Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 3, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE....Greg Anrig, responding (partly) to my post yesterday about the eerily unanimous support for universal healthcare among liberal bloggers, says the obvious:

Why not make UHC, UHC, UHC the one and only item on the progressive economic reform agenda to simplify matters and focus the public mind?

....Heaven knows, there are a few other little details to work out. But come the 2008 presidential race, every single Democrat running absolutely, positively must support in a persuasive way some form of genuine national health insurance. The only reason not to would be political cowardice. And the country has already paid a huge price for the cowardice of its leaders over the past six years.

The liberal blogosphere disagrees about gun control, disagrees about the war in Iraq, disagrees about the role of labor, disagrees about nearly everything. But as near as I can tell, support for national healthcare is so unanimous and well accepted in the left blogosphere that it barely even merits discussion. Mostly it's just taken for granted. Hell, even Mickey Kaus supports universal healthcare.

This is a little odd, isn't it? Can you think of any other major policy issue that's (a) universally supported by liberal bloggers but (b) almost universally feared by major Democratic politicians? There are plenty of disconnects between the activist blogosphere and mainstream liberal politicians, but is there any other disconnect quite this deep and this clear?

I can't think of one. And while I'm not naive about the recent history of national healthcare plans, it still strikes me as a bit mysterious that virtually no major Democratic politician supports full-on, unapologetic universal healthcare. If there's any single big progressive policy that I think the blogosphere is a genuine bellwether for, this is probably it.

Bottom line: Surely it's time for someone to step up to the plate and stake their reputation on a simple, comprehensive, common sense plan to implement national healthcare? And if financing is the problem, just take a page out of the Bush playbook and ignore it: "If I'm elected president, I'll work with Congress to devise a fair and sensible revenue plan." How hard is that?

Kevin Drum 1:06 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (386)

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Comments

Nice one. Agree 100%

Tbrosz, over to you. We're all going to die as soon as we disconnect health care from our jobs, right?

Posted by: craigie on March 3, 2006 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Universal Healthcare would devastate the economy.

Posted by: Al on March 3, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

And if financing is the problem, just take a page out of the Bush playbook and ignore it: "If I'm elected president, I'll work with Congress to devise a fair and sensible revenue plan." How hard is that?

This is absolutely the best part. Hoist by their own retard, indeed.

Posted by: craigie on March 3, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

Instead of waiting for one of our heroes to step up to the plate, why don't we corner one or two of the more ambitious SOBs?

Barack Obama has supposedly made some sort of deal with GM, he sounds like a nice place to start. Make our support of Pelosi or Bayh or someone contingent on them coming out of the closet.

Posted by: jerry on March 3, 2006 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I'm expecting Hilary Clinton to make universal health care the cornerstone of her agenda.

Reminding people of your most conspicuous failure in public life is always a good plan.

She'll be competing with John McCain's slogan, "When the chips were down I totally sold out my country."

Almost as good as Kerry's, "I was against the war before I was for it."

Posted by: Ray on March 3, 2006 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

Ok, ok, how about a compromise: Universal Health Care for Democrats. Republicans are on their own.

"Gee, i'd love to hire you, but it says on your NSA record that you vote Republican, and I can't afford the health care premiums for you guys."

Bwahahahahaha!

Posted by: craigie on March 3, 2006 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

Not so much a major policy issue, more a political issue, but the NSA scandal has a similar dynamic. All liberal blogs agree Bush broke the law (several conservatives agree too), but politicians are afraid to run with it because they're afraid of looking "weak" on security. Just like with healthcare, they're concerned about how their actions will be perceived instead of doing what's right.

Posted by: SP on March 3, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Just goes to show that ideas are less important than the leaders. None of the current crop of the Democratic leaders can make this his/her signature policy issue without being drowned out by the Repub noise machine.

Posted by: lib on March 3, 2006 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Just like with healthcare, they're concerned about how their actions will be perceived instead of doing what's right.

What's perverse though is that these are both positions where what's right also happens to be what the majority of Americans believe/want. So Dems are essentially so afraid of the Right Wing Noise Machine that they won't stand up and say "Yes, America, me too!"

Unfuckingbelievable.

Posted by: craigie on March 3, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Unlikely. We'll get Bush-lite, more articulate, less torture.

Posted by: bkl on March 3, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, Kevin, sure. HilaryCare was a huge hit in the mide-90s. Uh huh.

Good luck with that, Libs!

Posted by: MountainDan on March 3, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

I agree. Let's do it.

Posted by: Bob G on March 3, 2006 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/inscr/
more specifically the Polity IV regime Statistics
Shows wealth being concentrated in fewer hands.

Its my thought, perhaps wrongly, that America would become more Socialist due to the wage and wealth disparity shown at links (plus other studies)

The greater the Disparity the less health care they can afford, in my view, and the more dependent they become on Government or some other form of sustenance.

See Link here for Polity IV charts and other Data
http://www.cidcm.umd.edu/inscr/polity/index.htm

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 3, 2006 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, Kevin, sure. HilaryCare was a huge hit in the mide-90s. Uh huh.

Good luck with that, Libs!
Posted by: MountainDan on March 3, 2006 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Good luck with that Social Security plan Cons!

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 3, 2006 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

Supporting universal health care eventually means having a head-on crash with one of the most important constituencies the Democrats have built over the past 40 years; middle class retired people who think health care rationing should not apply to them. Any system that Kevin has written about in admiring tones rations treatments to a greater degree than what is experienced by the overweight middle class American 78 year old who suffers from arthritis, diabetes, or a heart condition, or any combination of the three. 78 year olds, or, for that matter, 65 year olds, who don't suffer from these afflictions live in fear that they eventually will, and they don't want to have to wait longer to get their hip replacement or their heart procedure, if they can get it at all. The Democrats created the very constituency which comprises one of the most formidable obstacles to the programs they desire. Politics never lacks for irony.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 3, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

And in other news, John Derbyshire joins the list of treasonous traitors who should be killed for hating america and discouraging the troops.

Will the last wingnut to change his mind please update the message on the RNC answering machine?

Posted by: craigie on March 3, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

Band of the Week: The Meat Purveyors I couldn't resist.

Posted by: elmo on March 3, 2006 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Liberal bloggers and the public may like universal health care. I'm afraid the elephant in the room is the health care industry. The obvious model is to expand Medicare to everyone. It would actually be quite cost effective and provide better care. The losers would be the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. Remember how they screwed up the Medicare bill? They would do anything they could - legal or illegal - to destroy a candidate. The public will need a lot more education and have to scream a lot louder before candidates take this risk. Hillary's last plan failed partly because it was horribly confusing - it was a hybrid that tried to make a place for "the industry."

Posted by: Psyche on March 3, 2006 at 2:12 AM | PERMALINK

Replace the National Security State with the National Health Care State. What could be a better expression of our commitment to human rights and self-determination, for ourselves, and, by extension, for everyone else.

It would certainly speak against aggressive war.

Posted by: cld on March 3, 2006 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK

How did the Federation in Star Trek evolve, if not as an expression of Universal Health Care?

Posted by: cld on March 3, 2006 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

The Federation used cheap, outsourced labor from the Delta Quadrant, that's how.

Posted by: The Gorn on March 3, 2006 at 2:31 AM | PERMALINK

Tbrosz, over to you.

Geez, why me? I'm too damn busy to do any serious research.

Off the top of my head, any proposed health care system is going to have to address a few things:

--The shifting of a vast amount of monetary flow. At present, most non-government health care is paid for by private companies that buy insurance policies. This is where the money comes from to pay for the health care. If this is shifted into the Federal revenue system, it will have to be done to minimize the impact of the shift. Somebody is going to be getting a major tax hit, and the logical target would be the companies that would no longer have to pay for insurance policies. Corporate tax increases, in other words. Increasing individual income taxes to cover this would be a mistake, unless you have some fantasy that the corporations will pass their insurance savings on in higher salaries.

--Something needs to be done to make sure providers remain private, and that the system somehow encourages competition (vouchers?). If competition in the industry is completely destroyed, and nationalization complete down to the providers, you will get the same thing you get in any collectivized country where there is only one choice for a service. You get crap.

--If you slam price controls on the sources of health care innovation, you'll kill the goose that lays golden eggs not only for the U.S., but the health care systems in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, price controls will probably be inevitable in a government-paid system. "Price negotiations" are no different than "price controls" if a health tech company has only the government as a major customer.

--Do not make private insurance illegal. Fortunately, many supporters of universal health care agree.

--Once this is done, there's no turning back. Attaching a large segment of society surgically to the government teat is a non-reversible process, as we've seen with other entitlements. Be very careful what you ask for.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

Go ahead. Explain it in detail, and how much it would cost. Make sure that illegal immigrants would be entitled to it. And make sure that gays and drug addicts could cost us as much as they want, and let the American people know that too. As a conservative Republican, I encourage you to do so. And make sure you put in provisions to harm our biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Please. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

"And if financing is the problem, just take a page out of the Bush playbook and ignore it: "If I'm elected president, I'll work with Congress to devise a fair and sensible revenue plan." How hard is that?"
The only problem with that scenario is in world with Congress still controlled by today's so-call crop of conservatives they'd demand a Democratic President produce numbers that are actually, you know, real. Unlike of course when the current, so-called conservative, President created the first government entitlement program since LBJ and did it with phony numbers. And with a Republican controlled Congress and no Tom DeLay on the Democratic side pushing the show along who would keep the floor open for votes long past the time it is supposed to?

Posted by: Nathan on March 3, 2006 at 2:49 AM | PERMALINK

And yes, tax our corporations. Heavily. This way the American people will know that it's a free lunch. It won't hurt employment, our cmpetitiveness, it won't be passed through in job cuts, reduced salaries, higher prices, it won't hurt investors, pension plans, 401k plans, LOL! Liberals are so silly.

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

All these complaints about providing drug coverage to the elderly. I guess liberals oppose that? :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 2:59 AM | PERMALINK

The math for making the money flow work involves these numbers:

--A company spends a certain amount for health care on its employees (just assume a large company for now). This would go away under universal health care.

--The company pays a certain amount in taxes now, too. The cost of the health care is currently deducted as a business expense, but this recovers only some of the health care costs. It's a deduction, not a credit. For a 30 percent tax rate, every three dollars spend on health care and deducted will save approximately a dollar in taxes, so the net health care cost is cut by about a third by tax savings.

--If the plan is to tap existing money flow, new taxes to pay for universal health care will be added to the existing company tax burden. Since these taxes would not be deductible on the rest of the tax burden, health care costs would have to come down by about a third to break even. This may actually be feasible, since some savings could result from reducing overhead and some other costs

Does this come out right? It's almost midnight here, and I may have screwed something up. Never mind that I probably didn't explain it that well. Wouldn't mind some economic whiz crunching up some real numbers.

the question: Assume the universal health care costs are going to be tapped mostly from corporate and business taxes. How much would health care costs have to be reduced to make the new taxes and the lifting of the employee insurance burden a financial wash for the company?

Additional complexity: somebody's also going to have to cough up for all those Americans not currently covered by an employer.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 3:00 AM | PERMALINK

why do congressional democrats waffle on healthcare while liberal bloggers unanimously support it?

just look at which group uses private health insurance.

Posted by: rufustfyrfly on March 3, 2006 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

Right now, if the health costs are too high, business can reduce or eliminate them, or else go bankrupt, and then reduce or eliminate them. By taxing business, you help ensure that the whole economy will go down the drain. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

Since I raised this point two Kevin postings ago, I'll answer it. I don't know of any prominent U.S. liberal non-blogging pundit who in principle opposes national health care.

Thanks, Kevin, for putting this on the table.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on March 3, 2006 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

not to put to fine on a point on it, but why can't we for a second ignore the economic implications? what's wrong with simply providing health care for everyone? obviously the money is the hang up for conservativs, but why? money more important than health? corporate profits more important than public well being? what kind of choices do we want to make? put it out there, let them defend it.

Posted by: future man on March 3, 2006 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, that's the ticket. Ignore reality. To hell with the economy. Run on that. Please. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 3:34 AM | PERMALINK

Well, universal health care was Clinton's watchcry in 1992, and it lead to the disastrous loss of Congress in 1994. I don't think my health insurance premium is unreasonable, but I'm seriously concerned about the takeover of government by corporations. Politicians should get back in the business of controlling business hellbent on profit despite the consequences to the commonwealth. That's what democracy was invented for in the first place. It wouldn't hurt to hear more of our elected leaders defending the public from the profligacy of corporate interests. UHC would follow.

Posted by: NealB on March 3, 2006 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't it a little idiotic to suggest that something which is provided by every other first world country is a radical and unprecedented proposal? We can pay for it the same way any other country does. People, we're not the only country on the planet.

Moreover, we're already paying twice as much for the health care we've got as any other country. A rational approach to health care wouldn't cost a dime more than we're already paying. Businesses would save money.

And by the way: unless you get your treatment exclusively at the emergency room, you may be aware that your health care is already being rationed.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 3, 2006 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

Additional complexity: somebody's also going to have to cough up for all those Americans not currently covered by an employer.

This may not be as big a bite as it sounds. Remember that your local ER treats any emergency case that comes through the door, shifting the cost from the indigents who can't pay to those who do have insurance and can. Thus, to a degree, we are already paying for these people. And since waiting till something gets acute enough to require emergency care also means that it's more expensive to treat. If we could get everytone covered, we could treat many things much more cheaply as we'd be dealing with them earlier.

This is not to say that it'd necessarily be free; just that the additional cost isn't as big as it might sound.

Don't forget we also just eliminate a massive bureaucracy whose sole function is to deal with a huge number of different private plans, and also deals with the large efforts all those plans put out to avoid paying for stuff. This is where you get the big savings.

It's also where you'd generate massive layoffs as an entire industry (private health insurance) suddenly becomes a small fraction of its current size. Plus local providers would hopefully be able to use much less staff. So in the short term, you'd destroy a ton of jobs. The good news would be these jobs are (in the largest sense) sociallu useless, so there's no reason to want to keep them. (Easy for me to say as I'm not one of the ones getting my career destroyed.)

Posted by: jimBOB on March 3, 2006 at 3:35 AM | PERMALINK

Yes. Down with business. Eliminate profits! Hell, let's nationalize everything! Run on that. Please. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

Any issue that brings out so many trolls so quickly is almost guaranteed to be a good one.

It's amazing how certain they are that America simply cannot take care of itself as well as Sweden or France. They may just be ignorant of what goes on in the rest of the world.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 3, 2006 at 3:44 AM | PERMALINK

Well, universal health care was Clinton's watchcry in 1992, and it lead to the disastrous loss of Congress in 1994.

Hillary tried to do a halfway solution that allowed the big insurers to keep a role. The returned the favor by fighting tooth and nail, eventually killing the proposal.

The political price the Dems paid was for failing to pass anything. The solution is to not accept any half-measures, and insist on doing it right. Since anything they try to do will be potrayed as socialistic single payer, then they may as well go whole hog and DO single payer. By now, the case for doing it is even more compelling than it was in the early 90's.

As for the health insurance companies, I say kill 'em. Screw them all. They refused to even consider any sort of compromise solution, preferring to just let the problems fester, as they have for the past decade. No one who isn't part of that industry will mourn its loss.

I don't think my health insurance premium is unreasonable,

Lucky guy. Not many to agree with you. Particularly if you're self-employed.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 3, 2006 at 3:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah. We should emulate France and Germany with high unemployment and low economic growth. With higher proportional deficits and debt. That's the ticket. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 3:49 AM | PERMALINK

GM is shifting work from Michigan to Ontario because it's cheaper to employ workers whose country provides health care than it is for GM to do it itself.

Universal health care saves businesses money. A more efficient system benefits everybody.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 3, 2006 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

France and Sweden are defended by us. They can't afford to defend themselves.

Posted by: TYmbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 3:53 AM | PERMALINK

That troll is sure beating the hell out of those straw men. Hope he's having fun.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 3, 2006 at 3:54 AM | PERMALINK

Canada can't defend themselves. GM's American unions screwed themselves. They'll be willing to pay more, or lose more jobs. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 3:57 AM | PERMALINK

Then encourage the Democrat party to run on nationalized health care, please. :) Thanks JimBob.

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 4:00 AM | PERMALINK

I used to be one of the owners of a medium sized manufacturing company (100 employees, $30 million sales). Health care was one of the benefits we provided. Year after year our health costs went up and the coverage went down, even though our workforce was predominantly young and healthy.

The current trend is unsustainable, and every company that covers its workers is facing the same realization. Something has to change.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 3, 2006 at 4:01 AM | PERMALINK

One of the problems is that dem politicians are very strongly supported by unionized workers, including those in both government service and private industry.

Govt employees generally get fantastic health care benefits which can't be taken away, and other Big Labor employees are in a similar situation, although their benefits are tied to their companies not going away.

Universal Healthcare is generally interpreted to mean coverage for more people. For those with no (or little coverage), that's obviously better. But for those with money (rich people) or clout (union workers), UHC is probably worse.

I don't think that many liberal bloggers are union workers.

Posted by: rkimball on March 3, 2006 at 4:03 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, but nationalized single payer health care may not be the solution.

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 4:04 AM | PERMALINK

Union workers are on the same treadmill as everyone else. Every time a contract comes up for renewal, health care is on the table. Costs are rising for employers and employees alike.

The situation isn't much different for non-union companies (like mine), since a good company has to offer decent benefits too. Everybody is being squeezed.

It's not just a matter of providing health care to those without insurance, it's addressing a problem which continues to get worse for everyone.

Countries with universal health care continue to find it a contentious issue. They still have to deal with cost and quality of care. Bear in mind that their coverage is greater and their costs are lower than ours.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 3, 2006 at 4:17 AM | PERMALINK

Talking about raising taxes (or "revenue") is a sucker's bet-- you're just playing into the Republican's number one issue. In fact, funding universal health care is pretty simple. As someone said on another thread, there will be such huge cost savings, investigations will be launched to figure out what the trick is.

Just call what you're doing "expanding Medicare". There's no new bureaucracy or agency to be added. Everything will be run through the existing Medicare system, we're just lowering the eligibilty age. If its good enough for your parents' health care, its good enough for you.

Since we can use the bloated Medicare part D budget projections as part of the "existing" Medicare budget, there is, what $700 billion over the next 10 years that the Republican have already promised to pay. So they're hardly in a position of complain about adding to the deficit. The "trick" here is that if Medicare negotiated drug prices as shrewdly as the VA, the drug prices would be cut in half.

Next, swap funding responsibilities with the states. I remember a Gregg Easterbrook column a couple of years ago that said Uncle Sam pays $400 billion a year to states (for highways, schools, welfare, etc.). Since an expanded Medicare will cover everyone, states can stop paying for Medicaid-- in exchange the government can cut a big chunk of that $400 billion (or whatever the number is now) revenue transfer and keep the savings to fund Medicare. Bear in mind, long term care coverage will also need to move to Medicare-- most nursing home patients rely on Medicaid.

Change the tax code so whatever an employer paid in health insurance premiums must now be paid out to the employees (on a per capita basis, wouldn't want to see CEOs taking it all). So everyone who's insured now gets a raise and FICA will get its 15% off the top of this income increase (premiums are a deduction now, so its found money for Uncle Sam). Its also good for employers who won't have to worry about skyrocketing premiums year and year. Uninsured people won't get a raise, but they will now have health coverage, so I don't see them whining.

On top of all this, the cost savings from eliminating private insurance paperwork and bureaucracy (as well as all the state Medicaid agencies) will be tens of billions of dollars, there are a LOT of inefficiencies that will be eliminated with a single payer system.

Heck, you may even get the AMA on board. No more uninsured or out of network patient issues-- Doctors will just treat their patients and send the bill to Medicare, just like they've done with the elderly for 30 years.

Posted by: beowulf on March 3, 2006 at 4:18 AM | PERMALINK

Saying liberal bloggers agree 100% on universal health care is about as meaningful as saying liberal bloggers agree 100% that everyone should have food on the table at dinner time.

The source of disagreement is the how. There's a lot of room between single payer and pay or play.

Until Democrats get behind an actual general policy proposal, such as single payer or pay or play or even just making the federal government the insurer of last resort, saying you favor universal health care is meaningless. Heck, conservatives favor universal health care.

Posted by: Adam Herman on March 3, 2006 at 4:31 AM | PERMALINK

National Health Care needs to be presented as capitalist Freedom. The freedom to have your own business, to be an entrepreneur without the baggage of who you hire. The Freedom to change jobs without the mystery or mirage of the new health insurance situation. The Freedom to go out on a limb with new ventures. The Freedom to entice Toyota to build their plants in our country. The Freedom to plan ahead. The Freedom to stay home and raise a family or care for others. The Freedom to go to school, to improve yourself. The Freedom to marry someone not in perfect health. The Freedom to live with dignity when ill. The Freedom to have medical hope no matter who you are.

This will strengthen marriages, lessen the financial strains, and eliminate half the bankruptcies. It will lower auto insurance and homeowner liabilities rates, and reduce lawsuits, since well all get the care without costing each other.
It will lower public liabilities, such as schools and parks.
It will equalize the country = same basic boat = freedom to be decent

Posted by: Richard W. Crews on March 3, 2006 at 4:31 AM | PERMALINK

Beowulf for President!

Posted by: Hrothgar on March 3, 2006 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, as someone pointed out above, there is no compromise between single payer and insurance/pharmaceutical industries. One of these industries will be put in a straight jacket, and the other one will cease to exist.

People are not ready yet for a war, but that's what it will take.

Posted by: Boronx on March 3, 2006 at 4:42 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent, Crews. Don't forget that it also reduces product liability costs. People who are injured, for whatever reason, often have to sue just to have their medical bills paid.

And, yeah, add personal injury lawyers to the list of those with something to lose from universal healthcare.

Posted by: bad Jim on March 3, 2006 at 4:58 AM | PERMALINK

Beowulf, excellent post. It should be read by all of the policy makers.

Richard Crews, great frame. Universal healthcare isn't "socialism." It enhances the freedom to innovate and grow business. It enables businesses to compete in the world market. Great.

Now if we can find somebody in power to actually take up the issue. They all seem scared to death of the health insurance industry. As I see it, our congressional worthies are too afraid to do anything. This will require somebody outside. Maybe a governor.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 3, 2006 at 5:26 AM | PERMALINK

Badjim, don't worry about personal injury lawyers. They can take care of themselves. Most personal injury lawyers are small business types who would benefit from universal healthcare.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 3, 2006 at 5:29 AM | PERMALINK

I doubt there will be huge cost savings. None of the solutions proposed here are workable or wise. Actually, that is too bad. President Bush's HSA's should be adopted. You liberals should look at Senator Clinton's new proposals, which are along the same lines as the HSA's.

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK

Take it from a small business owner. Universal healthcare in almost any form would be a boon for business. I just lost an key part time employee due to illness. If he had insurance he probably would have been treated earlier and not had to quit. Unfortunately there's no way I can afford to pay insurance except for full time staff and even that is proving a stretch. Universal coverage would give me the freedom to run my business with the flexibility in staffing I need without worrying about something that shouldn't be any of my business. Viva la capitalism.

Posted by: Adventuregeek on March 3, 2006 at 5:44 AM | PERMALINK

Oh and HSA's from a business perspective do nothing to solve the problem. Zero. What are we supposed to give our employees a raise to cover their HSA contributions. Is my single mother office manager supposed to take her huge disposable income and sock it away in case her or child gets sick. She's already paying for her childs insurance and day care out of pocket. Anyone who thinks HSA a good idea should walk a mile in her shoes. HSA's reason for being is to large corporations to dump employer based health insurance without having any kind of replacement (ie. just throw everyone to the wolves).

Posted by: Adventuregeek on March 3, 2006 at 5:52 AM | PERMALINK

No one would expect a practical solution to a problem from the Bush administration, and the proposal of Health Savings Accounts doesn't disappoint. We'd be laughing about it if we weren't screaming, crying, cringing and snarling over the cruelty, criminality, arrogance and stupidity of the rest of the government's initiatives.

I can almost believe that they let New Orleans drown just to make the point that the federal government can't do anything useful (not that its performance in Iraq had led us to expect anything more).

Posted by: bad Jim on March 3, 2006 at 6:22 AM | PERMALINK

Random comments --

Saying 'it works in France' or 'it works in Germany' is false reasoning. The U.S. is a unique case; our population is at least an order of magnitude higher than any European country. Socialism works beautifully in Sweden; Sweden only has a few million people. The system would break down badly if it had to service our teeming hordes.

I like the idea of universal health care, certainly. Set up a system where I can go to any doctor I feel like going to, show him my Social Security card, get anything I need in the way of treatment, equipment, and medicine, and never see a bill, and I'll sign up for it. But leaving aside the financial costs of such a system, which are fargin' enormous, we're left with the following problems --

-- unless the system promises no government price controls, the health care industry will be all over any politician pushing this like dogs on a side of bacon. The TV and radio will ring 24/7 with the most vicious attack ads imaginable. "Democrats are trying to kill YOUR children with terrible health care! Under the Democratic plan, your child will have to wait two years for a rabies shot after he gets bitten by a rat! Look! In Canada, 17,000 children die every day of tetanus because they can't get tetanus shots without a six week waiting period!" And lest we here in the blogosphere forget this, at least half of America is very stupid, very gullible, and very easily frightened... and we keep letting them vote.

-- even is you somehow create a plan that guarantees competitive pricing remains in the mix, with the government continuing to pick up all medical care costs at the billing stage (essentially, medical care providers give everyone the best care they can, then submit whatever bill they feel like to the government, which pays it, no questions asked), that only gets the enormously powerful health care industry off your back. It's like, okay, I've dealt with Dracula, that's fine, but now, you've still got to deal with the Werewolf -- the health insurance industry, which stands to lose billions, if not simply cease to exist, under this kind of national health care plan.

No politician of any stripe wants to have to mess with either of these lobbies. That's what they wake up in the middle of the night covered in cold sweat about -- not voters, not scandals, not the Department of Justice -- powerful lobbies.

Now, if you could come up with a system whereby the government simply pays health care providers whatever they want to bill (within reason) for the best care available, you could turn Dracula against the Werewolf, because the health care industry would love that plan, and they would tool up on the insurance lobby to try to get it passed. And if we're going to operate at huge deficits anyway, I'd rather we threw tons of fiat cash at a decent health care system than into Halliburton's checking account.

Here's what I think is more workable, though:

-- price control, not on health care fees, but on insurance co-pays and especially deductibles, as well as premiums. Somehow or other we have gotten ourselves into this nightmarish situation where those of us lucky enough to have health insurance at all are paying grotesque premiums, and getting crap out of it. $500 deductible. $1000 deductible. Once that's met, the insurance covers you 80/20, or maybe even 90/10 if you're lucky, so for a bad illness or a major injury, you're still only talking about paying, oh, four or five year's salary all at once on medical bills. And we're supposed to be grateful we have this coverage at all, because millions don't. Well, you can always declare bankruptcy... oh, no, wait, you can't anymore. Gee...

Insurance is one of the most profitable rackets in human history; it is the only one I know of where profit margins depend on finding ways to refuse to provide the product people are paying you for. Insurance company executives pocket billions in incentives and straight up profits every year, and those billions come directly out of our pockets, in the form of high deductibles, ridiculously self serving coverage ratios, and absurdly high premiums for such spectacularly lousy and limited coverage. Have the government impose some price controls on them.

Beyond that, a single payer system could work, perhaps, if we hung a high enough co pay on every health care service in it. Go to a health care provider, get the best health care available with no limitations, show your Social Security card, pay a reasonable co-pay that never varies -- $50, say, or even $100. It will hurt, but we can afford it, especially if the plan covers everything else, with no exceptions.

Assuming there are ten million health care consumers in the system every day paying co-pays, that's a billion dollars a day to fund national health insurance. That's how you put the bulk of the American populace to work for you and make that system work.

Having said all this, it should be known that I've recently landed my first permanent job in months, and I work for a 'carve out' that provides call center support to companies who give their employees Flexible Spending Accounts, but who don't want the hassle of administering them. So if any kind of universal health care were to go through, I'd be out of a job pretty quickly. Nonetheless, I work in the belly of the beast and I've seen how horrifyingly inadequate our current health care system is... I see it every day. Universal health care is a good idea, and I believe it's one a majority of Americans would happily vote for.

Still, Athaclena, or her father (whichever Tymbrimi our conservative gadfly is) raises some good points (and it's not fair to call him/her a troll simply because he/she is a conservative bearding us in our very lairs; unless I missed it, he/she has been very civil and hasn't launched any ad hominem attacks at all).

Unless a proposed national health care plan simply grabs up the existing insurance infrastructure wholesale, making everyone currently employed by every health insurance provider a government worker instantly, this will have an enormous economic impact. All of which is why I would favor greater regulation of what insurance companies can charge and how they can structure their plans before I would suggest simply replacing the entire private sector with a public one.

And while we're on that subject, could we please have a Federal law that says that before any company can lay off any of its non-executive workers, the executives, and especially the Board of Directors, have to take decreases to their incentives in direct proportion to the proposed layoff percentages? I'm tired of thousands of people losing their jobs so Donald Trump can keep putting a few million bucks in his pocket every year.

Posted by: Highlander on March 3, 2006 at 6:44 AM | PERMALINK

My observation is the Bush and his cronies, and much of the hard right-wing, prefers what I call "upside-down capitalism" where the profits are privatized and the costs are socialized. They really don't understand or support truly free and fair markets....

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 3, 2006 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

"This is a little odd, isn't it? Can you think of any other major policy issue that's (a) universally supported by liberal bloggers but (b) almost universally feared by major Democratic politicians?"

Ummm...gay rights, abortion rights, prohibition of torture, domestic wiretapping? This is a canard! I don't know of a single major policy issue that isn't "almost universally feared by major Democratic politicians"!!! There's nothing odd here; our elected democratic leaders are wimps.

Posted by: formertexan on March 3, 2006 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

Guys, you're missing the main problem: People don't trust the government. Rather, they don't trust the government to take control of something and not screw it up. FUBAR is an Army term, but it's also a gov't bureaucracy term. The most effective arguement used against Hillarycare was,"Do you want the people at the DMV to be giving you healthcare?".
Yeah, yeah, I've heard the counterarguements. This is the basic politics. In dealing with the Feds, the state, the county, the townships, the school board and the trash and roads people, nobody likes dealing with government.
People are more than willing to admit that the health care system is screwed up. What they by and large won't believe is that the US Government will make it better.
I remember the shock in New York City, when the EZPass system was set up, that it ACTUALLY WORKED. This is the baseline you're dealing with.

Posted by: rhinoman on March 3, 2006 at 7:15 AM | PERMALINK

There are plenty of places on the blogosphere that direct lefties to support a certain list of candidates for local offices. Has anybody made a list of politicians running for office who support universal health care? There are some out there, right?

Posted by: reino on March 3, 2006 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

Universal Healthcare would devastate the economy.

We spend more per capita on health care than any other country on the planet and we get as much out of our investment as Cuba and Costa Rica. If the Republicans would all come down with the trots for a month and just stay home, we couldn't help but devise something cheaper, fairer, and more effective.


Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 3, 2006 at 8:07 AM | PERMALINK

Most Americans have adequate health insurance. A minority does not. The only type of UHC program that has any chance of passage would be one that does not degrade the coverage that the already covered have (e.g., by limiting their choice of doctors or making them wait months or years for elective surgery as in Canada or the UK) or that requires them to pay a lot more for their coverage (i.e., to pay for the medical care for the uninsured).

Posted by: DBL on March 3, 2006 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps universal health care ought to be framed as a bail-out for US heavy industry. It's hard for US car makers to compete with foreign car makers when the foreign companies don't have to pay health benefits. If we nationalize health care the car makers will become more profitable, and that will be good for everybody.

Posted by: beb on March 3, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Universal Healthcare would devastate the economy.
Posted by: Al

Might put a dent in all those docs buying third homes on the Kona Coast but I think we could live with that.

One payer! Abso-freaking-lutely.

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

Unlikely. We'll get Bush-lite, more articulate, less torture.
Posted by: bkl

No, I'm predicting less articulate, if that's even possible, and more torture.

OMG! It's Al!

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Most Americans aren't fighting in Iraq. A minority are.

Fuck 'em, right?

Posted by: Super Grover on March 3, 2006 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

it still strikes me as a bit mysterious that virtually no major Democratic politician supports full-on, unapologetic universal healthcare

There's no mystery at all. The players in the current system are major campaign contributors. I know that the current collection of corrupt crooks can be distracting, but money buys influence on the democratic side of the aisle as well.

The tipping point will come when a number of (not just a few) fortune 500 companies call for UHC. That's just a matter of time. We've tried everything else, and nothing has worked. Doctors, patients and employers all hate the currect system. But they have to overcome the institutioanl inertia created by the people currently profiting from being middlemen.

Posted by: JayAckroyd on March 3, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

My observation is the Bush and his cronies, and much of the hard right-wing, prefers what I call "upside-down capitalism" where the profits are privatized and the costs are socialized. They really don't understand or support truly free and fair markets....
Posted by: Stephen Kriz

Hear. Hear.

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

The fact is, America spends 16% of its GDP, $1.9 trillion dollars, on health care. Other industrialized nations with much older populations spend less than two-thirds of that; some of them half.

Switching to a national system of health insurance would save the average American, and Americans as a whole, a great deal of money.

But all that extra cash doesn't just vanish up the chimney; when we pay 1.5% of our GDP for insurance processing, that cash goes to the insurance processors. Our money goes to large pharmaceutical companies, who are able to charge outlandish premiums for their patented medicine because there's no one with the power to negotiate with them.

Remember, when you talk about saving $500 billion for the American people, you are also talking about taking that $500 billion away from the much smaller group of people who are currently getting it.

That's why there is any debate at all. National health insurance makes sense both practically and morally; but there's an awful lot of money pouring down on the other side of the scales, raising all these false boogeymen.

Long wait times for doctors? Ridiculously exaggerated, applicable to a few NHS systems but not most, and the same people who would have to wait for their hip replacement cannot afford it at all under the current system. Gosh, that doctor that currently 40 million Americans can't go see at all might, under national insurance, take a few months to get back to them about their non-threatening condition. And that's if we went with the British system, rather than the French or German where wait times aren't an issue at all.

A brake on innovation? False. Innovation occurs in the United States because that's currently where you can make a mint for it; but all that's required to encourage innovation is the possibility of a profit. If the great gouging ability in the U.S. goes away, innovation won't simply stop. When the huge bonuses and the 20% raises of the Dot-com boom went away, did everyone just give up and stop working?

There's a reason no liberals oppose national health insurance. It makes complete sense; opposition to it arises because there's a lot of money being made under the current system, an awful lot, and those receiving that money would like to keep it flowing.

Posted by: S Ra on March 3, 2006 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Highlander, we do not want to place restrictions on the elimination of workers. European governments are trying to eliminate these restrictions as they make employers reluctant to hire.

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you raise an interesting point. Although Democratic politicians are reluctant to propose single-payer health insurance, the liberal blogosphere seems unanimous in its support.

Our bad.

So, we've sent you a check for $250,000; please get to work stirring up some 'liberal opposition'. I'll get back to you with some "facts" you can use.

Posted by: Big Pharma on March 3, 2006 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

In addition to the Business Freedom meme (which, as a self-employed contractor to small and medium businesses and a former startup employee several times, I just love) we should also appeal to the American People's incredible self-centeredness. Socialized health care will:

Add 2-5 years to your life.
Add 2-5 inches to your children.
Reduce the overall non-productive GDP burden of the sick and injured by up to 50%.

This is demonstrated fact. Soccer moms and those who love themselves will get all strirred up. And economists will have to admit that it frees up more money into the productive side of the economy than their beloved Free Trade.

Unfortunatly, here's another opponent who we won't expect if this gets real traction: the food and restarant industry. Once we all are invested in the average cost of US healthcare we're going to get a little pissy about people pushing fried fat wrapped in cholestoral at our co-insured. Tobbaco companies can't advertise on TV (a complete violation of the Constitution that nobody seems to be bothered by), do you think McDonald's isn't already sweating?

Posted by: doesn't matter on March 3, 2006 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

I have a question. If the Democrat party does not embrace socialized medicine, what does that say about the Democrat party? Should liberals start a "Left Party"?

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

The lack of a universal health care system was the scariest thing fr my wife, a Finn, when we lived in the US. Here's the deal, instead of sending DeLay to Scotland to golf, why not pack up some senators and congressmen and send them to Finland to see a two-tier system, wherein public and private care coexist?

Posted by: kostya on March 3, 2006 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

We can't afford universal health care, but a few hunderd billion for a war in Iraq? --- n-o-o-o-o problem! Hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the rich? --- n-o-o-o-o problem!

Posted by: wvmcl on March 3, 2006 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

ENERGY. Yes, UHC is a critical social issue and most of you seem to agree on that, but you also need to address energy and physical resources such as water and arable land. The country is not immune to the laws of physics and we are going to be in a big hurt soon if we don't alter the way we generate, distribute, and consume energy.

Posted by: Mike on March 3, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Universal Health care, in an age where the world is moving toward feudal corporate states with corporate and capitalist answers to all problems is a bit like using your finger to plug the New Orleans levees during Katrina. Come on. get real.

Posted by: Chris on March 3, 2006 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

"Universally supported by liberal bloggers" doesn't say much - most of us are linked into a network of the same 7 or 8 (maybe 10 or 15 tops) voices, mostly young-ish men, mostly white, mostly based in DC (or closely associated with the political elements emanating therefrom). Echo chamber much? Of the liberal bloggers I've seen, I can still count on one hand the number who even begin to understand the complexities of the healthcare system; the rest have glommed on because a) they hate "the man"; b) they hate corporate America/capitalism etc; c) they hate Republicans; and/or d) because of their precarious financial condition as working writers, they are not well covered by health insurance.

Highlander probably has the most complete evisceration above, but the short answer is that policy makers aren't trying to sell Universal coverage because it won't work. The longer answer is that the mass public is paying almost no attention to this, and has little understanding of the issues involved... much like many of those bloggers. If asked, they vaguely think things aren't working right and would support something different (and, obviously, better). But the devil is in the details. Universal medicare is insanity(especially now with the Part D debacle). What we probably want is Universal VA, but that too is fraught with adsministrative and financial problems.

The fact is most lazy bloggers don't want to do the hard work of figuring how you get from what we have - a multiplicity of systems, each with strenghts and weaknesses - to something simpler, cleaner and able to cover more people. It needs to accept that our system will have some private sector components, will need to some degree to be hospital based (but shouldn't rely too much on them), and take in a wide range of options and alternatives, including the reality that some will want to opt out no matter what. It means looking at how doctors practice, how drug companies help - and hurt, and dealing with people's instinctive fear of change.

This is a hard question. Pretending the answer is simple and right in front of us does a disservice to the audience and to liberalism.

Posted by: weboy on March 3, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Universal health care is the only system that makes sense.

Health care has been in increasing troubles since the 1960s. Why? Prior to that time, most hospitals and insurance plans were non-profit. At that time, non-profit hospitals began to be purchased by for-profit players, and non-profit insurance companies like BCBS were purchased and taken private.

Result: Fewer Americans every year are insured. For those who are insured, insurance covers less and less.

For-profit medicine is the main cause of this rolling disaster.

Posted by: POed Liberal on March 3, 2006 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

Good morning folks. Today, is Friday, March 2nd. It has been 1,634 days since the 9/11 attacks, and Osama Bin Laden is still at large.

Posted by: Steve on March 3, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

> 78 year olds, or, for that matter, 65 year olds,
> who don't suffer from these afflictions live in
> fear that they eventually will, and they don't
> want to have to wait longer to get their hip
> replacement or their heart procedure,

Human beings have an infinite ability to postpone thinking about bad things coming down the road toward them. Eat, drink, and party even while the cloud of dust from the barbarian invasion is visible on the horizon. Helps us stay sane in the face of the curse of foresight, I guess.

But I have bad news for those boomers in the 50-65 range: you won't have good medical care when you retire. Your former employers have terminated their retiree medical benefits with the full blessing of the Justice Dept and the PBGC. Just as Social Security is enough to get you a coldwater flat and cat food to eat, Medicare will help you pay for some basic services (though copays will suck down your 401(k) pretty fast). But just as soc. security was intended to be a backup for strong private pensions, Medicare was intended to be a backup for strong private health care. That is gone. Vanished. Evaporated in a haze of $50 million bonuses for CEOs.

When the reality of this hits, say around 2010-2015, I think you are going to see some real anger in the country for the first time since the 1930s.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 3, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

much? Of the liberal bloggers I've seen, I can still count on one hand the number who even begin to understand the complexities of the healthcare system; the rest have glommed on because a) they hate "the man"; b) they hate corporate America/capitalism etc; c) they hate Republicans; and/or d) because of their precarious financial condition as working writers, they are not well covered by health insurance.

Mostly what we hate are people who are fucking morons. Like yourself.

Posted by: POed Liberal on March 3, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Its long over due. Alot of good comments.
And a good Article opening great debate. If only
our leaders had the commen since to review
what other countrys have done and use what
works for them. The crushing burden of our current
system will soon leave us no choice.

Posted by: Honey P on March 3, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Liberal bloggers and the public may like universal health care. I'm afraid the elephant in the room is the health care industry. The obvious model is to expand Medicare to everyone. It would actually be quite cost effective and provide better care. The losers would be the health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. Remember how they screwed up the Medicare bill? They would do anything they could - legal or illegal - to destroy a candidate.

This assumes it's impossible to establish health care for everyone without putting health insurance companies out of business. But surely this is not impossible. Private health insurance companies operate in most of the countries that offer healthcare guarantee to their citizens.

I do agree that the health insurance industry is certainly one of the main opponents of establishing UHC in the US, but it wouldn't be impossible to implement a plan that least initially leaves these firms in the game. I agree with a lot of the posters here that a move to Canadian or British-style single payer makes more sense, but I suspect it would be a lot more politically feasible to draft a plan that gives the insurance companies 45 million new customers than one that takes away the 150 million they already have.

Posted by: 99 on March 3, 2006 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

I think Kevin has hit it right on the head with the issue of healthcare being the single, unifying issue the Democratic party needs.

I remember when Michael Moore gave his speech accepting the Paul Wellstone award and asked what do Democrats stand for? Someone from the audience blurted out national, universal healthcare. Michael Moore asked in response, "Do we really?"

The Democratic candidates need to step forth and answer, "YES, REALLY!"

Not a 95% plan. Not even a 99.9% plan. But 100% universal healthcare for everyone.

Posted by: IS LED BY NONE on March 3, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

> Highlander probably has the most complete
> evisceration above, but the short answer is that
> policy makers aren't trying to sell Universal
> coverage because it won't work.

As opposed to the counter-arguements: Long lines in Canada! Poor quality in England! [and my personal favorite]: the US economy is an "order of magnitude" bigger than Germany [uh, no].

It works in Germany. Simple input/output analysis tells you that it can work here quite well. There WOULD be two social changes required: (1) many big insurance companies would be hurt very badly (2) extreme care in the last 6 months of life would not be provided.

As to (1), there is apparently a Constitutional Amendment that guarantees insurance companies 10%/year growth and 35% profit margins. I have never read that Amendment, but everyone I talk to in the insurance industry assures me that it exists. So I guess we will need a new Amendment to revoke that one ;-)

For (2), we as humans are supposed to be capable of making rational choices, including deferred gratification and reverse deferred gratification. Both the Germans (reputed to be quite rational) and the French (reputed to be quite emotional) have made and accepted that decision. Are we as Americans incapable of doing the same?

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 3, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

"Even if you don't have health insurance, you are still taken care of in America. That certainly could be defined as universal coverage."

-- HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, defending the $950 million the U.S. will spend to help Iraq establish universal health care, while not doing the same to help 44 million uninsured Americans.

In_other_news:
I_have_suffered_keyboard_malfunction.
Spacebar_inorperative.
Oy.
Will_keep_eye_on_ya'll_but_be_unable_to_respond.
Sure_ya'll_will_manage_somehow.
Calling_MacMall!
SOS!

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

One other point to remember. A big reason the AMA opposes national health care is that doctors depend on making a lot of money to pay back their med school loans. We should heavily increase subsidies for med school tuition so the pressure to make big bucks in specialty care will dissipate. Most doctors are not "in it for the money". But they become very money-conscious once those med school loan bills come in.

Posted by: Elrod on March 3, 2006 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

As opposed to the counter-arguements: Long lines in Canada! Poor quality in England! [and my personal favorite]: the US economy is an "order of magnitude" bigger than Germany [uh, no].

Those were not my "counter-arguments", nor, really, are they Highlander's from above. To answer your second question, the answer for the moment appears to be yes, we are less rational about this than France or Germany.

Don't get me wrong - I think the health care we have is terribly broken, and I want to see it fixed; I just don't think it's as simple as a wand-waving "universal coverage" solution. And I worry that the Democratic Party will just make more problems for itself selling the American people on the notion that fixing health care is easy. It's not, and it will be painful.

And I'm not some pissed-off liberal, either. :)


Posted by: weboy on March 3, 2006 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

If competition in the industry is completely destroyed, and nationalization complete down to the providers, you will get the same thing you get in any collectivized country where there is only one choice for a service. You get crap.

If by "crap", you mean objectively better outcomes (longer life, more healthy years, lower infant mortality) for 30-70% savings, then I'll take crap. That's what the rest of the industrialized world gets. Why innovate, when we can copy? Now I do admit, the Republicans do seem to be singularly bad at actually making government work, but I think we can solve that problem, too.

Posted by: dr2chase on March 3, 2006 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

"Almost universally supported by the base."
"Almost universally feared by major ********* politicians."

Kevin, you are talking about universal health care, but you could also look at the other side and the same set of criteria applies to the eliminiation of Social Security.

There's a lesson in what happened to Bush when he took on Social Security and got his head handed back to him.

Support for either program creates and unifies its opposition in ways not normally seen. Support for either program by a professional politician will be a greater negative to his career than it will be a positive. Both are much easier to oppose without political damage than to support. The term "Third Rail" applies to each issue.

A major drag on America is the Southern conservative elite. Both as Democrats, and after Nixon's Southern Strategy, now as Republicans they believe in and prefer living in a nation that is low-wage, low-tax, strong military and lives under a rural tradition that does not include universal health care (among other modern amenities.) Bush and the Texas conservatives are representative of this view, but with the block of Southern States on their side they have prevented universal healthcare for a century and still oppose it strongly.

LBJ was able to force Medicare and the Civil Rights legislation through because he was a liberal Texan, but even he felt that universal health care was beyond him. He was able to do what he did because he had a lock on Texas, was one of the most capable politicians America has ever produced and was working as President in the environment created by Kennedy's assasination.

That's the history. Are you suggesting that the liberal blogosphere can somehow break through the set of restrictions that has kept America from becoming a modern industrial nation? The AMA is now mostly on board, and big business is watching GM and Ford suffer from employer-provided healthcare - but even Wal-Mart isn't on board because they have a strategic advantage over their competitors with lower wage costs, and that advantage will be lost if all big business is placed on an even basis with regard to healthcare costs. You will remember, no doubt the grocery store lockout in California. That was a direct result of Wal-Mart's strategic advantage over other grocery chains caused by their ability to shift employee healthcare costs onto the state or their employees.

What can the liberal blogosphere do about those things?

Posted by: Rick B on March 3, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Can you think of any other major policy issue that's (a) universally supported by liberal bloggers but (b) almost universally feared by major Democratic politicians?

Drug prohibition?

Posted by: digamma on March 3, 2006 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

BILL BRADLEY!!! Bill Bradley did in 2000. He said we should have UHC, not because it is politically popular, but because it is the right thing to do. Of course, the dems nominated Al Bore. His approach was half assed coverage for half pints. Blech!!!

Posted by: Paul Pate on March 3, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

A big reason the AMA opposes national health care is that doctors depend on making a lot of money to pay back their med school loans.

Taxpayers_subsidize_med_school_to_the_tune_$3-4M_per_MD_already.

Loans_primarily_for_living_expenses_in_any_case.

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

UHC is good for business, that is how you sell this to the moderates.

Business, while corrupting government, is actually ahead of government on many issues. Many large corps are already dealing with global warming and other energy issues. Business is telling everyone that the cost of health care is killing them.

This is a winner issue, framed correctly.

Posted by: lilybart on March 3, 2006 at 9:59 AM | PERMALINK

I look forward to the return of HillaryCare. Hell, maybe Newt can get re-elected when that happens...

BTW, have you seen where Canadian courts are upholding private clinics and private insurance? Can you say "Rolling back socialized medicine because it didn't work."?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

The left blogosphere disagrees about the Iraq war? Have I missed something?

I might remind everyone that a recent Zogby poll indicated that the blogosphere world represented roughly 6% of the Democratic party, meaning a small minority of the minority party. So if you feel comfortable in dictating what the main issue of the up-coming campaign should be - "Universal Healthcare", well then by all means have at it, unless of course you want your party to win.

I have an idea, instead of adding another massive entitlement program, why not try to fix the one that is already in place - SS. Oh that's right, nothing is wrong with Social Security. Ever since Clinton rightly brought that to the public's attention in 1994, it magically cured itself. Amazing how that happens.

Posted by: Jay on March 3, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Can you think of any other major policy issue that's (a) universally supported by liberal bloggers but (b) almost universally feared by major Democratic politicians?

Well, there's gay marriage. But unlike gay marriage, universal health care is (a) universally supported by liberal bloggers AND (b) supported by the great majority of Americans.

Posted by: Cryptic Ned on March 3, 2006 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

I have an idea, instead of adding another massive entitlement program...
Surely you misunderstand, Jay. What we need is more government control of our lives, and Democrats in charge of the government.

These lefties are totalitarian at heart.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Tymbrimi, if you want to be a slightly less transparent troll, try not using the wingnut term "Democrat Party" and naming yourself after a trickster species from the David Brin universe. (Brin, BTW, is a liberal who supports universal health care.) Oh, and fuck off and die.

Posted by: Feathers McGraw on March 3, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Commies! Maoists! Totalitarians! DuuuuuUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRrrrrrrr.....

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

This is a political marketing problem, not an economic one. One of the great mysteries of American business is why manufacturers who are being clobbered by cheap foreign labor aren't lining up to support UHC. Obama's tentative link to GM is a good, but tiny, first step. Just as the Interstate highway system was sold as a "defense" measure to a public that wanted good roads - and a construction industry that wanted big contracts - UHC will have to be tied, IMHO, to helping America compete globally. High visibility business leaders like Bill Ford need to be persuaded to come out and state the obvious: American business needs UHC to compete. As Ford gets closer to bankruptcy maybe he and others will. Democrats need politicians who are willing to engage with industrialists to forge a united front that can sell this to the public.

Posted by: Robin Harris on March 3, 2006 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Sign me up. I'm ordering my UHC bumper sticker now.

Posted by: bobbywally on March 3, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Harry Truman tried to get Universal Healthcare coverage in 1949. He was thwarted by the Conservative Repubs, the AMA and Conservative Dems from the South pissed off at him over his Civil Rights stance. Medicare is the model. It's three times cheaper to administer than the current mess of a private system which spends millions figuring out how to prevent people from making their own insurance providers pay their claims. Think where we would be today with Universal Healthcare folded into our economy over a period of fifty years. Conservatives are killing this nation.

Posted by: R.T.Tihista on March 3, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Government involvement in our lives is bad, unless it involves the Bush administration monitoring all our phone calls. If we don't allow that, the terrorists win.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

As Canada's Slow-Motion Public Health System Falters, Private Medical Care Is Surging
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 23 The Cambie Surgery Center, Canada's most prominent private hospital, may be considered a rogue enterprise.

Accepting money from patients for operations they would otherwise receive free of charge in a public hospital is technically prohibited in this country, even in cases where patients would wait months or even years in discomfort before receiving treatment.

But no one is about to arrest Dr. Brian Day, who is president and medical director of the center, or any of the 120 doctors who work there. Public hospitals are sending him growing numbers of patients they are too busy to treat, and his center is advertising that patients do not have to wait to replace their aching knees.

The country's publicly financed health insurance system frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.

Dr. Day, for instance, is planning to open more private hospitals, first in Toronto and Ottawa, then in Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. Ontario provincial officials are already threatening stiff fines. Dr. Day says he is eager to see them in court.

"We've taken the position that the law is illegal," Dr. Day, 59, says. "This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years."...

Posted by: Scott on March 3, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

If they supported UHC, they would appear different than Republicans. According to the Dem strategists, this would be cause all their voters to gasp in stunned amazement and then quickly vote him/her out of office.

Posted by: sohei on March 3, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Medicare is the model. It's three times cheaper to administer than the current mess of a private system which spends millions figuring out how to prevent people from making their own insurance providers pay their claims. Think where we would be today with Universal Healthcare folded into our economy over a period of fifty years. Conservatives are killing this nation.

That's all well and true, but I'd rather kill the nation than give the evil lefties a victory.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

good to have you back cn

Posted by: Jay on March 3, 2006 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

good to have you back cn

Great to be back. We dumbasses have to stick together.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Al forgot to add that the sun would fall out of the sky and wome would grow penises.

Posted by: Scott Herbst on March 3, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

I'd rather go without health care than ride in a car with Ted Kennedy!

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Here's some great campaign issues the left can hang their hat on.
1. Protecting the ports by trying to "kill" the Patriot Act.
2. Building allies in the middle east by walking away from a business deal with the UAE based on their enthnicity.
3. There is nothing wrong with SS, in fact we need another massive entitlement program in the form of UHC.
4. The party of less corruption due to the fact that we took 9% less money.
5. Protecting the National Security by becoming more sensitive to the terrorists needs, ie. lawyers and private phone calls.
6. Protecting the family by denying parental notification.
7. Making a rubber stamp for abortion as the sole criteria for any future SCOTUS nominee.

All great planks of the new platform. Good luck.

Posted by: Jay on March 3, 2006 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

I have an idea, instead of adding another massive entitlement program, why not try to fix the one that is already in place - SS.

Let's not forget that the Republicans control all three branches of government and Bush's proposed "fix" went nowhere. It was a crappy idea and people didn't want it. We can save SS without such drastic measures.

I know we're butt buddies Jay, but try not to make our side look quite so stupid. We must remain vigilent against the lefties.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK
Not so much a major policy issue, more a political issue, but the NSA scandal has a similar dynamic. All liberal blogs agree Bush broke the law (several conservatives agree too), but politicians are afraid to run with it because they're afraid of looking "weak" on security.

That is, if you don't count Russ Feingold, John Conyers, and, well, a bunch of other politicians. No, I don't think there is anywhere near the kind of disconnect there as there is on healthcare.

Though on healthcare, its understandable; no one wants to plant a flag there until they're ready to counter the kind of massive, well-funded, dishonest smear campaign that happened last time a Democrat tried to push a major national healthcare plan.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

I like the way you Dems think.

Please make this a central theme of your '06 and '08 campaigns.

And if you lose, just remember that it's not a problem with your policies. It's a problem with your message (and the lackluster leadership of the Dem pols) and you should run on it in 2010 too!

Keep the faith, brothers in arms (are for hugging).

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Universal Healthcare would devastate the economy.

Posted by: Al on March 3, 2006 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK


Yeah, Al, because the economy is just AWESOME right now, and we can't afford to risk all that prosperity.

Posted by: charles parr on March 3, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Come on Jay, now you're just listing strawmen and nonsense. Not sure if I still want you on my side.

Bush has a 60% disapproval rating--the evil lefties won't have to work nearly that hard to win.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Birkelass: And if you lose, just remember that it's not a problem with your policies. It's a problem with your message (and the lackluster leadership of the Dem pols) and you should run on it in 2010 too!

Again, Birkel, we remind you that advice from the opposition on how to win elections is worth less than the dung that conservatives wallow in.

Your previous advice was that constant harping on Bush lied, Bush is incompetent, and Bush is corrupt wouldn't be effective.

Rasmussen approval for Bush? 42% and going nowhere fast.

Other polls put Bush in the mid to lower 30's.

The polls also point to significant gains by the Dems on the GOP core issue of national security.

It's working.

So, bite us.

As Kleiman writes . . .


because Democrats . . . have been relentlessly and, I would say, accurately attacking his character for about four years now. . . . The first rule of advertising is repetition. The second rule of advertising is repetition. And the third rule of advertising is repetition.

George W. Bush isn't just an awful President; he's also a miserable excuse for a human being. Saying so, back when he was popular, wasn't an immediate vote-winner, but it paid long-term dividends. Saying it now long, loud, and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again isn't just truth-telling, it's also obviously good politics.

And the truth is, we've taken this page from the conservative book of political strategery (sic).

Live by Rove; die by Rove.

I LOVE IT!

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Its worth noting, though, that plenty of Democratic politicians support, rather overtly, universal healthcare; its just that not many Democratic federal elected officials do. See, for instance, California's SB840.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

A for G,

Where is the approval rating for Congress right now? (HINT: Look just South of Bush's rating.)

And to think that happened without the four years of concentrated negativism.

Sweet.

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

The image of you and Jay being butt buddies wbile remaining "vigelant" together almost spattered my monitor in a fine spray :)

Like those caged Mongolian midgets in The Forbidden Zone :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Can you say sarcasm

Posted by: Jay on March 3, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Surely you misunderstand, Jay. What we need is more government control of our lives, and Democrats in charge of the government.

Surely you lie. Again.

The most government control over personal decisionmaking that affects no one else directly comes with conservative government, not liberal government.

Conservatives want to impose their will in your bedroom.

Conservatives want to impose their will on your television viewing.

Conservatives want to impose their will on what you read.

Conservatives want to impose their religion on your children in our elementary schools.

Conservatives want to snoop into your e-mail.

Conservatives want to monitor your telephone converstations.

Conservatives want to prohibit what you can ingest, inject, or inhale.

Conservatives want to force you to pay for a war based on lies.

Conservatives want to send your sons and daughters to their deaths to protect the presidents tax cuts.

Conservatives want to force you to pay for their PR campaigns.

Conservatives want to force you to pay for the mistakes of Corporate America.

---------

On the other hand, most liberal initiatives are either based on required notification so citizens can make informed decisions (requiring warning labels on cigarettes interferes with no one's "right to smoke" - funny how conservatives can find a "right to smoke" in the Constitution, but not a right to privacy) or prohibitions/requirements related to public activities directly impacting other citizens.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, the ulitmate debating technique of the moonbat, being an imposter. Such wit, such logic, such ability.

I am truly impressed.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

I'm reminded that a recent poll showed most Americans think Jay is a assholic Bush puppet, masquerading as a concerned American, wrapped in partisanship.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Any effort to pass UHC will have to deal with the way we elect our politicians. Any politician who loses his election is useless to us. Support for UHC is a recipe for losing office to any politician who gets strongly behind the idea.

The existing methods of paying for healthcare are not really "a system." Those methods obviously provide poor results to society at exorbitant cost. But those methods also provide a great deal of money to those currently working in the healthcare system.

To defend their position in the existing system, those people have a great deal of money available for political contributions to elect politicians who support the current system, and a strong motivation to preserve their existing positions.

Show me the large sums of money available to elect politicians who are ready the overhaul the healthcare financing "system?" Where are the lobbyists for UHC handing their politicians large campaign contributions or conducting major GOTV campaigns to elect their guys? I don't see them, and I don't see where they will come from.

Why don't Democratic politicians get behind UHC and push it hard in the legislatures? Because they will piss off the campaign contributors they currently have without getting new ones to replace them. That means they lose the next election, making them worthless to those of us who support UHC.

Without public financing of elections, that is a recipe for any existing politician to become a statesman. Statesmen are just like the rest of us, looking in at the legislatures from the outside and kibitzing.

America will get UHC only after it gets public financing of elections, and the Old South will never pass public financing of elections.

Posted by: Rick B on March 3, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Which winger blogs do you post on? Hehe, I'd love to lurk and watch you there. I'll be you're all contrarian and Bush-critical, just to, you know, be your loveable pain-in-the-ass self :)

Oh and question to all and sundry:

I missed "truthiness" but got it easy enough in context. This one's a stumper.

WTF is "strategery" and (for added bonus points) how was it coined?

Burningly,

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

The image of you and Jay being butt buddies wbile remaining "vigelant" together almost spattered my monitor in a fine spray :)

Bob
Posted by: rmck1

It_was_actually_craigie_in_conjunction_with_LA_Hi-test_did_in_my_keyboard.

New_one_tomorrow_FedX_overnight_is_Robbery.
******
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060313/roy
Bush in India: Just Not Welcome

by ARUNDHATI ROY

....
Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort?

Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo, George Bush's audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of caged human beings, who in India go under the category of "eminent persons." They're mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over the centuries.

So what's going to happen to George W. Bush? Will the gorillas cheer him on? Will the gibbons curl their lips? Will the brow-antlered deer sneer? Will the chimps make rude noises? Will the owls hoot? Will the lions yawn and the giraffes bat their beautiful eyelashes? Will the crocs recognize a kindred soul? Will the quails give thanks that Bush isn't traveling with Dick Cheney, his hunting partner with the notoriously bad aim? Will the CEOs agree?
....

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Which winger blogs do you post on?
Not much commenting except here. All the other moonbat blogs would ban me instantly, and the center-left to center-right blogs have sane posts and sane commenters.

You'd never find me anyway, I use a different handle and engage in actual discussion.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: I am truly impressed.

Given that you are impressed by Bush, no one considers your opinions about how impressive someone is to have any significance.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

> Why don't Democratic politicians get behind UHC
> and push it hard in the legislatures? Because they
> will piss off the campaign contributors they
> currently have without getting new ones to replace
> them. That means they lose the next election,
> making them worthless to those of us who support
> UHC.

The funny thing of course is that all the big contributors have signed on lock, stock, and barrel to the K Street Project and are happily stabbing their former Democratic "friends" in the back (except for Lieberman, which might tell you something). They were perfectly willing to fire all their lobbyists who were considered "Democrat" when Norquist said jump, and perfectly willing to contribute to the Norquist/Abramoff money laundering/Democrat emasculating machine when it was to their advantage to do so.

So if the Democrats manage to regain some power they will punish these people by ...... continuing to beg/suck up to them. No wonder Norquist and Rove think the Dems are such easy targets; they are.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 3, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

AfG
A devastating riposte. With ability like that, you must be my imposter.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

We_all_went_down_to_the_Audubon_and_they_all_axed_for_you.

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

Somehow I can easily see Bob "lurking".

The first step to any serious discussion of reforming healthcare is trot reform. "The loser pays all costs" would stop a lot of bogus claims right out of the gate. Secondly, digging in and actually finding out why those "44 million" Americans (myself included) do not have insurance. Many of them choose not to and have their own health savings account, opting to not participate (myself included). It's called Pro-choice.

Posted by: Jay on March 3, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Birkelass: Where is the approval rating for Congress right now? (HINT: Look just South of Bush's rating.)

Congressional Dems rate higher than congressional Rethugnicans.

Congressional Dems and candidates do not run against Bush, but against Rethugnican congressional members and candidates, most of whom are polling badly against their Dem opponents.

Just look at Rasmussen.

Bush, however, is dragging down congressional Rethugnicans, which is why they are beginning to abandon him.

They will be too late, however.

Their lemming-like devotion will see to that.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Audubon_Zoo

Arrgh

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

I meant "tort reform". Of course trot reform is needed to. Those horses are really out of step.

Posted by: Jay on March 3, 2006 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Can you say "Rolling back socialized medicine because it didn't work."?

Why do most Canadians support "socialized" medicine, then?

Oops. Another theory destroyed by ugly reality.

And the courts didn't rule that "socialized" medicine wasn't working.

Just another one of your little lies intended to feed the deluded conservatives who frequent these threads.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Jay:

America needs trot reform. I agree!

Ex-Lax tastes like Republican turds.

*desperately trying to keep mouth closed through another series of convulsive spasms*

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

"trot reform"

Like_in_harness_racing?

That's_already_a_done_deal.

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Can't we pick an issue that everyone except Mickey Kaus agrees on?

Posted by: Meph on March 3, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

"The first step to any serious discussion of reforming healthcare is trot reform."~Jay (of course)

Trot reform? Does this have something to do with diarrhea? Or the Bush Memorial Palace of Feces in NO?

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 3, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

advocate, I must admit, you are the model of sensibility. No partisanship on your part. Nooooooooooo way.

Posted by: Jay on March 3, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

I am interested, though, in the moonbat take on Canandian courts rolling back Canadian socialized medicine.

I realize it's not something that you lefties are likely familiar with, since you don't want to hear about it you have no doubt been ignoring it. So here's the short version: Wait lists have gotten so long that private clinics/insurance is springing up. The courts are ruling that they are constitutional because the government has proven itself incapable of providing health care.

Doctors and nurses are pretty happy about it because under the Canadian gov't their wages and job opportunities have crashed, and consumers of health care are happy about it because the private sector can actually supply health care.

What say you moonbats?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

...

I think we have to address this like
the republicans are going at Roe.

Pick away slowly. town by town
state by state.

First step. UCHC
Universal Child Health Care
Medicare over 65 and under 18

...

Posted by: wellstoner on March 3, 2006 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Well, first you're going to have to source this and let us know how truly widespread it is. I heard it was exclusively in Quebec province.

Secondly, all things are part of a dialectic and no system is perfect. It seems to argue that there would be the problems in the margins of a total government system just as there are problems in a substantially private system like ours.

I'd say, on balance, that the Canadians probably still wouldn't want to trade their system from ours -- just enhance theirs where needed. I highly doubt any sane person would want to spend 20+ GDP on healthcare as opposed to under 10+ like national systems do.

But that's, of course, just a hunch :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

I see that very few are arguing about the basic point Kevin has made: liberals agree on nothing.

According to Kevin: liberals do not agree on the war on Iraq, if so, who are these pro-Iraq War liberals?; liberals do not agree on the role of labor, if so, is someone truly a liberal if they are pro-big business and against the role of labor unions?; liberals do not agree (though he does not say it) on the issue of civil rights, if so, are liberals now anti-gay, pro-life and against immigration?; liberals do not agree on a progressive tax system, if so, then liberals must now believe in trickle down economics, as well?

I believe liberals are actually in agreement on most, if not all of these issues. It may simply be that many who still call themselves liberals have shifted so far to the right that they have more in common with the Republicans then they do the Democratic Party? Or, they could simply be called Orange County Democrats.

People we used to call Liberals are now called Progressives. So be it, if the Republicans have successfully made the term liberal synonymous with Communist, Democrats have made the term "Democrat" synonymous with collaborator.

Posted by: Dicksknee on March 3, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Why do most Canadians support "socialized" medicine, then?
Well, let's see what we find

A February 2004 Canadian Medical Association poll revealed that only 14 percent of Canadians believe their country has a sufficient number of doctors. 49 percent of Canadians said either they or a member of their household had to wait "longer than you thought was reasonable" to see a medical specialist within the last year...A whopping 74 percent of Canadians were concerned about long waits for access to emergency room services [emphasis added] [source]
And what do we have here?
According to a recent poll entitled The National Pulse on Health Strategy, 80 percent of Canadians want major reforms to the health care system...
The National Post reported that the same poll found that fewer than half of respondents would support increasing taxes to pay for health reforms. [source]
So, even if your unsupported contention that Canadians like the idea of socialized medicine, apparently the realities of socialized medicine don't thrill them quite as much.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: . . . a devastating riposte. With ability like that, you must be my imposter.

Trust me, no one, no matter how talented, can truly mimic your level of dishonesty and irrationality - except perhaps Osama bin Laden.

Funny how you two share so much in common, especially in terms of psychological and philosophical tactics.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Thoughtful response, Bob. But I'll await an updated reply after my 11:26 comment.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Dicksnee:

Well, I don't agree with this; I think it's based on a very simplistic and ideological read of what are some very complex issues where lefty opinion is indeed all over the map.

For instance, I'm fiercely against the Iraq war and have been since the fall of '02 when it was a done deal. But I don't support a total pullout from the region; like John Murtha I think we need a rapid reaction force in case Iraq becomes like Taliban Afghanistan and starts training global jihadis which would create a legitimate terrorist threat against us and our Western allies. I think the GWoT is mostly bullshit (total warfare by the entire developed world against A GUY IN A CAVE) -- but that doesn't mean that genuine and honestly scary threats won't occur.

Likewise, there are a lot of people who would literally lay down their lives for the princple of reproductive choice -- but that doesn't mean they support elective late-term abortions or are totally against parental notification and other regulations.

As for healthcare -- well I thought HillaryCare absolutely blew pustulent goats. I'm hardcore for single-payer. Many other liberals wouldn't be nearly as radically against private insurers on this.

Life is all about shades of gray ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, Bob, Canada ranks 24th of 27 industrialized nations in doctors per capita. There's a reason they're not paying much for healthcare.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

"Bottom line: Surely it's time for someone to step up to the plate and stake their reputation on a simple, comprehensive, common sense plan to implement national healthcare?"

Why is universal healthcare the bottom line? Seems to me, the fix all is universal employment. I mean why should Oprah make $100 million? Everyone should be guaranteed a $100 million income, and universal healthcare wouldn't be an issue anymore. Why won't a Dem step up to the plate and stake her reputation on a simple, comprehensive, common sense plan to implement universal employment?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

I'm hardcore for single-payer.
Dang Bob, you just keep writing stuff I have to take exception to. Addressing the methodology for transferring payment from healthcare users to healthcare providers does not address the problem, which is rising healthcare costs.

All it addresses is how the rationing of healthcare is done.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK
Where is the approval rating for Congress right now? (HINT: Look just South of Bush's rating.)

Historically, the generic Congressional approval rating is usually considerably below the Presidential approval rating; people are most likely to like the 3 people they have some influence in sending to Congress, and despise the other 532.

Of course, people don't vote or against "Congress" as a body, nor does generic support or opposition to "Congress" have much effect on how they vote in specific Congressional elections, even in the indirect manner that Presidential support does, through the association of their own member with (or against) the President.

The generic congressional approval number is, therefore, a far less meaningful number, as well.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

I think the disconnect between Democratic politicians and liberal pundits is lobbyists' money from the insurance, medical, and pharmacy industries.

Posted by: Hostile on March 3, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK
Addressing the methodology for transferring payment from healthcare users to healthcare providers does not address the problem, which is rising healthcare costs.

This presupposes that the costs incurred with the multiplicity of payment systems and the complex interfaces between them are not an important factor in driving healthcare costs.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, Bob, Canada ranks 24th of 27 industrialized nations in doctors per capita. There's a reason they're not paying much for healthcare.
Posted by: conspiracy nut

Canadian_doc_come_here_to_maximize_personal_income_and_opportunies_for_3rd_homes_on_Kona_coast.

I've_seen_estimates_that_India_forgoes_3_village_schools_and_2_village_water_systems_for_every_MD_they_graduate_only_to_have_them_come_here_for_$$$$$

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: A February 2004 Canadian Medical Association poll revealed that only 14 percent of Canadians believe their country has a sufficient number of doctors. 49 percent of Canadians said either they or a member of their household had to wait "longer than you thought was reasonable" to see a medical specialist within the last year...A whopping 74 percent of Canadians were concerned about long waits for access to emergency room services [emphasis added]

As usual, you conflate apples and oranges, in other words, lie.

Whether Canadians believe their system has problems or not is not the same as whether they support their system over another system, such as that in the US.

Wanting reforms to your system is not the same as wanting to abandon that system in favor of a system like that in the US.

Which is why you don't and can't cite to a poll showing that most Canadians want to get rid of socialized medicine.

In other words, the Canadians may be unhappy with their system, but not enough to abandon it in favor of non-socialized health care, which is what you indicated.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

That's OK Bob, I would never consider you a liberal. Not by a long shot.

You want the troops to remain in Iraq, you want more limits on a woman's right to choose, and you are for protecting the health insurance companies (who neither represent patients or doctors).

That you and I don't agree on any item should be enough to show that one of us in not a liberal.

Posted by: Dicksknee on March 3, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
That's not much of a presupposition. There are 2 kinds of costs borne by healthcare users: out- of-pocket, and not-out-of-pocket (insurance, taxes, whatever). For out-of-pocket expenses, the consumer sees where those go, and is therefore able to control them. For the rest, the consumer does not see where they go, so the consumer is not able to control them.

And pick whatever other model you want for not-out-of-pocket, they have the same incentives, and that incentive is not to control healthcare costs.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Geez, you guys gotta be careful when using the abbreviation "UCH"...Bill McGuire, CEO at United Healthcare is liable to read this stuff and think that there's room for United Healthcare in universal healthcare (remember Hilary's healthplan and Lois Quam of United Healthcare?)...

Posted by: KK on March 3, 2006 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Well, I don't have the fax 'n' figgers at my disposal, so I tend to argue healthcare from basic principles, which naturally limits my persuasiveness on the issues. Hey, that's what these debate fora are for -- so non-experts can get their licks in on issues critical to the public weal.

First, I don't think healthcare is the sort of thing best addressed in a free market, for several reasons. First, people don't choose to get sick, and everybody deserves treatment -- for public health reasons if the universal morality of it doesn't appeal to you. Second, because people go into medicine to do good more than to get rich (there's always Wall Street otherwise). Making MDs the kind of profession you can make a personal *ahem* killing on diverts skilled people into dermatology and cosmetic surgery (oncology -- Tumors of the Stars! Let's not even get into what an Upper East Side proctology practice must be like ... ). I think that's distortive.

As for private insurance -- well, it just doesn't make sense to do it competitively when insurance works best with the largest risk pools and there's a moral (and public health) imperative to make sure that everybody gets health care.

I argue for single-payer out of efficiency. Surely the marketplace has produced tremendous inefficiency with all those different plans that doctors have to learn, as cmdicely pointed out.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

A much more recent poll on Canadians' views on their healthcare system is here.

(Warning: pdf)

Some of the results:

90% of Canadians agree that access to healthcare should be exactly the same for everyone, regardless of their income.

Seven in ten (70%) Canadians rate the quality of the current healthcare system in Canada as "good" (36%), "very good" (28%), or "excellent" (6%). However, a full 30% say it's only "fair" (20%) or "poor" (9%).

Most (67%) Canadians say more private healthcare will result in healthcare professionals leaving the public system.

Moreover, 62% think allowing people the option of paying for enhanced healthcare services would create a two-tier healthcare system - a better system for the rich, and a worse system for the poor.

61% think it would be the first step toward a for-profit Americanized Canadian healthcare system.

Three in four (76%) say they could not afford to pay $3,000-$6,000 for knee surgery

67% say they couldn't pay approximately $1500 for an MRI

64% indicate that they could not afford to pay $1000-$1500 per eye for Cataracts surgery if they had to.

The survey also finds that most Canadians think more private involvement in Canadas healthcare system would lead to improvements in the availability (61%) and the quality (58%) of healthcare services offered in Canada.

However, 83% feels that if [their] government just got their act together there would be enough money available to fund an excellent healthcare system without allowing people to pay for enhanced services.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 3, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

OT: Iran talks bring no breakthrough

Gee, what happened to that conservative theory that invading Iraq and Bush blustering will make everybody so afraid of us that they will kowtow to our will.

Went the same way as the theory did under Reagan - nowhere.

I guess that's what happens when you arm more people than you disarm and piss off more people than you befriend.

What a plan!

Bush is God!

Hallelujah!

Clap harder, it's all good!

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK
That's not much of a presupposition.

Yeah, it is. Especially since, as I recall, the actual numbers show that health insurance costs are rising out of proportion to healthcare service costs, which would pretty clearly indicate that your presupposition is false.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Dicksnee:

Jesus, you *completely* distorted what I wrote and then pulled the old shit of daring to deny me what I am. Christ, dude, come down off your high horse. I'm as liberal as anyone here.

First, I said that -- like John Murtha -- I want the troops *in the region*. I think they need to get the hell out of Iraq.

Second, I didn't cite my own views on reproductive rights. I personally happen to be pretty hardcore pro-choice. I merely indicated that many on the left who would go to the mat over that principle also favor some degree of regulations. That's borne out in public opinion polls time after time.

Third, I said that I was hardcore single payer and that I hated Hillary's plan. If you read *cough* carefully, you would have doubtless figured out that I opposed HillaryCare because it amounted to a private insurance preservation program.

Dude -- ideological intransigence is the enemy of critical thought. Please pay more careful attention before you attempt a Stalin Purge Trial on a fellow strong lefty.

Sheesh.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

An encore from a Kevin Drum post from last year on UHC:

  • It's, um, universal. Everyone is covered, not just the lucky duckies with good jobs (or spouses with good jobs).
  • It levels the playing field for corporations. Corporations that offer decent healthcare to their employees are currently at a disadvantage compared to both domestic competitors who don't cover their workers as well as to overseas competitors whose workers rely on national healthcare systems.
  • Universal healthcare allows you to choose a doctor and stay with her. You aren't forced to switch doctors whenever you get a new job or your company's HR department decides to change health plans. As Phil Longman points out, guaranteed long-term relationships can have a significant impact on long-term health outcomes.
  • It covers people who are high-risk or who have pre-existing conditions. Employer health plans often don't for certain periods of time.
  • It provides continuing healthcare coverage for workers who temporarily lose their jobs.
  • If the experience of European systems is any guide, both overall health outcomes and satisfaction with health coverage is considerably higher under universal systems than under the U.S. system. Despite spending far less per person than in the U.S., quality of care is high and, contrary to Heritage Foundation legend, waiting times in the well-run systems are generally short.
  • In the U.S., Medicare recipients are far more satisfied with their health coverage than those with normal employer-based health plans. Stunningly, even the poor, who largely rely on Medicaid and emergency rooms, are more satisfied than those with employer plans.
I think it's a mistake to try to analyze healthcare primarily in theoretical economic terms. After all, we have loads of empirical data at our disposal: the rest of the developed world has relied on national healthcare systems of one kind or another for decades and there's little evidence that this has either hurt or helped their overall economic performance compared to the U.S. There are lots of factors that affect the economies of individual countries, but the provision of healthcare doesn't seem to be one of them and even Kling doesn't suggest otherwise. Nor does he try to pretend that Medicare provides worse healthcare than employer-based plans.

Dems need to get a spine on UHC. Independent candidates will get my vote just on this issue alone.

BTW, reading a thread goes much quicker by scrolling right past all the posts by trolls.

AFG, well done as usual.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God writes: Gee, what happened to that conservative theory that invading Iraq and Bush blustering will make everybody so afraid of us that they will kowtow to our will.

Actually, it occurs to me that if Bush had been wanting to preserve the myth that the American military is all-powerful, there was a strategy he could have followed: (1) Invade country. (2) Overthrow leaders. (3) Declare victory and go home.

The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan did seem like "cake walks" up until the post-war occupations began.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on March 3, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse: A much more recent poll on Canadians' views on their healthcare system is here.

More ugly facts to destroy the inane and mendacious conservative meme, promoted to a great extent by that fount of wisdom and honesty Rush Limbaugh (not!), that Canadians hate their system and are just dying to adopt the type of system championed by American conservatives.

Funny how Canadians live in a democracy and can choose the type of health care system they implement, yet have not abandoned universal health care in favor of the American conservative ideal, despite a decade of American conservative claims that Canadians really, really hate universal health care.

I guess the American MSM and American liberals are responsible for, along with every other ill of the world perceived by American conservatives, imposing universal health care on Canadians against their will.

Surely it can't be that American conservatives would consistently lie about public policy issues in order to deceive the public and serve their own partisan self-interest!

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK
The first step to any serious discussion of reforming healthcare is trot reform. "The loser pays all costs" would stop a lot of bogus claims right out of the gate.

"loser pays all costs" would put a stop to a lot of meritorious claims, since, as anyone remotely familiar with the legal system would tell you, there's never a guarantee of how a jury will rule. Indeed, it would discourage most lawsuits from anyone without deep pockets to absorb the risk of failure.

Our legal system is, I think, already weighted heavily enough in favor of the rich, it doesn't need any more of that.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

And the link to Kevin's post from last year that I forgot at 12:04 PM.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

One of the truths that single payer exposes (by driving out the guys who are only in it for the money) is that a whole lot of doctoring is not only not exacting, it's auto-pilot. 10-15 years ago, expert system diagnostic tools were more accurate than GPs or internal medicine guys. (Sorry. It's true.) A whole lot of highly trained, expensive doctors really aren't necessary and (as mega-money drains from the system) the profession will attract a different kind of doctor. We pay a lot for hand-holding by guys who'd rather not really be there. Elemental medicine could actually be performed with a computer and a tech to administer the appropriate tests. (Futurama?) As for me, I rarely go to an actual doctor. PAs are fine -- they actually listen, take time, etc etc.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 3, 2006 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

A few comments--

Under single-payer:

--Costs will be reduced, if at all, by reducing choice. "Efficiency" is not the only factor to be considered in this decision. A grocery store that only sold one brand of everything would be incredibly efficient and cheap to operate.

I keep seeing the "3 percent administration costs" for Medicare, but as with the "lower health care spending in other countries," I never see this broken out in numbers. Something telling me what is included and what isn't, and whether or not all the functions that private insurance companies perform are classed under "administration" for budget purposes.

--There will be extensive price controls and/or gatekeeping, since market forces will be pretty much out of the picture. This is not arguable. If you think this is better than what we have now, fine.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Bob
I think there's even a nice example against our current method of health insurance, that extends well to your single payer idea: auto insurance.

Now watch all the moonbats flail their arms, gnash their stumpy teeth, and howl.

But really, you like to do preventive maintenance on your car just like on you, you (can) have catastrophic occurrances with your car, just like with you. With routine stuff you have the time to shop around, and with catastrophic stuff, not so much. And that applies to both.

First of all, can you envision having oil changes part of your insurance premium? That's what current medical insurance does, routine care is included. Can you imagine what happens to the cost of oil changes when the consumer no longer directly sees that cost? Now, do you even want to think about company-wide group auto insurance like that?

Second, when you switch to government run, single payer, group auto insurance; what kind of lobbying do you think the oil industry is going to be doing on behalf of your oil changes? What kind of lobbying are car makers going to be doing? Snap-On Tools? Fram Oil Filters?

Can we agree that single payer automobile insurance is a bad idea? Because single payer health insurance is equally bad. Health care is not a right, rights are free. Health care is a consumer good, treat it like one.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

> I am interested, though, in the moonbat take on
> Canandian courts rolling back Canadian socialized
> medicine.
>
> I realize it's not something that you lefties are
> likely familiar with, since you don't want to hear > about it you have no doubt been ignoring it.

Funny how the Radicals profess to believe in the "try - learn - adjust - try" model of human progress, sometimes known as the marketplace of ideas. But when it works against their pet theories, they toss it in the trash fast enough.

1) In the era of modern medicine and goverment (post-Bismark), the Engish were the first to try, well, let's call it "socialized medicine". Not surprising for a first try, they made some mistakes and it hasn't always turned out as they hoped.

2) The Candadians were next up. Given their love/hate relationship with England, they tried a modified version of National Health. Better, but still problems.

3) The French, Germans, Belgians, etc came next. They observed the problems with the previous trys. They devised a somewhat different system: single-payer, with market choice of providers and some caps. Guess what? This third try seems to work quite well. But for some reason the Radicals always argue against Windows 1.0 and 2.0, rather then Windows 2000 Professional.

And I will repeat: some of my English co-workers were prone to "discovering" conditions that needed treatment while they were assigned to US offices - hip replacement, say. But my French and German co-workers NEVER did this. The opposite in fact: at the first hint of illness they were on the plane back home for high-quality care at reasonable prices. That pesky free choice in action.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 3, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Not enough time to read through this entire thread, so apologies in advance if this point has already been made.

A major issue in the whole UHC debate is that conservatives and the general public simply don't understand that a "free market" in health insurance simply will not ensure that everyone gets access to insurance (assuming that access to health insurance for everyone is a generally accepted societal objective). There are simply too many infrastructural constraints involved; the market for health insurance is even quite a bit different from other insurance markets.

The conservatives out there who are actually paying attention are so wedded to the notion that free markets work beautifully in all circumstances that it's going to be incredibly difficult to convince them otherwise (might be interesting to see how many can name any markets that are totally "free," i.e., no public intervention).

As for the masses of people whose only sources of news and info are Fox and/or CNN, good luck (and good night). Any mention of UHC equates immediately with "socialized medicine," and of course conservatives are more than happy to exploit that.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 3, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK
Costs will be reduced, if at all, by reducing choice.

But whose choice, and what choice? The choice that would be reduced, for most people, is a choice, made largely by their employer, of which providers they would be forbidden to access under any circumstances.

"Efficiency" is not the only factor to be considered in this decision.

Its certainly an important one, giving the explosion in the costs Americans are paying for worse outcomes than other modern industrial nations.

A grocery store that only sold one brand of everything would be incredibly efficient and cheap to operate.

Yes, and conversely, having multiple competing private highway systems connecting the same cities (each one of which had different sets of cities that, while the routes ran through them, had no on or off ramps) would be incredibly wasteful and, while it would provide a kind of "choice", wouldn't provide any meaningful choice.

Analogies, remember, are only as useful as they are relevant.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse
Do you think it impossible that Canadians like the idea of socialized medicine; and at the same time think that waits are too long, and reforms are needed?

I liked this one:
Most (67%) Canadians say more private healthcare will result in healthcare professionals leaving the public system.
Of course it would. The 33% that thought otherwise are idiots. The private sector will pay more, so naturally doctors will leave the public system.

But this one here is the most interesting
Moreover, 62% think allowing people the option of paying for enhanced healthcare services would create a two-tier healthcare system - a better system for the rich, and a worse system for the poor.
That two tier system they would create would mimic our system. Market care for those that can afford, and a welfare system for those that can't. And I see above that our welfare system is better liked than our market system.

Kind of burning that argument at both ends.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Our legal system is, I think, already weighted heavily enough in favor of the rich, it doesn't need any more of that.
Posted by: cmdicely

Just_excise_'legal'_and_still_entirely_true.

America:Proudly_destroying_health_care_worldwide_
not_just_at_home.
*****

"We can have democracy in this country or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. We cannot have both." - Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Posted by: CFShep on March 3, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Yeah, that's the ticket. Ignore reality. To hell with the economy. Run on that. Please. :)"
Well, it's worked for Bush & the Republican Congress.

Posted by: Nathan on March 3, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

"More ugly facts to destroy the inane and mendacious conservative meme, promoted to a great extent by that fount of wisdom and honesty Rush Limbaugh (not!), that Canadians hate their system and are just dying to adopt the type of system championed by American conservatives."

That right. Canadians not only love socialised healthcare, they adore it so much it is illegal to have private healthcare. You know, just in case if some subversives would actually dare manage their own healthcare... not that the vast majority of Canadians would actually want that.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Of course it would. The 33% that thought otherwise are idiots. The private sector will pay more, so naturally doctors will leave the public system."

The free market has a tendency to negatively impact the cherished, inefficient, ineffective, bloated liberal institutions. Maybe that's why it's illegal to have private healthcare in Canada. They obviously can't have people managing their own healthcare.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

> A major issue in the whole UHC debate is that
> conservatives and the general public simply don't
> understand that a "free market" in health
> insurance simply will not ensure that everyone
> gets access to insurance (assuming that access to
> health insurance for everyone is a generally
> accepted societal objective).

Whereas I would say a major problem is that the Radicals understand that all too well. They don't WANT the majority of Americans to feel secure about anything, much less health care. Insecurity and fear serve their purposes quite well, as does a 95-5 two-tier system.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 3, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK
I think there's even a nice example against our current method of health insurance, that extends well to your single payer idea: auto insurance.

Doesn't extend well at all; auto insurance is first and foremost a government mandate to provide accountability when others are injured in their person or property as a result of your negligent or reckless driving. All the other aspects of coverage are essentially add-ons to that.

First of all, can you envision having oil changes part of your insurance premium? That's what current medical insurance does, routine care is included.

Not really analogous, even ignoring the broader disanalogy between health insurance and auto insurance, since auto insurance generally doesn't cover the results of not changing oil, either; OTOH, its not entirely uncommon, and I believe increasingly popular, for services that do pay for things like engine failure not resulting from accidents -- like auto warranties -- to also include covering, for a time, oil changes and routine maintenance. Particularly on more expensive vehicles.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Just to follow on from my post above: reading through more and more posts on this threat reinforces my point, I think.

There is great confusion about the issue. Guys like Freedom Fighter above talk about "socialized healthcare," as if Canadian doctors work for some government entity or something. They don't; they're essentially private contractors.

The only thing that is "socialized" is the insurance mechanism.

The astonishing thing is that we've already got one of the world's most efficient and effective "socialized medicine" systems: Medicare. And no one seems to notice this.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 3, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Whereas I would say a major problem is that the Radicals understand that all too well. They don't WANT the majority of Americans to feel secure about anything, much less health care. Insecurity and fear serve their purposes quite well, as does a 95-5 two-tier system."

I don't have a problem with you wanting to pay for other people's healthcare. I have a problem with you wanting me to pay for other people's healthcare or whatever else.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I'd rather go without health care than ride in a car with Ted Kennedy!

At last, some common sense on the issue.

Posted by: craigie on March 3, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Health care is not a right, rights are free.

Last time I checked, you had to pay for a gun to exercise your right to bear arms.

Just sayin'.

The right to health care is free; exercising that right is not.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Healthcare is not a "consumer choice," Jesus Christ. Hey guess what? I *choose* not to own a car, and despite all appearances to the contrary -- I AM NOT DEAD :)

tbrosz:

Okay, let's run with your supermarket analogy, because there's a great counterexample in my nabe. It's a chain (dunno if it's national, regional or statewide) called Aldi's.

Aldi's is like Noah's Ark. There are only two kinds of everything, and everything is off-brand (Millville cereal instead of General Mills), which is stuff made by the big firms, anyway. There's also very few employees. Just cashiers -- no baggers, no floor moppers. You bag your own stuff with leftover pallet boxes (they charge you nominally for plastic bags). Everything is *at least* 20% off any equivalent you'd find in a national chain stupidmarket.

My housemates and I shop there regularly. There's no discernable difference between their brand of pasta 'n' sauce and Ronzoni's.

And Aldi's is doing a booming business. People will gladly work a little bit, put their own carts back, bag their own groceries -- if they can save that much money on an essential weekly bill.

So much for the primacy of *ahem* consumer choice.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut,

Do you think it impossible that Canadians like the idea of socialized medicine; and at the same time think that waits are too long, and reforms are needed?

Windhorse, and most reasonable people, do not think it impossible.

Are you arguing that unless Canadians perceive their system as perfect then they cannot possibly appreciate its strengths and prefer it to market-based systems?

The role you have chosen for yourself is "throw sand in the umpires face" (thank you, Patrick Fitzgerald.)

Some people engage in discussion for the purpose of enhancing their knowledge & understanding. You engage for the purpose of inhibiting knowledge & understanding.

Good for you, friend.

Posted by: obscure on March 3, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the teeth gnashing and wailing, cm.

I will, however, point out that because some people (notably rich people) are willing to pay more for a convenience hardly undercuts my argument.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: I don't have a problem with you wanting to pay for other people's healthcare. I have a problem with you wanting me to pay for other people's healthcare or whatever else.

I don't have a problem with you, Bush, and other conservatives wanting to pay for the illegitimate and ill-advised war in Iraq, that doesn't give me with anything at all, or for GOP propaganda (mendacious at that) on the drug prescription legislation, which definitely doesn't float my boat.

I do have a problem with you wanting me to pay for it.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK
That right. Canadians not only love socialised healthcare, they adore it so much it is illegal to have private healthcare. You know, just in case if some subversives would actually dare manage their own healthcare... not that the vast majority of Canadians would actually want that.

Maybe its just that Canadians understand "Tragedy of the Commons". Maybe we need to include elementary game theory in the high school graduation requirements.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

The free market has a tendency to negatively impact the cherished, inefficient, ineffective, bloated liberal institutions.

World class stupidity. World class.

Posted by: obscure on March 3, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Took the Radical counter-bloggers a while to wake up on this one. I sense some disturbence in the Dark Force wherever they are located. Good discussion while it lasted though.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 3, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, the real issue surfaces in Freedom Fighter's comment above. He doesn't want to pay for other people's "healthcare" (once again confusing the issue; it's about insurance).

This is what separates us from our European brethren. They seem to understand that if you want a strong, globally competitive economy, you've got to have a healthy, well-educated workforce.

Health and education, baby: public goods that need to be funded publicly. Without them, we're heading for Second World status. Which is probably just fine with Freedom Fighter and the isolationists of his ilk.

Posted by: Wonderin on March 3, 2006 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: The free market has a tendency to negatively impact the cherished, inefficient, ineffective, bloated liberal institutions.

No, it doesn't, and, no, they aren't, but don't let that stop you from bloviating!

Conservatives actually fear the free market, which is why they consistently try to rig markets in their favor and undermine the principles and goals of free markets.

Same for free elections.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Are you arguing that unless Canadians perceive their system as perfect then they cannot possibly appreciate its strengths and prefer it to market-based systems?
No, I'm looking at the direction they are moving to reform their system. Oddly enough, it's toward a market based system.

As for dishonest arguments, let's take yours. The problem is rising health care costs, and you want to argue how people are supposed to pay for it.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't have a problem with you wanting to pay for other people's healthcare. I have a problem with you wanting me to pay for other people's healthcare or whatever else."

Freedom Fighter, You are an American aren't you? If so, get over it. This is America, not Mexico, Haiti or some banana republic. It isn't every man and woman for himself or herself. It hasn't been for about 86 years.

Last I looked we Americans are are trying to remain a first world country. That means we do our best to maximize opportunity for all, not just the 5% at the top. The absence of Universal Health Care is putting us at a competative disadvantage. The current private pay "system" doesn't work. It is a luxury we can no longer afford. It is time to remedy the situataion.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 3, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

The biggest question in my mind is what would happen to the health insurance industry? How would the workers there be transitioned out. Would the insurance companies be compensated for lost revenue streams?
Or would they have some part to play?
THese questions are why the Clinton plan failed. They were looking to get at least some support from the insurance industry (or hoping to not get total opposition).

I am interested to know how other countries transitioned to single payer or other systems (or did that happen so long ago that they didnt have as well developed an insurance industry)?

Posted by: yep on March 3, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
You brought up the rising cost of insurance, I had seen the same thing; but I'm trying to find out what percentage of health care costs are the insurance component. I'm not having much luck, I have found this

Each year from 1990 to 1998 spending for prescription drugs increased at a higher annual percentage rate
than expenditures for hospital care and physician services, the two largest components of health care costs.
I suspect I'm going to find that the insurance portion is trivial, and therefore not germane to a discussion of health care costs.

Besides the obvious insanity of expecting the government to do anything cheaper.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Bob:

Aldi's sounds great. I've seen similar stores, and they are doing good business. Of course, the key is still "choice," isn't it? If ALL the stores were Aldi's, I don't think it would be quite as much fun any more.

Around here a place called Trader Joe's has quite a large clientele of the kind of people who like their coffee from certified plantations, and organically-grown breakfast cereals. Not cheap, and certainly not something a place like Aldi's would carry.

Conspiracy nut:

In California, you are mandated to buy "no fault" liability insurance. Can't drive without it.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK
Besides the obvious insanity of expecting the government to do anything cheaper.

Almost every industrialized country does it cheaper, through the government, and gets better outcomes.

Either America could do the same, or Americans are uniquely incompetent.

I believe the former, you obviously believe the latter.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK
In California, you are mandated to buy "no fault" liability insurance. Can't drive without it.

California does not use a "no fault" auto insurance model (and, technically, you can meet the requirement through a bond rather than insurance.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Repub, bought by the insurance industry, provides one reason why the Trolletariat is out in force.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Don't confuse an ideological preconception with an "obvious insanity."

Look at the way insurance works. It's goal is to spread risk, so that the premiums of the healthy cover the costs of the sick. Obviously, the bigger the pool of people, the more these costs can be diffused.

Now think of the incentives the market applies to insurance. They all compete for customers, so their risk pools are obviously a fraction of what a universal system would be. And since they compete, they have every incentive imaginable to want only the healthiest customers, whose premiums are kept low while people with conditions have costs that go higher and higher -- if they're allowed to have insurance at all.

Is it fair to make sicker people carry a much higher burden than healthier people? Did they *choose* to get sick? Is it right to make a person pay for an accident, genetic or otherwise?

These are the moral issues you need to confront, my friend. This is why healthcare is not a consumer good.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
Almost every industrialized country does it cheaper
Sure, we subsidize them so they can.

through the government
Ya, health care as a political football; this is not apt to convince me.

tbroz
How you come to hold the insurance is not the question. Or if it is, if we get single payer then we we're all forced to take out medical insurance, too.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, tbrosz, the majority of Trader Joe's products are notably cheaper than comparable items in other chains, and only a small proportion of their products are organic. You're probably thinking of Whole Foods.

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Freedom F*cker: The free market has a tendency to negatively impact the cherished, inefficient, ineffective, bloated liberal institutions."

That's right the free market has a tendency to cut out the middle man so there is less distance between corporate CEO amerika and it's rightfully their's money.

Posted by: Neo on March 3, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK
Sure, we subsidize them so they can.

If that were true, it would solve the funding problem; surely, we'd be better off spending the money to subsidize healthcare for Americans than for the French, Canadians, Germans, etc.

You really are just throwing arguments against the wall to see what sticks without even considering what it would mean if they were true (much less having the least bit of concern for whether or not they are true.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

As for dishonest arguments, let's take yours. The problem is rising health care costs, and you want to argue how people are supposed to pay for it.

Could you translate that into English for me?

Besides the obvious insanity of expecting the government to do anything cheaper.

Yes... That reminds me of Rick Santorum--heard of him?--attempting to prevent the gov't from providing weather info to the public for free so the private sector could charge us to provide the very same data.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/content/news/epaper/2005/04/21/m1a_wx_0421.html

Posted by: obscure on March 3, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

All commenters lamenting socialized medical care or anything else socialized should stop using the internet. The internet is socialism.

Posted by: Hostile on March 3, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo: Repub, bought by the insurance industry, provides one reason why the Trolletariat is out in force.

This topic always brings out the knee jerkers, doesn't it? And their arguments are so current. I'm waiting for one of them to bring up Che Guavara's health-care preferences.

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: You're probably thinking...

Thinking?! Thought has little do with the T-troll. You're too kind but I respect your generosity.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"This is what separates us from our European brethren. They seem to understand that if you want a strong, globally competitive economy, you've got to have a healthy, well-educated workforce."

Yes, and the separation is getting wider.The Swedes of the cherished Swedish socialist model are now poorer than blacks in America. So much for being strong and globally competitive.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Is it fair to make sicker people carry a much higher burden than healthier people? Did they *choose* to get sick? Is it right to make a person pay for an accident, genetic or otherwise?
Yes. Am I expected to help cover you if you are unlucky or stupid when you buy a home? (the unlucky would correspond to your accident, the stupid to your genetic).

You will tell me this is cold-blooded, but is it?
1) This encourages people to take proper preventive care, because they cannot afford the result of not taking proper preventive care. The stupid are on their own, I am cold blooded in that I do not want to take care of some idiot that couldn't take care of themself.
2) This enourages to people to watch what they spend on health care, which will limit the rise of the cost of health care. This limit in the rise makes health care accessible to more people. And isn't that your goal as well?

Here's an interesting factoid for you: out of pocket health care costs are not rising. Let me rephrase that, the portion of health care costs that consumers see is controlled. The portion that they don't see is not. It is insane to me to claim that costs can be controlled by removing the decisions from the consumer.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Conservatives actually fear the free market, which is why they consistently try to rig markets in their favor and undermine the principles and goals of free markets."

Really? Then how come liberals want to copy a Canadian system that makes private healthcare illegal? I guess in the liberal dictionary, free market means a lack of choices.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

> Really? Then how come liberals want to copy a
> Canadian system that makes private healthcare
> illegal?

Every single centrist and liberal comment I have ever seen on this topic has said, "We would model our proposal on the _German_ system to avoid the problems with the Canadian system". For some funny reason, the Radical trolls keep arguing against the Canadian system, which is NOT what anyone here or anyone I know is in fact proposing.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 3, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

much less having the least bit of concern for whether or not they are true
Want to talk about US citizens wanting to buy their prescription drugs in Canada because they're cheaper? You'll note from my quote above that prescription drug costs are rising pretty fast, too.

Also, I've tried before to find out how much money other countries (like Canada) spend on medical research as opposed to the US. Never found those numbers, but I suspect we'd find that the Canadians are living off our medical research as well.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK
Here's an interesting factoid for you: out of pocket health care costs are not rising. Let me rephrase that, the portion of health care costs that consumers see is controlled.

You seem to be, perhaps unintentionally, using the word "factoid" properly, i.e., to refer to "A piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition".

Derived, as it is, from the word "fact" and the suffix "-oid" meaning "resembling, having the appearance of".

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

some idiot that couldn't take care of themself.

I can't stand that people which can't caretake of themself.

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK
Then how come liberals want to copy a Canadian system

While some liberals will point out that even the Canadian system is more popular in Canada than the US system is in the US, or that even the Canadian system provides better outcomes at lower costs than the US system, I don't recall any liberal actually suggesting the US copy the Canadian system.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely
Taking to arguing semantics? OK, I'll play. From Merriam-Webster, take a look over definition 2:

Main Entry: factoid
Pronunciation: 'fak-"toid
Function: noun
1 : an invented fact believed to be true because of its appearance in print
2 : a brief and usually trivial news item

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz:

Actually, I think what Aldi's does is explode the whole notion of consumer choice as an essential feature of consumer satisfaction.

You walk into A&P. You see at least four brands of corn cereal -- each with different packaging and artwork loudly shrieking to you that *this* is the brand to buy.

You walk into Aldi's. There's one brand of corn cereal with subduded artwork on the box.

The cereal at Aldi's is 20% cheaper than all those "choices" you have at A&P.

And the kicker is -- the Aldi's brand is indistinguishable from the others.

What are we paying extra for?

The bogus "choice" created by huge marketing budgets to differentiate what is undifferentiatable.

And thus it is with prescription drugs vs generics.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK
Taking to arguing semantics?

No, if I was arguing semantics, I would be arguing that your use of a word improperly negated the validity of the argument.

If I were, instead, disputing the accuracy of your claims, I would claim that your use of "factoid" to describe the piece of information on which you rest your (otherwise unsound, but I can hardly be bothered to address every shortcoming in every post of yours) argument matches the standard usage rather than the newer usage which, though recognized as unfortunately common, is widely regarded as a usage problem.

See the difference?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

What are we paying extra for?

Well, I can't speak for others, but I pay premium prices to have some perky recording scream at me about sale items and suggest lame ideas for tonight's dinner. I may have no interest in owning a gun but I do know how to use one, so when y'all read about the insane chick who shot up a Chicago grocery store's PA, you'll know it was I.

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13:

Repub, bought by the insurance industry, provides one reason why the Trolletariat is out in force.

Adding up all the contributions, most do go to Republicans. But just for fun, take a look at the top ten recipients.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

See the difference?
Since you've decided that the argument at hand isn't worth pursuing, why should I worry about the difference in the argument you now want to have?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

bought by the insurance industry
Now that's interesting. I'm in favor of de-regulating insurance, what do you suppose the insurance industry thinks about that?

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sheesh, Tom, it's hardly news to us that the biggest names in our party are competing to see who can be the most Republican. Why do you think we're always bitching? We want a freaking opposition party for a change.

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

overview:
Aided by peace and neutrality for the whole 20th century, Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. It has a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labor force. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade. Privately owned firms account for about 90% of industrial output, of which the engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. Agriculture accounts for only 2% of GDP and of jobs. The government's commitment to fiscal discipline resulted in a substantial budgetary surplus in 2001, which was cut by more than half in 2002, due to the global economic slowdown, declining revenue, and increased spending. The Swedish central bank (the Riksbank) focuses on price stability with its inflation target of 2%. Growth remained sluggish in 2003, but picked up in 2004 and 2005. Presumably because of generous sicktime benefits, Swedish workers report in sick more often than other Europeans. On 14 September 2003, Swedish voters turned down entry into the euro system, concerned about the impact on democracy and sovereignty
From :The CIA Factbook.......
Rough way to live huh Freedom Fighter

Posted by: Neo on March 3, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

The Swedes of the cherished Swedish socialist model are now poorer than blacks in America.

Based on what? Wage earnings? What measure? If blacks in America make more income than Swedes (asssuming that's the argument) but have to pay more for health care, day care, retirement, education, housing, etc., your statement is disingenuous besides being unsupported with proof. Typical troll tactic. Make a statement without a cite or fair comparisons.

On Sweden's cost of living:

It is often said that Sweden has the world's heaviest tax burden. This is true if we believe the statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which recently quantified the taxes in Sweden at 52 percent of gross domestic product, compared to around 45 percent in France, 37 percent in Great Britain and 29 percent in the United States, for example.
As we have mentioned elsewhere in Sweden & Swedes, the public sector has shouldered a large proportion of the responsibility for the economic security and welfare of individual inhabitants, for example by providing heavily subsidized health care, child and elder care, schools and universities, as well as various pension systems, unemployment benefits, housing allowances, social assistance and so on.
One feature that distinguishes the Swedish tax table from those of many other countries is its comparatively steep progressiveness. High-income earners pay a larger percentage of their income, low-income earners a lower percentage. The well-to-do thus contribute more to supporting those with smaller resources than in many other countries. This redistribution of income is an important element of Sweden's "third way" between socialism and unfettered capitalism.
Much less well known is that Sweden's corporate taxes, on the contrary, are low in an international comparison. In this area, Sweden actually has some of the lowest taxes in Europe: 28 percent, compared to 38 percent in Germany, 40 percent in the United States and 42 percent in Japan.
Another persistent myth is that Sweden is an expensive country. Granted that this was true for many years, but over the past decade, Sweden's low inflation and weak national currency, the krona, have radically changed this situation to Sweden's "advantage." International statistics comparing living costs also place Sweden today in the lower rungs among European countries. [Cite]

The socialist meme for Sweden is a myth: "No, Sweden is a thoroughly democratized market economy, albeit with stronger elements of income redistribution than in many other countries."

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK
Since you've decided that the argument at hand isn't worth pursuing

Since when is suggesting that the unsupported assertion on which you pin your argument is questionable not pursuing the argument at hand?


why should I worry about the difference in the argument you now want to have?

Even ignoring the above-described faulty premise, this question makes no sense.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Bob:

If you were right about Aldi's and consumer choice, EVERYONE would go there. I like that cereal that has almonds and cranberries in it. Do they have it? Unscented laundry detergent? The kind of dog food that's the only kind my dog eats?

Price is not the only issue when consumers shop. It never has been.

There used to be plenty of stores like that in the U.S.S.R. People had to go there. It's great that Aldi's is out there for those people who can work with that sort of choice, but I don't see it as something to aspire to, either in grocery stores or health care.

Are you aware that you're supporting yet another evil anti-union toady of capitalism? ;)

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Rough way to live huh
Let's do a little more reading from the CIA Factbook

Sweden
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $29,600
GDP - real growth rate: 2.4%

United States
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $41,800
GDP - real growth rate: 3.5%

So, behind and getting farther behind. Let's do some more reading.

According to Edling, Sweden had a de facto unemployment rate of 2025 percent.
Yes sir, give me some of that 20% unemployment. But wait, there's more:
"The Swedish system is in serious trouble. The Swedish economy is no longer creating jobs private sector employment has been shrinking for decades, and the public sector can no longer absorb more workers Many Swedes are pessimistic about the future, in large measure because they cannot imagine how their system can survive, yet cannot overcome the political obstacles to changing it."
~ Virginia Postrel, Reason Magazine
Socialist systems simply don't work. Big time like the Soviet Union, or small time like Sweden.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Since when is suggesting that the unsupported assertion on which you pin your argument is questionable not pursuing the argument at hand?
If you were arguing the fact, we could have easily moved on. You were arguing the presentation.

Moving on.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

Sheesh, Tom, it's hardly news to us that the biggest names in our party are competing to see who can be the most Republican. Why do you think we're always bitching? We want a freaking opposition party for a change.

This is a perception problem I'm been having trouble with.

This kind of behavior is not "Republican." It's politics as usual, and it always has been. The idea that lobbying and government/industry dealmaking was suddenly invented in 1994 is ridiculous.

If your wished-for "opposition party" got into power, the only difference in a couple of years would be the names the checks were written to.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 3, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

"From :The CIA Factbook.......
Rough way to live huh Freedom Fighter"

Also from the CIA factbook:
Swedish GDP per capita: $29,600
US GDP per capita: $41,800

41.2% seems like a huge difference.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

nut,

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $41,800

Ooooh, I love it when idiots throw around the word "average".

Bill Gates stopped off at the local homeless shelter and all the sudden everyone there was a millionaire. On average.

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

More reading from Reason magazine?

Heh, I'll take the CIA Factbook any day :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

I like that cereal that has almonds and cranberries in it.
I can't tell you how far you just plummeted in my view. What about some good old steak and eggs? Hash browns? Biscuits and gravy?

Man, can't ya just feel them old arteries hardening? What was the title of that book...Eat What You Want, and Die Like a Man

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ooooh, I love it when idiots throw around the word "average".
I love it when other idiots have nothing better to offer.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: . . . not that the vast majority of Canadians would actually want that.

If they don't want it, then why does it still exist?

After all, Canada is a democracy, not a totalitarian state run by liberal reporters, like you would have us believe.

It's a recurring pattern that American conservatives love to tell other people "what they want."

It's conservative arrogance in a nutshell.

It's ubiquitous in conservatives.

It is predictable in conservatives.

conspiracy nut: Oddly enough, it's toward a market based system.

So not oddly, you are wrong or lying. Yet again.

conspiracy nut: The problem is rising health care costs . . .

The problem is price gouging by the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies, the protection of incompetent physicians by the medical profession, and conservatives lies that attempt to cover this up.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

T-troll does his usual cherry-picking "research." I already looked at the Top Ten Recipients and Repub-Lite Hillary's share of donor money. BFD.

But let's look at contributions from Top Industries. I see a lot of more red elephants than blue donkeys. Of course, it's early yet. We could see more and more red elephants before November comes.

Repubs and Repub-Lites are bought and paid for by corporate America.

I agree with shortstop. We need an opposition party. And a complete overall of campaign finance so that corporations can't buy politicians.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

nut,

I like that cereal that has almonds and cranberries in it.

Out of fairness tbrosz does live in California, so you know what that means.

And your name is "nut," so you sound a little new-age to me, too.

Tripp (short for Totally RIPPed)

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: 41.2% seems like a huge difference.

It would be if the cost of living and lifestyles were similar.

When you have those factors in hand and can intelligently show how they prove that this difference is significant, let us know.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Um, that would be "overhaul."

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: I love it when other idiots have nothing better to offer.

I love it when idiots like cn reoffer failed solutions instead of offering up useful reforms and use apples to argue about oranges.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz:

Well, obviously everybody wouldn't shop at Aldi's because even if they wanted to, the parking lot would be jammed and the lines out the door :)

Sometimes a little convenience is worth paying extra for :)

And I'm not arguing Aldi's qua Aldi's -- just trying to use an analogy to demonstrate part of the dynamic that drives up the costs of on-patent drugs vs generics -- since this *is* a healthcare thread.

Sure, people in America are very fiercely bought-in to the idea of consumer choice (Burger or Chicken? Would you like a napkin? --Frank Zappa). All I'm saying is that the benefit is less than it's made to appear.

After all, if all those people decided to forego their unscented laundry detergent and trained their dogs to like generic dogfood, dammit! -- think of how much *extra* choice a net savings of 20% on grocery bills would add up to over a few years ...

Oh and on generics -- I am totally in favor of Indian pharmaceutical companies reverse-engineering on-patent American drugs and selling them for a pittance in the Third World.

When it's a matter of public health -- fuck intellectual property rights.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

so you know what that means
I refuse to lump all Gollyfornians under the "differently abled" category. I'm a great believer in individualism, and therefore rely on judging people as individuals.

Except for you socialists, you're all the same.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

If Kevin Drum is so convinced he has the easy answer to political problems that daunt the people who do politics for a living, he needs to put his money where his mouth is, shut his blog, and put his name on a ballot.

Anyone who has followed the health care problem even a little bit knows why his "how hard is that" solution is pretty damned hard: most Americans are pretty happy with the health care and health insurance they have now. They won't mind a program to extend health insurance to the people who don't have it as long as they don't have to pay for it. And the people who don't have health insurance don't vote in large numbers.

Nervousness about where health care is headed or even about where their own health insurance will be in five years or ten will get people to vote against politicians they distrust. It will not be enough to get them to vote for politicians who promise a painless solution. If Kevin disagrees, he ought to be prepared to do more than post about it.

Posted by: Zathras on March 3, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Besides the obvious insanity of expecting the government to do anything cheaper.

Should have privatized the war in Iraq, then, not to mention the so-called "GWOT."

We could have saved a bundle.

Instead, we've spent $200 billion and more for, well, zippo, and privatized a portion of our torture program.

No enhanced security.

No secured WMDs.

No interdiction of terrorists targeting the US.

Whooo hoooo!

Now, that's bang for your buck!

Not.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

When you have those factors in hand and can intelligently show how they prove that this difference is significant, let us know.
Damn, it's hard knowing just how much education you moonbats need. Here, let me help you out. This is from the Definitions section of the CIA Factbook:

In the Economy category, GDP dollar estimates for countries are reported both on an official exchange rate (OER) and a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. Both measures contain information that is useful to the reader. The PPP method involves the use of standardized international dollar price weights, which are applied to the quantities of final goods and services produced in a given economy. The data derived from the PPP method probably provides the best available starting point for comparisons of economic strength and well-being between countries.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: Except for you socialists, you're all the same.

Except when conservatives decide to flip-flop and argue we're all different.

Whatever suits the self-serving conservative argument of the moment.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad wingnuts don't understand the meaning of plutocracy.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz

I have spent some time is Sweden. I didn't notice the rampant poverty you describe. I must admit the towns and the transportation system were organized in such a way that one didn't have to own a car to get around, department stores did close very early, the pace of life was slower than here, there was a bar in just about every neighborhood, but the hallmarks classic American poverty, not so much. The people seemed well educated. They ate well. They seemed healthy. There appeared to be a lot of entertainment. Nearly everyone spoke English. I had no fear travelling anywhere. Maybe I just missed the poor areas. I don't recall seeing any rioting or hearing rampant complaints about being downtrodden.

I guess what I am trying to say is you can't really gain much of a flavor for a country or its citizens from the CIA fact book.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 3, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: . . . probably provides the best available starting point for comparisons of economic strength and well-being between countries.

Yet more misleading and dishonest tripe from conspiracy nut who doesn't seem to read what he posts before posting it.

Clearly you need more edumacation (sic) than all of the moonbats in the world combined, since you can't even understand the quotes you post.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Swedes, usually perceived in Europe as a comfortable, middle class lot, are poorer than African Americans, the most economically-deprived group in the United States, a Swedish study showed yesterday.

The study by a retail trade lobby, published in the liberal Dagens Nyheter newspaper 19 weeks before the next general election, echoed the center-right opposition's criticism of the weak state of Sweden's economy, following decades of almost uninterrupted Social Democratic rule.

The Swedish Research Institute of Trade (HUI) said it had compared official U.S. and Swedish statistics on household income, as well as gross domestic product, private consumption and retail spending per capita between 1980 and 1999.

Using fixed prices and purchasing power parity adjusted data, the median household income in Sweden at the end of the 1990s was the equivalent of $26,800, compared with a median of $39,400 for U.S. households, HUI's study showed.

"Weak growth means that Sweden has lost greatly in prosperity compared with the United States," HUI's president, Fredrik Bergstrom, and chief economist, Robert Gidehag, said.

International Monetary Fund data from 2001 show that U.S. GDP per capita in dollar terms was 56 percent higher than in Sweden, while in 1980, Swedish GDP per capita was 20 percent higher.

"Black people, who have the lowest income in the United States, now have a higher standard of living than an ordinary Swedish household," the HUI economists said.

If Sweden were a U.S. state, it would be the poorest, measured by household gross income before taxes, Bergstrom and Gidehag said.

They said they had chosen that measure for their comparison to get around the differences in taxation and welfare structures. Capital gains such as income from securities were not included.

The median income of African American households was about 70 percent of the median for all U.S. households, while Swedish households earned 68 percent of the overall U.S. median level.

This means that Swedes stood "below groups, which, in the Swedish debate, are usually regarded as poor and losers in the American economy," Bergstrom and Gidehag said.

Between 1980 and 1999, the gross income of Sweden's poorest households increased by just over 6 percent, while the poorest in the United States enjoyed a three times higher increase, HUI said.

If the trend persists, "things that are commonplace in the United States will be regarded as the utmost luxury in Sweden," the authors said. "We are not quite there yet, but the trend is clear."

According to HUI figures, during the period 1998-1999, U.S. GDP per capita was 40 percent higher than in Sweden, while U.S. private consumption and retail sales per capita exceeded Swedish levels by more than 80 percent.


Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I can't tell you how far you just plummeted in my view....Eat What You Want, and Die Like a Man

That was laugh out loud funny.

Swedes don't have the purchasing power that Americans have but recoup much of that in the form of benefits, leisure time, and social safety nets, which isn't factored into that equation. Itemize and add up every dollar spent on healthcare during a lifetime, every dime spent on education, every penny spent on child care, every couple grand per month spent on senior care -- and the comparison begins to look a lot different.

Apparently their system is in some trouble financially but will probably benefit from minor adjustments like the ones that happened under Bildt in the '90's.

Posted by: Windhorse on March 3, 2006 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Ron
Imagine that, not visiting the slums. Why, I bet every visitor to the United States spends their time cruising the inner cities of our great nation.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Tom,

It's not a perception problem. Let me restate, more clearly.

When Kevin says things like "Why won't elected Democrats stand up for universal health care?" I bang my head against the wall. They don't stand up for it because they get way too many cookies for conducting business as usual. They don't get as many as Republicans, and you're highly deluded if you think that the recent DeLay-Abramoff-Cunningham antics weren't corruption taken to a record-breaking level. That scandal is all yours, friend.

But, yes, our very unpure elected Democratic congresscritters have no financial incentive for pushing for real healthcare reform. Voter apathy is at a disgusting level, it's not like we have a real alternative, and so those of us who are tired of Dems who represent the insurance industry while ignoring the needs of their constituents can suck it up or stay home on election day.

Here's the difference between you and me: I have a problem with that. You smile condescendingly and sneer, "They're all like that," trying to convince yourself that your urbane cynicism leaves our sophomoric political sensibilities in the dust. And maybe you really believe that about yourself; you've shown a remarkable ability to block out information that doesn't nestle its head charmingly against the shoulder of your tax cuts. But I'm interested in finding ways in which people can actually get some legislative representation without the large-scale bribery that is our campaign financing system.

You love the system the way it is, go to it. But be grown up enough to simply own up to that, instead of playing this broken "it's all very sad but you silly fools don't realize it can't be changed" record.

Posted by: shortstop on March 3, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: The study by a retail trade lobby . . .

Study by conservative big business lobby has all the credibility of a Big Tobacco study of the cancer-contributing effects of smoking.

You've made a believer out of me, Freedom F*cker.

Sweden is a third-world country and their citizens are leaving in droves for better opportunity in America.

Surely the Swedes must have the highest rate of immigration to the US and are all just dying to leave.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

nut,

Except for you socialists, you're all the same.

Well yeah, sure, everybody knows that.

And bears.

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers, A good town to look at in Amerika is Compton, California a true example of pure capitalism. Sales territories are controlled by rival street gangs. Justice is handled on the spot no need for lawyers ect.

Did you see anything like that in Sweden.?

Posted by: Neo on March 3, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

The methodology in the HUI study is, at best, misleading; it conflates median income with standard of living without adjusting for differing costs of living in radically different environments. Its not even particularly a good standard for what you'd assume is the natural purpose of a retail-industry study, in which case disposable income would be more relevant, though not adjusting for cost of living would make some sense.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God, so Americans' income is 41% more than Swedes, and pay about half the taxes, and you are telling me their cost of living is lower? Talk about needing more edumacation, or better yet, common sense.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop:

Very eloquently stated.

I especially admired the information / tax cut trope.

Reminded me of a prom dance in some cheesy 60s movie :)

Or the B. Kliban cartoon: Short on brains, but a teriffic dancer.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Conspiracy Nut,

According to the posts I have been reading about Sweden the whole damn country should be a slum. It isn't. I didn't find any. Actually Sweden reminded me more of Minnesota than any place else I have visited. I wonder why? ;)

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 3, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

The median income of African American households was about 70 percent of the median for all U.S. households, while Swedish households earned 68 percent of the overall U.S. median level.

You mean to say there is no Swedish Oprah or Michael Jordan?!

Well son of a - they better do something!!

Man I just LOVE me some averages. Now that Billy Gates has earned his gazillions I be living SO high on the hog! And Oprah? You go girl. Get my average income up there! Yeee haw!

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: The methodology in the HUI study is, at best, misleading; it conflates median income with standard of living without adjusting for differing costs of living in radically different environments.

I'm shocked that a conservative business lobby would produce a misleading study.

Really, I am.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

No, really!

Did you hear about the study by the pesticide lobby that showed pesticides cause no environmental harm whatsoever and that Americans could apply 500% more chemicals to our environment without any environmental degradation at all?

And I hear the companies responsible for actual construction of the New Orleans levees have released a study showing none of the levees was ever breached, that it was all lies planted by the MSM and liberal traitors.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK
You mean to say there is no Swedish Oprah or Michael Jordan?!

I think you need to review the meaning of the word "median".

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Way to go, FF, using an NRO cite that came from Haaretz-Reuters. But you omitted the last two paragraphs. I wonder why? With emphasis added:

The HUI economists attributed the much bigger difference in consumption and sales mainly to the fact that U.S. households pay themselves for education and health care, services that are tax-financed and come for free or at low user charges in Sweden.

Comparing U.S. to Sweden is once again apples to oranges. And the Swedes must like their system. From the last paragraph:

According to recent opinion polls Sweden's Social Democrats are comfortably ahead of the center-right opposition in the run-up to the September 15 elections. [ Haaretz-Reuters Cite]

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Windhorse
You did know that is an actual book.

Got another one at the house, Cooking with Lard. On the back cover, one of the endorsements said that "from both a humor and health standpoint, this book is a killer."

Apparently their system is in some trouble financially but will probably benefit from minor adjustments like the ones that happened under Bildt in the '90's.
I say it can't, because the incentive system is destroyed. Way back when (I refuse to look this up) Sweden was dirt poor. Rampant capitalism built them up, then socialism started. Kind of. Industry was never privatized, and the work ethic from the capitalist days took them far. But in the 70's the real socialists gained sway and Sweden started downhill within a decade.

Now they have a significant population that realizes they can stay home forever for a mere 20% cut in pay. Work ethic gone for that subsector. That makes them a pure drag on the economy. That is why I say they can't recover.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Ron,

Actually Sweden reminded me more of Minnesota than any place else I have visited. I wonder why? ;)

Oh, OH, now you've done it!

Don't you be calling us upstanding Norwegians "Swedes." Don't you even go there.

Ya, sure, you betcha.

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure it's been said above, but I'll say it again, 'cause what the hell?

The reason the Democrats haven't come out in support of universal health care is the reason Republicans haven't come out in support of universal health care: both receive too much money (in campaign contributions) from they accept too much money from those who have too great of a financial stake in the perpetuation of the health care "system" we currently have.

This is one big reason I belong to the Green Party, which does not accept campaign contributions from unions, corporations, or PACs.

This is also a big reason why I support (voluntary, and thus constitutional) full public financing of electoral campaigns. If our elected officials felt a greater urge to please regular voters than they do to please Merck, Pfizer, Blue Cross, et. al, we'd see changes.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on March 3, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Tripp: Don't you be calling us upstanding Norwegians "Swedes."

Why, the Norwegian half of my Irish-Norwegian heritage got a little prickled, too! You betcha. LOL!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

"Surely the Swedes must have the highest rate of immigration to the US and are all just dying to leave."

Never said Sweden is the poorest country. But it doesn't make much sense to emulate a poorer country... does it?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker:

Income and tax levels cannot tell you what the cost of living is or provide any information about the cost of living.

Cost of living is "the average cost of the basic necessities of life". E.g., the cost of food, clothing, etc.

Income level and tax level tells you nothing about the costs of food or clothing or anything else.

So, yes, you need edumacation (sic).


St. Vincent Medical Center received a rebuke from the national organ-donation network for allowing a patient to skip to the top of the waiting list for a new liver in 2003, bypassing others who were sicker.

I love medicine controlled by the free market, don't you?

It's so honest and honorable.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

According to the posts I have been reading about Sweden the whole damn country should be a slum.
The downhill slide isn't that old, so the structures were largely built prior to. And I've had tea with a family in rural Sri Lanka, now there's some poverty. But the 3 room, concrete block house was clean and well maintained, and the family was cheerful.

The Sri Lankan family probably didn't know that I classified them as poor, they certainly didn't classify themselves as poor. They were middle class for the area.

So I'm not surprised at your experience.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Patrick Meighan: This is also a big reason why I support (voluntary, and thus constitutional) full public financing of electoral campaigns. If our elected officials felt a greater urge to please regular voters than they do to please Merck, Pfizer, Blue Cross, et. al, we'd see changes.

I couldn't agree with you more. I'm feeling Green-er and Green-er everyday. Depending on how the Dems shape up their platforms for 2006 and 2008, I may join you. I am sick to death of Repub-Lite.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

"Man I just LOVE me some averages. Now that Billy Gates has earned his gazillions I be living SO high on the hog! And Oprah? You go girl. Get my average income up there! Yeee haw!"

Tripp, the article specifically stated "median". Do you know the difference between median and average? Apparently not.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I just love the way the Lefties say "but they get all those free benefits from the government so they're better off" in spite of the fact money doesn't grow on the government tree. Look at GDP per capita (29.6K in Sweden versus 41.8K in the US) numbers and then explain how the Swedish government magically produced those $12,200 worth of extra government services.

From whence came the extra money?

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: But it doesn't make much sense to emulate a poorer country... does it?

Then why aren't they emulating us?

For that matter, why aren't the Canadians emulating us?

Are you saying these countries aren't real democracies?

Are you saying that somehow socialists have established a tyranny in these countries?

That wouldn't seem to be true if a conservative government can be elected in Canada, not necessarily because Canadians like its ideas any better though.

Amazing that the Swedes and Canadians continually reject what American conservatives say would be best for them and "what they really want."

Damn, they must really be stupid.

Write and tell them how stupid they are.

Then go visit.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

From whence came the extra money?
Check the Swedish national debt.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Also the income is pre-tax, which means the difference for the actual take home amount is even bigger between Sweden and US, since the Swedish tax burden is nearly twice that of Americans.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Neo, never saw anything like Compton, California in Sweden. The Swedes are a pretty friendly lot. Very laid back.

Funny story. One day my friends and I took a bus downtown. One of us started a conversation with the bus driver. After a few minutes he pulled over at one of the routes stops. He then spent the next 15 minutes telling us all about the town, its history, industry and night spots. He answered just about every question we had. We told him thank you for the time, and he responded by thanking us for helping him with his English. He was just a bus driver. Imagine encountering that sort of neighborly treatment any where in the US.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 3, 2006 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Check the U.S. national debt! And still growing due to borrow and spend Repubs.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK
But it doesn't make much sense to emulate a poorer country... does it?

That depends how well you think "well-being" tracks with "dollar-vale of income".

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Birkelass: From whence came the extra money?

From whence comes your stupidity?

I'm sure the answer to your question is easier than the answer to mine.

What part of "dishonest lobby study" and "numbers not directly comparable" and "democratically governed Swedes keep choosing a system that American conservatives insist is broken and not what they really want" don't you understand?

Maybe the Swedes simply don't buy into the lies of American, or Swedish, conservatives, especially business lobbies.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Then why aren't they emulating us?

For that matter, why aren't the Canadians emulating us?

Are you saying these countries aren't real democracies?"

Liberals obviously don't understand the meaning of democracy. You have the option to not work and stay on welfare. My question is whether it is a sensible thing to do, not if you have the right to do it or not.

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

FF
Do you know the difference between median and average?

Listen here, sonny, I was reading "How to Lie With Statistics" before you were even born so I most certainly know the difference between mean, median, *and* mode.

I built the house I was born in. So don't you be talking down to me!

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

In Mississippi, 89 percent of fourth-graders who took a state reading test were rated proficient or better. But when the same students took a federal test, only 18 percent reached that standard.

Perhaps the Swedes are just emulating the tactics one of our red states and simply lying about how well they are doing (or not doing).

Hey, Every Child Left Behind.

Get with the program.

It's doing wonders for the country, especially in our red states.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK
Also the income is pre-tax, which means the difference for the actual take home amount is even bigger between Sweden and US, since the Swedish tax burden is nearly twice that of Americans.

Wrong. It doesn't mean that, because the incomes looked at were median, and the "nearly twice" tax burden is mean, and Sweden's tax system (as noted upthread) is notably more progressive than that in the US, meaning a proportionally greater share of the tax burden is at the top.

Given a differently distributed tax structure, you cannot make any valid conclusion about median after-tax income from a combination of mean tax burden and median before-tax income.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel:

Yeah, well that's as disingenuous as comparing median incomes and implying that this somehow correlates to quality of life.

What would be meaningful would be an in-depth interview of Swedes and Americans in similar occupations which examines what their gripes and anxieties are, their satisfactions, As perpeller head (conspiracy nut) implied in this message about Sri Lankans, deprivation is relative.

My guess is that on the whole, Swedes are a pretty well-contented lot, and probably moreso on the balance than Americans.

Of course, some personality types thrive in a Swedish system that would be alienated in an American one, and vice versa. A risk-taker would prefer the opportunities in America, a security-minded person would prefer the more contemplative, inner-directed life in Sweden.

Very hard at the end of the day to draw meaningful comparisons -- but on the whole, I'd say that the Swedish system probably produces more happiness for more people than does the American.

Because in America, we value Liberty much more highly than Equality.

But that's a choice we've made, not a value carved eternally in human hearts.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Listen here, sonny, I was reading "How to Lie With Statistics" before you were even born so I most certainly know the difference between mean, median, *and* mode."

Oh, so when you tried to conflate median with average, you were just being dishonest then?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I see the free lunch mentality is alive and well.

A universal healthcare system for the United States will be significantly different and will cost more on a GDP basis than other developed countries. You persist in believing that we can simply borrow a system from a European country and spend the same amount of GDP that they do. This is a fantasy. There is not a single European country that is largely similar to the United States in its demographics and the expectations of its citizenry. At best, you will spend the same amount that is spent today and provide a level field of care across the whole population. However, the history of government programs suggest it will cost more.

One of the mistakes made in selling UHC to Americans is that a lot of Americans intuitively understand that you won't spend less and cover more people unless the coverage is generally reduced for a lot of those who have insurance today. I would try some honesty and quit promising more for less cost. You may find the American people more receptive to UHC ideas if they don't think they are being mislead.

Also, people completely misunderstand where the cost increases are coming from in the present system. It is largely not coming from growing insurance company profits and employment in overhead. The cost inflation is coming from monetary inflation, an aging and increasingly obese population, and it is coming from the addition ever new, but expensive, medical treatments. On the supply side, numerous regulations and government sponsored cartels suppress the supply. I have yet to see anyone explain how universal healthcare will address these cost drivers through any method that isn't direct rationing. If Americans despise insurance companies doing the rationing, what makes you think they will be happier having government bureaucrats do it?

Posted by: Yancey Ward on March 3, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I built the house I was born in. So don't you be talking down to me!
House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, 'alf the floor was missing, and we were all 'uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK
Then why aren't they emulating us?

Maybe they're emulating Luxembourg, which, IIRC, uses a national health insurance system. I mean, with the "it makes no sense to emulate a country with a lower GDP per capita" standard, why would anyone emulate the US rather than Luxembourg?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: My question is whether it is a sensible thing to do, not if you have the right to do it or not.

This is too hilarious.

How many gazillion times have we heard conservatives rant (mostly mendaciously) about how liberals are always telling others what is best for them.

I mean really.

Conservatives are constantly apoplectic about how liberals are so elitist exactly because they are supposedly constantly wanting to tell people how to run their lives and what is best for them.

Yet, who is the first to tell the Swedes and Canadians they aren't making good choices when it comes to public policy, that they aren't being sensible.

Conservatives like Freedom F*cker.

My, my, it's wrong that American liberals suggest that smoking is bad for your health and actually require that American citizens be informed of the risks, so wrong that many if not most conservatives equate such warnings with actual interference with personal choice!

But, it's okay for American conservatives to tell the Swedes and Canadians that they are making foolish, non-sensible choices in ordering their economies and governments!

TOO, TOO, funny!

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, here's a true story that is just gonna bust FF's blood vessels.

My elderly Mother in law was on a European cruise (don't worry, FF, it was old money and also banking so they are good little republicans) when she broke her femur. It happened onboard and was pretty bad.

They took her to the closest hospital which was in Sweden. They fixed her leg (surgery with a pin in the bone) and allowed her to stay for two weeks while she recovered.

She then flew home for her complete recovery.

There was no bill for her hospital stay, surgery, or medicine while in Sweden. Even as a non-citizen.

Imagine that, freedom fighter, imagine that!

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

nut,

You had siblings? All I had was a single little mouse.

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,
You're right. What's important is how the Swedes feel about things as compared to how Americans FEEL about things. To heck with all that objective reasoning. Subjectivity is so much more... FUN!

conspiracy nut,
It's not as much fun when I ask a question and get a serious response. I object to your pointing to Sweden's high debt/GDP figures! As rmck1 will tell you it's about how they feel about their economic health. Numbers and objectivity be damned.

And beside that, you know something about the subject, seemingly. So that makes it doubly wrong for you to offer your "opinions" about how those "free" services are "financed" out of the pockets of Swedish youths who will eventually get the bill.

A for G,
Your ignorance of the numbers I used is regrettably unsurprising. You are dismissed from the adult table.

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward:

I'll bite: Smash the AMA. It's a cartel that limits medical degrees.

Throw it in the trash heap with the private medical insurance industry.

And for good measure, illegalize medical advertising for perscription drugs, to boot. A drug is a drug, and doctors make decisions on which drug to use out of pure necessity, not "consumer choice."

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of free lunch gluttons:

In early April 2004, the General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that over 60 percent of all American corporations paid no federal taxes at all from 1996 through 2000. In addition, the GAO found that corporate tax payments as a percent of federal revenue have reached the lowest level since 1983 and now stand second only to rates paid in 1934. In 1960, corporations paid 24% of all federal taxes. In the 1970's, that share fell to 15%. As recently as 1996, it was 12%. When NOW reported on this issue in 2002, corporate taxes made up only about 8% of U.S. revenues, in 2004, that's down again to 7.4%. Those figures come from the Clinton era, before additional corporate tax cuts and tax benefits were put in place. [Emphasis added. Cite]

Woo hoo! Plutocracy is on the march!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

FF,
Oh, so when you tried to conflate median with average, you were just being dishonest then?

Listen here sonny, when I'm dishonest with you you'll know it! Or not, since it would be honest if you knew it, so, ummm, just listen to what I say and go to bed like a good little boy!

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: Liberals obviously don't understand the meaning of democracy.

Well, we do know that although it can be won at the point of a gun, it can't be imposed at the point of a gun.

We also know that calling something a democracy doesn't make it so, no matter how many times you tell us that Iraq is now a democracy.

We also know that conservatives had underminded democracies across the globe for decades, so we understand the meaning of democracy for conservatives is "only where convenient to our partisan and personal economic interests".

And finally we know that conservatives have no interest in democracy here in America or in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or Dubai or in a host of other countries far more dangerous to the US than Iraq was and just as undemocratic as Iraq was.

So, it's not surprising that liberals don't understand the meaning of "democracy" as used by conservatives, because clearly conservatives have given a radically different meaning to the term than exists in the standard English dictionary.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel:

Subjectivity is the only valid yardstick when you're talking about these questions. Talking to Swedes and Americans and asking them -- are they happy?

Like what -- there's some sort of hardwired correlation between how much money a person has in his pocket and how happy he is?

Like a typical winger troll, you had no response to the argument (which was quite balanced and accounted for America's attraction for certain personality types) and decided to launch into yet another right-wing Meme of Distraction: Relativism !

Idiot :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

You had siblings? All I had was a single little mouse.
Oh aye, there were a hundred and fifty of us living in t' shoebox in t' middle o' road.

You know where I'm getting this from, right? The Four Yorkshiremen

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, 'alf the floor was missing, and we were all 'uddled together in one corner for fear of falling.

Now we know where cn's psychosis comes from.

He's a victim of poverty, and quick to play the poverty card.

Sorta like Justice Thomas was quick to play the race card to get some sympathy.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

AfG
You're beautiful.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, we've got Birkel *and* Yancy! We're gonna have us a Libertarian free for all, I can just tell . . .

But wait - do they still have Friday afternoon happy hour at the campus bar? If so then get off the dang computer and get out chasing tail! The internet will be here when you get back.

Posted by: Tripp on March 3, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK
A universal healthcare system for the United States will be significantly different and will cost more on a GDP basis than other developed countries.

I'd argue that it should rationally be significantly less expensive per GDP, though more expensive indollars per capita, as many, though not all, of the costs should not be particularly sensitive to local wealth.

You persist in believing that we can simply borrow a system from a European country and spend the same amount of GDP that they do.

No, I don't. I assume that Americans can do as well or better than Europeans in terms of outcomes and costs, by drawing inspiration from a variety of systems around the world (not just in Europe) that produce better results at lower costs than the US system, without necessarily cloning any of those systems.

There is not a single European country that is largely similar to the United States in its demographics and the expectations of its citizenry. At best, you will spend the same amount that is spent today and provide a level field of care across the whole population. However, the history of government programs suggest it will cost more.

This vague handwaving set of assertions is not, IMO, particularly convincing.

One of the mistakes made in selling UHC to Americans is that a lot of Americans intuitively understand that you won't spend less and cover more people unless the coverage is generally reduced for a lot of those who have insurance today.

I think it is more accurate to say "believe" rather than "intuitively understand", but those beliefs can be changed with education about the particular inefficiencies of the status quo system.

I would try some honesty and quit promising more for less cost.

Why? Because Americans are somehow less inherently competent to provide healthcare services than the rest of the industrialized world? If everyone else can spend less and get more than we do, we can to.


Also, people completely misunderstand where the cost increases are coming from in the present system. It is largely not coming from growing insurance company profits and employment in overhead. The cost inflation is coming from monetary inflation, an aging and increasingly obese population, and it is coming from the addition ever new, but expensive, medical treatments.

Those drivers problems exist (especially the aging population) in many of the systems that provide so much better outcomes for less cost than the US. And, yes, they drive costs increases in those systems to. But -- pre and post those effects -- those system have had lower costs than the US system, and continue to have lower costs, per capita and per GDP, than the US system.

The difference is not in those drivers.

On the supply side, numerous regulations and government sponsored cartels suppress the supply.

Perhaps; many of those regulations, though, are related to managing the interactions of numerous separate public and private payment systems with numerous public and private provider systems. Replacing all the payment systems with a single system would reduce much of need for the regulation which suppresses supply of health care services.

If Americans despise insurance companies doing the rationing, what makes you think they will be happier having government bureaucrats do it?

Maybe because in the latter case they will have some say over who is doing the rationing and what the rules are for the rationing, through the ballot box.

You know, the same reason that while they despise having an unelected monarch punish criminals through secret proceedings accountable only to his own whim, they don't mind judges and citizen juries, acting under law passed by elected representatives and constrained by Constitutional limits punishing criminals.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Birkelass: You are dismissed from the adult table.

Gee, Birkel the child dismissing me from the "adult table".

Oh, my.

I'm totally devastated.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

What Apollo 13 said at 2:59, adding to not paying taxes, So many players in big business are just plain rat bastard crooks. Dell computers comes to mind right off. Had dealings with a few telecoms. Healthcare has turned into cattle car medicine. Nationalize it we would probably get better coverage less cost and better over sight.

Posted by: Neo on March 3, 2006 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK
What's important is how the Swedes feel about things as compared to how Americans FEEL about things. To heck with all that objective reasoning. Subjectivity is so much more... FUN!

Um, you do realize that the fundamental premise for the use of dollar (or other currency measures) as being meaningful in economic statistics is that presumption that they are generally, in the broadest terms, the best easily-available proxy for subjective utility, right?

And that the entire structure of economic theory is fundamentally based not on objective value, but subjective value.

So, yeah, Bob's right to point out why, in this particular case, the money numbers are not good proxies for subjective utility, and you're an idiot to pretend this is a bad thing. If you had even the most rudimentary knowledge of the meaning of anything in economics, you'd get his point.

Too many people learn a few rules and then start confusing symbols and proxies for the underlying substance that they are taken to represent.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Let's hear it for the borrow and spend Repubs!

Monday, Jan. 26, 2006, CBO Projects $8.5 Trillion in Borrowing Over Next Decade Under Bush Policies [PDF]

Who was the troll that blathered about national debt?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Of course. It's a total classic :) The best reductio-ad-absurdum on the Republican (Tory) pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps philosophy ever committed to videotape :)

Advocate For God:

Exactly. Look at Birkel -- when I suggested to him that quality of life may be not measurable with hard economic statistics (which Republicans assume equate to laws of physics), he tried to trivialize my perfectly valid point by calling it relativist :)

I dared to question the underlying assumption that money and happiness are joined at the hip in every human being exactly the same way :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I'm all for reducing the national debt. We can start the the Depts of Education, Agriculture, and Homeland Security, most of Commerce, we need to get repaid for every dime from the NEA. Then we can start scaling back transfer payments as the private sector starts handling that...

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, I'm all for reducing the national debt. We can start the the Depts of Education, Agriculture, and Homeland Security, most of Commerce...

Now there's a platform that will get Repubs elected and re-elected! Wanna bet American voters will love it? LOL!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

NEA yeah sucks when liberals can read master nut

Posted by: Neo on March 3, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom fighter, the way you judge countries marks you as a true Republican: how much money you make and how much stuff you got. I have spent time in Sweden also. Those poor people all have good medical care (better than the U.S, according to the stats), they all live in clean apartments at the very least. There are no slums. Old people do not die in unheated apartments as they do in the U.S. during every unusual cold spell. Instead they have really nice state-run old folks homes with well-trained caring nurses. They have band concerts in the parks, theres lots of convivial shmoozing. The country is so clean, I actually felt homesick for an old car up on blocks in someones back yard.

Heres something you righties will REALLY hate about Sweden. Dont tell President George or he might nuke them. If you have a nice place in the country, you cant keep people off your property. No fences allowed. You have total sovereignty on only (I forget) maybe a hundred feet from your house. If I see a beautiful mountain scene or I want to picnic on a nice beach by the sea, I can go there. How un-American is that?

But for all the reasons why some might admire life in Sweden, there is still the terrible fact that they have no Mc Mansions, few SUVs and giant screen televisions. I can understand why you, Freedom Fighter, would hate living there.

Posted by: James of DC on March 3, 2006 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo
When I talk about fiscal responsibility, I talk about the spending side, too. New concept for you tax-em-to-death moonbats.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Nice save, bro :)

Right out of a neoclassical economics textbook, too.

That's gotta sting a little :)

Subjective fucking utility.

Thank you Kenneth ("democracy is not as efficient at choice allocation as the market") Arrow :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Bob
You might want to think that through. Tell me how much the idea of GW Bush and Tom DeLay determining health care rationing thrills you.

Those elected officials will be promising us better health care with no increases in taxes, and our grandchildren will end up footing the bill.

Then, as now, the politician that tells us the lies we want to hear is the one that will get elected. I'd rather not give them my health care to lie about.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Tax em too death moonbats, I'd like to see the rat bastard crooks pay in what we do!!!

Posted by: Neo on March 3, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

perpeller head:

Oh what -- like it could be any worse than the Iraq war? :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, everyone ever heard a medical examiner declare "death by taxes"? Nah, me neither.

Seems the Swedes live very well with their progressive system of taxation. But here in America, plutocratic Repubs counter with, "Let them eat cake." Just give me my tax breaks. Who cares about the rest of America?!

And we haven't even attempted to call into account the moral issue of ignoring poverty in America and the erosion of the middle-class. UHC would offer one mitigating factor to offset a major cost to most Americans including a boost to small and big businesses that can benefit, too.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Then, as now, the politician that tells us the lies we want to hear is the one that will get elected.

No shit. Dubya is the King of Broken Promises. Who knew the compassionate conservative meant, to name a few examples: torture, tax cuts for the richest Americans, or outsourcing jobs?

Say, did you know that the Iraqi insurgency is in its "last throes"?

LOL!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: New concept for you tax-em-to-death moonbats.

The number of deaths from taxes is truly astounding.

I can't understand why the MSM isn't paying more attention to this important cause of death.

Instead, they waste their time on death from AIDS, murder, auto accidents, war, cancer, bird flu, and a host of other insignificant problems because they are controlled by the liberal elite.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

"So, yeah, Bob's right to point out why, in this particular case, the money numbers are not good proxies for subjective utility, and you're an idiot to pretend this is a bad thing. If you had even the most rudimentary knowledge of the meaning of anything in economics, you'd get his point."

I seem to remember seeing some polls suggesting blacks are happier and more optimistic than whites. So, now that blacks are now better off, can we do away with Affirmative Action?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 3, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Apollo 13: Hey, everyone ever heard a medical examiner declare "death by taxes"? Nah, me neither.

Apollo 13 beat me to it.

Good one.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Oh what -- like it could be any worse than the Iraq war? :)
That's too serious of a question. The answer is yes.

The Iraq war will end. Either everything will work out as planned, or the wheels will fall off and make anything constructive impossible, or it goes on for so long that we get disgusted and go home. But it will end. Socialized medicine won't. (Ya, when we have a 60% tax rate and the national debt is still soaring it might be possible to get rid of it, but even then it will be a fight.)

Here's your example: HMOs were the first baby step to socialized medicine. The same arguments were used for them as are being used for single payer now. And HMOs suck. Even you lefties have realized that HMOs suck. But they're still with us, aren't they?

The harder something is to stop, the more loathe I am to start.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

So, now that blacks are now better off, can we do away with Affirmative Action?

And the GOP wonders why African-Americans vote for Dems more than Repubs. Why not ask Lynn Swann running for governor of PA to make ending Affirmation Action a campaign promise? He needs a boost in the polls.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom F*cker: I seem to remember seeing some polls . . . .

Some people remember seeing little green men that kidnapped them and took them to other planets . . .

Some people only remember seeing the fanciful talking points published by NRO or spouted by Rush Liarbaugh . . .

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh, "Affirmative Action"

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq war will end.

Clap really, really hard and maybe it will before it lasts as long as the Vietnam War.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut: The harder something is to stop, the more loathe I am to start.

And yet in favor of war in Iraq.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

...little green men... and Liarbaugh

Wickedly funny, AFG. LOL!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

The dollar is a proxy for relative utility. All right, let's work with that.

Give that, those who are willing to pay more for health care get greater utility from its purchase and should therefore get it and those who can't pay shouldn't. Is that where you were going with this? After all, you're simply concerned with maximizing utility or so it would seem.

Advocate for God-bitch,
And your adding "ass" to my name is so much more mature than my dismissal of you to the small persons' table? Not sure why but I'm will to go with it. So does the above adaptation of your name work. Suggestions?

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

And yet in favor of war in Iraq.

And, just in case you didn't understand, the minute the first American soldier got killed, it was inevitable given conservative tactics of using such deaths to emotionally blackmail Americans into continued support for the Administration's cause that it would be really really hard to get out.

Indeed, conservatives like you have lashed out at anyone who wants to get out using exactly this blackmail.

Yes, you and Bush were quite willing to start a program that would inevitably lead to American deaths and consequently make it harder and harder to get out the more of them that piled up.

Indeed, one might say you and Bush hoped for such deaths so you could use them to emotionally commit Americans to your program of arrogance and global domination and to further your program of eroding civil liberties here at home.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

AfG
You're quoting yourself? You know you can go blind from that.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 3, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel: God-bitch

Now, that's funny!

But, am I "God's bitch" or a female dog god.

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

You know, the thread here is winding down (and there are newer ones I haven't looked at yet), but I really want to underline the point that AfG made and that Birkel so cluelessly (and quintessentially) illustrated -- because it's a key to how the wingnuts keep the wool over so many people's eyes.

When arguing in broad terms about which system is better, the wingnuts insist, at the end of the day, that they're making the same sort of prudential, utilitarian arguments about what's best for most people that we are.

Further, they try to argue that our views are invalidated by value assumptions that most people don't share -- while their arguments are grounded in hard, empirical science.

We whine about right and wrong while they dispassionately calculate what is and isn't.

The wingers don't want to tell us what to do or what's right for people. They merely want to point out stuff that people would choose themselves, out of values that are natural to all of us -- not trumpeted out of a leftist bullhorn.

This is the ideological template of just about every George Will column ever written.

But here's the grand disingenuous farce: The wingers' assumptions are every bit as value-laden as ours. There's nothing concrete or inevitable about them; they come from the same wellspring of natural rights that ours do. Yet they cloak their value assumptions in economic theory and hard numbers. The whole notion of what constitutes "the good life" disappears -- it's beyond debate, assumed into the calculations. To use a little academic jargon, subjective utility reifies into objective value. And nobody's supposed to notice.

This leads to the grotesque (yet strangely beautiful) absurdity of Birkel telling the Canadians and Swedes that they're wrong for perferring their own systems. Haven't they seen the horrible numbers? How dare they be so relativist to rely, on the end of the day, on what they *feel*, rather than what these numbers -- which represent *objective reality* -- are telling them!

What poor deluded fools. They must be suffering from a kind of leftist ... false consciousness! :):):)

And thus they degenerate into the very same species of bullhorn shriekers they claim we are -- telling other people what to believe and feel because *they* know what's *objectively correct* for *them*.

This irony is so delicious it needs to be savored with a fine wine ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

I wrote it with a smile.

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

AFG: But, am I "God's bitch" or a female dog god.

Either way, AFG, I bow to your awesome troll-smacking. : )

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK
The dollar is a proxy for relative utility...Give that, those who are willing to pay more for health care get greater utility from its purchase and should therefore get it and those who can't pay shouldn't.

Er, I think you missed a lot of the conversation. Let's review.

The use of dollar (or other currency) values in economic statistics is justified because those values are presumed to be, broadly, the best easily-available proxy for measuring utility across large aggregates. Nevertheless, its quite appropriate to challenge particular references to economic aggregates measured in such terms on the basis that, in the particular use, the currency measures are not good proxies for utility.

Now, moving on, in addition to the specific case where Bob made that challenge upthread, another specific case is any time comparisons are made between received utilities by individual people without first establishing that they are in otherwise similar financial circumstances, since willingness to make an equal dollar value payment is in no way indication of equal subjective utility when looking at two people with different ability to pay. So, no, that conclusion makes no sense.

Its amazing that you've managed to ignore the points of posts pointing out the error of conflating the symbol (dollars) with its referent (utility), and completely reversed it to try to justify the exact conflation that was being pointed out as wrong.

Bravo! It takes real effort to miss the point that badly.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Bob: This irony is so delicious it needs to be savored with a fine wine ...

A fine post at 4:24 PM, Bob. I'm partially to Gaja Barbaresco myself. Cheers!

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

OK, enough typos (partial not partially) for me today.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Why is the only thing I can think of at the moment Ayn Rand's dollar sign lapel pin?

I do think though, unfortunately, that your attempted marginal utility smackdown is gonna fly right over this li'l puppy's head like one of tbrosz's rockets on a good day ...

I'd put it more simply:

Once you're healthy, you're healthy. Spending more when you're already healthy is pointless.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1,
All that over li'l ol' me?

I see that the force of Paul Krugman is strong in this one.

Let's try a bit more objective reasoning:

Public Debt:
Canada 68.2% of GDP
US 64.7% of GDP

Unemployment Rate:
Canada 6.8%
US 4.7%

Population Below Poverty Line:
Canada 15.9%
US 12%

GDP Per Capita:
Canada 32.8K
US 41.8K

GDP Growth Rate:
Canada 2.8%
US 3.5%

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Did you notice that I was paraphrasing what another poster said? Guess not...

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

What you failed to realize was that I was arguing exactly the opposite of what it appears you think I was arguing.

I was making an absurd claim (to wit: those who can pay more should get health services in lieu of those who can't) to make a point that subjective happiness is similarly an absurd measure.

Aw well, guess that little irony will be lost on you.

Posted by: Birkel on March 3, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Retraction: I attributed a cite to NRO at 2:23 PM when in fact the cite was from the Free Republic.

I didn't have coffee today and it shows. My apologies.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel:

I think the substance of that post will be lost on most people, truthfully :)

But let's dig into your little batch of numbers. I won't even ungraciously bug you about where they came from, just take them arguendo (I love that word :) at face value.

If our numbers are so much better than Canada's, and Canada's right across the border, and the border is pretty darn unregulated as national borders go -- wouldn't you expect a whole lot of Canucks coming over here and trying for visas to get a taste of that American prosperity? Even a little *illegal* immigration, like, you know, Mexico?

Sure Mexico's much worse economically, but you'd think with the language and cultural similarities it'd be a lot easier. Pretty much a snap in fact.

Yet Canuck immigration seems to be like ... no issue at all. Leaving aside, of course, those legendary wealthier folks who sneak in for the odd MRI or triple bypass operation.

They generally don't stay here, even if they mooch a li'l on our high-end healthcare.

Now just why do you think that is?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

it still strikes me as a bit mysterious that virtually no major Democratic politician supports full-on, unapologetic universal healthcare

No mystery there: major Democratic politicians want to win the elections.

Posted by: republicrat on March 3, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Maybe they're emulating Luxembourg, which, IIRC, uses a national health insurance system. I mean, with the "it makes no sense to emulate a country with a lower GDP per capita" standard, why would anyone emulate the US rather than Luxembourg?"

Because Luxembourg is a tiny country whose large per capita GDP is a consequence of the highly specialized niche position it is able to occupy in the European economy as a result of that size. It therefore provides no meaningful comparison to the U.S. on complex socioeconomic policy issues like health care.

Posted by: Frink on March 3, 2006 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK
I was making an absurd claim (to wit: those who can pay more should get health services in lieu of those who can't) to make a point that subjective happiness is similarly an absurd measure.

If true, that changes changes, slightly, the kind of idiocy that I should be accusing you of, since you have to try pretty hard to find an illustration that is so perfectly disconnected from the point it tries to illustrate, since the absurdity of the first point has no connection whatsoever to whether the other point is absurd or not.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

There are many illegal immigrants from Canada in the U.S., and many Canadians do try for visas to get a taste of American prosperity.

I don't know what "so much better" is supposed to mean exactly, but the economic statistics cited above do suggest that the U.S. economy is in significantly better shape than the Canadian one.

Posted by: Frink on March 3, 2006 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Frink: There are many illegal immigrants from Canada in the U.S., and many Canadians do try for visas to get a taste of American prosperity.

Some Americans consider emigration to Canada, New Zealand, and other countries after the US election of George W. Bush.

...the U.S. economy is in significantly better...

Yes, but better for whom, which Americans?

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Better for most Americans.

Posted by: Frink on March 3, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK
Because Luxembourg is a tiny country whose large per capita GDP is a consequence of the highly specialized niche position it is able to occupy in the European economy as a result of that size. It therefore provides no meaningful comparison to the U.S. on complex socioeconomic policy issues like health care.

Yeah, look, I know that. I was making the point that a simple per capita GDP standard to guide healthcare was absurd. So, yes, its absurd with Luxembourg as well.

But, now that you bring it up, it'd be nice if the wingers would stop citing Singapore, or the (especially pre-handover) performance of Hong Kong, as examples relevant to the US on complex socioeconomic policy matters.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Almost every industrialized country does it cheaper, through the government, and gets better outcomes."

It is not at all clear than any other country in the world produces "better outcomes" in total from its health care system than the U.S. does. Critics of the U.S. system point to America's relatively poor outcomes on certain health metrics such as average life expectancy and infant mortality rate, but those measures do not provide a comprehensive picture of the overall effectiveness of the systems being compared.

Posted by: Frink on March 3, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK
It is not at all clear than any other country in the world produces "better outcomes" in total from its health care system than the U.S. does.

I've yet to see any measure studied anywhere on which the US is notably ahead, and many where it is notably behind, with the exception of wait times of very specific procedures, and even then only because the population studied is the population that actually ever gets the procedure, not the population with a diagnosed need.

But if you've got something to suggest that the US is really getting something more than other countries are getting that justifies the much higher costs paid in the US -- please, share it.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Frink:

I don't know what "many" means.

Clearly though, Canadian immigration (illegally or through visas) is nothing like Mexican immigration, as social issues go.

Sure you'd expect some of it. The borders are easy to cross and there's no language barrier.

The question is -- why isn't there more?

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel: I wrote it with a smile.

I inferred the smile. ;-)

Posted by: Advocate for God on March 3, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

I love the dismissive bureucratese regarding infant mortality and life expectancy.

Hell, who needs those things when there's an MRI right downtown in the basement of the bank! :)

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK
Clearly though, Canadian immigration (illegally or through visas) is nothing like Mexican immigration, as social issues go.

Well, aside from magnitude, the fact that Mexican immigrants tend to be brown, poor, and speak a foreign language, and Canadian immigrants tend to be white, less poor, and speak English probably has a lot to do with why only one of those is a major social issue.

Its a lot easier to whip up hatred when the outsider is instantly recognizable as different, and a lot more profitable for the kind of people who tend to whip up that hatred to marginalize the poor.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2006 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Well, you understand of course that the thrust of my post was entirely rhetorical and target-specific :)

Although with fairly large Muslim populations in Toronto and other Canadian cities close to our borders, you'd figure you'd hear a little more about it, just from the homeland security angle ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on March 3, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I suspect the U.S. does better than all or most other nations on wait times for routine surgeries (meaning routine surgeries in general, not just "very specific procedures"), access to specialists, access to prescription drugs, access to high-tech tests and treatments, end-of-life care, and other areas. And that this probably applies to comparisons between populations as a whole.

I would be interested to see your list of health care measures on which you claim the U.S. is "notably behind" other countries. The two I most commonly see are infant mortality rate and average life expectancy, both of which are problematic for a number of reasons. For example, life expectancy is influenced by numerous factors other than health care that vary significantly between different countries, most obviously lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise. International comparisons of infant mortality statistics are confounded by differences in definitions and recording practises, and the evidence I have seen indicates that this accounts for at least part of the difference in infant mortality between the U.S. and other nations.

Posted by: Frink on March 3, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't know what "many" means."

In this context, it means tens or hundreds of thousands.

"Clearly though, Canadian immigration (illegally or through visas) is nothing like Mexican immigration, as social issues go."

Right. Because Mexico has a much larger population and is much poorer than Canada. But there are still many legal and illegal immigrants to the U.S. from Canada, and that is probably due in part to the significantly superior performance of the U.S. economy.

Posted by: Frink on March 3, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Frink: Better for most Americans.

A majority of Americans have disapproved of Bush's handling of the economy for quite some time. According to the CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll released this week:

Bush's rating on handling the economy -- at 40% -- has remained stable across the last several months, and is slightly higher than was measured last fall.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

On health care, the topic at hand:

Bush's rating on handling healthcare policy is very low at 30%, continuing a series of low ratings on this dimension. The current 30% approval is slightly higher than Bush's low point of 27% in early February. [CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, Feb. 28-March 1, 2006]

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 3, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to those that read all, but this string is so, ...hammered into a vebdetta, that I am going to repeat myself, from waaaaaay back when I was comment #48 :

National Health Care needs to be presented as capitalist Freedom. The freedom to have your own business, to be an entrepreneur without the baggage of who you hire. The Freedom to change jobs without the mystery or mirage of the new health insurance situation. The Freedom to go out on a limb with new ventures. The Freedom to entice Toyota to build their plants in our country. The Freedom to plan ahead. The Freedom to stay home and raise a family or care for others. The Freedom to go to school, to improve yourself. The Freedom to marry someone not in perfect health. The Freedom to live with dignity when ill. The Freedom to have medical hope no matter who you are.

This will strengthen marriages, lessen the financial strains, and eliminate half the bankruptcies. It will lower auto insurance and homeowner liabilities rates, and reduce lawsuits, since well all get the care without costing each other.
It will lower public liabilities, such as schools and parks.
It will equalize the country = same basic boat = freedom to be decent

Posted by: rwc on March 3, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

Let's sum these discussions up. It would be a political mistake for the Democrats to run on UHC. And I don't believe that Democrat politicians are going to walk that plank, unfortunately. :)

Posted by: Tymbrimi on March 3, 2006 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: seeeidee on March 3, 2006 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

rwc: National Health Care needs to be presented as capitalist Freedom.

Agree 100%.

This propaganda approach has the additional value of being true. Sneaky.

Posted by: alex on March 4, 2006 at 8:04 AM | PERMALINK

She's baaaacccck.

And without that annoying underscore problem.

New keyboard. Bliss.

And speaking of health care:

BBC NEWS/The high price of illness in China/
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4763312.stm
...
A World Health Organization survey measuring the equality of medical treatment placed China 187th out of 191 countries.
...
This case highlights many of the worst problems with China's health service. Since 1980, government spending dropped from 36% of all healthcare expenditure to 17%, while patients' out-of-pocket spending rocketed up from 20% to 59%.
...
It warned that social stability and public support for the government could be affected if the country does not overhaul healthcare.


And that last bit is just as true here.

Posted by: CFShep on March 4, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I wish I hadn't wasted an hour of my morning reading this thread. But now that I'm here, sigh, so much inane sniping our comparative performance relative to canada, so many straw men, so much missing of the point, deliberately.

It's blatantly obvious that our system is massively inefficient. Anyone who has ever had a serious medical problem, or a family who has had one, intuitively knows that the decision-making system of paying for costs has become completly non-transparent, massively complex, and totally unworkable. No one ever knows what their insurance will pay for. No one ever knows what their medical care will cost. No one ever knows even what their medical options really are and which ones are effective. The textbook conditions for a free market - clear, individual transations with clearly comparable costs and consumer choice between them, couldn't be further away from the real situation.

Health care is a nightmare of unpredicablility, inefficiency and broken incentives. The conusmer has no idea what's wrong with them and very little ability ot make intelligent decisions, especially in emergency situations or while desperately ill and/or injured. The insurance companies devote enormous amounts of their budgets - half? a third? 15% it hardly matters - to employ people to play arbitary hair-splitting games about who gets to pay for care. Does anyone think that is efficient?

Meanwhile, from tbrosz to Al to George Bush, there's a swarm of bullshit attempting to pretend that the problem is that currently americans have no incentive to control their own healthcare costs. Consideringly how massively expensive and risky most 'insurance' plans are now, nothing could be further from the truth. It's not consumers who are diving the massive increase in health care costs, it's the ever-increasing complexity and cost of pharmaceutical advertising, health-insurance lawyers, medical coders, and layer upon layer of hospital staff employed to help attempt to figure who has to pay for what.

In any environment where national markets could actually function, this inefficient mess would be crushed by the equivalent of an emerging Wal-Mart. But medical care is simply too decentralized, too infrastructure-heavy and specialist-education-heavy, too much unlike a consumer good, for the market to be able to fix it.

In the meantime, OF COURSE moving to one single, simple to understand system will save the country massive amounts of money and provide better results. The fact that it would be a government system is much less important than that basic fact.

The anaology is exactly the same as simplifying the tax code - something that anyone with a brain in their head, conservative or liberal, should be able to agree on and understand.

(note: the reason why many liberals, myself include, would never let a *republican* simplify the tax code is not because simplying.. oh, 95% of it wouldn't be a good thing. it would. The problem is we don't trust them to give a plan, and they aren't offering one, that would simplify it without eliminating its progressivity.

Posted by: glasnost on March 4, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

REGRESSIVE-DEMOCRATS!

We have universal health care in the United States thanks to the generosity of the American worker and taxpayer; if someone is sick and can't afford care, they will get it. At least use the right terms.

You want universal health insurance; very different.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on March 5, 2006 at 2:17 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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