Generous Americans; New Paradigms

Americans have a proud tradition of doing through charity and volunteerism what taxes and bureaucrats do most other places. Ben Franklin extolled and practiced volunteerism. Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at it in the 1830s. John D. Rockefeller invented the philanthropically foundation when he got too rich to make good giving decisions personally. This year we reached a new record of $306 billion given to charities.

The United States is much more than its government. This is true everywhere, but the U.S. is exceptional in the portion of its economic & social activity, including charity, that is not filtered through government.

Private charities can be more flexible and economical than government bureaucracies, since they are less encumbered with politically mandated rules and are generally staffed by volunteers who are passionate about their work.

Lest someone think I am advocating replacing all government activity, let me dispel that now. Greater suffering follows anywhere where you have either a wholly private or a wholly governmental response. Government and private charities can work symbiotically, with government doing the routine, sustained work and the private charities innovating and going nimbly where the needs are changing. In the case of an international disaster like a tidal wave or an earthquake, for example, the U.S. military (usually not considered very charitable but certainly essential for rapid relief) handles most of the rough logistics while private charities and both U.S. and other public relief agencies move in to do the fine tuning.

Some of you were probably surprised by my inclusion of John D. Rockefeller when talking about charity, but he is a key figure in the transition from old-fashioned charity to philanthropy using a more or less professional organization. Charity alleviates suffering. Philanthropy develops structures that make suffering less likely. It is sort of like giving the man a fish v teaching him to fish in that old example. You need both, but poorly managed charity may end up creating more long-run suffering than it relieves if it creates dependency or perpetuates pernicious behaviors.

This was the insight John D. Rockefeller had more than a century ago. From an early age, Rockefeller gave 10% of his income to charity. As an office boy or ordinary worker, it was easy for him to decide how to donate 10% of his small income, but when his wealth grew, making good choices became harder and harder. Finally he decided to put his business and organizational skills to work to make better decisions. It worked.

Rockefeller created a kind of machine philanthropical organization that mirrored the corporate organizations of his time. Others followed his lead. We could just as well call the Gilded Age the Age of Charity.
Today entrepreneurs are developing philanthropy to the next level, creating foundations that resemble less the hierarchical bureaucracies (private & public) of the past, and more the innovative learning organizations these entrepreneurs helped create. The whole thing is very exciting. Rockefeller and the titans of the 19th & 20th Century created the concept of philanthropy that revolutionized charity in their time. We are still benefiting from their contributions. Today, we our most innovative fellow citizens are applying the skills, innovation and intelligence inherent in the market system to today’s pressing problems.

Leave it to American innovation.

Posted by Jack at June 23, 2008 10:06 AM
Comments
Comment #256466


Jack: You chose to praise John D. Rockefeller as the creator of a great philanthropical machine.

I chose to condemn John D. Rockefeller as a cut throat robber barron and the one person that epitomizes the energy crisis that we are in today.

Will 306 billion dollars pay for premium healthcare for everyone in this country?

Posted by: jlw at June 23, 2008 12:53 PM
Comment #256471

For the 2nd time in 125 years, the Red Cross is broke.

Long term abuses are having wide-reaching consequences.

Posted by: d.a.n at June 23, 2008 1:19 PM
Comment #256480

Jlw brings a good point to this. What is the offset? If you are going to praise philanthropy as efficient, should you do real economic analysis of the trade-offs.

Jack surprises me here. A few months ago he spoke about the malinvestment of charity, as he bemoaned the trust being set up by the Gates and Buffets, which he stated has the history of misapplying money in the absence of market forces.

Perhaps consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, or politics is the convenience of opportunism. John “Dimes” Rockefeller, as he was known for handing out dimes as PR, wasn’t unaware of his public image. His sons, actually, had much to do with the formation of the foundation. Even Republicans are aware of how they are percieved. Some just don’t care. Jack reminded us of this in his response to my criticism of comparing Obama to a tailed species.

Mostly they care about the image. In unrelated news, scientists have discovered that some Republicans may have the stingy gene.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 23, 2008 2:10 PM
Comment #256491

Rockefeller gave 10% of his income to charity througout his life, starting when he was poor. That is a good part of his life.

I have read a couple of bios of John D. He was ruthless and clever, a man of complications. But on balance his legacy was good.

He organized an industry around the machine bureaucracy methods used and probably necessary for the times. I am not fond of the command and control aspects (which is why I am suspicious of big government) but it might have been a stage we needed to pass through. I am glad it is over. I would not have liked to live back then.

The Emerson quote, by the way is a FOOLISH consistency. I fear and dislike concentrations of power. As in John D Rockefeller’s standard oil, big government or even big charity.

Re criticism - I don’t care, indeed. I cannot be concerned with racist interpretations of innocent statements. I don’t lower myself into that swamp.

Re selfish genes, it is precisely the pseudo-science of extrapolating science into human affairs.

In any case, liberals demand that government (i.e. mostly somebody else) be forced to be generous. It is a selfish policy, especially since the liberals themselves often want to be among the beneficiaries. Conservatives give greater % of THEIR income. In my own experience conservatives give a lot more.

You probably heard the story that if you are in a car accident, you hope the next guy passing is conservative. A liberal will complain about lack of funding for roads, unsafe cars etc, but keep on driving. A conservative will just help.

Posted by: Jack at June 23, 2008 3:50 PM
Comment #256544

Genetics is pseudo science? Huh.

BTW Jack, that story is old and boring, and not particularly true.

Republicans give to charity and do not want the government helping anyone because they feel that people don’t deserve help unless they have decided the recipients are worthy. Not a particularly Christian attitude in my experience.

Posted by: womanmarine at June 23, 2008 8:20 PM
Comment #256548

Conservatives give greater % of THEIR income. In my own experience conservatives give a lot more.

How many times have we heard this bunch of statistical nonsense? Just like your analogy it is old and overused. I might suggest that conservatives give more out of guilt. They have taken more so giving is a form of penitence. Please Jack, just keep patting yourself on the back. It is a sort of pseudo-affirmation of just how charitable so called conservatives really are.

Posted by: RickIL at June 23, 2008 8:47 PM
Comment #256555

Jack,

Much like a long tail had nothing to do with monkeys, my lead in to a story about stingy genes had nothing to do with personal traits, but you obviously didn’t read the link. I didn’t really intend for you to. I intentional;y misled you, much the way your title was misleading on the article about marketing stats. Irregardless many people, like you just did, will assume they know what the reference is about and not delve further. Many politicos in this election and all elections, depend on misleading the electorate. There have been many slights and misrepresentations about Obama intended to stir the racist or bigoted pot. You may not deign to lower yourself into that swamp, but sometimes the water rises right where you stand. Sometimes a taint stains you, irregardless of your intent. This blog, being of little consequence (not meaning to diminish Watchblog), isn’t likely to a big stain.
Your indifference, however, speaks volumes to me and others that read your posts.

A couple of years ago, a company I worked for was getting a new insurance policy. It included a health savings account, which match funds. It was a great deal for the VP of the company, which in a meeting explaining it he extolled. It’s a small company with mostly workers paid some where between 10 to 20 dollars an hour. He could easily put a thousand dollars in and spend it on his kids glasses or teeth, or whatever at the end of the year. He didn’t understand that most of his employees didn’t have a spare $1000 sitting around that they could risk losing if they didn’t spend it on extra healthcare items. It wasn’t such a good deal to most of them.

Generosity is easy, when it is of no consequence to your quality of life. It’s a great bonus to your prestige in fact, because some foolish people will see it as profound giving. It isn’t generosity really if you think about it. It’s self agrandizement, whether you publicize it or not.Don’t get me wrong, whatever the motive, I wouldn’t discourage it, and find it small sacrifice to pump up someone’s ego, if it helps others, but I am not fooled by the rather sad afterthought of misers like Rockefeller or Buffet.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 23, 2008 9:57 PM
Comment #256602

Um, googleumpugus, if these people are now taxes 1000 more per year to pay for ‘universal coverage’, what have they gained, other than no control over their healthcare?

And, the new HSA’s do not need to be spent by the end of the year. And is tax deferred. And earn interest. In fact, they are more like 401k’s for healthcare, so that you can plan and prepare for your future health needs.

Which is the real key.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 24, 2008 11:30 AM
Comment #256603
Generosity is easy, when it is of no consequence to your quality of life.

And even easier when you are spending someone else’s quality of life.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 24, 2008 11:31 AM
Comment #256606

Rhinehold,

I don’t remember all the particulars of the dealIt wasn’t in lieu of insurance, per se. It was an . add on to a PPO. But yes this money had to be spent or lost. It was not rolled over or paid interest. There was a tax deferment, because it was deducted from your check. You had to select the option before using it and before knowing what your yearly expenses were. It could be used as part of your co-pay.

The point I was trying to make is that most of the employees could not afford to take advantage of the benefit. The VP couldn’t see that. He didn’t understand they didn’t have a huge disposable income like him. That seems to be quite common among those more fortunate.

I frankly don’t see the connection to universal healthcare.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 24, 2008 11:49 AM
Comment #256607

Rhinehold,

Generosity is easy, when it is of no consequence to your quality of life.

So we agree both are phoney, then?

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 24, 2008 11:52 AM
Comment #256609

Well, let’s talk about misers and greedy bastards.

Do you consider Bill Gates a greedy bastard? Maybe. A robber baron? Maybe.

But the fact remains that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have given away $16,460,213,658 (yes, almost 16 1/2 BILLION dollars) since its inception until March 2008.

Check it out here.

Facts are facts. Robber barons and the filthy rich are people too.

I just thank them for their generosity and let it go at that.

Posted by: Jim T at June 24, 2008 12:00 PM
Comment #256611

phoney?

No, I think you make the mistake of assuming that conservatives are rich. The majority of conservatives are not, most people I know who are conservatives are usually middle class, and their charity is heartfelt, personal and admirable.

Not helping unless you can be assured that everyone is forced to help as well is the height of selfishness, IMO.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 24, 2008 12:01 PM
Comment #256612
I frankly don’t see the connection to universal healthcare.

I know.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 24, 2008 12:02 PM
Comment #256618

Rhinehold,

I wasn’t talking about conservatives, was I?

I was talking about the affluent with large disposable incomes. Is that rich?

Apparently, you want to divert this to a discussion of universal health care.

Is fairness force? Or is unfairness force? I’m not sure which is true by your logic. Is it more fair for the wealthier to have good health care and the poor to have none, or for all to have good health care? Which doesn’t involve force?

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 24, 2008 12:31 PM
Comment #256624

Jim T,

I also thanked them for it, didn’t I? If a child molester saves a family from a fire, should we then ignore his child molestation?

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 24, 2008 12:53 PM
Comment #256628

Force is just that, force. Fairness, on the other hand, is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?

Is it fair to force someone to pay for someone else’s healthcare? To work a little harder to pay for the result of someone else’s mistakes? If someone is a heavy smoker and ate fast food all his life, should someone who has worked hard all his life and not made the same mistakes, be forced to help that person when they come down with heart disease and lung cancer? Or should that help be left to that person to decide, for themselves, if he should help or not?

What is fair?

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 24, 2008 1:05 PM
Comment #256633

Goog,

Nope. Let us neither forgive nor forget.

Ever.

To do so would show an ounce of compassion…and then people would think you’re some sort of weirdo…or a “real human being”…or something equally distasteful.

Posted by: Jim T at June 24, 2008 1:54 PM
Comment #256643

In my little mind’s foolish consistency, I insist on getting the quote right:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

Essays. First Series. Self-Reliance.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

Posted by: mental wimp at June 24, 2008 2:34 PM
Comment #256644

In any case, liberals demand that government (i.e. mostly somebody else) be forced to be generous. It is a selfish policy, especially since the liberals themselves often want to be among the beneficiaries. Conservatives give greater % of THEIR income. In my own experience conservatives give a lot more.

Stunningly sweeping and unsupported statements. Like most assertions of the current conservative movement.

Posted by: mental wimp at June 24, 2008 2:39 PM
Comment #256650

Charity is often a substitute for justice and a poor one at that. I have no problem paying both my personal and corporate taxes. It goes to the government and then back to me in services that far exceed the money paid: Libraries, streets, police, fire, auto safety, food safety, a military to protect us, regulation on corporate excess, the list is endless.
Most of the large charities are incorporated business’s run largely for the benefit of top tier management. What does the CEO of United way get paid? Probably far more than any member of Congress or the Administration.
Republicans have run the show over the last eight years. They believe government is bad and business is good. Now that we do have bad government, how’s business? Could it be that with the development, for example, of a single-payer national health care system, that our economy would actually (start to) prosper?

Posted by: charles ross at June 24, 2008 3:21 PM
Comment #256656

The wife of the putative Democratic presidential nominee is theoretically employed by one of the institutions that Rockefeller founded, The U of Chicago, or their hospital system anyway.

In my college days, I worked for a philanthropist who gave away a lot of money to suspicious foreign charities, from which I intuited that someone in the Nixon administration was directing the donations. Now I wonder if Rummy had anything to do with that.

Posted by: ohrealy at June 24, 2008 4:44 PM
Comment #256668
Could it be that with the development, for example, of a single-payer national health care system, that our economy would actually (start to) prosper? Um, no? Unless by prosper you mean wallow in medocracy and loss of liberty, then yeah…
Posted by: Rhinehold at June 24, 2008 6:37 PM
Comment #256688

Wow!

I can’t say things any better than d.a.n. did when he said, “For the 2nd time in 125 years, the Red Cross is broke.”

I would add that the government is beyond broke! They’ve stolen a couple trillion dollars of retirement and safety net funds and there is only one way to repay it!

Raise taxes! A LOT!

PERIOD!

Posted by: KansasDem at June 24, 2008 10:12 PM
Comment #256689

“Is it fair to force someone to pay for someone else’s healthcare? To work a little harder to pay for the result of someone else’s mistakes? If someone is a heavy smoker and ate fast food all his life, should someone who has worked hard all his life and not made the same mistakes, be forced to help that person when they come down with heart disease and lung cancer? Or should that help be left to that person to decide, for themselves, if he should help or not?”

Well Rhinehold what if a person works hard, lives right, and ends up disabled due to someone else’s abuse or negligence? Or just a random act of nature?

How many laws have limited the liability of corporations for their dirty deeds? (google asbestos)

Perhaps also google “superfund site”.

And, for that matter, what would be wrong with taxing the McD’s for the havoc they’ve wreaked on the American population?

I think that’s why we have law makers! Otherwise we’d be stuck with 200 year old laws!

Posted by: KansasDem at June 24, 2008 10:29 PM
Comment #256692

Rhinehold,

Most of what you say comes down to what EPI said several years ago. There are simply two thoughts on the economy:

#1. YOYO: You’re on your own!

#2. WITT: We’re in this together!

Well, we’ve been moving closer and closer to YOYO for most of the past 30 years. How’s that working out?

Posted by: KansasDem at June 24, 2008 10:46 PM
Comment #256694

““Is it fair to force someone to pay for someone else’s healthcare?”

Is it fair to jail someone, after an accident in which a person is injured, for not rendering or calling for aid for that injured party? Yes. And it is a law in nearly every state in the Union.

We are our brother’s keepers, and if our profits result in others being harmed by non-living wages and costs of living beyond those wages, is it fair our profits should be taxed to shore up those wages or lower the worker’s costs of living? Yes, by the same reasoning.

Economics is the study of distribution of finite resources amongst people with an infinite demand for those resources. There are myriad ways to devise an economic distribution system that fails to provide for some, many, or most people in that economic system. There are but a couple ways to devise such a system so that all persons in that system are provided for, in terms of opportunity, dignity, and choice. And the best of these are far less than perfect, so far.

The best of the best economic systems in the world today are those of the legally protected Amazonian stone age tribes. But, theirs is perilously close to collapse via intrusion by the values of the rest of the world’s economic systems. It takes an enormous amount of optimized effort and education of one’s elders passed down to maintain a healthy economic system which provides stability, dignity, and choice, for all.

Economics is the greatest test of mankind’s humanity. In the last 60 years, the world has witnessed economic test scores in many nations rise from D’s and C’s, up to B’s. What a shame it would be if this progress is undone by lack of insight, lack of integrity, lack of vision for posterity, lack of discipline, and lack of humanitarian values and effort maintained within these economic systems.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 24, 2008 11:11 PM
Comment #256695

Jim T.

I presume that is sarcasm. So you are OK with forgiving child molestation as long as they rescue someone from a fire? Strange and surprising. Do you think being human might involve protecting children from child molesters?

Rhinehold,

“Is it fair to force someone to pay for someone else’s healthcare?

Is it fair to force someone to pay for someone else’s gold lame sink?

To work a little harder to pay for the result of someone else’s mistakes?

To work a lot harder to pay for the result of someone else’s unfair advantage and greed?

If someone is a heavy smoker and ate fast food all his life, should someone who has worked hard all his life and not made the same mistakes, be forced to help that person when they come down with heart disease and lung cancer?

If someone is genetically predisposed to cancer, should they not be able to afford screening on lower middle class income, without having to forego things like dental care, or a savings account?

Or should that help be left to that person to decide, for themselves, if he should help or not?”

Should we leave it up to the wealthy to decide how much or little they should contribute to a society they richly profit from? Why were the fifties, where we taxed the top 1% aprox 90%, economic gangbuster, while the 21st century, where we tax the top 1% aprox 30% or even less, such an economic fizzling whimper?

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 24, 2008 11:13 PM
Comment #256725

“Why were the fifties, where we taxed the top 1% aprox 90%, economic gangbusters, while the 21st century, where we tax the top 1% aprox 30% or even less, such an economic fizzling whimper?”

That is a question that doesn’t need to be asked of conservative Republicans.

That is a question that needs to be asked of liberal, so called progressive Democrats. What does it say about them and their support for the Democratic party, which has willingly enabled the transition from then to now. Take a long look at Obama, see how his positions are for the most part, a continuation of the statis quo.

Vote Nader.

If you believe in returning control back to the people and away from the wealthy and their big corporations, Nader is the only choice for meaninful change.

The conservatives hated him, vilified him for good reason, he fought against their corpocracy. Then they laid off because he was taking votes from the Democrats. This time they are worried he will get the Democratic votes that they are hoping McCain will get.

The Democrats have always tried to disparage Nader and those who supported him. They have claimed that they stood for and, were working for the same purposes. They claim he is just a spoiler.

What Nader has been is a denouncer of their practiced policies which has and will continue to advance the corpocracy. The evidence speaks for itself.

It took a decade to establish the New Deal, two more to get civil rights and the social welfare system which has failed to lift people out of poverty. Now it’s been nearly four decades and virtually nothing. The Democratic party politicians have gone from national healthcare to universal healthcare which isn’t universal and leaves the corporations in charge. The Democratic party has abandoned the the common working people of this country. They have sanctioned the exporting of middle class and lower class jobs. They have sanctioned the attack on wages with illegal immigrants.

If Obama and Democratic party supporters want to continue to play make believe, be my guest.

Vote Nader if you believe it is time to get on with the Progressive Revolution. If you want the revolutionary change that Obama supporters want to believe he stands for, your choice is clear, vote for Nader. If you care more about your corporate stock portfolio’s than you do about revolutionary change then Obama is your guy.

Posted by: jlw at June 25, 2008 1:37 PM
Comment #256737

jlw,

I think Nader is a great civil lawyer and advocate. I think he would be horrid as a president. His perspective is far too narrow.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 25, 2008 3:17 PM
Comment #256741

googlumpus, I don’t know. Efficacy in our government institutions, democratic processes and elections, has a pretty broad reach across the issues.

I don’t think he would necessarily be a horrid president, though he is ideological and therefore, that potential exists. I think he just makes a horrible candidate for elected office. His arguments are great, his salesmanship ranks up there with skunks or warted toads. (Don’t let Bush read that, he will think I was talking about water toads) :-)

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2008 4:07 PM
Comment #256742

jlw, see, now, when you say things like: “If you believe in returning control back to the people and away from the wealthy and their big corporations,”, you sound like a left winger every bit as extremist as the neo-cons on the right.

America can no more do without the wealthy and the corporations than she can do without the oceans, the Rockies, or amber waves of grain. Wealth is not to be hated, it is to be taxed just so much as to leave the wealthy wealthy, just less so. The wealthy derive far greater benefits and access directly or indirectly far greater numbers of government services than less wealthy folks. Hence, it is just they pay a greater share of the taxes.

But, they are also contributors to a host of activities that sustain our nation, our economy, and our future if well regulated and kept in check. There are many wealthy persons I respect immensely, the rest are just necessary, like a well from which to draw water to sustain life.

Hate never got America anything except retarded development and slowed movement toward our founding ideals. Hate is an obstacle, not a tool. It should be overcome. That is canonized in all the great religions and books of wisdom and justly so.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2008 4:17 PM
Comment #256743

jlw, good show on the claims against the Democrats of the past. Removing a bunch of their incumbents at once from congress in an election, replacing them with freshman with democratic ideals still intact, would do that party a considerable amount of good in learning the lesson that when action does not follow promise, the party is at the very least, ineffective, and at worse, complicit in the mismanagement of this nation and her future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 25, 2008 4:23 PM
Comment #256784

Jack, i saw buffett on power lunch today. He’s voting for Obama.. And here’s “off subject” his take on OIL.Buffett: It’s supply and demand. I mean, if somebody buys a thousand forward oil contracts and somebody sells a thousand forward oil contracts, somebody’s speculating on the downside and somebody’s speculating on the upside. The only way you could have speculators having a big impact is if you had a huge amount of storage where they started actually withdrawing actual, physical oil from the system. But it’s not speculation, it’s supply and demand and the situation is that in my adult lifetime, up until the last year or two, there’s always been a huge amount of excess supply available. There’s been reserve capacity. And that goes back 30 years ago, in this country we produced way more oil than we needed here and we had something called the Texas Railroad Commission that shut down wells. And a matter of fact, we got down to where they would only let wells operate in Texas for eight days, we had so much extra capacity. We don’t have excess capacity in the world anymore, and that’s what you’re seeing in oil prices. www.cnbc.com/id/25369553

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 26, 2008 1:53 AM
Comment #256847


Googlumpus: I am not voting for Nader because I believe he would be an effective president. Besides that, I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that he could win.

I am voting for Nader because I believe that he stands up for many principles and policies that I believe the Democratic party should be standing up for but doesn’t. I am voting for Nader to protest that fact.

I am voting for Nader because Obama’s notion of a great domestic agenda is indexing the minimum wage to inflation and ununiversal health care that leaves the middle man insurers in charge and still picking our pockets.

We need corporations for many many things but, there are a few things that we don’t need them for. There are a few things that I believe we should be doing for ourselves. Healthcare is one of them. And I think that in the future energy should be one of them.

David Remer: I don’t hate the wealthy nor the big corporations. I just think many of the wealthy investors should have a conscience for more than just the bottom line. If they did, perhaps we could have created a better energy policy years ago and not be facing the problems that we have. As we know, the equation, oil is cheaper = better had a few unacounted for radicals in it. Well, they were accounted for by a few, but ignored by the many. They were ignored by the many because they have been encourged, programed into believing in an illusionary world where the moto has been don’t worry be happy, go shopping because bad things don’t happen to good people.

Unfortunately bad things do happen to good people and when they do, the people get mad and say throw the bums out of the government but, they never do. The government has known that the energy crisis was coming and did nothing to plan for it. Live for today, don’t plan for the future, don’t care about the future. Let the next generation and the one after that worry about the future. Let’s just consume as much as we can while we are here and let the future take care of itself.

The documents that our founders produced were filled with their hopes and plans for the future. Some of them had great vision, the Louisanna Purchase. Most of us today, could care less about the future.

It is not hate, it is frustration.

Posted by: jlw at June 26, 2008 2:26 PM
Comment #256867

jlw,

I nearly voted for him before and understand your position. As to health care, I don’t think nationalized health care will get through Congress. Hilary learned that lesson already. perhaps the best tactic is to ease our way in that direction, making it less and less profitable for insurance companies to want to be in the business.

Posted by: googlumpugus at June 26, 2008 8:06 PM
Comment #256911

“making it less and less profitable for insurance companies to want to be in the business.”
Posted by: googlumpugus at June 26, 2008 08:06 PM

Sorry goog, I fail to understand how making private health insurance scarce will solve our health care issues. Is making our energy supply scarce solving that problem?

I am in the insurance industry and it is very competitive which has helped keep costs down. Insurance companies don’t set the price for care, they merely provide the funds to pay for it.

Similarily, take the profit away from our oil companies thru heavy taxation and you will have less oil. Nationalize oil and you will have even less. I can think of no example of nationalization of a previously owned private industry that has led to increased supply and lower cost.

Some will be tempted to cite Medicare as an example that did work. If so, why is it broke with billions in unfunded liability? And Medicaid, is in even worse financial condition along with Social Security.

Private insurance companies, if operated like these failed government programs, would long ago been forced out of business.

Posted by: Jim M at June 27, 2008 12:26 PM
Comment #256939

Jim M, you ask the question “why is Medicare broke with billions in unfunded liability”. You go on to implictly state that private insurance companies are doing just fine.
We’ve had so many discussions on this board that directly address both your question and assertions. Do we really need to go through the list again?
You know, people can bend over backwards to explain the realities of the world to you but, at the end of it all, if you lack the ability to reason and think, then all the explanations in the world, presented over and over, will be of no benefit to you.

Posted by: Charles Ross at June 27, 2008 4:15 PM
Comment #256954

Jack, I don’t think you read that very carefully. The increase in giving came from foundations (i.e., those that have a lot of money and who have done very well even as your boy Bush was sinking the economy) and from bequests (i.e., newly dead rich people who did very well as your boy…etc.). Personal giving was stagnant. I know you and your ilk would like to make the argument that personal giving could somehow reach a level that would rationalize doing away with any government involvement with the needy, and, in addition, allow the moralistic strictures to be placed on assistance that the government can’t place due to niceties such as the first amendment establishment clause. This is so transparent.

In addition, it is clear that the wealthy are not pulling their weight, according to the tables in this paper. As with all societal support, the rich (as a class; there are shining exceptions, of course) shirk their responsibilities while the vast middle class pulls its weight while watching its purchasing power dissipate so the rich can keep getting richer using the power of the government. The rich have even convinced significant numbers of the (rather dim wing of the) not-rich that individual benefit from society is an absolute amount, so a guy pulling in millions shouldn’t have to pay any more than a guy making 50 thou per year. As if. Try to develop that high-tech business in Costa Rica or Burkina Faso, see if the schools, highways, communications, utilities, and governmental infrastructure support your business model. Then tell me the wealthy don’t disproportionately benefit from government expenditures.

Feh.

Posted by: mental wimp at June 27, 2008 6:08 PM
Comment #256961

Mental wimpy says, “so a guy pulling in millions shouldn’t have to pay any more than a guy making 50 thou per year.”

Even I, as a conservative, wouldn’t support your statement if it was true. Is 35% of one million more than 15% of $50,000? Do the math.

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Jim M

You said,

“I am in the insurance industry and it is very competitive which has helped keep costs down. Insurance companies don’t set the price for care, they merely provide the funds to pay for it.”

That you believe, A. that it is truly competitive and B. has helped to keep costs down speaks volumes.

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