hypochondriac, and resources are not wasted treating people who do not actually need what they may be requesting? Will doctors be allowed to refuse to treat people who still smoke for conditions caused by their smoking? Will doctors be penalized if they tell patients to get off their fat lazy asses and get some exercize?

and Lee said “A “right” to be PROVIDED health care MUST intrude on freedoms we take for granted!”

You know the sad thing is despite our worries and fears thats not the way it is in France according to all information I can find. Of course I think the difference is they may take it upon themselves as individuals to eat a little healthier. It would seem we use “its our right” as a reason to live unhealthy and run the cost of treatment up. Perhaps its because, although they are not as religious as we claim to be, they care a little more about their fellow human beings and a little less about me me me than we do. Maybe its due to our extreme competitiveness and more shallow and consumeristic society that we find it hard to want to see others do well despite their vices.

Lee asks”Why people are not perpetually in fear of the powers of government is beyond my capacity to comprehend.”
While I cant speak for others I can say that while I have a decent respect for the powers of government and understand the potential for abuse of those powers, moreso now than ever after the past 7 years, I have looked at the track record of our government and the people that run our government and all things considered it could be a lot worse and is elsewhere. I also consider my self in good company when it comes to the potential for abuse of power by corporations as Thomas Jeffersom amongst others share this same view. The governemnt must be watched Lee but not only the government the corporations must also be watched as the corporation as we know has only one purpose and the government has many purposes than including protecting us from the abuses by corporations in pursuit of profit at any cost. Afterall the want of money is the root of all evil.


“Yes, we did produce a near-perfect republic. But will they keep it? Or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the path of destruction.”
Thomas Jefferson

and 1 more from TJ.

“Men by their constitutions are naturally divided
into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust
the people, and wish to draw all powers from them
into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves. Call them, therefore, Liberals and Serviles,
Jacobins and Ultras, Whigs and Tories, Republicans
and Federalists, Aristocrats and Democrats, or by
whatever name you please, they are the same
parties still and pursue the same object. The last one of Aristocrats and Democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.”
Thomas Jefferson


Posted by: j2t2 at March 25, 2008 4:40 PM
Comment #249157

“Jim M do you also feel you are considered a 2nd class citizen for not being able to go out in the street or park and fire off a few rounds after a few drinks? I know it sounds good to blame the government for feeling like a 2nd class citizen but I think it is yourself and perhaps some of your fellow citizens that make you fell that way. If it was the government wouldnt there be some paperwork for you to sign? :)” Posted by: j2t2 at March 25, 2008 04:40 PM

j2t2, what an interesting comparison you conjure up…smoking and the possibility someone may inadvertently breathe some second-hand smoke outdoors to a person who has had a few drinks and fires a weapon in public. What a stretch to make a point I really don’t understand. By the way, many cities forbid fornication in public also, but they don’t place a special tax on those who have their sex in private.

I don’t get the “paperwork” comment either. No one asked my consent to be singled out for special taxation for smoking. That was done in Washington and Austin. Those who enjoy alcohol weren’t asked for their consent either.

You remind me of the joke about Teddy Kennedy who was heard to mutter, “Why didn’t I think of that” when a fellow senator began his speech by saying, “Gentlemen, let me tax your memories”.

Posted by: Jim M at March 25, 2008 5:39 PM
Comment #249158

j2t2, don’t brag on Jefferson too much. One of the problems with our country has always been not living up to the theory. Jefferson thought a lot about trying to get slaves out of the country if they were freed, and even wanted his own manumitted descendants to get out of Virginia.

Lee Jamison, I’ve had this argument with conservatives for years. The local governments are far more intrusive, annoying and confiscatory than the federal government will ever be. It’s very common here for people not to be able to afford to live in the houses and communities where they grew up, primarily due to excessive real estate taxes.

The state, county, and municipalities all have their own law enforcement capabilities. The only local level of government here that doesn’t is the township, most of their budget being for the school district.

Jim M, I apologize for my intrusion into your personal habits, but since you mentioned smoking in a health insurance context, you might expect people to say something about it.

I am actually opposed to the multiple layers of taxation on alcohol and tobacco, and most consumption taxes, which some Rpblcns actually want to increase and fold into the price of the products. We just got the highest sales tax in the nation a few weeks ago.

I know people who buy their cigarettes online from someplace in Kentucky, others who buy tobacco in large cans with rolling papers, and I knew someone who was growing his own tobacco plants in pots on his balcony. I also met a young man who sells cartons of cigarettes on the street for cash. He claims he can get $100 for a carton of Newports in downtown Chicago. At least it’s still legal, except for the street vendor.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 25, 2008 5:41 PM
Comment #249161

Dr. Rene,
You made the following comment:

“The media continues to make a big deal about Sen. Hillary Clinton and her comments pertaining to Bosnia. Unlike Sen. Clinton, her opponent, the Senator from Illinois has yet to visit any war zone. Having protected President and Mrs. Clinton and President and Mrs. Bush in foreign countries, I know what the U.S. Secret Service (USSS) would brief any civilian visitor. I am sure that Sen. Clinton recalls what she was told by the USSS or her military escorts that most likely briefed her “she had to be aware of snipers”. I am sure that the same USSS or military advisors briefed her that if attacked by snipers, she would have to stay low and run to the nearest bunker or vehicle as she recalls. As an officer that lived in all three war zones that is what I regularly briefed civilian visitors. I am convinced that this is why she recalls the event the way she did.”

and I feel I have to respond to it. You mention living in 3 war zones but you didn’t mention if you personally were ever the target of a sniper. I have been on 6 different occasions and believe me If she were shot at she would certainly remember it with vivid detail.

Posted by: BOHICA at March 25, 2008 5:58 PM
Comment #249163

I have thought all day about the definition of “rights”. I never was really able to define it to my own satification, to the point that it could not be picked apart by “legaleese”. I began thinking that it was ironic that a great many people I have encountered probably cannot, without great effort, define rights in an air tight manner. But I have also noticed that almost everyone can declare what their rights are. Although I have looked up the definition, I think that “Webster’s” does not do the word justice. Although the dictionary can define the word, it does so without giving it “real” meaning IMHO.

I am curious, as to what everyone thinks it means. As for me(and borrowing from the dictionary, but adding to it), a right is something that is due to every person by force of nature and that cannot be taken from that person except due to the following:
1. The person freely gives up the right through individual consent and contract that compensates the individual to his/her satisifaction.
2. The person violates another’s rights in a manner that justly and criminally punnishable by just law.
3. The violation of the individual’s rights by force or threat of force.

Now as to the discussion of “is healthcare a right”. I believe that terms should be defined. What is meant by healthcare? Is this limited to lifesaving care? Emergency care? Cosmetic treatments? Ongoing treatment? Long range plans? I believe that lifesaving and emergency care are provided without the ability to pay by law now.

For the record, IMHO you cannot equate the treatment for a heart attack to an ACL reconstruction. I have had the latter, and it greatly improved my quality of life. Without it, I currently would be unable to hold a job and would be on disability, living the rest of my life in poverty. But unless I had the ability to pay for the care I recieved or the care was part of a contract for which I gave up my rights for(which it was, I injured my knee in the line of duty in the Navy), the responsibility for the healthcare was mine(my private insurance paid for the surgery).

What about the rest? Do you have the “right” to take the time, application of skills and effort of a doctor for non life-threatening condition? What are the doctors’ rights? How is this not infringing on them? Or is my definition skewed?

IMHO we need to define and differentiate between what is a right and what is fair/just and what the individuals’ responsibilities are before we can declare whether or not healthcare is a right. I hope this next question challanges everyone. What right do you have to be treated fairly?

I admit that my life experiences and education greatly influence my beliefs on this issue. I am really curious as to the beliefs of others. Please point out your agreements/disagreements with me and challange me to think. God I can learn from this.

Posted by: submariner at March 25, 2008 6:26 PM
Comment #249164

Bohica,
Dr. Rene can’t even seem to hit the appropriate thread.

ohrealy,
To tell the truth I didn’t think I was arguing with you. We in Texas have outrageous propety taxes that can grow by as much as ten percent each year (and double every seven years as a result) and a pernicious structure for establishing rates that freezes voters out of choosing the tax boards. On the other hand I know my county commissioner personally (That’s probably harder to do in Chicago than in Walker County, TX) which makes it easier to influence him or to express my concerns.
In any event once government has become unresponsive to voters, as it has in Texas and in the national government, it is awfully hard to convince its corporate culture that its prerogatives are wrong.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 6:29 PM
Comment #249166

Lee Jamison, I think I can one up you on the locals. In the February PRIMARY for Cook County assesor, the candidates spent millions on annoying jibjab style ads, and the incumbent got contributions to his campaign from someone whose property tax he reduced by over $10,000.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 25, 2008 6:36 PM
Comment #249171

Jim M said “j2t2, what an interesting comparison you conjure up…smoking and the possibility someone may inadvertently breathe some second-hand smoke outdoors to a person who has had a few drinks and fires a weapon in public. What a stretch to make a point I really don’t understand.”
The only point Jim M is you make your self feel like a 2nd class citizen not the government. Blaming the government for everything doesnt solve the problem.

By the way, many cities forbid fornication in public also, but they don’t place a special tax on those who have their sex in private.”

Maybe they just havent figured out how to do that yet.

I don’t get the “paperwork” comment either.
Well if it was the government that made you feel like a 2nd class citizen dont you think they would require paperwork from you to confirm the 2nd class status? Thats what makes me think its not the government.

No one asked my consent to be singled out for special taxation for smoking. That was done in Washington and Austin. Those who enjoy alcohol weren’t asked for their consent either.

Much as you have a right to smoke which I defend you also have a right to walk away from buying the cigarettes that are taxed. Other than that you have the same voice as eveyone else in your area. Your representatives at every level. With the shifting of the tax burden to the middle class it seems we only have the choice of tax and spend or borrow and spend so I feel for ya but the money has got to come from someplace. You cant expect these corporations to get off the public teat do you?
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/7/30/222447/681

You remind me of the joke about Teddy Kennedy who was heard to mutter, “Why didn’t I think of that” when a fellow senator began his speech by saying, “Gentlemen, let me tax your memories”.

Well I guess thats better than taxing my grandkids to pay for a debacle today.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 25, 2008 8:12 PM
Comment #249176

ohrealy,
At least your assessor can change rates- and then you can fire him if you get enough of your friends and neighbors to agree he should go. Our tax assessors are a kind of elected, glorified clerk.

On the other hand, down in Harris County (Houston) people have been running ads crowing how they reduced “tax rates” “more than ever before”. In fact they generally reduced the rates by about one to two percent while taxable valuations rose NINE PERCENT. Isn’t that just like a politician to claim to have decreased your taxes while your bill went up by seven percent?

That goes to the issue of another “right” we should fight for- honest reporting of what our officials are doing. If our bill goes up why can’t we insist that is an increase? Why can’t we expect government to have to live by the same accounting rules business executives go to jail for violating?

Dumb question.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 8:43 PM
Comment #249179

Lee Jamison, I guess this article from the Declaration on the Rights of Man would be a good addition to the Bill of Rights, or at least part of the state constitutions:

15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration.

They were mostly referring to bribery.

Posted by: ohrealy at March 25, 2008 9:09 PM
Comment #249182

Just for those of you looking on who may be confused by my mixed up wording- Texas Tax Assessor-Collectors have no power either to affect the rates at which properties are valued for tax purposes or the rate at which those values are taxed. County Commissioner’s Courts, City councils, and School, hospital, and some other districts can set tax rates charged against valuations. Valuations themselves are set only by boards which are appointed (I think) by County Judges and approved by Commisioner’s Courts. No elected official has direct authority over property tax valuations.

Yeah, it confuses the hell out of us, too.

ohrealy,
Hmmm, accounting. Just what they don’t want to deal honestly with. Besides, with the perks of modern office and influence who needs bribes? (well, apart from some really dense congressmen…)

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 9:43 PM
Comment #249183

The question is whether “for profit” health care is better than “government”. Capitalist principles vs socialist. Applying the term rights does not logically apply and is just a manipulative use of a non applicable word. (designed for guilt and obligation)
The biggest advantage of capitalist or private health care isn’t the “profit” aspect, it is the the potential for “loss”. My wife recently had surgery on our privately purchased insurance. The hospital was impressive as were all the doctors and staff. Why the improvement over twenty years? (my last visit) They try to be better than the others so a majority of business goes to them. This only worked to our advantage. A loss of the customer base would result if they remained the same over the years.
Government programs have a tendancy to remain static. It would be much harder to threaten a move to another hospital or insurance plan if they are all the same and have little fear of losing their customer base.
This works in all aspects of capitalistic systems. The fear of losing a job or the fear of losing customers motivates people to do a bit better than the others. Profits are an indication that they are succeeding at it.

Posted by: Kruser at March 25, 2008 9:50 PM
Comment #249186

“The question is whether “for profit” health care is better than “government”. Capitalist principles vs socialist.”
Not really Kruser the question is why do some people still try to claim it is a socialist system to describe a French style system. The doctors and hospitals do not work for the state. Another question you might try is why do some people always distort the issue when it is the insurance companies that are raking in the profits and adding 30% at least to the cost of health care as hospitals struggle to maintain service in many areas. Not to mention the tatics used by insurance companies such as excluding people from coverage and care to keep the profits up.

Seems real capitalist would be running to a better system for all at almost half the price yet they condemn and call names instead of moving to the more efficient model? Seems the capitalist are really monopolist and ruthless opportunist hiding behind capitalism. I also would ask why some people would want to continue an employer based insurance system that burdens all business some and the small businessman most when better options are available.

“The biggest advantage of capitalist or private health care isn’t the “profit” aspect, it is the the potential for “loss”.”

I guess if the whole purpose of providing health care is to make a profit instead of treating people for health problems them maybe your statement is correct. However if the purpose of health care is to actually make sick people well without bankrupting them then your advantage seems rather perverted dontcha think?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 25, 2008 11:09 PM
Comment #249189

This is completely backwards, but how about a definition of right:

a moral, ethical, or legal principle considered as an underlying cause of truth, justice, morality, or ethics.

akin to L réctus ruled, Gk orektós upright;

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/right

Posted by: ohrealy at March 25, 2008 11:48 PM
Comment #249198

j2t2,

Look we get your beef with the insurance companies. If people are getting that raw of deal, why don’t they simply drop their insurance? Is directly negotiating with the providers illegal? Yes, dropping insurance coverage is a risk, but who says people shouldn’t have to face risk? Once again, health care is the responsibility of the individual, and they must weight the options and minimize their risk.

“Well I guess thats better than taxing my grandkids to pay for a debacle today.”

Agreed, the only guarantee the government can provide is that it will screw future generations with the promises it makes to current generations. It may do so because the historical record is on its side. Why should I expect additional promises in regards to health care be any different?

At this point, I would like to thank FDR for allowing me to spend 6.2% of my income on the golden years of the Baby Boomers. I would also like to thank my employer for matching my generous contribution. Boomers, please enjoy my money.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 26, 2008 5:08 AM
Comment #249199

Confiscating premiums would be a socialist principle. The policyholders have no recourse if they are not satisfied.
The point is that gains are made in quality in an effort to do better than the other guy in a capitalistic system. Most health care professionals sacrifice greatly and have much more motive to help others remain healthy than a politician has. This is absent when premiums are confiscated and there is only one payer.
I purchased a low cost plan due to being self employed and am very satisfied with it.
The profit percentages given along with the improvements in quality of hospital care are an indication of success. Profits are the reward for doing a good job and apparently they are. Investors must be making a lot of money in the present down market if the reporting is accurate.

The French have a system that gives the money to a private entity to be dispersed. Good things about their program are the reforms they made in billing and also limiting lawsuits. They also take better care than themselves. These could be made under our system now.
I say show us reform in the present system and we will see what the next step is. At the present levels for instance, liability for government paid doctors will bankrupt them under single payer wages.

Wasn’t the poor’s right to own a home a movement just a few short years ago? It wasn’t so much greed but pressure to get “people off the street” that caused the sub prime failures. Some couldn’t get loans when it was easy for the “rich”. Maybe there is a reason behind this. (the right doesn’t exist and was misapplied)

Is providing health care a moral, ethical or legal principle underlying the cause of truth justice morality or ethics? It doesn’t fit. Try equality instead.

Rights are a standard of behavior or how we expect to be treated by others. They can be protected by a government; the real purpose of its existance. They certainly don’t include a government handout program.

Posted by: Kruser at March 26, 2008 5:26 AM
Comment #249207

j2t2 has a point when he references the capacity to exclude coverages for preexisting conditions. He also has a point with the reference to inflating expenses by 30%, much of which goes to avoiding or nit-picking payments. The for-profit principle works, but only when it stands on level ground with its competition. In this case the competition is government stopgap programs.

The fact of the matter is that we DO pay for the uninsured. There is no organized system limiting the ways private industry may escape the expense of dealing with them, however, so enormous capital is wasted in the effort to put the most expensive patients off on someone else. The wasteful process is continued until the can has been kicked as far down the road as is possible and we have arrived at the last possible, and most expensive, way of dealing with what can’t be avoided. It is a lesson in disaster by procrastination.

If private industry is forced to deal with people on the same playing field as government must play on they will be more efficient and competitive about how they do the job. As long as they can choose the shape and slant of the field on which they play, and who will be permitted to participate, we will always treat this issue as a political football.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 26, 2008 9:29 AM
Comment #249212

Kruser,

Rights are protected by government against violation by something other than government. When rights are violated by government we must preserve the possibility of turning elsewhere, or of having different interests competing within government. There must be a natural tension among competing entities to assist us in the preservation of rights.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 26, 2008 10:23 AM
Comment #249213

“You cant expect these corporations to get off the public teat do you?
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2007/7/30/222447/681
Posted by: j2t2 at March 25, 2008 08:12 PM

Thanks for the link j2t2. I am pleased that new nuclear facilities are being contemplated and see nothing inappropriate with federal loan guarantees for these expensive projects that will help our nation become energy independent. Sure beats conjuring up some kind of “carbon tax” to take money from each of our pockets. Loan guarantees only cost the taxpayer money if the project fails.

Many people still do not understand that corporations are merely tax collectors, not tax payers. Only individuals pay taxes.

Posted by: Jim M at March 26, 2008 10:25 AM
Comment #249214

“On the other hand, down in Harris County (Houston) people have been running ads crowing how they reduced “tax rates” “more than ever before”. In fact they generally reduced the rates by about one to two percent while taxable valuations rose NINE PERCENT. Isn’t that just like a politician to claim to have decreased your taxes while your bill went up by seven percent?” Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 25, 2008 08:43 PM

Lee, Using either a one or two percent reduction in rates, even with a nine percent increase in valuation, actually does reduce the tax bill. I’ll do the arithmetic for you if you wish.

Posted by: Jim M at March 26, 2008 10:38 AM
Comment #249217

“Look we get your beef with the insurance companies. If people are getting that raw of deal, why don’t they simply drop their insurance? Is directly negotiating with the providers illegal? Yes, dropping insurance coverage is a risk, but who says people shouldn’t have to face risk? Once again, health care is the responsibility of the individual, and they must weight the options and minimize their risk.”

Mr Haney suppose you have been paying insurance for say 10 years to a company then misfortune strikes and you are stricken with a cancer. The company looks at your application, sends out detectives to investigate and doctors on their staff to mitigate the costs to them. They then choose to deny paying for your treatment. Do you think another company will step in and cover your treatment while you are out of work and not making premiums. Do you think it will be cheaper to deal directly with the hospital, doctors and pharmicist for treatment as an individual? Precisely how does one ” weight the options and minimize their risk.” in this situation? Thats like saying “stay the course” or “cut and run”, it sounds good but doesnt say much. You hold the individual responsible for risk yet allow the corporation to avoid the responsibility for the risk they accepted by taking premiums, thats special because the insurance companies are the ones that want to profit by accepting these risks. You advocate for lawyers to step in while you are at your sickest to defend you against the insurance companies. That may work for the wealthiest of us but is not reality for most of us. Just do the math here and you will see why.

“At this point, I would like to thank FDR for allowing me to spend 6.2% of my income on the golden years of the Baby Boomers. I would also like to thank my employer for matching my generous contribution. Boomers, please enjoy my money.”
Why dont you thank the right people. That would be us, the American people for allowing the congress to put SS in the general fund and not kept seperate for use as intended by FDR. While it is a cheap shot on FDR its just not his fault.

“Agreed, the only guarantee the government can provide is that it will screw future generations with the promises it makes to current generations. It may do so because the historical record is on its side. Why should I expect additional promises in regards to health care be any different?”

You do realize I was referring to the Occupation of Iraq dont you Mr. Haney? With regards to healthcare I fail to see why so many people in this Country are willing to secede such an important issue as health care to almost all other industrialized nations and accept a position as a 3rd world nation when it comes to health care. Would you accept this if it was the military that we had chosen to let slip instead of healthcare? The military is a socialist system afterall. The military is also running up debt for the next generation yet its the health of our nation that is expendable as if it is running up debt for our nation. Now I know you can look at medicare and the financial burden but then you must realize it is working under our present system and could be improved as we transition to a national health care system similar to the French system.

“Confiscating premiums would be a socialist principle. The policyholders have no recourse if they are not satisfied.”
Is that it Kruser? Your premiums would be no more confiscated than they are now. You seem to thnk its a choice between capitalism and socialism but is it really capitalism or is it fascism that is the other choice. Why not forget those scary tags we like to use to confuse the issue and deal with the problem of a health care system that works.

“The point is that gains are made in quality in an effort to do better than the other guy in a capitalistic system.”
Then why by all measures are we as a nation seeing our health care system deteriorate? By your theory we should be much more competitive than we actually are, perhaps thats the difference between economic theory and real world health care.

“These could be made under our system now.
I say show us reform in the present system and we will see what the next step is. At the present levels for instance, liability for government paid doctors will bankrupt them under single payer wages.”
I also say show us reform with the current system. According to your much espoused economic theory the market place should have taken care of these problems but it hasnt. In fact just the opposite has happened since the system has went to full out uber capitalism. If you want reform you will need to advocate for revolution in the system much like I am now. Economic theory doesnt work in the health care world Kruser as it does in many other areas of our lives,that just the way it is. If it did for the amount we spend per capita we would be much healthier as a nation. Its time to recognize this and make the needed changes.

Mr Haney , Kruser , If your interested, for more information on healthcare go to Rays recent post on the subject. There are many good links regarding different options available.

Lee sorry for getting off track on your excellent post and topic but I just cant let the misinformation go unchecked, it has a habit of turning into “fact” when unchallanged.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 26, 2008 11:04 AM
Comment #249218

j2t2,
It’s all a part of the larger debate in which the concept of “rights” has become entangled. A rational system not devised or hyjacked to score political points for one side or the other would serve us all better, and that is a CONSERVATIVE principle.

Jim M,
Excuse the flaccid communication on my part. In any event tax bills in Harris County have risen despite assertions of tax rate “cuts”, and we could all benefit from politicians who would not prey on our ignorance of the differences in terminology.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 26, 2008 11:18 AM
Comment #249229

“I am pleased that new nuclear facilities are being contemplated and see nothing inappropriate with federal loan guarantees for these expensive projects that will help our nation become energy independent.”
Me neither Jim M but then Im not as upset because taxes are at the level they are. I do question government assuming liabilty and risk for business and not being rewarded for the risk and liability it assumes. Seems the taxpayers pay the business for use of the product, the business gets the profit and then the taxpayers assume liability for the business. Im not sure assuming liability is a “right” the founding fathers had in mind. Im also wondering how this action interferes with the free market.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 26, 2008 1:35 PM
Comment #249236

j2t2,

Look, you are missing the point, and to insinuate that I don’t wish to uphold the rule of law is insulting. If insurance companies are skirting out on their responsibility, they should be fought and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. What I am saying is if you haven’t filed a claim and the cost of insurance exceeds the perceived future benefits, drop the insurance. Suffering an outrageous insurance premium cannot be the only option for everyone.

“Why dont you thank the right people. That would be us, the American people for allowing the congress to put SS in the general fund and not kept seperate for use as intended by FDR. While it is a cheap shot on FDR its just not his fault.”

I will blame FDR and those that approved Social Security. I don’t doubt the man was well intentioned, but to believe that subsequent politicians were going to leave the SS fund untouched was irrational idealism. While I agree some of blame falls on my parents and grandparents generations for spending the money, it is FDR who created this unnecessary temptation.

Yes, I realized you were referring to Iraq. However, I think $40 trillion of Medicare and Social Security debt is far more concerning than a trillion or so of new war debt. Maybe it’s just me but I feel that ignoring this problem is a far greater debacle. To be forthcoming, I feel this way because I am 25 and have no choice but to pay for the mess for the next 40 years.

Finally, please realize I want no one to suffer a premature death. I just expect someone to pay for the services they receive. I honestly believe these problems can be resolved if all levels of government get out of the way and let the people resolve them. If you don’t believe this methodology, that is fine, and I will agree to disagree with you. But if in the future, the American people decide it is appropriate to tax my family into an oblivion, I will take my engineering PhD and move to some country that won’t. I won’t suffer the tyranny of such a majority.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 26, 2008 2:45 PM
Comment #249239

The rationale for subsidizing certain industries is that we get more of what we subsidize and less of what we tax. Consequently we have given subsidizes for oil exploration, agriculture, certain rail transportion, etc.

Both sides of the political spectrum have been demanding more and cleaner energy and nuclear is certainly a valid choice among others. As I understand federal loan guarantees such as in higher education, the taxpayer is only on the hook if the loan recipient defaults. This happens frequently with student loans but is not likely with a nuclear facility if energy prices remain relatively high.

I believe we are currently subsidizing wind energy and certainly are subsidizing ethanol.

National health insurance is a whole different animal. We have seen the payrole deduction for Medicare and Social Security rise and the age at which beneficiary’s can begin collecting SS rise all in an attempt to make them both solvent for a few more years. After the initial glow of success dims for a single-payer national health care system and government begins to increase premiums and make benefits more difficult to receive many will understand why conservatives are against such another huge government boondoggle.

Posted by: Jim M at March 26, 2008 3:02 PM
Comment #249242

Mr. Haney,
“But if in the future, the American people decide it is appropriate to tax my family into an oblivion, I will take my engineering PhD and move to some country that won’t. I won’t suffer the tyranny of such a majority.”


The ultimate right. That is, of course what many, many productive people and corporations would also do. It is also why our combined federal and state tax rate(s) are a threat to the nation as a whole. It is also why tax-the-rich ideas are counterproductive. We are already past the point where tax rates begin to produce less revenue as they increase.

Ultimately people will exercise the right to take their persons where their labor will be scavenged the least by parasites, and everybody else will begin to realize the political promises of the past were empty.

This is really a topic for another article, but economics happens in real time. I’ll explain that later.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 26, 2008 3:18 PM
Comment #249244

Mr. Haney, people can’t pay for their health care. They don’t have the money to directly pay for their own basic health care. They don’t have money to pay hospital bed rates. They don’t have money to pay doctors, radiologists, for pharmaceutical products which include not only pills but such items as chemotherapy drugs (I had cancer 20 years ago and received @ 35 bags of liquids called Cisplatin, VP-16 and Bleomycin @ 700 $ a bag; that’s 20 years ago! I had a mild case of a highly curable cancer and the bill ran up to $80,000, twenty years ago!
People need insurance. There is a legitimate debate to be had whether or not insurance should be purchased through entity’s such as supplemental or HMO’s or through one source, the federal government. I’m arguing that the for-profit system we now have is highly inefficient. It seeks to insure only healthy people, it seeks to get rid of those insured who get sick, and it DEPENDS on the federal government to pick up the costs of all those who are “uninsurable” (I’m one of those people, see above). If the federal government did not do this, through the VA and Medicare, then business model of these insurance companies would not work.
Again: we have a national health single payer system right now. It is for all the people whom the insurance companies don’t want.
Also, and I have stated this in the past, it is erroneous to think of health insurance as insuring your health, it insures your assets. If you have little in the way of assets it makes little sense to purchase health insurance. A basic 80-20 or 70-30 plan costing 150 $ a month, with a 5,000 $ each calendar year deductible (that means if you are ill or injured over the Jan 1 new year date you pay the first 10,000 dollars!) that pays for most of each consultation or procedure will quickly bankrupt most people. (I think that sets my personal record for the longest sentence I’ve written). So the healthy individual who has less than, say, 100,000 dollars in net worth (the majority of Americans), have a choice: do I pay health insurance premiums and go bankrupt if I have a serious illness or injury or do I not pay premiums and go bankrupt if I have a serious illness or injury. An easy choice to make, I think.
To sum it up, the issue in my mind at least, is not: “is single payer a good idea?” It is “should we bring healthy people and their premiums, into the single payer system that presently exists?” I haven’t really heard a good argument against this. What I have heard are statements like:
“I’m afraid of government”. (that’s a personal problem, seek help)
“I want “choice”. (great. Stay healthy and you will always have choice.)
“confiscating premiums is socialism” (Isn’t the very concept of having a pool of healthy people get together and pay money to an entity, whether it be private or public, for the general welfare of all in the system, a form of socialism? after all, if you pay insurance premiums to Aetna for 20 years and never have a claim, shouldn’t you get that money back? What? they gave it to another member who got sick? How dare they. THAT’S SOCIALISM!)

Posted by: charles ross at March 26, 2008 3:38 PM
Comment #249248

I really haven’t see a deteriation in our health system only major advances. This is from observing my hospital stay twenty years ago and being with my wife during her surgery. I won’t bore you with a list of them.

I need to be specific about rights. We are talking about unalienable rights or those that cannot be taking away or transferred. Health care and needs are completely different issues than life liberty or the pursuit of happiness (commerce).
Even the so called “bill of rights” is nothing more than a title that was added later for reference. They were originally “amendments to the constitution to protect civil liberties”.
The motive was to limit government intrusion in peoples lives.
Here is the preamble:
The Conventions of a Number of the States having at the Time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a Desire, in Order to prevent Misconstruction or Abuse of its Powers, that further declaratory and restrictive Clauses should be added: And as extending the Ground of public Confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent Ends of its Institution,
RESOLVED, by the Senate, and House of Representatives, of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, Two Thirds of both Houses concurring, That the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States

Can you concede that health care isn’t a right?
Our decision to make a collective system (similar to our highway system) is in an arena outside of rights rhetoric and is a valid debate.


Posted by: Kruser at March 26, 2008 3:58 PM
Comment #249253

Lee,

Agreed, it is a discussion for another day. Still, until such a time might arise I will fight for the continued prosperity of my great country with every vote and by fighting for the hearts and minds of my fellow citizens. As a side note, an unfortunate modern example is the flight of entrepreneurial Venezuelans to foreign shores.

Charles,

Let me accept your premise for a moment and let the government establish a single payer health insurance/health care entity. First, I require the system to be self sufficient…no taxpayer money outside what the government established entity collects in premiums. My second requirement is that every citizen should have the ability to opt out. If I don’t pay in, I don’t receive benefits. Is this acceptable? If not, why not?

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 26, 2008 4:34 PM
Comment #249254

Kruser,
You beat me to the punch. Your point about a collective system is, of course, the correct observation.

From the earliest times way before America’s beginnings an efficient public infrastructure was seen as a vital public interest, not because anyone percieved it as a “right”, but because it made the nation better able to conduct commerce and defense. The collective benefit of a Federal Government, good roads, an army, and navy is an easy sell, though none of them are specifically a “right”. So is that of a good water works and sewage system. Yet the principle benefit of both of the latter is to public health.

Perhaps we simply need to be honest with ourselves about how we sell the public this collective “service infrastructure”, and how much of that we percieve to be in the urgent public interest.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 26, 2008 4:41 PM
Comment #249258

“I” before “E” except after “C”. English is so damned hard….

Mr. Haney,
If we assume everyone is a health care free agent and those who desperately need medical care but have chosen not to be able to pay for it will be allowed to die, your point becomes logical.

We have an issue because society has chosen not to accept that course. We have, instead, adopted a schizophrenic polyglot of disconnected systems to avoid the unnecessary death and crippling of the public. This represents a legitimate public infrastructure badly done. We are not permitted not to pay for roads, airports, and university systems. Some of the systems we hold in common operate well even though they have user fees over and above the funds for which we are taxed.

Society has made a choice. What it must do now is make a rational integration of its medical infrastructure so that system can become efficient.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 26, 2008 5:01 PM
Comment #249263

Mr. Haney, I don’t quite understand the first condition because I haven’t really thought about the issue much beyond the idea that a single-payer system would be an improvement over what we have now.
I do think that everyone should pay a point-of-service fee for their health care. Something. Even if it is a $10 co-pay per visit or even per month in a premium. Something that demonstrates an exchange at the moment for services provided.
Taxes should be paid to support this system. Right now, all workers and businesses pay taxes into a single-payer system called Medicare. Why not expand Medicare to all? This answers your second condition. People cannot opt out of Medicare, neither should they be able to opt out of a single payer system for all.
Government should be limited in it’s ability to override a medical professional’s opinion regarding what care is provided. There should be some oversight, after all, fraud does exist even among medical professionals. Should an infant be on a doner list for an expensive liver transplant because it contracted hepatitis. I think yes. Should Mickey Mantle? Probably not.
Citizens only. Non-citizens who have no legal right to be here should be minimally treated and deported.
There should be a basic standard of health care available to all and obligated by all to pay into. Sick people will not opt out of a publicly financed health care system, healthy people may and will. Without the premiums provided by healthy people any proposed system would eventually collapse (look at Medicare now!)
Have you ever heard of a health insurance entity that only accepts people with pre-existing conditions? No? Well we have one and it’s called Medicare.

Health care is not a “right”. That is a ridiculous argument proposed by the nut-job left and promoted by the right to demonstrate how people on the left are nut-jobs.
Isn’t that the purpose of the original post above?
If the economy can’t provide the money needed to fund health care it will simply not exist, there is no aspect to it that would define it as being a “right”.

Posted by: charles ross at March 26, 2008 5:29 PM
Comment #249280

As a Christian, I believe it is my duty to care for the poor and those unable to work. A single payer system says the government should do this for me which robs me of the joy of actually helping people. I don’t want to live in society that throws people to the gutter at the first opportunity. I also don’t want to live in a society which forces my morals on everyone else while simultaneously robbing me of the opportunities and the joy of putting them into practice.

“If we assume everyone is a health care free agent and those who desperately need medical care but have chosen not to be able to pay for it will be allowed to die, your point becomes logical.”

I will assume you misspoke here. Nevertheless, I believe most Americans have not “chosen not to be able to pay for it”. They are quite willing to pay, but the object of this debate is how much and to whom.

“Right now, all workers and businesses pay taxes into a single-payer system called Medicare. Why not expand Medicare to all?”

The combo of Medicare and Medicaid play a large role in what is undermining the efficiency of our current health care system. Medicare is over promised and under funded, and illegal immigrants (who still require a separate discussion) are a major drain on the Medicaid system. Why should I support the expansion of a system that is already progressing towards failure? Fix those systems, and I might believe the government can make a single payer system work.

“There should be a basic standard of health care available to all and obligated by all to pay into.”

It is already available. Some services simply cost too much for some people. Nothing is going to change the fixed costs (medical supplies, doctor’s time, etc.) of these services. Punishing the most productive members of society by mandating they pay for themselves and those unable to pay is an unacceptable solution. Just because Medicare and Medicaid already employs this practice does not justify expanding it.

“Sick people will not opt out of a publicly financed health care system, healthy people may and will. Without the premiums provided by healthy people any proposed system would eventually collapse (look at Medicare now!)”

Exactly, healthy people receive no economic benefit from paying for the sick. Why forcefully burden the healthy with the sick? If they chose to pay for the sick, that is an entirely different matter altogether.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 26, 2008 9:10 PM
Comment #249300

“Look, you are missing the point, and to insinuate that I don’t wish to uphold the rule of law is insulting.”

What are you talking about Mr. Haney?

“I will blame FDR and those that approved Social Security.”
Of course you will never let the facts get in the way of ideology.

“To be forthcoming, I feel this way because I am 25 and have no choice but to pay for the mess for the next 40 years.”

Well Mr Haney Im not a PHD but if it were me I would look at fixing the problem. This country per capita spends almost twice the amount France does for health care. Our system is extremely expensive and if we could get ideology out of the way perhaps we could fix it.

“I honestly believe these problems can be resolved if all levels of government get out of the way and let the people resolve them.”

How so Mr Haney. Its real easy to say if government was out of the way yada yada yada but what would change exactly. The insurance companies would all of a sudden insure everybody and say to hell with the bottom line? The invisible hand of the free market would wave its magic finger and every one would be cured? What would change. What law(s) or regulation(s) is/are the one(s) that once repealed would solve the healthcare problem?


“As a Christian, I believe it is my duty to care for the poor and those unable to work. A single payer system says the government should do this for me which robs me of the joy of actually helping people.”

Really Mr Haney when you get to this point it just sounds ridiculous, why cant you simply voluteer your time at the local hospital to get your joy and do your duty.

“I don’t want to live in society that throws people to the gutter at the first opportunity.

Then why do you support the healthcare system as it is today?


“I also don’t want to live in a society which forces my morals on everyone else while simultaneously robbing me of the opportunities and the joy of putting them into practice.”

Wow another one of those ridiculous it wont work because statements, just by volunteering your time all the problems are solved and no forcing of your morals on anyone is needed.

“It is already available. Some services simply cost too much for some people.”

So then its not a basic standard of health care available to all and obligated by all to pay into.


“Punishing the most productive members of society by mandating they pay for themselves and those unable to pay is an unacceptable solution.”

No one is punishing anyone that is just a smokescreen Mr Haney . You would have us think its you paying for a million deadbeats but thats not the case. Seems your christian charity just goes out the window huh. (As a Christian, I believe it is my duty to care for the poor and those unable to work.)

Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2008 2:14 AM
Comment #249306

The healthcare argument gets down to whether we need to change from a market based to a bureaucracy based system.
I observe that a market based is far superior.
The problems of abuses, complicated payment, lawsuits and doctor input are common to both types. Changing to a politician based system will be cumbersome, much more expensive, lower expectations, lose incentive for improvement and will not address the problems we are now facing. At present, treatment is mandated to all, we just need to find a way to pay the doctors and hospitals. This will increase profits for them. Mandated treatment today is already factor in our premiums.
Just as border control comes first in immigration control, the real problems should be addressed before even considering a government takeover.

Posted by: Kruser at March 27, 2008 5:57 AM
Comment #249307

An Indian missionary was staying at my home. He wondered how we could have so many guns and so little crime. I asked him what India was like for crime and he said it wasn’t uncommon to see murdered bodies along the roads. Gangs rule many areas and you have to make sure never to make eye contact with one while traveling or you are dead. Their weapon? machetes.

Posted by: Kruser at March 27, 2008 6:05 AM
Comment #249310

“The healthcare argument gets down to whether we need to change from a market based to a bureaucracy based system.”

Kruser I would say its more a predatory closed market system or a managed healthcare system. If you think the insurance companies, hospitals and doctors offices dont have bureaucracy then you dont know whats happening today.

“I observe that a market based is far superior.”
Of course you do, even when facts get in the way.

“The problems of abuses, complicated payment, lawsuits and doctor input are common to both types.”

How does the market do this? It has only gotten worse not better. Wal mart made the news last night for taking money from a former worker it had insured. Right now lawyers are the only defense the person has when dealing with insurance companies and those that cause harm. Isnt it going against the grain of the free market to prohibit lawyers from practicing their profession, how could you live with yourself for restricting the freedom of another person like that?

“Changing to a politician based system will be cumbersome, much more expensive, lower expectations, lose incentive for improvement and will not address the problems we are now facing.”

What a total utter line of crap Kruser. Try reading some of the other posts before you spout such nonsense. The French system is roughly 1/2 the cost per capita than our system. There is no loss of incentive and the problems we now have are fixed.

“At present, treatment is mandated to all, we just need to find a way to pay the doctors and hospitals.”

Emergency treatment to save a life is mandated.


“This will increase profits for them. Mandated treatment today is already factor in our premiums.”

So Kruser you are saying the insurance companies are charging each individual they cover for madated coverage for those that have no insurance? Why then do they not pay the hospitals and doctors that provide the services? You sure your ideology is not getting in the way of facts with this statement?

“the real problems should be addressed before even considering a government takeover.”

Well Kruser the real problem is the line of crap being run on us due to your refusal to see any facts that dont match your ideoloillogicly based system. Competition for sick people will make the system better, yeah right.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2008 9:56 AM
Comment #249311

Mr. Haney,
Let us, for a moment, juxtapose some of your prior statements-

“As a Christian, I believe it is my duty to care for the poor and those unable to work. A single payer system says the government should do this for me which robs me of the joy of actually helping people.”, “I don’t want to live in society that throws people to the gutter at the first opportunity.”
and“Punishing the most productive members of society by mandating they pay for themselves and those unable to pay is an unacceptable solution.”

In truth with these statements you fly in the face of the essence of capitalist, free market thinking. Ultimately all economic activity, even that of free markets, is collective. For example, when a videophile of five years ago paid $7000 for a wide-screen high-def TV he was financing the development of consumer products the prices of which would fall for those less able to pay in the future. A result of that is that the 27” CRT TV with digital tuner I bought for Christmas only cost $270. I can’t afford the wide screen even today but the service I get is improved at a lower cost anyway.

Our current medical system short-circuits the market order that makes this kind of free market advance possible. By permitting insurers to deny coverage to anyone they can indentify as likely to cost money the system destroys the economic basis of a sound medical system. The administrative focus of such a system is not timely diagnosis of disease or efficient delivery of medical services. It is the avoidance of problematic clientele.

As one of those problematic clientele (I was diagnosed a number of years ago as having Bi-Polar Disorder) my insurance rates skyrocketed and, though I have never had a major hospitalization and have otherwise been generally healthier than the average man in my age group I can no longer afford insurance for both myself and my wife (who is covered under the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool).

You complain of being one of the productive people “punished” for a medical system’s organization. When I was struggling to pay an additional $500 per month for a single sentance in a psychiatrist’s records was I not subsidizing an unfair system?

As it is the system existing today is designed to force me to shunt the burden of my risk onto the already strained public health system. I and my now uncovered children still do such regular doctor and dental visits as are necessary and we still do the rational steps to prevent disease. The state of the poorly structured market of today prevents me, though, from shouldering a share of the risk I present to the medical system. If I get cancer you will pay- will, in essence, be punished by my participation in the least efficient part of the nation’s medical delivery system, for the failure of current market structures to allow for a logical sharing of risk by one who can afford to carry some of the burden but can’t afford to subsidize only those people who present society with the highest risk.

I both admire and agree with the notion that government should not act as the officially sanctioned church. The city of New Orleans is a gloomy testimony to the “benefits” of governmentally professionalized missionary work. Public health is, however, a societal value that has so thoroughly penetrated our culture that it transcends charity and has become a part of our simple infrastructure. That infrastructure is cynically designed at present to undermine market order and, ultimately, to deliver the marketplace to governmental control.

If you really want to solve the problem you must find solutions for cases like mine. I can guarantee you that, otherwise, the free market side of the equation WILL go away.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 27, 2008 9:58 AM
Comment #249326

Lee, you make some very good points. You indicate that you could pay for some of the cost of your health insurance but not all of it and consequently are on the public health care system at no cost to you. The burden of your care has been shifted entirely to others because health insurance today is an all or nothing proposition.

Wouldn’t a plan similar to the one Gov. Romney and and Mass. legislature installed work? Everyone is covered and everyone pays according to their ability. The Mass. plan didn’t require federal funds or legislation. It was a state issue and should be left to each individual state.

My fear Lee, is that like taxes, there will be liberals advocating that the rich aren’t paying their fair share and that certain low-income people should pay nothing. We already have the earned income tax provision in the tax code that actually gives people a refund who pay no taxes. The congressional scheme, promoted by the President to stimulate the economy with rebates is a good example. There will be millions of folks getting rebate checks who paid no taxes at all. And, no rebates to those paying the most taxes.

Conservatives are wary of any additional government schemes to redistribute wealth by confiscation. How can we trust Washington to not tinker with a national health care system to reward some and punish others?

The track record of congress on other existing social programs is dismal and we need to be realistic. Why would this program be any different than the other failed programs?

At least, if such a program is managed by each state with no federal involvement, we the people would have more direct input and oversight. What say you?

Posted by: Jim M at March 27, 2008 12:00 PM
Comment #249332

I’m not averse to state-run options. Counties are operating the systems of last resort now, so that would help.

My main target, though, is that provision permitting insurers to shunt people off to County General if there is a smudge on their cheek. Put the county , the state, and the private insurer on the same playing field if you really want to see who can deliver medical care better.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 27, 2008 12:36 PM
Comment #249335

“Wouldn’t a plan similar to the one Gov. Romney and and Mass. legislature installed work? Everyone is covered and everyone pays according to their ability. The Mass. plan didn’t require federal funds or legislation. It was a state issue and should be left to each individual state.”

Jim M doesnt the Mass plan “force” everyone to buy insurance coverage from insurance companies or pay a fine? The insurance company abuses are one of the biggest problems with the health care system today. Can they ( health insurance companies) compete for investors with other sectors and insure all people with adequate coverage?

Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2008 12:51 PM
Comment #249336

I want to clarify something. My status as a “high risk” insuree put me in a separate group with a distinctly steeper monetary hill to climb. Already bearing the cost of my wife’s high-risk insurance (about $600 per month for one person), my high risk meant I was bearing the cost of being the healthiest of a large group of other high risk insurees- to the tune of well over $700 additional dollars per month. This was in a highly restricted policy that paid nothing on several different potential conditions and some medications. That meant that, in addition to the cost of the policies, I also bore uncovered medical costs of an average of more than $300 per month for myself, my wife, and four children.
AND, because I am self-employed, I paid FICA on all of that “income”. All of that is one of the main reasons so many of the self-employed are without health insurance.

That was coming to nearly $2000 per month before we got to eat, buy gas or car insurance, or have a roof over our heads. Don’t imagine this stuff persists accidentally. It really is designed to make the present system fail.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 27, 2008 12:52 PM
Comment #249339

Jim M doesnt the Mass plan “force” everyone to buy insurance coverage from insurance companies or pay a fine? The insurance company abuses are one of the biggest problems with the health care system today. Can they ( health insurance companies) compete for investors with other sectors and insure all people with adequate coverage?
Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2008 12:51 PM

Yes, j2t2, I believe that’s correct about the Mass. plan. Whether insurance company abuses or government abuses, they exist. With government we have no choice if we don’t like the premium or benefits. With private insurance we do have that choice. Please don’t try and sell me on the idea that government plays fair and will deliver the best benefits for the lowest cost.

With state provided health care thru private insurance companies we have a much better chance of influencing decisions and certainly less lobbying by the special interest groups. And, the Mass. plan, as you pointed out, does allow an individual to opt out and pay a fine.

Lee, with those kinds of deductible expenses, the tax you paid on your income must have been greatly reduced. I have my own business and have many deductions as well.

Now that I am on Medicare my portion of my medical care cost has been greatly reduced. The reduced cost to me for care is not because Medicare is more efficient, it’s because they pay less to the doctor or hospital than an insurance company would pay. The doctor or hospital receives the amount determined by Medicare and must accept it if the doctor or hospital wishes to remain a Medicare provider. To make up this shortfall doctors and hospitals do what any other business would do in the same circumstances. They increase the billing on those with insurance or the ability to pay. This is just one way that Medicare has contributed to the increasing cost of health care.

Posted by: Jim M at March 27, 2008 1:12 PM
Comment #249343

A recent article in the Houston Chronicle stated that the cost of Medicare was adding an average of $3000 to the cost of insurance for families in the Houston area. That’s partly due to having the largest medical center in the nation and thus having a disproportionate share of Medicare reimbursements (covering only 50% of costs of care) placed on a local population, but it is an indication of how the issue will develop nationally.

I would have preferred to reduce my taxes with a Roth I.R.A.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 27, 2008 1:54 PM
Comment #249355

j2t2,

You keep quoting that the French system costs half as much. You can say it all you want, but is this for identical set of services? Please show me show facts. I would guess that a significant portion of the cost overrun in the US stems from many more CYA medical tests and a technologically poor administrative system (by both hospitals and insurers) compared to the French. These are two things I think we can agree on fixing. Is that the entire problem? No, it’s far more complex than that.

““I will blame FDR and those that approved Social Security.”
Of course you will never let the facts get in the way of ideology.”

I have seen the numbers. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1321242/posts
SS as it currently exists is essentially a government run pyramid scheme. What facts do you think I am ignoring?

“No one is punishing anyone that is just a smokescreen Mr Haney . You would have us think its you paying for a million deadbeats but thats not the case. Seems your christian charity just goes out the window huh.”

Look if you think I only meant only volunteering my time, you are mistaken. I meant also going out and paying for people to see the doctor. For example, a clinic in my home town provided medical services well below cost because the doctors volunteered their time, nurses volunteered their time, and community members payed for most of the supplies. I think they may have required a small co-pay just to ensure that people kept appointments. I happen to think this is a good way to deliver basic medical care to people who can’t afford the for profit system. I don’t see why effective conduits cannot be set up for medical professionals everywhere to donate their time.

Jim M,

Thank you for addressing Lee’s comments for me.

As Lee indicated, Medicare and Medicaid are adding to everyone’s medical insurance which is why I believe addressing these programs is the first major step. How is this is done, I don’t know. This requires a good conversion between the people and the federal and state governments who run these programs. However, it seems intuitive that this would begin to address part of the problem with the insurers. Before you say it j2t2, I agree further revisions would certainly be required.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 27, 2008 3:42 PM
Comment #249362


“You keep quoting that the French system costs half as much. You can say it all you want, but is this for identical set of services? Please show me show facts.”

Mr Haney here is one,

http://boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2007/08/11/frances_model_healthcare_system/

You may also try the recent blue column article by Ray Guest about healthcare for more useful information.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2008 5:40 PM
Comment #249365

j2t2,
I read it. Sounds like a dream. (!)

Given the lack of nonmedical personnel (the way I remember medicine from my childhood years) and the tort-averse society it is not really hard to believe.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 27, 2008 5:52 PM
Comment #249370


You might also like this one Lee.


http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0309-03.htm

Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2008 6:56 PM
Comment #249373

The problem that occured with Social Security was that they started paying benefits out right away. Until fairly recently, the oldest social security recipients were still getting large pensions based on very small payments that they made into the system years ago. More recent retirees are getting much less compared to what they paid.

Lee Jamison, you’re a GUY? Oh, the internet!

Posted by: ohrealy at March 27, 2008 7:27 PM
Comment #249375

“With government we have no choice if we don’t like the premium or benefits. With private insurance we do have that choice.”

The choice with private insurance for a lot of us is with the employer we work for. With a private insurer the problem is by the time you know you need to switch its often to late.

“Please don’t try and sell me on the idea that government plays fair and will deliver the best benefits for the lowest cost.”

After the past 7 years I would have to say you may be right Jim M. We would probably have to fly a Chinese or Indian airline for medical care in India or China for minor problems. But as you know we have the government being run as a corporation by the CEO president. Once this exercise in foolishness has ran its course who knows what lies ahead.
If we adopted a similar system as the French then perhaps it could be fairer than you may think Jim M.. Im not saying we can get the best benefits for the lowest costs in this country, Im saying the French can and do accomplish this. I would hope we could here. However with the tremendous amount of negativity against the government, and rightfully so lately, in this country do you think they would get credit if we did accomplish lower costs and better benefits? If we measured the private sector as tough as we do the public sector maybe healthcare wouldnt even be a topic of debate. The attitude of let the market take care of it doesnt seem to work to well as far as health insurance is concerned.

“With state provided health care thru private insurance companies we have a much better chance of influencing decisions and certainly less lobbying by the special interest groups.”

Arent the health insurance companies trying to make all insurance regulations uniform and bypass the states, the different state laws and their watchdogs as we speak Jim M. If they succeed wouldnt this lead to a larger and more consolidated group of insurance companies after a bitter struggle for supremency in the insurance market. Do you think that bodes well for the guy paying the premium and expecting to be covered when misfortune strikes.

“And, the Mass. plan, as you pointed out, does allow an individual to opt out and pay a fine.”

If I’m not mistaken those that opt out are treated as criminals Jim M.. They opt out usually because they cannot afford private insurance. This is part of the problem not a solution.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2008 7:57 PM
Comment #249376

I paid for my own appendectomy twenty years ago. This was on limited income and due to being in business for myself. 10k isn’t easy to come by. The HSA program that Bush signed into law with the new medicade provisions a few years back is what my wife and I used for her surgery this year. You contribute into a tax free savings account toward a deductible however you like and pay low premiums. It pays all expenses afterward. Unused savings carry over year to year. The reps have been great to work with.
The hospital, staff and insurance is much better than it was twenty years ago. Marked improvements. I hope this qualifies as fact for my non-ideologue friends.

eams.com is the website for the health plan I use.

Posted by: Kruser at March 27, 2008 8:19 PM
Comment #249378

Why so surprised I’m a guy?

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 27, 2008 9:04 PM
Comment #249391

Kruser if everyone was just like you there would be no problem then would there? Unfortunately not everyone has a family that only goes to the hospital once every 20 years. Yet we are all Americans. Fortunately you have not had to quit working because of an illness and then lose your coverage because of the loss of your job and the operation to resolve your problem was in the mid 6 figure range which caused you to lose your home. Fortunately you are not one of those who has developed a debilitating illness that causes you to need medication that costs more than you can afford but cant get insurance because of a pre existing condition. Fortunately you… well you get the picture.

BTW do you think the cost of the operation you had 20 years ago is the same today, adjusted for inflation of course? With all the new technology wouldnt you think it would be considerably cheaper.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 28, 2008 1:06 AM
Comment #249392

Covered by social security (disability) and medicade.

The money for those scenarios have been taken from paychecks for sixty years and still the system needs reformed. (see above posts)

We went from general insurance for everyone to a narrow set of hypothetical calamities.

My dad died of cancer uninsured in ‘99. It was hard to talk him into receiving his ss checks a couple years early even though he paid in for years. Numerous cancer foundations paid for all his surgeries and chemo. I am not using hypotheticals.

Posted by: Kruser at March 28, 2008 1:44 AM
Comment #249393

j2t2,

In your chiding of Kruser, I am curious to what percent of the population you think those scenarios apply?

Also, I have been reading up on the French system. It is intriguing. I will continue to find out more before espousing my opinion. Though the toughest problem I see at this point is the tort-averse aspect. The trial lawyer lobby is well entrenched in Washington, and any tort reform would likely be met with rhetoric that it is protecting corporate interests. Your thoughts?

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 28, 2008 1:51 AM
Comment #249404

j2t2,

Following up on the last article about the French system I was saddened to find that the author, David Burgess, died about a year after it was written. To be perfectly frank most of us are policy wonks and it is easy to lose the human side of the medical equation.

It is clear that the French are on to something. The largest challenge to America’s perpetually parasitic, and in some ways medieval, system is, as Mr. Haney points out, our attitudes toward torts.

It is also clear that this has morphed into a discussion on health care that has moved beyond the subject of rights. As such I want to give it its own space with a proper headline so we can have a discussion with a broader group.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at March 28, 2008 10:07 AM
Comment #249406

“In your chiding of Kruser, I am curious to what percent of the population you think those scenarios apply?”

Im not chiding Kruser, Mr Haney, I am pointing out the fact that there are many different people with many different issues in this country. Hopefully the percent of the population that these scenarios apply to is 0%, but with medical bills being one of the leading causes of bankruptcy I would say its a little higher than that.

“Though the toughest problem I see at this point is the tort-averse aspect. The trial lawyer lobby is well entrenched in Washington, and any tort reform would likely be met with rhetoric that it is protecting corporate interests. Your thoughts?”

The insurance companies, for-profit hospitals, and the AMA Im sure will all be lawyered up and fighting any reform attempts right long with the lawyer’s who earn their living off of malpractice suits and fighting insurance company excesses. Does that mean we should not do anything until our bones are picked clean by the lot of them? If any progress is made Im sure it will be attacked and we will end up with a hodge podge of special interest legislation that will cost us more and serve us less. That seems to be the way anymore as corporate control of our representatives directs any legislation towards their best interests.

What I find disappointing Mr Haney is the story of America is filled with us borrowing the best ideas of other nations and adapting them to our use and improving them. However when it comes to health care we quit listening and learning as we watch our costs go up and up as we statistically sink into 3rd world status. We complain about medicare and SS then allow them to sink because they are picking up those the insurance companies wont. I beleive that we as a people have the same right to a better healthcare system as these special interest have a right to work towards their goals.I dont hold out much hope Mr. Haney that we can win any battles against those powerful special interest groups, especially with the people of this country so ideologically divided over any attempts to bring change to the healthcare system. But it wont be becuase I didnt try.


Posted by: j2t2 at March 28, 2008 10:31 AM
Comment #249408

But Lee I mentioned rights again in my last post! ;)

Of course you are right. I’ll go to work.

Good article, good thread though.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 28, 2008 11:06 AM
Comment #249412

Agreed, chiding was a poor choice of wording. I apologize.

Exactly those scenarios don’t apply to most people. I happen to think it is not tragic if a few people go bankrupt. If one is bankrupt and still alive, you are still able to pick your life up again and try to move on. I would rather people have to face that, but I don’t see how to completely avoid it and maintain liberty for all.

“Does that mean we should not do anything until our bones are picked clean by the lot of them?”

No, absolutely not. It is necessary, but as usual the right road is the hard road.

Posted by: Mr. Haney at March 28, 2008 12:44 PM
Comment #249430

“If I’m not mistaken those that opt out are treated as criminals Jim M.. They opt out usually because they cannot afford private insurance. This is part of the problem not a solution.”
Posted by: j2t2 at March 27, 2008 07:57 PM

As I understand the Mass. plan, it is means tested which of course imply s that the cost to the insured is believed to be affordable by the state.

My experience has been that, within reason, people can afford what they want, and cry poverty for the things they don’t want to pay for themselves. A jaunticed view perhaps, but true in many cases. When I was much younger I refused employer offered health insurance on occasion believing that I was invincible and would rather spend my money on something I wanted more.

Posted by: Jim M at March 28, 2008 4:28 PM
Comment #249448

ohrealy

“The problem that occured with Social Security was that they started paying benefits out right away.”

a bigger problem is that the democrats under johnson took it out of it’s own seperate fund and started spending it with the general fund. lots of IOUs that will never be paid back. might have even been the same year they created wellfare and turned several generations of americans into wards of the state.

Posted by: dbs at March 28, 2008 8:17 PM
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