Seeing the Light

On August 6th of 1945, had you been out in the pre-dawn hours in the Middle East and happened to look at the Moon at just the right moment you would have seen a remarkable sight. The waning crescent of the Moon would suddenly, and briefly, have turned into a full Moon. Three days later someone looking at the setting waxing Moon from Eastern Brazil might have been able to see the same thing. Japan had seen the light.

I recently saw a portion of a series called "The Ascent of Money" in which Niall Ferguson spoke of the Japanese economy in terms of the attempt to eliminate risk. This the Japanese people did by trusting their rulers absolutely, even religiously. In the early part of the 20th Century the approach Japan's rulers took to eliminating that risk for everyone was to parrot what they had seen European powers doing- spreading out into empires. Having been humiliated into opening trade with the West with Commodore Perry's visit to and bombardment of Edo (modern Tokyo) in 1852, the nation launched into a stunningly rapid forced modernization, Barely over half a century later the nation had pressed a western power, Russia, to the brink of disaster in the Russo-Japanese war. (The negotiations ending this war led to Theodore Roosevelt's Nobel Peace Prize.)

Continuing their arc of ascent into empire Japan occupied much of eastern China and all of Korea in the 1920s. Tensions with neighbors in their region of influence increased as even these conquests provided inadequate fuel and metals for the hungry nation's rapid technological advance. In 1940 and '41 Japan's military leaders, heartened at home by unquestioning subjugation of their own people, and by American passivity in both the European War and in such events as the sinking of the naval gunboat U.S.S.Panay in Asia, planned an attack on American naval forces in the Pacific. They believed they could force American forces to leave the western Pacific and open up Indonesia and even Australia to conquest. What had begun as a bold national plan of modernization in the face of a technological assault would now continue as a gambit to push competition out of their sphere of influence.

The institution of their plan to rid the region of the risks and burdens of competition led, in three and a half years to the destruction of nearly all of Japan's industrial capacity, and, when even that was not enough to cause a surrender, the two searing exclamation points, each of which made Western Japan momentarily the brightest light in the solar system.

I make this point because the whole idea of placing the prople's lot unquestioningly in the hands of their leaders had been to place decisions in the hands of those wisest and most capable. The ardent effort of the people, when guided by the beneficent hand of great, and even holy, men, would serve all the people well. No one need hunger. No one need be sick. But the ideal was always elusive, always just a few more steps away, so leaders were pressed into ever and ever more foolish gambits in pursuit of the promises they fervently believed they could honor.

Japan is also a good case because, unlike western tyrrannies like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany there really was very little dissent. No one can claim Japan's revolution unravelled from the influence of dissonant voices within. Furthermore, utopian promises were made by people who, for the most part, highly cherished a code of honor. Still, they could not be fulfilled.

The result of this honest promise and honest trust was unmitigated catastrophe. The basic premise- that a nation could band together to eliminate individual risk- was false. Investing everything in a false premise reaped disaster.

The premise is no more true today than it was in 1941, yet today I see many in our nation seeking desperately, if honestly, to lurch toward the false premise. We are piling a workforce already thin of people who produce real goods and services ever higher with people who do nothing but push paper and make decisions about who will get to consume what others produce. If you give then the power to decide who will eat or get medical treatment will they deny themselves when there is not enough to go around? The history of the world is that such people don't do so. Will they deny you?

To institute this idea for our generation's benefit we are committing our children and grandchildren to paying our way. Here the looming shadow is very real. Unlike past generations of Americans much of what we take for granted in the economy we do not make ourselves, so the promise of repayment, should it ring hollow in the ears of those who do make it, may not be enough to keep us supplied with things we need. Look at the origins of all the things you buy for a week. When the rest of the world fears we can't or won't pay our debts and refuses further trade how well will you be able to get by? Following the false light of a risk-free life we are lead further and ever further, as was Japan, to that day when the stacked cards of promise upon promise collapse.


God help us all if we are as late seeing the light as they were.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at August 8, 2009 3:47 PM
Comments
Comment #285898

Lee,
What rot.
Japan did NOT have universal health care before or during WWII. The majority of Japanese were uninsured. The economy was controlled by the ‘zaibatsu,’ large multi-sector corporations, and these corporations substantially influenced a military dominated government.

Today, “in the Japanese health care system, healthcare services, including “free” screening examinations for particular diseases, prenatal care, and infectious disease control, are provided by national and local governments. Payment for personal medical services is offered through a universal health care insurance system that provides relative equality of access, with fees set by a government committee. People without insurance through employers can participate in a national health insurance program administered by local governments. Since 1973, all elderly persons have been covered by government-sponsored insurance. Patients are free to select physicians or facilities of their choice.”
Wikipedia

Other countries like the UK, Australia, Turkey, and most of the EU have government mandated universal health care. None of these countries exhibit tendencies towards totalitarianism. In fact, by virtually any standard you care to use, these countries have a comparable and sometimes even higher standard of health care than the US, and they provide it at substantially less cost.

The militaristic, corporatist, totalitarian Japan of WWII provides an example of a country which did NOT provide universval health care. The democratic Japan of post WWII provides an example of universal health care which is being successfully practiced.

Posted by: phx8 at August 8, 2009 4:30 PM
Comment #285901

Lee, interesting perspective. But, too narrowly focused. Education underwrites the capacity of the people to reserve power unto themselves and to know how to wield it in their own best interest, what Adam Smith called, enlightened self-interest, (not to be confused with selfish interest which is an entirely different concept).

What Americans don’t know is shocking and scary. And our educational system’s failures are the foundation for the very kind of leadership you warn of in your article.

This health care issue for example. Most Americans haven’t a clue what the options are, what the facts and data are, or where to get the facts, if they were interested in the first place, which more than half are not.

One fascinating bit of research demonstrates that the more educated a person is, the more willing they are to admit they don’t know when appropriate. Think about that for a minute. It means that the lesser educated American population presumes to know more about more, than those who are more educated, and this phenomena shows up in the research.

On the health care issue and townhalls. I would bet dollars to donuts that the most vocal of the audience participants are the least educated in the health care options and facts than their quieter counterparts who came to learn something from the exchange.

People who admit they don’t know, are less likely to volunteer an opinion. People who don’t know, what they don’t know, are more likely to volunteer an opinion. (Public Opinion and Public Ignorance: The Fine Line Between Attitudes and Nonattitudes, Howard Schuman, Univ. of Mi, Stanley Presser, Univ. Of N.C.)

The answer to the dilemma of loyal following and informed democracy acting as a check and balance upon political leaders, is education, secular, rational, and logic based education on as wide a variety of topics as feasible, it would appear.

But, such education would impede the power of politicians, and since education is largely in the hands of elected school board politicians, it is hard to see how such a solution is to come about in America.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 8, 2009 5:23 PM
Comment #285908

Sorry, Lee. The brightest light remained the sun. Brightest spot on the planet, most likely.

The Republicans, when they instituted their drug benefit, and Bush signed it into law, essentially cost taxpayers twice as much over the next ten years as even the conservative estimators of the Congressional Budget Office predict that the Democrat’s healthcare reform package would. And many of the same Republicans who voted for that bill Remain in power. That’s whose judgment we are asked to trust on fiscal matters.

The ultimate toll for the new healthcare bill? 23, 24 billion dollars a year.

What do healthcare costs currently cost us every year? 2.4 trillion. By the latter part of the next decade, it will cost us 4.3 trillion dollars., or about twenty percent of our gross domestic project.

Let’s do the math. If we can get the costs of healthcare to stabilize or even go down by a few percentage points, if we can get that rise in costs under control, The program will pay for itself

Now who is it who hasn’t seen the light now? Those who fight for a status quo that will end up picking their pockets of 20 percent of everything their country will make? Or those who believe that sometimes you have to spend money to make money?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 8, 2009 8:21 PM
Comment #285923

Funny, guys. Did I say I was writing about health care?

No.

I wrote about the elimination of individual RISK. To a degree unprecedented for ages in much of the West the old Japanese system, essentially an expansion on feudal systems, took the individual under the government’s wing. Modern Japan is still much more like that than is America, but less so than it was between W.W.II and the 1980s, when their economy collapsed into a TWENTY YEAR recession. Not old enough to remember that the Japanese were going to overtake the United States as the largest economy in the world?

It was a foregone conclusion in the ’80s that Japan would overwhelm us with greater efficiency and a more orderly society. The monetary house of cards that was supposed to be behind the risk-free society could not keep the promises it had made, though. Nor can ours.

There used to be entities in the United States that made exactly the same sort of promises in the exact same utopian/feudal way. They were the company towns of mining, logging, and some educational communities. In the fifties and sixties the government very purposefully undermined the economic foundations of these communities in which the needs of the individual, even medical needs, were met by the company. When such power over people’s lives was held in private hands the government considered it evil. This is nothing if not remarkable hypocrisy on the part of people who would make of the whole country one big company town.

David, sometimes passion is also informed by understanding, as acquiescence is by blissful, trusting, ignorance. It is not at all difficult to look at the current effort of the Democratic Party as a grab for societal consolidation in the face of the already unsustainable promises of the Great Society. ‘If we cans just take these few more steps we can make the whole thing work’, to use the logic I note in my post. The premise is still false, however.

Stephen, At the ignition of the two nuclear devices the energy output at the center of the fireball did, in fact, exceed, albeit very briefly, the energy output of the entire visible surface of the sun. However, you are also right. It did so at wavelengths to which the atmosphere is opaque, meaning that there was a dance of absorption and stepped-down reemission of photons until the fireball was some tens of meters across and the hard radiation had been reduced to wavelengths that could travel some distance in the atmosphere. The flash of visible light that left the atmosphere, then, would not literally have outshone the sun at, say, Mars, but it would easily have been visible in the daytime sky there.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at August 9, 2009 8:33 AM
Comment #285925

Lee, what value history if its lessons are not applied to the present and future?

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 9, 2009 9:36 AM
Comment #285926

Lee, the voters have two choices when it comes to federal policy direction. Democrats and Republicans. Republicans failed to provide the voters what the expected of the federal government. Now, it is Democrats turn.

Why would championing one of those choices be any more sound than championing the other? Debt and mismanagement occur under both. Democrats have the added perceived benefit of siding with the working classes, where Republicans, rightly or wrongly, are perceived as siding with the corporations who just put millions of voters out of work these last 20 months or so.

There is the ideological world, then there is the real one. In this real world, health care inflation is killing our nation, our businesses, and our job opportunities. A lack of corporate regulation and oversight has knocked our economy and workers to their knees in the millions. What did Republicans do about either? Nothing save bailing out the corporate banks, which half of Republicans say was the wrong thing to do. Rep. Darrel Issa was saying this just this week on the Bill Maher show.

You can attempt to make the argument that the Democrats are failing to provide Republican answers, but, the voting public rejected the Republican answers, so, I don’t know how far that arguments gets you. The Democrats are providing Democratic Party answers. Did voters expect anything different when the voted them in? If they did, they are in the most dire need of basic education about the political world in America.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 9, 2009 9:49 AM
Comment #285933

Lee did not the Reagan conservatives replace individual risk with socialized risk, at least on the national level for those industries that got them elected?

Posted by: j2t2 at August 9, 2009 11:40 AM
Comment #285936

Lee Jamison-
If you were saying brighter than the sun, sure. But more energy output? I’m not sure. The sun has a whole lot of surface area (measured in trillions of square miles.) If you do the math, the wattage coming off the sun is truly immense.

I did some figuring on Wolfram Alpha and with the maximum kilotonnage figure given for Hiroshima, you get 7.531 x 10^13 Watts (I divided the energy unit by time in seconds in order to get the power). By comparison, the solar power output every second is 3.846 x 10^26 Watts

Divide the two numbers and the quotient tell us that as long as we’re dealing in Kilotons a second (kt tnt/s), then the sun put out five trillion times as much energy as the surface of the sun in that time.

If I’m wrong, then it’s likely on the time side of things- i.e. how quickly that energy got released. But given that figure, all that energy would have to be released in less than five trillionths of a second to even briefly equate to total solar luminosity. The total power is nowhere near equal.

Brightness per unit square is much greater than the sun, though. that was my mistake. So you were right that it was brighter, and wrong that it was more powerful, and I was vice versa.

Ain’t Physics fun?

Getting back to your political point, I think we have to stop making false distinctions here. We didn’t, during the last few decades throw off the leadership of the elites, we just changed who those elites were, and how accountable the folks in charge were to us. We let them become accountable to the wrong people.

We really didn’t see government shrink under the Republicans, nor necessarily the thickness of the US Code federal lawbooks. What changed is where the law put power in this country.

Our disagreement is where that power should be, and I think it should be more so, in a place and a situation where that power is more accountable to the average person.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2009 12:19 PM
Comment #285939

Lol, Stephen, that physics snafu glared out at me as well.

Posted by: gergle at August 9, 2009 1:31 PM
Comment #285943

“Funny, guys. Did I say I was writing about health care? No.”

If you’re not writing about health care, you must be writing about these four major fiscal blunders:

Carte blanche authorization given the Fed and the Treasury to take risk away from the major banks to the tune of $20 trillion

Pointless, endless war in Iraq and Afghanistan against a tactic, namely terrorism

Pointless, endless nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan

Medicare part D

But if so, I would have expected to see this post in the Dems/Libs column, since all these idiotic moves were engineered and promoted by the Cheney/Bush cabal.

Posted by: Greg House at August 9, 2009 3:18 PM
Comment #285952

OK, back from church and errands and have to correct an error.

Stephen’s earlier comment about brightness of the bombs was entirely correct. I had remembered a solar matter to energy conversion rate of 400 tons per second, meaning I was off by, oh, FOUR orders of magnitude. The Sun actually converts about 4.7 million tons of matter to energy per second. So every millionth of a second it is converting about five tons of matter to energy versus the about two pounds converted in that same amount of time in a primitive A-bomb.

The instantaneous energy output of the Sun is, then, about five thousand times the instantaneous output of the primitive a-bombs.

Now, in relative brightness per unit area of surface the bombs win hands down. The Sun distributes its power output across six trillion square kilometers of surface area, while the fireballs of the a-bombs were only fifty meters across, give or take a little, when they became transparent. Assuming that the bombs converted less than a tenth of their energy into light the fireballs would still have been a billion times as bright as any comparable sized area on the surface of the sun.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at August 9, 2009 5:03 PM
Comment #285962
I would have expected to see this post in the Dems/Libs column, since all these idiotic moves were engineered and promoted by the Cheney/Bush cabal.

Interesting, considering that a Democratic house and senate had their hands in the equation since 2004 and to this date nothing has been done to change any of them…

Oh well, that must just be how good Cheney was as president.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 9, 2009 8:08 PM
Comment #285963

“…considering that a Democratic house and senate had their hands in the equation since 2004…”

Nope, think again. Dems won the November 2006 mid-terms and took over in January 2007, not 2004. Prior to that it was all Reps.

Nevertheless, ALL these bonehead moves were Republican ideas, and were either pushed through a Rep-controlled legislature or were presented as the only possible answer to armageddon. Granted, the Dems should have tried harder to prevent bullet item 1, especially having already been fooled by the Reps concerning items 2, 3 and 4.

“…to this date nothing has been done to change any of them…”

So you’re saying the answer to this massive debt incursion to later generations was to repeal the Medicare D and the bank bailout legislation, and apparently yank all the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately?

Just one more question: why do you hate the USA so much that you’re willing to cause whatever harm to it necessary to advance your narrow political agenda?

Posted by: Greg House at August 9, 2009 8:32 PM
Comment #285964

Rhinehold-
He’s right. We can’t just wave a magic wand and undo Bush’s policies. In the case of Bush’s deficits, we have to cut spending or raise taxes on somebody. Neither is going to be easy or quick. In the case of his wars, abrupt pullouts or magic insertions of tens of thousands of troops is not an option. In the case of the economic troubles? Good God, it’s going to take decades to come back from this.

That’s also why we’re not waiting on healthcare reform, as politically inconvenient as it may be to show our opponents a still target.

We can define everything in partisan terms, and end up screwing up things worse, or we can look at things in less partisan terms and stop trying to attach labels. There’s nothing socialistic about Government Healthcare that isn’t an integrated part of our society already. Whether or not you like it, nobody’s every decided against the constitutionality of Medicare, or medicaid.

Moreover, we need the government to do something productive, rather than just wait and hope that costs will go down by themselves, as has been promised for years.

The real trouble is, gatekeepers have a way of making what they control more expensive. HMOs and PPOs are all about keeping services to certain place and certain doctors that the organizations have control over. Since they often have control over large parts of the market, they can charge what the market will bear- and what people cannot.

The fact is, there is no free market in medicine. It’s not a product, ultimately, that we can rationally choose to do without, not and live a normal lifespan. It’s like gas and other commodities of its kind. We’re not given much of a choice in their use if we want to live productive lives, earn our livings.

This is a public policy matter in no small part because our society doesn’t function without it, and the difference between the value promised and paid for and the value received has become too great. It’s a contract whose spirit is being violated day in and day out: you pay money into a plan to be covered when the big expense hit, and the healthcare company ducks out of paying for your treatment, and rewards people for finding ways to negate your contract in your times of direst need.

And no, competition alone won’t solve it, not when everybody’s racing to the bottom of that particular barrel, looking to see who can deny the most medical costs- your healthcare. There are perverse incentives throughout the system to deny care just when it’s needed.

Do you not think that alone has an effect on the economy, in terms of the deaths, prolonged suffering, and disability?

Then add in the bankruptcies, the medical bills thrust upon people who can’t afford them, the physical therapy people don’t get, the visits not covered-

It would be one thing if we were defending a functional medical system against the inroads of a government plan, but there is no success here to really vindicate this approach as a whole.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 9, 2009 9:08 PM
Comment #285971
Nope, think again. Dems won the November 2006 mid-terms and took over in January 2007, not 2004. Prior to that it was all Reps.

You are right, I was typing in a hurry as I was about to leave the house and put down the wrong election.

Let’s see, January 2007. Dow was over 14,000, unemployment was half of what it is now. AIG was still going strong, Fannie and Freddie Mac was considered by the left to be ‘a-ok’. Yet the left did nothing to fix all of the rampant de-regulation that they helped put into law when Clinton was president…

Now, *I* don’t blame the Dems, not do I really blame the Reps. I blame them both for trying to extend growth artificially so that we end up with a big bang when we can no longer artificially prop it up. Both parties have a problem with that one. I just find it odd that the left is now trying to say they did nothing to our economy while the right is 100% to blame…

So you’re saying the answer to this massive debt incursion to later generations was to repeal the Medicare D and the bank bailout legislation, and apparently yank all the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan immediately?

That would be a start… Is there money to pay for them?

I’m not a ‘great thinker’ but wouldn’t deficit spending, spending money that cannot be paid back except by people cannot vote yet, isn’t that ‘taxation without representation’?

Should we be taxing people who can’t speak up for themselves yet?

Just one more question: why do you hate the USA so much that you’re willing to cause whatever harm to it necessary to advance your narrow political agenda?

OOo OOo, now I’m getting called ‘unpatriotic’ for questioning the president’s agenda from someone on the left! Isn’t that wonderful? Here I was told by others that the left is better than the right. Apparently not on that line of bullshit.

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 10, 2009 2:47 AM
Comment #285972

Rhinehold,
Even I have to agree that it was after 2004 when the Eyes of Americans were opened.

Lee,
Why I think your article carrys a lot of truth to the Reality faced by the Children of the 21st Century, I do believe it also exposes why the Old Graud of the Republican Party has lost their National Attraction.

For how can you promote a Better World when you are so sure that your Children can’t do any better in solving the Political Issues of Their Time. Especialy since they already know through the Actions and Words of Their Grandparents that the current Reality exists?

Besides, you might be surprised to know how many Young Americans are Enlightened or willing to be Enlightened about the Stupidity of Their Parents Argument of Ignorance.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at August 10, 2009 2:57 AM
Comment #285973
He’s right. We can’t just wave a magic wand and undo Bush’s policies.

You can’t? But, didn’t you RUN on that very thing?

Heck, I’ll be all for not expanding upon them as Obama has in the ‘powergrab for the executive branch’ that he’s already pulled.

In the case of Bush’s deficits, we have to cut spending or raise taxes on somebody. Neither is going to be easy or quick.

Yup. And neither is happening… we have the lowest receipts coming in this year but we are spending EVEN MORE then ever…

Good God, it’s going to take decades to come back from this.

What a load of crap… Please, spare me the setting up for everything you want to implement for the next 20 years, Stephen.

Things are not as bad as they were in just 1982 for Pete’s sake and we were out of that in less than 2 years. Most people don’t have a problem with deficit spending in bad times, it is the INCREASED spending during those times that we have a problem with.

20 years my ass. The only way THAT is is if we allow this administration to start implementing all of the programs that they want to without regard for things like inflation, deficit spending and being a regulator, not an operator.

There’s nothing socialistic about Government Healthcare that isn’t an integrated part of our society already. Whether or not you like it, nobody’s every decided against the constitutionality of Medicare, or medicaid.

Well, Medicaid wouldn’t be unconstitutional, it’s a state run program (in fact, no state HAS to participate).

As far as Medicare, when was it challenged and upheld again? It hasn’t been? Oh, well that settles it then I guess…

Want to help me put a fund together to try to bring the case before the Supreme Court so it can be decided upon?

Moreover, we need the government to do something productive, rather than just wait and hope that costs will go down by themselves, as has been promised for years.

Or, we need the government to STOP doing things that are UNPRODUCTIVE. I would settle for that. Like getting us involved into an employer based system in the first place…

The real trouble is, gatekeepers have a way of making what they control more expensive. HMOs and PPOs are all about keeping services to certain place and certain doctors that the organizations have control over. Since they often have control over large parts of the market, they can charge what the market will bear- and what people cannot.

And they can only do so with government’s assistance, which we have given them for decades. Let’s stop that stuff first, k? I know, maybe an insurance company could work across state lines? Or I could choose an insurance company different than my employer offers? Just little things…

Or break up any monopolies found? I thought that WAS a function of our government…

The fact is, there is no free market in medicine.

Not the way it is written up now and has been for 60 years…

It’s not a product, ultimately, that we can rationally choose to do without, not and live a normal lifespan.

No, but it is a service we can choose who to acquire that service from. If it meant anything to anyone how much a doctor charges… But most people don’t have a clue how much their doctor charges at all.

It’s like gas and other commodities of its kind. We’re not given much of a choice in their use if we want to live productive lives, earn our livings.

Wow, that was an odd comparison…

you pay money into a plan to be covered when the big expense hit, and the healthcare company ducks out of paying for your treatment, and rewards people for finding ways to negate your contract in your times of direst need.

And that is where the job of the government comes in, insuring that the market is free and fair. If one side (the insurer) backs out of their agreement, the government should be holding them accountable. But they are failing in their basic duties and we are supposed to give them MORE responsibility?

It would be one thing if we were defending a functional medical system against the inroads of a government plan, but there is no success here to really vindicate this approach as a whole.

The problems comes when we offer up a program that is WORSE. Having the government involved in your healthcare is allowing politics into the decisions that no one else should have a say in. Like it or not, that is the problem. Medicare patients, for example, have no right to privacy from the government when it comes to their healthcare. That is NOT a good thing to start extending to everyone else.

And right now Medicare and Medicaid cover about 7 million people. And is about to BANKRUPT us. And we want to extend that to tens of millions more?

We need to say no now to these plans and start looking for ways that will work AND keep our individual liberties in check. AND be constitutional, I still contend that Medicare is not and wouldn’t be if brought before the Supreme Court. Well, the Supreme Court before FDR monkeyed with it perhaps, I don’t know about this one, after they got Kehlo so wrong…

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 10, 2009 3:23 AM
Comment #285976

BTW, it will cost just 1 Trillion dollars, really?

Let’s see how good Washington is good and predicting healthcare costs…

Medicare D - 400 billion dollars. Actual costs? 950 billion.

Medicare - 9 billion by 1990. Actual cost? 521 billion. 644% higher.

Other Plans?

Iraq War - 55 billion Actual cost 1 trillion.

1996 Farm Bill - 160% more than expected.

Space Station - 77% more than expected.

Cash for Clunkers - 200% more than expected.

But maybe this time it will be ok, right?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 10, 2009 4:06 AM
Comment #285977

FYI, I mistyped again, a 644% increase of 9 billion is 58 billion. Not 521 billion.

My apologies, I saw the mistake just I hit post…

Can I ask now for a ‘edit post for 5 minutes’ function?

Posted by: Rhinehold at August 10, 2009 4:09 AM
Comment #285978

Rhinehold-
Pennywise, pound-foolish. Cash for Clunkers is doing what it’s supposed to do: encourage people to buy fuel efficient cars. You guys berated us for bailing out the banks and the car companies with taxpayer dollars, yet now we’re doing a hell of a lot better, and estimates are that the Stimulus has saved a million jobs, and its not even over yet.

It’s window dressing, most of what conservatives and libertarians are arguing for, cost savings that come from us neglecting things like infrastructure, holding down healthcare costs, not regulating or enforcing regulations for the kinds of companies whos behavior cost so much.

Or underpricing a war, both in your hubris that it would be over quickly and your foolishiness in not planning and budgeting for the alternative outcome.

What would have cost more, spending money to shore up the levees in New Orleans, or dealing with the consequences of the disaster that followed those levee’s failure?

Government is not about spending and budgets alone. It does things, and did things even in Colonial times. Government can take risks, do things that will not create profits for them, but will profit the people.

The market can encourage efficiency, or it can encourage cutting of corners, cheap bastardry. A moderate size government, an appropriate size government should be there to police the rules of the road. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, and an economy that tries to support itself simply by manipulating numbers will inevitably fail.

The economy must deal with matters of substance. Profits should be a reward of good business, not a privilege of running a business, and we must have government intervention at times to make sure that businesses are working for their living, not cheating the rest of us for it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2009 9:03 AM
Comment #285980

Rhinehold-
We elected him because we knew the fellow was a hard worker and a creative politician. So far he’s lived up to some of his promise.

Look, you should understand one cardinal rule of communication: the message repeated is the one made forgettable and meaningless.

I hear the same thing from Libertarians, from Republican, over and over again, a dogma that never changes, no matter what the situation.

It tires me out. It’s like, “hasn’t the past ten or twenty years given them any sense of their own fallibility?” You folks don’t know everything, and your inability to conceive of any Government operation working better than a private one is ironically some of the main reasons for significant waste in healthcare.

You take what you attempted with Social Security. There are probably many people, regardless of party, who are glad that social security wasn’t in the stock market game, like Bush wanted it. You want to know what one of the important turning points on that “reform” was? When he admitted that 2 trillion dollar ten year make over (200 billion a year), would not serve to make Social Security any more solvent.

It was simply assumed by them that putting the money in the stock market was the better idea. It was simply assumed this past year that letting Lehman brothers fail wouldn’t cause additional problems. And it was simply assumed that the folks in both the GOP and Democratic party could postpone any question of bailouts.

That was the point when things just cratered, and we’re living with the consquences now. We’ll likely be living with the consequences for the next few decades. You talk about unproductive, the problem is the Republicans fail to realize that the market is not so simple as supply and demand. There are processes and systems within systems that complicate the picture, and that can help unscrupulous financiers and business leaaders hide their weakness from the market and exaggerate their strengths.

Just as the weather starts from simple things like temperature, pressure, humidity, rotation and bouyance, and creates a complex system out of it, so does the market take supply and demand, relatively simple concepts, and create all kinds of complexity. And like the weather, while nonlinear and chaotic in its form, it has structure that we can use to change the outcomes, regulate the overall climate of our nation’s commerce.

But it’s important to realize that when a system is as interconnected as our economy, we cannot afford to deal with the market on an ad hoc basis.

As far as medicare goes, we should acknowledge one fact about the insurance companies. Without regulation, without competition, the incentives among those delivering healthcare is to overcharge, and among those funding it to underpay. It’s a simple matter of greed, unchecked by conditions in the rules of the game which would require their acknowledgment that they make their profit respectively providing healthcare at sensible cost and paying for it when the need arises.

We need healthcare reform because the system is rigged to favor those who are more interested in bleeding people’s wallets dry than actually serving the patient’s medical and financial interests, which were what motivated the arrangements they made in the first place.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2009 12:33 PM
Comment #285984

Not unpatriotic…just uninformed and unwilling to become informed. I believe you love America, just as I love America.

Posted by: Marysdude at August 10, 2009 5:16 PM
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