Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 7, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

SINGLE-PAYER HEALTHCARE....Ed Kilgore responds to my angry post about the DLC's wonkish 7-point healthcare plan with this:

As recently as 2004, John Kerry, John Edwards, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, Wesley Clark, and Joe Lieberman offered health care plans that would take the country pretty damn close to UHC without embracing a single-payer system at all....Were they all compromising wimps? Did they all privately acknowledge that single-payer was the goal, and just cringe from saying it publicly?

Here's my guess: in private, I'll bet all of these gentlemen do acknowledge that a simple single-payer national healthcare plan is the best policy. But for tactical political reasons, they think it's more effective to talk about incremental solutions.

I disagree. It's true that Hillarycare failed in 1994, but incrementalism has failed too. There have been a few minor improvements in the healthcare scene over the past couple of decades, but the only move in the direction of expanded healthcare that you could describe as even modestly significant has been the Medicare prescription bill, and that was enacted by Republicans. At this rate, we'll achieve universal coverage by about 2100.

The historic failure of incrementalism is not just a coincidence, either. Rather, I think it's basic politics: conservatives fight against it as hard as they fight against big reforms, but because the benefits are small there's no constituency to fight hard for it. Because of this, incrementalism doesn't work. What's more, it sounds mushy, it's not very good policy, and it doesn't make Democrats sound like they're standing up for something important. Do you see why I'm not enthusiastic?

The alternative, I think, is to continue supporting improvements to the current system but to make it absolutely clear that our goal is single-payer national healthcare. (For those of you who don't know what "single-payer" means, it's simple: it means that healthcare itself is provided by private doctors and hospitals, but it's paid for by the government. Medicare is a single-payer system, for example. Rich people can continue to pay privately for services that aren't covered by the government, of course.) It's true that single-payer will attract huge opposition from conservatives, but unlike incremental solutions it has at least the potential to attract equally passionate support from a very large constituency that would benefit from it. It's not a fundamentally impossible political proposition.

My guess is that we're a minimum of ten years away from single-payer UHC, and to get there we need to shift public opinion. Here's the argument in favor of focusing on that:

  • Single-payer is a simple plan that can be explained in short, compelling phrases. If you lose your job, you still have healthcare. If you're poor, you have healthcare. If you get a new job, your preexisting conditions continue to be covered. No matter what, you always have access to high-quality healthcare from the doctor of your choice.

  • It's good policy. Single-payer UHC is the only solution that gets rid of America's bizarre and accidental (and wildly inefficient and expensive) hodgepodge of private insurance, employer insurance, government subsidies, inner city clinics, and overworked emergency rooms. Single-payer is simple, and experience around the world shows that it works, it saves huge amounts of money, and it reins in skyrocketing costs.

  • It gives Democrats a branding tool. Democrats, for example, are already clearly viewed as the pro-choice party, but in the healthcare arena they're viewed as being vaguely in favor of "more," but not much else. Single payer gives us something to stand up for.

  • The political landscape is slowly moving in our favor. Big corporations are tired of healthcare and are increasingly receptive to the idea of offloading their problem to the government. Funding alternatives like VATs could reduce opposition from small businesses, who are afraid of proposals that would raise their costs drastically and disproportionately. Insurance companies will fight against this like crazed lemmings, of course, but there's not much we can do about that. No proposal is ever going to have the support of everyone.

  • It's possible to win this battle. From a public opinion standpoint, our biggest obstacle is fear. As soon as you open your mouth about UHC, conservatives start screeching about waiting times for hip replacements in Canada or the number of MRI machines in Belgium, and everyone suddenly starts wondering if the solution is worse than the problem. But we have reality on our side: good single-payer systems (France, Sweden, Germany not Canada, Britain, or Italy) work great and people love them. If we can introduce the public to real world examples of how well those systems work, we can gradually overcome their fear of the unknown. This is probably the single biggest thing we can do to persuade people that single-payer healthcare is not the bogeyman the right makes it out to be.

But here's the thing: none of this will happen if Democratic politicians are afraid to fight for it. We don't have to give up incrementalism in the meantime, but we do need to make it absolutely clear what goal we're working toward. It's good politics, good policy, and good branding. But it's a long fight, and the sooner we get back in the saddle and start fighting it, the better.

POSTSCRIPT: Matt Yglesias has more on the same subject. And the review of healthcare by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells in the current issue of the New York Review of Books is excellent.

Kevin Drum 2:11 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (211)

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Comments

> It gives Democrats a branding tool.

Yes, but to use it the Democrats would have to turn their back on the large insurance companies. Replacing their contributions with small donations perhaps? But I just don't see that happening.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 7, 2006 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Democratic politicians are afraid to fight for it. It being a single-payer universal healthcare plan.

Posted by: Hostile on March 7, 2006 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

So all roads lead to, or more approriately start from, the same problem: the current crop of Democratic leaders are afraid to take bold positions.

It's understandable if they do so once, or may be twice, but for them to continue to adopt exactly similar stance in face of significant electoral losses resulting from such wimpiness in successive elections seems to suggest that there is much larger organic problem within the Democratic Party.

Posted by: lib on March 7, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky Observer: Yes, but to use it the Democrats would have to turn their back on the large insurance companies. Replacing their contributions with small donations perhaps? But I just don't see that happening.

The trick would be to get other businesses, large and small, to see UHC as being to their advantage. Either that or real campaign finance reform, but that isn't due until 2200 AD.

Posted by: alex on March 7, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Cranky, you could let the large insurance companies bid for the right to administer pieces of the program. There's plenty of money in that; Ross Perot got rich off of Medicare and Medicaid. However, they would not get to make the rules as they do today.

Any change will anger someone. But there are bigger someones on the other side; at some point, the managers of Ford and GM are going to overcome their prejudices and see that single-payer care can save them a mint, and the alternative is to go out of business.

Posted by: Joe Buck on March 7, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

If I remember right Dean didn't have a separate public and private view. He stated in public that he was in favor of it but didn't think it could succeed politically on the national front in 2004. His pragmatic response was to move toward it incrementally -- universal healthcare for children first.

You can disagree, but it's nice when politicians have enough respect for you to spell out their thought process.

Posted by: B on March 7, 2006 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin.

This is the day to push for single payer health care.

It's bold. It's clear. It has a highly popular, universally understood precedent: Medicare. Decades now after the fall of the Soviet Union, the poison has been sucked out of the most effective smear against it: that it represents "socialized medicine".

And its opponents, the special interests and their lobbyists are in disarray and in widespread disrepute.

Really, you can just feel it in the air that now is the time to strike on this issue.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 7, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm glad that all these think-tankers realize they better not do anything that will lead to RushCo attack them! Glad they learned their lesson!

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 7, 2006 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

I also think that the utter confusion induced by the Republican prescription drug coverage legislation represents still another major opportunity to push for the crystal clarity of single payer.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 7, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Is this a place for vouchers?

1. Expand Medicare or the Senate insurance plan or something to cover everyone.

2. Allow folk to get vouchers (same $ amount as above) in lieu of membership in the above. They can put these vouchers toward any of the above.

3. Fund this by taxing individuals & corporations at the rate at which they, in aggregate, currently pay for healthcare.

Posted by: Scott Swank on March 7, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, please gear up on this issue. It is time.

(One of the reasons hc is less efficient in Canada is the sheer size of the country--the postal system is less efficient too.)

Posted by: erica on March 7, 2006 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

So, how do you shift the conversation away from the relative failures of Canada, Britain, or Italy, and towards the relative successes of the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Sweden?

Posted by: Mike D on March 7, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

So, how do you shift the conversation away from the relative failures of Canada, Britain, or Italy, and towards the relative successes of the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Sweden?

By talking about the AMERICAN success of Medicare.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 7, 2006 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

100% right.

Seriously, 100% right. Let's just do it. I'm so tired of being afraid of having them call us names. They call us names regardless. Let's at least make it WORTH them calling us all the names. I mean, if I'm to be burned at the stake, I'd like it to not be for something as stupid as a voucher system combined with a mandatory-buy in that costs twice as much as what we have now, delivers worse care, and STILL doesn't solve the damn problem.

Posted by: theorajones on March 7, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Single-payer health care would be a disaster in the United States unless we rethink our attitudes toward end-of-life care. It's the nearly universal practice in this country to spare no expense in prolonging the life of an obviously dying person a little bit longer even when the chances of recovery and quality of life are both zero. I am not advocating Kevorkian-style euthanasia, just a rethinking of what is really gained by delaying the inevitable. Other countries with single-payer systems have a more realistic attitude toward life and its natural limits.
On a related note, for single-payer to work here there would have to be a vastly increased emphasis on preventative care. It's a de facto policy in America to do nothing to prevent medical problems from arising, and then spend megabucks trying to deal with the consequences.

Posted by: Peter on March 7, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Big corporations are tired of healthcare and are increasingly receptive to the idea of offloading their problem to the government."

This is the one aspect of the issue that we want to be hammering. Auto companies are now blaming their layoffs directly on health care expenses. If health care costs are crippling the free market, how can free-market conservatives argue that government shouldn't have a bigger role in providing health care? UHI is good for workers, and it's good for companies; that sounds like good policy to me.

Posted by: mmy on March 7, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK
So, how do you shift the conversation away from the relative failures of Canada, Britain, or Italy, and towards the relative successes of the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Sweden?

Compared to the US status quo system, even the "relative failures" there are "relative successes"; the first thing is to be ready to underline the immense failures of the status quo system.

Then, instead of talking in vague terms about a replacement, there needs to be a specific plan, whose elements can be tied to the successes abroad and/or the values of the American voter (like choice of providers.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

2100? That's not something worth pondering.

This is.... Healthcare costs have been rising 15% (on average) for the last 5 years. This means that in the next 10 years, healthcare will cost...... 325% more than it does today....

Will anyone but the top 1% (bush's base) be able to afford it in 10, 20, 50 years with the current system (for lack of a better word)?

Posted by: senrik on March 7, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

MOI -- what are the perceived failures of the British universal healthcare system as far as Americans are concerned? From where I sit in the UK I can't see any catastrophic failures.

There's a continuous argument in the UK about NHS funding, pay for nurses etc. but that's been true no matter which party is in power; according to the others they claim it is being underfunded.

One thing the British system doesn't do that many other single-payer universal healthcare systems do is require copayments for examinations and medical treatments; maybe that's the great failure.

Posted by: Robert Sneddon on March 7, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah Kevin! On several levels.

1) Health care is a huge issue - and a potential winner. But it involves some tough choices. The biggest one is to recognize that market based solutions don't work.

And that's primarily because markets don't work in health care. And if one thinks about the basic assumptions of free information and informed consumers that undergird micro-economic models - neither work in health care.

2) That the failure of Hillary Care was not because addressing health care was bad. It was a failure to make the hard choice. Hillary guessed that there could be a half-way compromise between single payer and the current system. She guessed wrong. Any halfway house is just too complicated and underworkable. And second, the only place to get the total savings to pay for national health care is by getting rid of the insurance intermediaries.

The second reason it failed is that they were surprised by the vehement counter-attack from the GOP and the health care industry. Who knew that industry threatened with destruction would fight hard? (and there are more....)

3) The DLC hurts Democrats. Despite Ed Kilgore's brilliance as a prognosticator and a good writer, the DLC consistently undermines the Democratic message and policies. It's just too consistent to be coincidence.

The only question really is whether they are just "useful idiots" under Stalin's old definition or whether the organization intentionally seeks to stop any progressive momentum. My vote is Ed is in the former category, and Marshall and a few others are in the latter. They are the heralds of the McCain GOP.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 7, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

You make a lot of sense, Kev. I'd also add that the whole Hillarycare thing was in 1994. That's a lifetime or two in politics, and things have changed since then. People's jobs are even less secure, and so, therefore, is their healthcare. Corporations are moving in this direction.

I think this is pushing on an open door, as long as it's done properly. Grasp the nettle, Dems!

Posted by: craigie on March 7, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Don't call it single-payer system or anything else along those lines. Here's the position -- and the three-word slogan -- for Democrats:

Medicare for all

What can Republicans do? Accuse Democrats of supporting socialism? Well, then they'll have to explain why they support Medicare if it is socialism -- if they support Medicare, why is it not socialism for the old but socialism for everybody else? Now, if they state they don't support Medicare since it's socialism, they'll have to support the position that nobody should have it -- and they'll start losing elections big time.

I'm certain they'll try and find something to finesse the issue -- e.g. if you're retired it's not socialism, if you are not it is, etc. but then how about housewives, kids, etc. who don't work? There are many ways to respond to anything they throw out, but as long as we define the program as expanded Medicare -- something people already know about, and like and has been efficient -- voters may finally get it.

Posted by: Aris on March 7, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's good for business--lower healthcare costs mean higher profits. Not having to have staff deal with insurance issues saves time, effort, and money, which means higher profits. This would help land large dometically located economic development investment projects by non-US companies as those non-US companies would not have to worry about the cost of healthcare which they usually do not need to worry about back in their home country--which means more jobs and higher profits.

I honestly do not understand why our big unions and our big employers do not jointly grasp this issue and run with it.

Posted by: bubba on March 7, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just curious. Whatever happened to the barefoot Chinese doctors that were to provide cheap primary care? Can we import a few?

Posted by: DRoell on March 7, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

What Aris said.

"Single Payer" is a wonky term, and not terribly compelling as a brand.

Besides, some of the successful systems you cite are not truly single payer. Germany isn't. Nor is France in the strictest sense (many employers offer private supplementary insurance as a benefit).

"Medicare for every American" strikes exactly the right note: universality, a trusted system, and the possibility of a single payer without making it a logical necessity.

Posted by: JohnL on March 7, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Every American Saves with Medicare for Every American"

Government saves.
Business saves.
Each individual American saves (oh, and gets health care to boot).

Posted by: bubba on March 7, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK
"Medicare for every American" strikes exactly the right note: universality, a trusted system, and the possibility of a single payer without making it a logical necessity.

Maybe, before the freshest thing in most voters mind about Medicare was the prescription drug boondoggle. Now? I don't think so. I think the Republicans have poisoned that well.

"Total Choice" might be a better slogan -- after all, its basically an insurance plan where every provider of covered services is in plan.

Focus on losing the restrictions on choice imposed by competing private health plans.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Still another reason single health payer will be vastly more sellable today than in 1994: it HURTS the average voter much more today to pay for health care than it did in 1994 -- the employee insurance premiums and copays tend to be much greater (employee paid premiums for family plans have nearly doubled!).

They KNOW it's a problem, and that it's getting worse.

Posted by: frankly0 on March 7, 2006 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Once you have universal health care, you can also start bringing the cost of healthcare down (and the health of the nation up) by providing periodic health checks for all. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and currently so many have no healthcare that the first time they hit the system is through the emergency room after their issues have reached the critical stage. After which, indigent and quite ill, they become a serious burden on society. An annual physical could nip problems in the bud.

Posted by: foobar on March 7, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -- bravo, bravo, bravo. You are really staking out a leadership position on this issue.

May I suggest that you take a page from Josh Marshall's playbook and "spin off" a "Medicare for every American" (I'm with Aris and JohnL) advocacy blog? You're arguing that ALL LEFTY BLOGS agree with this -- yet you're the only one talking about it (so far). If you yourself don't have the bandwidth to run it, I think you've got a ready pool of foot soldiers here from which to recruit.

Posted by: The Confidence Man on March 7, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

But here's the thing: none of this will happen if Democratic politicians are afraid to fight for it.

You've said a mouthful there, Kevin. And as it happens, that phrase happens to be true about a lot of the progressive agenda.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yes! Medicare for all. Aris has got it right.
Medicare is a familiar, safe, American concept. Also, anyone arguing against it will be in big trouble - it's one of the MOST popular government programs around.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 7, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to get Chris Dodd's views on UHC -- specifically whether he thinks Democrats in Connecticut can withstand the reaction of the insurance industry. Lieberman is a spineless wanker in all respects, so no point in wondering about his reaction.

Posted by: Sean on March 7, 2006 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

...it's a long fight, and the sooner we get back in the saddle and start fighting it, the better.

Hallelujah. This could be applied to anything and everything on the progressive agenda. We were making great progress in the 20th century, and then some time in the 60's we got blindsided by Goldwater activist conservatives. We've been floundering ever since. We just need to reawaken the progressive dream(s) - it will take time, but we need to do it. We can't hope to inch towards our goals if we never acknowledge what we are and insist that they are right.

Posted by: Adam Piontek on March 7, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

It's unclear whether all conservatives would be against this. Corporations would be delighted to be relieved from the responsibility. In fact, a big part of funding this would have to be an increase in the corporate tax rate to compensate for the expense that corporations no longer have to bear.

Posted by: foobar on March 7, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think two trends are working against you. First, consider this: But we have reality on our side: good single-payer systems (France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany not Canada, Britain, or Italy) work great and people love them. the trend in Europe has been to expand the opportunities for private payers (Germany has always had such opportunities.) That is, they are moving away from pure single-payers systems. Second, American businesses are threatened by businesses in countries that have next to no health care systmes (India, China) and lots of such busniness will resist having their own taxes raised to reduce the problems of GM (and others like it.)

Posted by: republicrat on March 7, 2006 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK
If we can introduce the public to real world examples of how well those systems work, we can gradually overcome their fear of the unknown.

There is a concrete bill on the table in California right now, that has already passed the state senate, SB840, that would provide a universal, single-payer system for the state.

How about we put it over the top, and prove that it works in California. That way, we can vividly demonstrate that it can work in America.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Since the Democrats seem to be always so "afraid" of this or that, it is past time to make them afraid of not supporting single payer. That means those who fail to endorse it might as well go over to the Republicans and that - so far as we are concerned - this makes no difference.

This means "incremental solutions" are no solutions, and that "compromise" is a sell out. (Which accurately describes what is now happening. If incremental solutions were actually worth anything, we would already be at least halfway towards a solution by now.)

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on March 7, 2006 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Wes Clark explicitly favors single payer, treats the incremental solutions as transition tools.

Howard Dean indicated he would sign a single payer bill in a New York minute, but didn't think it could pass Congress.

Others haven't sepped up to it, AFAIK.

I agree it can't pass, and I think there are viable transition strategies that substantially address the current underserved population.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle on March 7, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

I cannot think of a better issue with which to highlight what the Dems stand for and why our position represents a better choice. Sure, we care about people less fortunate than us, sure, we want to provide healthcare for the working poor, etc., etc. But the best reason to get behind single payer is that it benefits all of us, rich or poor, liberal or conservative, employed, self-employed or unemployed. By contrast, think of our current system as a tax on large employers and a restriction on the freedom of employees to change jobs or, heaven forbid, leave to start their own business. That's putting it in language that even Repub voters can understand.

Posted by: Beale on March 7, 2006 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK
I agree it can't pass, and I think there are viable transition strategies that substantially address the current underserved population.

Given that for several years, large majorities of the American public have supported it in survey after survey, I think it is timid to say that it can't pass. Surely, a transition period is needed, but there is no reason the transition plan can't be spelled out in a proposal that also lays out how the final system will work.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

None of the points raised so far address any of the real fears concerning single payer or any government plan.

1. The existing government health care plans do not inspire trust and confidence. Take a look at the VA hospitals. Sure the top name one is good. In some of the others, patients represent lab animals for the doctors to play with.
2. How is health care going to be rationed? There is not enough money to pay for everything everyone needs let alone wants. Eventually some bureaucrat or politician will decide who gets treatment. Is it a lottery system (random)? Are we going to withhold treatment based on age or pre-existing condition (i.e. let people die)? Will there be preferential treatment for minorities (politics as usual)? This is big time politics. If you cant answer this question stop now.
3. The government miss-spends tax revenue. Specifically the government takes tax revenue for social security and spends it on general fund items. What is to stop the government from doing exactly the same thing with a health insurance tax? It doesnt help anyone already insured to pay a health care tax along with health insurance premiums like they are forced to do with Social Security (SS Tax and 401k/Retirment funds).

Posted by: james on March 7, 2006 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Call it the Healthcare Security and Simplification Act. Lots of commercials with "Larry and Denise" sitting at the kitchen table with a mountain of medical bills, insurance denials with cryptic codes, and dunning notices threatening bankruptcy, trying in vain to get through to the insurance co, and "Larry and Denise" worried about losing their jobs because of illness and then saying "I wish the Dem. proposal will come through before its too late".

Posted by: Chrissy on March 7, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

james:

You're right. It's too hard, and the current system is too good. Let's just not bother trying to improve it.

Posted by: craigie on March 7, 2006 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

what are the perceived failures of the British universal healthcare system as far as Americans are concerned?

Wealthy people, who want elective surgery in order to play golf or tennis, have to wait while poor people have surgery in order to go back to work. From what I understand it works that way in Canada, also. The selfishness of those with wealth and their media clout is why Americans think these systems do not work properly.

Posted by: Hostile on March 7, 2006 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

We have another single payor system in this country that works wonderfully. It is called the Military Healthcare system and Tricare. As retired Air Force member my family and I are covered by a system of healthcare that has never failed us. Tricare is made up of various insurance companies that all have to work by the same rules. This works, its overhead is as low as Medicare and we get good care.
I think it will be the AMA that fights this tooth and nail. At this time, an appendectomy can cost between $700.00 and $2400.00 depending on who does it. These designer physicians won't want a single payor or a single price.
Peter also brings up an excellent point, a single payor system will have to tackle end of life care issues. The majority of healthcare money is spent in the last month of your life.

Posted by: Michelle on March 7, 2006 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Wealthy people, who want elective surgery in order to play golf or tennis, have to wait while poor people have surgery in order to go back to work.

That's not really it. If you have money, you can get anything done whenever you want (in the UK, I mean).

The knock is that
- your doctor has too many registered patients, and so can't see you when you'd like
- your GP has to refer you for any other problems, so you can't just book an appointment with a cardio guy if you feel a pain in your chest
- they try to avoid doing expensive tests, even if doing those early might save lives.

Now, which of those doesn't also sound like your HMO?

Posted by: craigie on March 7, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

How is health care going to be rationed? There is not enough money to pay for everything everyone needs let alone wants.


James, what is wrong with rationing along the same lines as triage does? Those patients who are in the most life threatening conditions get treated first followed by those who's condition is less severe.

Eventually someone has to make a decision about who gets treated and how and under our present system it's still a bureaucrat that makes the decision. Whether s/he works in the government or at a private firm.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 7, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Given that for several years, large majorities of the American public have supported it in survey after survey, I think it is timid to say that it can't pass.

True, but the problem is that we don't have large majorities-- or any majority-- of American lawmakers willing to unapologetically & publicly support it, and the complaints of mere voters don't carry nearly as much weight for politicians as the threats by major contributors do. There are rank-and-file citizens who may or may not vote or pay attention to politics, and then there are important citizen-ish entities who have a helluva lot more money and pay attention to everything.

I think we should go for it anyway, because anything less is cowardly, but we probably shouldn't deceive ourselves that anything less than a tidal wave of unified public opinion will make things happen. There's a reason tbrosz & various other GOPers here like to taunt us about their side's political dominance, and it's not because their policies are actually popular among real voters, but because they have more of the super-citizens, i.e., funders. The real opposition is on that front.

Posted by: latts on March 7, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, the Yglesias post that Kevin links to is also worth reading, and isn't too long, for those with ADD.

Posted by: craigie on March 7, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

There's a reason tbrosz & various other GOPers here like to taunt us about their side's political dominance

... it's because they're insecure little ninnies who are scared to death that someone might seriously consider the idea that there's a better way.

Posted by: cleek on March 7, 2006 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Cleek, I agree, but like most weaker sorts, they only speak up when they have a bigger bully to back them up.

Posted by: latts on March 7, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

The existing government health care plans do not inspire trust and confidence. Take a look at the VA hospitals. This is patently untrue. Reported in the Washington Post, for six years in a row, the VA outperforms the private sector.

http://healthypolicy.typepad.com/blog/2006/01/va_more_than_fi.html
How is health care going to be rationed? You mean its not being rationed right now? 45 million people don't even have access.

It doesnt help anyone already insured to pay a health care tax along with health insurance premiums like they are forced to do with Social Security (SS Tax and 401k/Retirment funds). They wouldn't be paying private insurance premiums, so it wouldn't hurt. Also, the cost of medical care is inflated by having to pay for the uninsured.

Posted by: ExBrit on March 7, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

No worries, Kev...Kilgore's seems to have his panties in a knot 'cause you dissed his pet progressive policy as 'feeble and ridiculous'...which it is. The only one being 'petulant' is Kilgore..and, well, kind of dumb:

PPI proposes one very simple idea...

Actually, it's more like seven ideas that sound simple, but are horribly complex to implement in the real world, if possible at all.

...making the federal employee health plan a national model...

Why not just get the Federal Government deal directly with health care providers instead of going through insurance companies as an intermediary? Then let those who wish to do so purchase supplemental health insurance, similar to Australia's system.

...but if the only definition of "universal health care" is to abolish private health insurance and cover everyone publicly...

But that's not the only definition, Ed. Stop thinking 'Canada' and look at a few other examples.

then obviously, anything short of that earns all those abusive adjectives.

'Wonkish' and 'abusive' are bad adjectives? I hear worse than that on my drive to work in the morning. Ed must be one of those overly sensitive types.

But I somehow missed the moment when single-payer became not only progressive orthodoxy, but the only way to achieve universal coverage.

Then Ed must have had a very long blink of the eye...Single payer has been shown to work; not flawlessly, but it does work.

...offered health care plans that would take the country pretty damn close to UHC without embracing a single-payer system at all...

And not a damn one could successfully explain how their plans worked. Here's single payer in a nutshell, Ed:

Everyone's covered, all the time. You can buy additional insurance if you want for additional service.

The devil is in the details, yes, but that will come across as a helluva lot clearer during a speech than 7 wordy, wonky talking points.

I'm not sure any of those plans could have been described in the seven points you consider so incredibly complex.

Who cares if they could have been?

Were they all compromising wimps?

During an election year? Quite possibly.

Did they all privately acknowledge that single-payer was the goal, and just cringe from saying it publicly?

During an election year? Quite possibly.

the big debate...is...about...the relative role of public and private insurance in getting there. That's a debate we have to have, and it's not advanced by those who deny there's anything to talk about.

IMHO, Kevin's argument is that we've pretty much debated this thing to death already...We won't get to universal coverage through some Rube Goldberg policymaking.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 7, 2006 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

The stories I hear about poor healthcare in Canada have to do with waiting for surgeries. These stories come from winter tourists. What I think upper-middle class America fears is having to pay opportunity costs so that everyone else can have healthcare, too. They are correct; there are opportunity costs that will have to be paid by those who already have and can afford the kind of healthcare corporations provide for their best employees.

Posted by: Hostile on March 7, 2006 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

The existing government health care plans do not inspire trust and confidence. Take a look at the VA hospitals. Sure the top name one is good. In some of the others, patients represent lab animals for the doctors to play with.

The existing government healthcare plans, other than, in some proposals, Medicare, are not structured very much like any of the proposed universal plans.

How is health care going to be rationed?

There is no reason it couldn't be an entitlement program, with the only "rationing" being based on the reimbursement rates and the number of providers willing to provide covered services at those rates. Essentially, this is the same rationing system used in the private insurance system, only with profit taking at the level of the payment intermediary taken out.

The government miss-spends tax revenue. Specifically the government takes tax revenue for social security and spends it on general fund items.

That's not mispending, that's the whole overt declared of the SS tax hike of the 1980s, to "invest" the surplus in government debt, providing funds for current spending and avoiding current general tax increases, to be paid back out of general tax revenues.

What is to stop the government from doing exactly the same thing with a health insurance tax?

The simple way to avoid this being a problem is to fund it from general tax revenues, rather than a dedicated levy. Then the problem you raise becomes categorically impossible to arise.

It doesnt help anyone already insured to pay a health care tax along with health insurance premiums like they are forced to do with Social Security (SS Tax and 401k/Retirment funds).

That's what people are forced to do now -- buy private insurance plus pay taxes to support Medicare, Medicaid, and other state and federal public health payment systems.

But not something that they would be forced to do under most universal models proposed, except the "mandatory, but sometimes subsidized, insurance" model.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Aris nails it -- Medicare for Everyone.

Beyond that, Single Payer Health Care misses the point, and is a sure fire loser. Why? Because it turns insurance companies into backs to the wall enemies, and even worse -- enemies with billions of dollars to oppose the shift.

Medicare for All can avoid this, with Medicare Basic for Everyone -- which can be expanded with Medicare Supplemental Insurance. Would this be as good as single payer? Probably not -- except that it is infinitely superior, because it can win. SPHC is a loser; Universal Medicare is a potential winner.

If Big Business (GM, WalMart) can be brought on board, UM is a sure fire winner.

Posted by: ck on March 7, 2006 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

but it's paid for by the government
No it's not, the government has no money. It's paid for by taxpayers.

All you're talking about is the mechanism that gets doctors paid. Do the users do it directly, do the users do it through insurance, or do the users do it through taxes.

You're arguing about how we pay our medical bills.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

...and who doesn't enjoy a good crazed lemming fight?

Not as exciting as a crazed weasel fight, true, but still...

Posted by: S Ra on March 7, 2006 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Medicare for every American."

Medicare for 41 million Americans is running out of money already. I still haven't seen anyone roll out numbers on how the money is going to be effectively moved out of the existing system and into a Federal one. Not to mention real detailed numbers on health care costs around the world.

The assurances that single payer will be cheaper and more effective flies in the face of the history of every other large government program in history, including Medicare, which has far exceeded its predicted costs.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 7, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I go with Chrissy: the "Healthcare Security and Simplification Act."

Gotta get "security" in there to get the fearful peons to support it. Not that that's a BAD thing.

"Medicare" is too tainted by the drug coverage debacle.

Posted by: Cal Gal on March 7, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

1) Medicare for everyone is an excellent slogan.

2) Medicare is going backrupt now - thanks to that great bill that the administration passed. Without that bill, we still face a crisis, but later.

3) Notice how much the rhetoric against single payer is just asserting: a) governments don't work, and b) free markets always do. No facts, just government bad!

3) Kevin's comparison of existing single payer systems is a bit mis-leading: "But we have reality on our side: good single-payer systems (France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany not Canada, Britain, or Italy)" Each one of those countries, even the "bad ones" has aggregate health care statistics that are better than the US. Longer life spans, lower infant mortality, etc.

And as a part Canadian, I can tell you that Canadians fear most the Canadian system becoming more "American". Even in that "failure" they consider ours worse.

4) There is no halfway measure on single payer. The largest problems of health care: adverse selection, excess paperwork, immense complexity just get worsened by any proposed in between system. The rest of the industrialized world has moved to single payer, because that's the model that works. And so should we.

Posted by: Samuel Knight on March 7, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin

Your point about Democrats overtly supporting a universal, single payer plan is well made. But I take issue with one statement in this post -- "Rich people can continue to pay for service that's not covered by the government, of course."

It's not just rich people who will opt out of any public universal system. Look at public and private education -- there are lots of people of modest or less-than-modest means who send their kids to private schools and are willing to pay a much higher percentage of their income to do so because of the perceived better quality of education their children receive.

In a single-payer, there is likely to be all sorts of people -- rich and poor -- who will seek care outside the existing payment system, simply because they value healthcare more than other things.

Posted by: paul on March 7, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

No it's not, the government has no money. It's paid for by taxpayers.


Yes it is CN, once money has legally changed hands it becomes the recipients property.

Unless your arguing that the Federal government can own nothing and then we've got a lot of Armed Force's equipment that suddenly up for grabs.

Oh and Tbrosz, as far as predictions of Medicaid's costs, who made these predictions? At what period of time were they made? For what time period were they made for?

Clarify and you might have a point. Otherwise, there are so many unanswered assumptions in that assertion of yours to render it meaningless.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on March 7, 2006 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

No it's not, the government has no money. It's paid for by taxpayers.

you mean the same way my employer has no money, and my salary is paid by my employer's customers?

just like i have no money and everything i buy is paid for by my employer's customers?

Posted by: cleek on March 7, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

The assurances that single payer will be cheaper and more effective flies in the face of the history of every other large government program in history, including Medicare, which has far exceeded its predicted costs.

tbrosz, dishonest as ever, omits the uncomfortable fact that single payer will be cheaper and more effective than our current hodgepodge system in order to assert his faith that

A patchwork of private insurance providers creates a massive cost burden, leaving aside the costs of the middleman's profit. (Of course, it goes without saying that one's health care is already determined by a faceless bureaucrat, but one with a profit motive for denying care!) Too, the pool of uninsured Americans who seek treatment in ERs add to the cost.

I could go on, but tbrosz is intelligent enough to know all this. Of course, he's dishonest enough to pretend not to in order to make his assertions under his currently fashionable pose of cynicism.

As to how to pay for it, of course, Bush's tax cuts would have to go, to return us to the onerous tax burdens (not!) of the Clinton era. Of that fact tbrosz is well aware, and that explains his opposition.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

We've got the most expensive health care system in the world. We could take model a replacement on the most egregious European style "failure" and still come out cheaper and expect a longer lived constituency.

QED. Americans are insane.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 7, 2006 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK
I go with Chrissy: the "Healthcare Security and Simplification Act."

How about "Health Security and Freedom Act"; I think "freedom" is a good word, and captures both the choice benefits of not being tied into one insurer's network and the streamlining that "simplification" alludes to.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK
No it's not, the government has no money.

Really, so who creates, prints, and distributes all those pieces of paper?

Fiat money is a pure product of government.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think ABC has finally come up with a solution to health care in America. When a health disaster comes up, bring in the film crew, document the assistance, allow TV viewers to cry with the family and have the advertisers pick up the medical costs. The problem is that there are so many health disasters in this country with no insurance that the viewers will become too saturated with the stories and lose interest.

Posted by: M L on March 7, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

"in order to assert his faith that the program should be opposed," sorry.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Clarity and boldness is exactly the right Democratic program. To single-payer healthcare you could add, among other measures: withdrawal from Iraq by a date certain; a simpified tax code that renewed graduated taxation that soaked the rich; defict reduction; robust consumer, workplace (think mines) and environmental protections, and a commitment to phase out fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy.
Put a program like this before the public, KISS, and sell it. It will be much harder for GOP divisive demagoguery and slander to carry the day if Democrats can give voters a choice they cannot possibly misundertand.

Posted by: Dabodius on March 7, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I have a, uh, compromise, between the do-it-all and incrementalists:

Start. With. The. Kids.

If you're under 18 your basic health care plan is provided by the government. Period. People can buy add-ons for Biff and Buffy, but kids all get a card and it's paid for out of everybody's taxes.

When you turn 18 you're on your own. For now.

So it's a single-payer plan that's taken its second incremental step. We got Medicare for the old, now we have MediKid for the young. Eventually everybody in the middle will demand it.

Posted by: doesn't matter on March 7, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, as somebody pointed out: it's the third incremental step, as we have single payer for the military including veterans.

Posted by: doesn't matter on March 7, 2006 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

This Healthplan is a Production of


UNIVERSAL MEDICARE

I think we have a winner.

Posted by: Lucy on March 7, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

I *love* MediKid.

Posted by: EmmaAnne on March 7, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK
I have a, uh, compromise, between the do-it-all and incrementalists:

Start. With. The. Kids.

That's the most common incrementalist position I've seen, not a compromise between the do it alls and the incrementalists.

That being said, I don't see why the people whose position has the support of 60%+ of the American public need to compromise.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Give em hell, Kevin! This is one thread for which you have my wholehearted support.

Posted by: No Preference on March 7, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

EmmaAnne: I *love* MediKid.

Nah. I vote for:

The Marx/Engels/Lenin/Trotsky/Stalin/Mao Memorial Destroy Capitalism and Freedom and Bankrupt the Country People's Health Care System.

Posted by: alex on March 7, 2006 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Is time on our side? As the health "insurance" industry gets bigger, doesn't that mean a large amount of money aligned against us?

Posted by: MDtoMN on March 7, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Clarify and you might have a point
I did, try reading the whole comment. You and I are going to pay for health care whether we pay the doctor, pay the insurance company, or pay the government.

I hate people saying that "the government" will pay for something. Taxpayers pay for it.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Three points:

1) This might be an unusually good time to try this because insurance companies as a class are even more disliked than usual, given the well-publicized problems people have had with them since Katrina.

2) I don't think rationing needs to be dealt with immediately. Remember that the most-expensive, end-of-life care is mostly already paid for by Medicare. Changing to a single-payer system should save huge gobs of money, so there is no reason to think we would need any kind of stringent rationing in the near-term. It may well be a problem eventually, but it would have to be dealt with in the current system too.

3)"Medicare for all" is simple and easy for people to understand (or think that they understand). That kind of clarity is probably essential.

Posted by: matt wilbert on March 7, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 5:37 PM:

You and I are going to pay for health care whether we pay the doctor, pay the insurance company, or pay the government.

In your opinion, then, which of the three ways you've mentioned is the optimal way to pay for health insurance? Why?

Posted by: grape_crush on March 7, 2006 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

tbrosz: The assurances that single payer will be cheaper and more effective flies in the face of the history of every other large government program in history, including Medicare, which has far exceeded its predicted costs.

Of course! The old "government doesn't work" wingnut talking point. The response ought to be simple: "Since the Republicans took total control of government, no program has worked and every program has far exceeded its predicted costs."

Posted by: Aris on March 7, 2006 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Of course! The old "government doesn't work" wingnut talking point. The response ought to be simple: "Since the Republicans took total control of government, no program has worked and every program has far exceeded its predicted costs."

As P.J. O'Rourke said, Aris, the Republicans claim that government doesn't work, then get elected and prove it.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

I hate people saying that "the government" will pay for something.

c.n., your aversion to reality is a matter of record.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

In your opinion, then, which of the three ways you've mentioned is the optimal way to pay for health insurance? Why?
The first. The problem with health care costs is not how we pay for those costs, the problem is the costs are high. Arguing over how we pay for rising costs does not address the fact that costs are rising.

As for why I like the first.
- Consumers of health care have incentive to keep health care costs down. I trust this is self-evident.
- Insurance companies have no incentive to keep health care costs down. They aren't paying for it. They get "paid" by the movement of money through their system. The more money that moves through, the more they make.
- The government also has no incentive to keep health care costs down. They aren't paying for it either. The more money that moves through, the more power they have. And government is in the business of more government, so this is good for them.

I think O'Roarke was stealing from someone else when he wrote this (but I don't have the book at hand to check the original on this). There are 4 ways to spend money.
1) Spend your money on you.
2) Spend someone elses money on you.
3) Spend your money on someone else.
4) Spend someone else's money on someone else.
With option 1, you care about both the cost and value of goods/services. With option 2 you do not care about the cost, but you do care about the goods/services. With option 3 you care about the cost, but you don't care about the goods/services. With option 4 you do not care about either the cost or the goods/services.

Almost all government spending falls under option 4. The best cost/benefit decisions are made under option 1. Put the buying decision in the hands of the user. Do not mask the cost of health care through insurance or taxes. Good decisions cannot be made that way.

You will say this is expensive, but here's your clue: it's already expensive. We are already paying for health care costs. You are merely arguing over how we pay for them.

Out-of-pocket medical costs are not going up, but insurance costs are skyrocketing. Let me rephrase that: The portion of health care costs that users see are stable, the portion of health care costs the user does not see are skyrocketing.

So to conclude (have I gone on long enough yet?), putting the buying decision in the hands of the consumer is how to best control costs. And when costs are controlled the service is accessible to a wider range of people. The alternative is to allow medical costs to continue to skyrocket and change the way we ration from market based to political football. But unless costs are controlled, rationing increases; regardless of the method of rationing.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think we should start the campaign right now and right here. How about some of the commercials suggested up thread. Play them in states with real contests. Don't give Talent, DeWine and the rest a chance to breath. Don't give Rove a chance to make this election about Roe v. Wade. By the way, if you haven't figured it out, that is exactly what the South Dakota Legislature is really trying to accomplish.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 7, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK
The assurances that single payer will be cheaper and more effective flies in the face of the history of every other large government program in history

Except, you know, public healthcare in the rest of the developed world, which is, indeed, less expensive for better results.

Why, tbrosz, do you hate Americans so badly as to claim that they are uniquely incapable among all advanced nations of providing effective, efficient public healthcare?

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut at 6:07 PM has absolutely nothing to say except to regurgitate right-wing dogma, and incoherently at that.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Damn Secular, I yeild to your well thought out defense of socialized medicine! Good job.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

conspiracy nut at 6:07 PM has absolutely nothing to say except to regurgitate right-wing dogma, and incoherently at that.


While accurate, I'd recommend striking "at 6:07 PM" from this sentence.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

The fundamental disconnect here is that what the consumer pays and what the consumer receives are unrelated. The only real, long-term way to control health costs is to give the consumer (the citizen) the responsibility for spending the money.

I am certainly not saying our current system does not have huge problems -- it does -- but a government system removes personal incentives for making the hard decisions. The costs will explode, even if we manage to obscure the money trail.

And in the defense of conspriacy nut -- government does not produce wealth. It can't. It can only extract it from those who do produce wealth.

The difference between a private insurer and the government is that in the case of the former, your handing over of $$ is voluntary and you can choose a different company if you are unsatisfied. With government, you are in the system and you pay for it, regardless of whether you want to.

The only way to sell this is to present it to citizens as something-for-nothing. You may well succeed, but I hope we are smarter than that.

Posted by: Matt S on March 7, 2006 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

The assurances that single payer will be cheaper and more effective flies in the face of the history of every other large government program in history

Is it possible to sign your paycheck with a 3" housepainting brush?

Is it possible to understand the world all you can think of are childrens cartoons and fairy-tales?

Posted by: obscure on March 7, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

And in the defense of conspriacy nut
You don't need to do that Matt, they all love me here.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

As an American who has been living in Germany for 12 years, I thought it would be helpful to the discussion to explain how health insurance works here. (With the caveat that I'm no expert, just a customer!)

The bulk of the population is covered by the public health insurance, while a small minority made up of high-income earners, the self-employed, and civil servants can opt out and purchase private insurance. There are several dozen insurance providers who make up the system, and one is mostly free to choose between them (some are regional). They all cover the same procedures, but some cover special therapies like acupuncture as well. Coverage includes medical, dental, vision, and drugs for the member and his/her dependents.

For workers, the premiums are automatically deducted from the paycheck. The rate is calculated as a percentage of gross salary, and it averages about 14% (varies according to provider). The payment is split equally between employer and employee, so what a worker sees is a 7% deduction from salary. Insurance for the unemployed and disabled, I think, is paid by some sort of public fund, but they go through the same providers like everyone else.

Physicians can be selected freely. A transfer from the family doctor is necessary to see specialists. A 10 per quarter copay has been instituted to reduce abuse of the system. For adults there is also a small copay for drugs.

I'm very impressed by the system here. The overall care is very good and is easily accessible. My step-father in the States is a doctor, and I see the chaos of all the different forms and payment methods and how much time that all costs. Here everyone has their smart card with all their insurance data stored on it, and this gets read into the doctor's computer system for billing any services and prescriptions.

Posted by: sparks on March 7, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK
And in the defense of conspriacy nut -- government does not produce wealth. It can't. It can only extract it from those who do produce wealth.

This is incorrect almost any way you slice it. One one level, government does not exist separate from people, some of whom, in their actions as part of government, are, in fact, making wealth by any reasonable definition.

On another level, the existence of government certainly is a precondition and contributing factor to many forms of wealth creation; indeed, its arguable that one of the principle functions of government is to provide coercive collective enforcement of property rights to provide incentives for the creation of stocks of wealth which it would be in no ones interest to create without the security provided by such coercive collective enforcement. That wealth is, therefore, quite naturally attributable to government, and it is quite right that those who most benefit from the security provided and the stocks of wealth enabled by government should compensate those whose cooperation in that collective project is not so richly rewarded.

The "government does not create wealth" meme is empty-headed nonsense.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK
And in the defense of conspriacy nut -- government does not produce wealth. It can't. It can only extract it from those who do produce wealth.

Of course gov't can produce wealth. Any entity can produce wealth if it can mobilize people to produce anything!

The gov't built the interstate highway system. That's one tiny example. Public education is wealth. Intellectual capital.

Sweep the bromides out of your brain.

Posted by: obscure on March 7, 2006 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, cmdicely, for making the point more thoroughly and thoughtfully.

To repeat a point frequently made by many folks: There is no possibility of a 'free market' without vigorous gov't.

Posted by: obscure on March 7, 2006 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sparks, appreciate your cogent description. No doubt that our system is too complicated now.

There are great incentives for reducing the compleixity of our current system, but government ain't it. A much better solution for the US is to create incentives for this simplification, and that means allowing the health care providers to make it worthwhile. In California, I believe that Kaiser is investing somewhere around $3B in a new records system.

And, with due respect, the unemployment rate in Germany is twice what it is in the US. A welfare-based system has big social costs. It is a trade-off.

Also, again with due respect, the vast majority (but not all) of medical advances come from here in the states, attributable to our for-profit system. If we socialize it, those incentives are greatly reduced and the R&D budgets shrink in proportion. Are we willing to weigh those costs as well?

Posted by: Matt S on March 7, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, you are right that government can create structures that allow wealth to be produced. Property rights is a great example.

You are right that it is a necessary precondition. Absolutely. Again, though, a government does not create wealth. The highway system was created with tax money, which came from workers producing value. You can argue that the highway system was a good investment that paid off -- fair enough. But that is redistribution, not creation.

And regarding education, we have two systems in this country. One (K-12) is government run, expensive, and middling at best. The second (the university system) is probably 80% private and is the envy of the world. Which model do you prefer?

Posted by: Matt S on March 7, 2006 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

indeed, its arguable that one of the principle functions of government is to provide coercive collective enforcement of property rights to provide incentives for the creation of stocks of wealth which it would be in no ones interest to create without the security provided by such coercive collective enforcement.

It never ceases to amaze me that the loony libertarian / right-wing antigovernment cranks are ignorant of the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, whose treatise on this subject has been influential since the 17th Century.

But then, I suppose they'd then have to acknowledge the existence of a social contract, so they just sort of mentally edit it out and skip right to Ayn Rand.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin still ignores two undeniable facts. One, that one of the Democrats' most important constituencies is the retired middle class who have been conditioned for four decades to believe the the rationing of health care services is a phenomena that other citizens should be subject to more than they, and, two, all of the systems that kevin provides as superior examples ration more severely to middle class retirees.

There is no better place than the U.S. to be a
middle class obese retiree with severe arthritis, or a heart condition, or diabetes, to say nothing of having a combination of all three afflictions. There is no better place for a retiree who desires, or whose family desires, that no expense be spared for extending life as long as possible. Democrats created this constituency, and this constituency is the biggest political obstacle to what Democrats like Kevin now want.

Kevin seems to think that this fundamental political reality can be ignored, or made irrelevant. He is incorrect.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Again, though, a government does not create wealth. The highway system was created with tax money, which came from workers producing value.

By that argument, capitalists don't produce value either, but I'm sure that isn't the point you intended to make.

Cue conspiracy nut's quaint obsession with Communism...

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Matt, the reasons for the high unemployment in Germany are very complex and have little or nothing to do with the health insurance system (that I'm aware of) and a lot to do with problems integrating the former socialist states. I live in southwest Germany where we have have an unemployment rate of about 5%!


A much better solution for the US is to create incentives for this simplification, and that means allowing the health care providers to make it worthwhile.

I have no idea what "allowing health care providers to make it worthwhile" means. Do you?

Posted by: sparks on March 7, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Again, though, a government does not create wealth.

You are simply making an assertion, and a false one.

First of all, 'wealth' is simply 'anything of value.' Gov't adds value in countless ways.

You say "tax dollars financed the interstate highway system." Sure they did. But the dollars themselves are an artifact of government.

There is no reliable financial system without gov't. Dollars don't just serve as a proxy for wealth, they are a form of wealth. The highway system is not just itself a form of national wealth, it is also, as you suggested, a highly effective investment which facilitates the creation of additional wealth.

If a human being can create wealth, then an organization of human beings can create wealth. It can be a private organization or it can be a public organization. No big whoop.

Posted by: obscure on March 7, 2006 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Sparks, how does the incorporation of formerly socialist states affect the French unemployment rate, which is also roughly double that of the U.S.? Now, I don't think it has much to do with health insurance, but it does have a lot to do with the regulation of labor markets overall, which creates much more chronic unemployment.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

You are correct, of course, obscure, but you ignore the fundamental difference between allocating resources via voluntary mutual agreement, and allocating resources via coercive action of the state. The former is much more likely to produce results which please the largest number of people, which is not to say, however, that the latter is never needed.

Montgomery Wards used resources in such a way that pleased fewer and fewer people, until that point that Montgomery Wards ceased to exist, and the assets and people were re-deployed to activities which please more people. In contrast, the Bureau of Indian Affairs pleases only a tiny sliver of bureaucrats and business people, while greatly displeasing the people this bureaucracy is ostensibly designed to serve, the people who live on reservations. No matter; because the BIA can access resources by coercive power of the state, it can exists decade after corrupt decade.

When Enron's corruption became widely apparent, it no longer could attract more resources, because it depended on getting resources via voluntary transaction. Thus Enron ceased to exist.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK
Sparks, how does the incorporation of formerly socialist states affect the French unemployment rate, which is also roughly double that of the U.S.?

One of these days, you'll figure out what a "common market" means.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Why is so that everybody keeps comparing European and US unemployment rates. One, European, is based on hard number of people actually drawing continuous unemployment benefits as long as they are without jobs, thus giving an incentive for people to add to those numbers. The other, US, number is an estimate based on the phone survey that, on the onset, excludes everyone that is not actively seeking a job. Therefore, isnt it obvious that the European number is overstated since it gives incentive for people to cheat system to get the benefits (even if they are underemployed, not only if they are not actively seeking a job), and that the US number understates the unemployed. In reality, I do not think these numbers would be all that different if the same methodology was used on both sides of Atlantic.

Posted by: pcs on March 7, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Gosh, cmdicely, is it really your opinion that French citizens bear as much of the cost of incorporating the citizens of the former East Germany as the citizens of what was formerly West Germany? Also, golly gee, when did the U.K. drop out of the E.U.?

Gee whiz, I'm so lucky to have you inform me what I'll figure out one of these days!

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK
Again, though, a government does not create wealth.

No, see, you're still wrong.

The highway system was created with tax money, which came from workers producing value.

Unless you are defining "government" to exclude all of the actions of the persons who are the government -- in which case government doesn't exist at all -- some of those workers creating value were doing so in their capacity as part of the government. The problem is that you are artificially separating out everything done on the public dime in to two piles, those that create wealth, which you arbitrarily and unjustifiably claim are "not government", and those that do not create wealth, which you allow may be "government". But this is base sophistry.

And regarding education, we have two systems in this country. One (K-12) is government run, expensive, and middling at best. The second (the university system) is probably 80% private and is the envy of the world. Which model do you prefer?

I prefer to keep both and improve the former; the public lower education system we have is, after all "middling" compared to the comparable public systems throughout the developed world, so its clearly not a fundamental failing of its "publicness". The tie between responsible actor, consumer, and beneficiary is inherently tighter in the education of adults than in the education of children, so it sense to rely more on personal choice-based, market systems in higher education, its more of an inherently private good, and one with more of the features which make markets efficient.


Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK
One, European, is based on hard number of people actually drawing continuous unemployment benefits as long as they are without jobs, thus giving an incentive for people to add to those numbers. The other, US, number is an estimate based on the phone survey that, on the onset, excludes everyone that is not actively seeking a job. Therefore, isnt it obvious that the European number is overstated

No, if that's accurate, its obvious that the US statistic is understated, since the European measure actually measures the unemployed.

But I'll agree that they aren't comparable.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I have managed to figure out that the U.K. rate is much more akin to the U.S. rate. Now, if you or p.c.s. wish to believe that labor regulation has no effect on hiring practices, well, you just go right ahead.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK
You are correct, of course, obscure, but you ignore the fundamental difference between allocating resources via voluntary mutual agreement, and allocating resources via coercive action of the state.

Will, you're correct to observe that there are qualitative differences between public and private entities. Could you at least be fair-minded enough to acknowledge that what you accused me of ignoring was unrelated to the specific issue I was addressing?

You also didn't mention the phenomena of 'elections' which serve to promote a measure of accountability in public institutions.

Posted by: obscure on March 7, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK
Gosh, cmdicely, is it really your opinion that French citizens bear as much of the cost of incorporating the citizens of the former East Germany as the citizens of what was formerly West Germany?

No, the citizens of Germany clearly bear costs other than that reflected in the unemployment rate, and, IIRC, for quite some time prior to reunification had a more dynamic economy with usually lower unemployment than the French, suggesting that, they are bearing more of the cost, even in terms of just what shows up in the unemployment rate.

Nevertheless, because of the tightly integrated common market, the kinds of effects in France will often be similar, other than those directly associated with providing new services by the German government.

Also, golly gee, when did the U.K. drop out of the E.U.?

WIthin a common market, there are often effects which are regionally concentrated though affecting multiple trading partners, because of trading patterns, degrees of practical rather than merely legal integration, etc. This is rather obvious from the US, so I don't know why it would be surprising in the EU.

Gee whiz, I'm so lucky to have you inform me what I'll figure out one of these days!

I wasn't really being serious; I don't expect you to ever figure out anything.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Fine, obscure, but I mostly wanted to explore this statement...

"If a human being can create wealth, then an organization of human beings can create wealth. It can be a private organization or it can be a public organization. No big whoop."

....in that I think there is a "big whoop" between the behavior of organization which must obtain resources by voluntary transaction, and an organization which can obtain resources by coercive collection via the instruction of a majority of 535 people, 435 elected every two years, 100 every six, plus one individual elected every four years. For another exploration of how such organizations fundamentally differ, merely observe those private corporations which have the state as their primary customer, like some defense contractors, with an organization which must please large numbers of customers on a consistent basis.

You probably meant something a little different by "big whoop", of course, so I apologize for entirely too verbose.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's good politics, good policy, and good branding. But it's a long fight, and the sooner we get back in the saddle and start fighting it, the better.

I think you ought to at least ask Bill Richardson, Phil Bredeson, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner. They have a lot of experience winning elections, and might have a better feel for what is good politics and good branding. I think that everybody know that Hillary Clinton wants universal health care, in the same way that everybody knew that Ronald Reagan really didn't like Social Security. You might ask her what constitutes good politics and good branding.

Posted by: republicrat on March 7, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well, golly gee, cmdicely, I guess then that southwest Germany, with it's 5% unemployment rate that Sparks informed of us of, has it's unemployment rate less affected by the incorporation of east Germany than that of all of France, because, really, there has likely been as much emigration of hard-to-employ people from east germany to France as there has been from east germany to southwest Germany! Also, I guess all the people in the former East Germany, who were previously employed in a very antiquated economy, and who are now unable to find work in east Germany, affect the French unemployment rate every bit as much as the German unemployment rate! Thanks!

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen wrote: You are correct, of course, obscure, but you ignore the fundamental difference between allocating resources via voluntary mutual agreement, and allocating resources via coercive action of the state.

The dichotomy you present is not a reality. In a democracy, government exists by virtue of voluntary mutual agreement, and the citizens voluntarily mutually agree to abide by laws issued by that government.

For example, the Federal government does not have to "coerce" me to pay my Federal income tax -- neither do the Maryland or Montgomery County governments. I do so voluntarily, in accordance with law. If I don't like the tax laws, or the tax rates, or whatever, then I can (individually or in conjunction with like-minded fellow citizens) work to have those laws changed, either by lobbying my elected representatives, or in some circumstances (e.g. at the county level) seeking to pass voter referenda.

If the Federal government had to send out armed troops to "coercively" collect taxes from the citizens by force of arms, it wouldn't last very long.

On the other side of the coin, it is not the case that all commercial relationships are completely "voluntary and mutual". If you have an unavoidable need for some product or service -- e.g. life-saving medical intervention -- then you are not in the position of entering into a "voluntary mutual" agreement with whoever can provide that intervention. Your choice is to pay what they want, or die.

Similarly, if someone has a monopoly on an essential resource (e.g. someone owns the sole supply of drinking water for a town or city) then there is not a relationship of "voluntary mutual agreement" between them and others who need that resource to survive. The monopoly owner of the resource is able to "coerce" whatever he wants from those who need that resource, and their only choice is to pay what he wants, or die of thirst.

And great wealth in itself gives the wealthy the power of coercion. A Walmart or a Microsoft can use the power of its wealth to eliminate competition, not by offering superior products or services, but by using its money to make it impossible for others to even begin to compete, or by destroying them if they try.

As I understand it, libertarians believe that the power of government should be limited, even when that power is obtained through entirely legitimate means, such as through free and fair elections, because they recognize that too much power -- even when legitimately obtained -- is a dangerous thing.

What libertarians refuse to admit is that wealth is also power, and just as with political power, too much power from wealth can be a dangerous thing, and that therefore the power of wealth should be limited, even when that wealth is legitimately obtained.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Auto companies are now blaming their layoffs directly on health care expenses.

That's GM and Ford, not their competitors. Toyota has 10 factories in the US, and may not be in favor (and its employees may not be in favor) of paying extra taxes to cover the costs of GM's contracts.

Posted by: republicrat on March 7, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, cn, for the well-thought post. I respect this opinion, 'tho I have to disagree with parts of it.

conspiracy nut on March 7, 2006 at 6:07 PM:

Arguing over how we pay for rising costs does not address the fact that costs are rising.

Fair enough. Go on...

- Consumers of health care have incentive to keep health care costs down. I trust this is self-evident

Healthy diet, exercise, et cetera...Do providers of health care have incentive to keep costs down?

- Insurance companies have no incentive to keep health care costs down. The more money that moves through, the more they make.

Agreed. I'm having a hard time seeing where insurance companies add value or drive improvement or efficiency of service...Lately, medical insurance companies seem to be acting as a sea anchor.

- The government also has no incentive to keep health care costs down.

This is where I disagree; the government doesn't have a profit motive, either...as for 'government being for bigger government', the funds could be put into a lockbox, not to be touched by any other government agency for any reason...Yeah, it won't be perfect, but what is?

I know that the idea of increased government bureacracy is unpalatable...It is to me as well...But I'll trade my general distaste for government involvement in my affairs for something that would help everyone, including myself, out...

The more money that moves through, the more power they have.

And you would like that power to be in the hands of the individual, right?

Put the buying decision in the hands of the user.

Guess so...See, this is where I think the wheels come off...For example, it would be difficult for an individual to negotiate the best price for an emergency appendectomy or doctor-shop while bleeding in the emergency room...Not to mention that, even at a rock-bottom cost, a necessary, life-saving procedure might be out of the immediate financial capabilities of half the population.

Even if the situation wasn't life-threatening, I'm still having trouble seeing how an individual has much power when negotiating with the only hospital in a hundred-mile radius or a highly-skilled specialist in a particular field...

Good decisions cannot be made that way.

You can't count on individuals to always make the 'good decision'...You know that.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 7, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Tell ya' what, Secular Animist, you refuse to pay your taxes to the Federal government, and then refuse to buy from Wal-Mart, and then get back to us as to whether there is a difference between the degree to which your direction of resources to those two bureaucracies is voluntary or not.

When Wal-Mart starts constructing and filling prisons, and having people killed, I'll get a lot more concerned with the power of Wal-Mart. Where Wal-Mart has gained too much power, it is largely through the use of the state, such as when they employ eminent domain to their advantage. All the more reason to greatly circumscribe the power of the state

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen: I think there is a "big whoop" between the behavior of organization which must obtain resources by voluntary transaction, and an organization which can obtain resources by coercive collection via the instruction of a majority of 535 people, 435 elected every two years, 100 every six, plus one individual elected every four years.

I think there is a "big whoop" between an organization that is run by a CEO and upper management who can pay themselves whatever they want, regardless of how profitable their company is, or how well they perform their jobs, and who are answerable to no one; and an organization in which, as you point out, the principals have to face the citizens, explain themselves, and stand for election every few years, and if the citizens don't think they are doing a good job they can throw them out.

Corporations are feudal aristocracies. I do not prefer being the subject of a feudal lord (a.k.a. corporate CEO) to being the citizen of a democratic republic.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Will -- and I gotta get back to work now -- put another way, the most accurate measure of wealth is the voluntary exchange between two parties. Party A agrees to exchange work for Party B's money.

This is a net creation of wealth because both parties agree to the exchange, and therefore both parties believe themselves to be better off. Net gain.

Government programs are not voluntary for those who pay for them. One side (the taxpayer) is coerced, and therefore, that side's wealth was not improved by their own measure.

Capitalists do make wealth because the worker profits and the employer profits, by their own reckoning. (Unless you see workers as victims, in which case I can't help you.)

Government might not be entirely wasteful with taxpayers funds, and there may be some value remaining (not created) at the end of the day. A government can do "good", subjectively defined. A commons (such as a highway system) may be beneficial.

Making those arguments is fine. But I prefer that citizens decide what wealth is, through voluntary choices. I think their judgement is better.

Posted by: Matt S on March 7, 2006 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen: Tell ya' what, Secular Animist, you refuse to pay your taxes to the Federal government, and then refuse to buy from Wal-Mart, and then get back to us as to whether there is a difference between the degree to which your direction of resources to those two bureaucracies is voluntary or not.

Tell ya' what, Will. You move to a county where WalMart has come into town and driven all the other small-time retailers and service providers out of business and there is nowhere to buy clothing or even food except WalMart, and tell me how voluntary your direction of resources is.

And tell me, when is the next election where I get to vote for my choice of candidates for the next CEO of Microsoft?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Matt S wrote: But I prefer that citizens decide what wealth is, through voluntary choices. I think their judgement is better.

In this country we have something called "elections", in which citizens exercise that very judgement.

Of course, the citizen voters may be deceived or cheated, but customers can also be deceived or cheated in commercial transactions.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 7, 2006 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me, Secular, how much is the management of Montgomery Wards paying themselves these days? You see, without the possibility that a bureaucracy will cease to exist, due to the fact that no person will voluntarily direct more resources to it, a bureaucracy is much less likely to end objectionable practices. Enron, for all it's corruption, is no longer abusing anybody, because it no longer exists. The BIA goes on and on and on.

Why, after all the evidence of the past century, do you continue to believe that centrally planned allocation of resources by periodically elected representatives provides superior results more often than millions upon millions of decentralized allocaters of resources?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, goody! The Will Allen show! Pompous assertions followed by invective...you just gotta admire such an intellect, hey?

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and dishonest paraphrase...I forgot the dishonest paraphrase. Fortunately for us, Will didn't!

Tell ya' what, Secular Animist, you refuse to pay your taxes to the Federal government, and then refuse to buy from Wal-Mart, and then get back to us as to whether there is a difference between the degree to which your direction of resources to those two bureaucracies is voluntary or not.

Your analogy is false, Will. A proper would be to refuse to pay taxes, or to attempt to remove goods from Wal-Mart without paying. I somehow suspect one would be subjected to "coercive measures" in both cases.

I'm telling you, it mystifies me that brilliant minds like Will Allen can't seem to comprehend a simple concept like the social contract.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, secular, I've lived in such a place, and I 've found that it is very unlikely that I'll have no alternatives for any considerable length of time. Also, you let me know when buying products at Wal-Mart prices is as oppressive as the worst practices of a government, or when drving fifty miles greatly changes the degree to which your relationship with a national government is involuntary.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Gosh, Gregory, if you wish to argue that walking out of a Wal-Mart, with products that others have produced and distributed, without paying, is the same act, in terms of it being a voluntary interaction between individuals, as not paying your taxes, well, you just go right ahead.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 9:08 PM:

Oh, goody! The Will Allen show! Pompous assertions followed by invective...you just gotta admire such an intellect, hey?

No shit... between this and the school voucher thread, it's like a fucking Ayn Rand-birthday-party-cum-circle jerk...Worse than the time I sat through Wall Street Journal op-ed show on PBS...

Hey, it was 2am, and I don't have cable...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 7, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

See? I told you Will didn't forget the dishonest paraphrase!

You have a legal obligation to pay your taxes.

You have a legal obligation to pay for goods you select from a store.

Failure to do either -- in short, breaking the law -- renders one subject to punishment -- coercion, if you will.

Seriously, the "government is ocercion" and "taxes are theft" line from you loony libertarians just slay me.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory is also not bright enough to discern the difference between a group of people producing and distributing goods, with the expectation that others will give something of value when they acquire said goods, and a majority telling an individual that they will imprison or kill the individual, if he does not give something of value, no matter whether the individual has agreed that what he will receive in exchange is worth it.

Gregory isn't particularly bright, so this isn't entirely surprising, which also explains why he cannot grasp that one can fully support the need for a government, while not supporting the degree to which the state currently is involved in the day to day interactions of the polity. Believe it or not, the social contract doesn't mandate all activities of the modern state, nor does it legitimate all activities of the modern state, no matter that they are instituted by elected representatives.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Americans don't seem to understand why the Canadian system hasn't allowed a large, parallel private system. The thinking is that the private system will siphon off doctors and nurses from the public system. Also, if enough voters aren't dependent on the public system, they won't have an interest in ensuring that it's adquately funded.

The Canadian response to this threat from a private system might not be the best one, but the threat is real, and even the great European systems have to contend with it. E.g., I believe that in Sweden and the Netherlands specialists can't be paid more privately than they would publicly. If they could, too many would desert the public system. And the costs and restrictions in the German private system are such that only a relatively small portion of the population can afford it (only the really high income earners, along with civil servants and the self-employed). This prevents it from growing to a size where it would threaten the public system.

The worst two-tier systems (e.g., in the UK and New Zealand) are those that don't have adequate protective measures in place.

So if the US wants a good, public universal healthcare system, there have to be some mechanisms in place to curtail any private rival system.

Posted by: otherpaul on March 7, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't a thread with Gregory if he doesn't demonstarte his illiteracy. The half-wit has come to the conclusion that I've asserted that "taxes are theft". I haven't, as anyone with seventh grade reading comprehension skills has grasped. I've asserted that there is a fundamental difference between walking out of a store with goods that others have produced and distributed with their labor, without paying, despite the fact that those who have produced and distributed said goods only did so with the tacit understanding that those who would obtain said goods would give currency in return, and a majority telling an individual that he will be killed or imprisoned if he doesn't give currency, no matter what he thinks of what he is getting in return. Only a cretin like Gregory would interpret such an assertion as the equivalent as saying "taxes are theft".

Gregory, how the hell do you read the instructions of how to open a milk carton, much less the instructions of something that needs to be assembled? Do you cook? When you attempt to follow a recipe, is the result often inedible?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

otherpaul on March 7, 2006 at 9:45 PM

The thinking is that the private system will siphon off doctors and nurses from the public system.

Already happens in Canada...They move to the US...'tho I understand that trend has recently started to reverse itself. I also read somewhere that Australia requires private system doctors to spend a portion of their time working in the public system.

I can't remember whether or not that resolved the issue you brought up, however...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 7, 2006 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

There are always a few loudmouths like Will Allen who want to sponge of the rest of us. They don't want to be coerced into paying their fair share. I say we vote him off the island.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 7, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 9:51 PM:

It isn't a thread with Gregory if he doesn't demonstarte his illiteracy.

In your post, did you mean 'de monstar', 'demon satre', or 'demonstrate', O paragon of literacy?

Nice job making yourself look like a fool, Will. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 7, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me, Ron, does the will of the majority determine what is "fair"?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

If Will Allen could remember that "you loony libertarians" is a collective noun, meaning that other people besides him use the "taxes are theft" line, even if he obliges us with a cogent display of his own, ah, interesting philosophy, he might have less of an obvious inferiority complex. But then, it wouldn't be a thread if Will didn't demonstrated his intellectual dishonesty by attributing to others statements they did not make.

Although golly, now that he mentions it, it must be my illiteracy showing, but I'd say will's "not bright enough to discern the difference" screed could well be summed up as "taxes are theft." But I forget -- paraphrasing others is a privilege Will allows only for himself.

Will might also do well to realize that "a majority telling an individual that they will imprison or kill the individual, if he does not give something of value, no matter whether the individual has agreed that what he will receive in exchange is worth it" doesn't describe the function of government merely because he asserts that it does. There has been plenty of dissension from that view on this thread, to which Will's responses are simply to repeat his assertions with an extra helping of invective.

The Will Allen show is already getting boring -- he is, after all, a one-trick pony, and it looks like we're getting reruns already -- so i'll leave it at this: If you're so dissatisfied with government, Will, elect representatives that reflect your views. In fact, I urge you to convince the Republican Party to incorporate your views into its platform and proclaim them as loudly and proudly and pompously as you do.

It'll help Democrats get elected.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, grape crush believes that keyboard dexterity, and the patience to proof-read, is the equivalent of literacy. Whatever you say, grape. On the off-chance you don't actually believe this, however, would you please show where I ever asserted that "taxes are theft"? Or are you just as stupid as Gregory?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, grape crush believes that keyboard dexterity, and the patience to proof-read, is the equivalent of literacy.

Will simply never tires of attributing to others statements they didn't make, even as he complains about the "illiteracy" of others. (And Will ol' pal, if the alternative to illiteracy is to be as boundlessly intellectually dishonest as you, I'll take illiteracy.) But the way I read it -- with my illiteracy and all -- grape was just pointing out that to make a typo while chiding another's so-called illiteracy makes rather an ass of oneself. It's just a pity that Will's inferiority complex leaves him so thin-skinned.

would you please show where I ever asserted that "taxes are theft"?

Let's go to the videotape:

a majority telling an individual that they will imprison or kill the individual, if he does not give something of value, no matter whether the individual has agreed that what he will receive in exchange is worth it

So let's see: Something of value, extracted involuntarily by threat of force. Sounds like theft to me. You were talking about taxes, right, Will? Or is that just my well-known illiteracy again, and you were referring to eBay or something?

You didn't use the phrase "taxes are theft," I'll admit. You just said essentially the same thing a lot more pompously.

Posted by: Gregory on March 7, 2006 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

I watched a political hatchet job some years back. A Crown Corporation had been too successful in pleasing those involved as suppliers. Consequently, private contractors outside the system were exploring the idea of being included. Since the large corporation they were dealing with controlled large contributions to the political slush fund, you can guess the ending. Bye, bye succesful government operation.
It's been said before upthread but Canadians don't believe Medicare to be a failure. All parties running for office declare their support : not doing so means conceding election. The Premier of Alberta has tried repeatedly to install some form of private hospitalization : Ralph Klein has been very popular and still couldn't get traction.
It's accepted popular wisdom that pressure from U.S. insurers and H.M.O.'s has been extreme : a potential market and bad example to the home base.
Are Canadians dissatisfied with Medicare ? Are people ever satisfied with anything ? Does that mean they are willing to do without ? No bloody way !
Point ? Vested interests wouldn't want Americans to think Medicare a good idea : I suspect flawed press.

Posted by: opit on March 7, 2006 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, I'm serious. Can you read beyond a second-grade level? When you write...

"Seriously, the "government is coercion" and "taxes are theft" line from you loony libertarians just slay me."

...is there any non-moronic interpretation of that statement which does not imply that I've asserted that "taxes are theft" given that the word "you" in the sentence is directed at me?

Next, could you employ the vacuum which is your cranium and demonstrate how any statement I've made in this thread is the equivalent of "taxes are theft"?

Next, are so stupid as to deny that the state has the power to inform the individual that if he does not hand over currency or it's electronic equivalent, he will be imprisoned or killed, because the majority has imbued the state with such power, no matter what the individual thinks of what he is getting in exchange? Are you too stupid to grasp that such an interaction is entirely different than walking out of a store without paying, despite the fact that the people who produced and distributed the goods with their labor only did so under the tacit understanding that those obtaining the goods would give currency in exchange? Are you truly too cretinous to understand that none of the above is the equivalent of saying "taxes are theft"?

Finally, as to invective, why do you find my use of it notable, when you nearly always indicate, via your first post directed at me, that this is the tone you wish to be adopted in our interaction? Are you completely lacking in self-awareness, along with being an imbecile? It must be asked, yet once again. How stupid are you?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me, Ron, does the will of the majority determine what is "fair"?

For the most part, yes.

Posted by: poot Smootley on March 7, 2006 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, half-wit, from Webster, the definition of theft...

1 a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property
2 obsolete : something stolen
3 : a stolen base in baseball

...given that the act in question here involves adherance to the law, it obviously doesn't involve being either felonious or unlawful, therefore it doesn't apply.

For the record, I don't think taxation is immoral or illegitimate.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Smootley, would you please specifically define "for the most part"?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 10:12 PM:

Apparently, grape crush believes that keyboard dexterity, and the patience to proof-read, is the equivalent of literacy.

Proofs of literacy, actually...Just reminding you that before you question someone else's literacy or reading comprehension, your own communication better be fucking perfect...And that does include accurate spelling...Oh, and the fourth sentence in your 9:51 post qualifies as a run-on, with a Flesch-Kincaid Grade level of 12, not 7 as you claim. Please restructure the sentence for better clarity and greater readability, O Paragon of Literacy.

Whatever you say, grape.

Good! You can be taught...

On the off-chance you don't actually believe this, however, would you please show where I ever asserted that "taxes are theft"?

Naw, I don't have a dog in that hunt. I'd rather just poke fun at your overinflated ego, O
Smug Pompousness.

Or are you just as stupid as Gregory?

Now you are being unimaginative and just plain boring...Can't you throw better invectives than a third grader? Gregory built you up and you turn out to be so...limp...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 7, 2006 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's time to turn the slime and attack campaigns on the greedy filth that have built the current system.
Overall, the pharmaceudical and health insurance industries have been making ever increasing profits for decades. Those profits paid for the TV attack campaigns against senator Clinton's reform proposals. The real failure (of the Clinton administration, the FCC and the Democratic party) was the fact that no rebuttal of those industry serving lies was broadcast along side them.
Private insurance has become a legalized confidence scam. It's long past time these criminals were brought to justice.

Posted by: joe on March 7, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

So, grape, my pecking at the keyboard must achieve perfection prior to my using insulting invective with a person who demonstrated that he is unable to actually grasp what was written, and has also demonstrated with his initial statements that he desires an invective-filled exchange? On what planet do self-absorbed paramecium like you propagate, where it is notable that beginning an exchange with a rude and insulting tone results in that tone being imitated? How lacking in self-awareness are you?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Modern insurance companies sell you a pick up truck, charge you for a cadillac (with hundreds of 'standard' frills that you neither need or want) and deliver a broken down 35 year old gremlin unless you can risk tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills.

Posted by: joe on March 7, 2006 at 11:05 PM | PERMALINK

Smootley, would you please specifically define "for the most part"?

Specifically, when I say "for the most part" I mean "usually" or "generally."

Do you have a better formula for determining what is "fair?"

Posted by: poot Smootley on March 7, 2006 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK
f Will Allen could remember that "you loony libertarians" is a collective noun, meaning that other people besides him use the "taxes are theft" line, even if he obliges us with a cogent display of his own, ah, interesting philosophy, he might have less of an obvious inferiority complex.

Surely this reverses cause and effect: If Mr. Allen had less of an inferiority (perhaps "persecution" is a better choice, here) complex, he would realize that "you loony libertarians" is collective, and does not necessarily imply that he personally has spewed forth each of the bizarre statements attributed to that group.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

Smootley, would you then please specifically define when there should be a deviation from the usual practice of allowing the majority to define what is "fair"?

As to my views, I try very hard to avoid speaking of any actions of the state being "fair" or "unfair", since these terms are hopelessly nebulous, being entirely dependent on the vantage point of the observer. I try to instead define what is a necessry use of force, necessary being defined as required to avoid conditions that may bring about either anarchy or tyranny. This standard is not without problems as well, but at least there is soem objective quality to it; I can state without any fear of contradiction by any non-insane person that subsidizing mohair production or a sports stadium is not required to avoid anarchy or tyranny, but there is no doubt I can find someone who will say that failure to do so is "unfair".

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

When Wal-Mart starts constructing and filling prisons, and having people killed, I'll get a lot more concerned with the power of Wal-Mart.

Which is kind of odd, as, as far as I can tell, you, like most libertarians, seem far more concerned with the government's exercise of power over property than its ability to exercise power over the body or, ultimately, life of those within its power.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK
So, grape, my pecking at the keyboard must achieve perfection prior to my using insulting invective with a person who demonstrated that he is unable to actually grasp what was written, and has also demonstrated with his initial statements that he desires an invective-filled exchange?

Wait, are you complaining that you responded to someone who, in your own words, clearly "demonstrated" that they desired "an invective-filled exchange" and that, after you responded, an invective-filled exchange ensued.

Man, you're even stupider than I had previously thought.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 11:54 PM | PERMALINK

Given I'm not part of that group, cmdicely, the point still stands; Gregory has attributed to me views which I do not hold. It is entirely possible, however, that he is dishonest rather than stupid. Since stupidity has no component entailing moral deficiency, whereas dishonesty does, I was merely trying to be charitable in my estimation of Gregory. Consider it withdrawn.

Then again, it is quite possible that Gregory is stupid and dishonest, so perhaps I am being hasty.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen on March 7, 2006 at 11:05 PM:

So, grape, my pecking at the keyboard must achieve perfection

If you want to question someone else's literacy without looking like a complete ass, then yes.

prior to my using insulting invective

Actually, what you write is more 'juvenile invective' than 'insulting invective'...running around calling people stupid is something my six-year-old did...when she was four.

with a person who demonstrated that he is unable to actually grasp what was written

Or is it that you didn't quite grasp what you wrote? Gregory's paraphrase of your statement is essentially correct, and he called you on it...If that wasn't what you intended to say, then you should have said something different.

As the writer, the onus is on you to clearly communicate your ideas; Like most art forms, once you put it out on display, it may not be interpreted as you intended.

and has also demonstrated with his initial statements that he desires an invective-filled exchange?

No. My take on it is that in Gregory's experience, an invective-filled exchange is usually how things end up with you...Besides, if someone does wants to have an argument with you, do you have to give it to them?

On what planet do self-absorbed paramecium like you propagate

Freshwater ciliate protozoans of the genus Paramecium propagate here on Earth.

Really, really weak invective, Will. Really weak.

where it is notable that beginning an exchange with a rude and insulting tone results in that tone being imitated?

"But Ma! He did it first!"...

How lacking in self-awareness are you?

I keep pretty aware of my self, as ignorance of one's own self can lead to suffering. You?

Posted by: grape_crush on March 8, 2006 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely, that sentence wasn't a complaint. It was a question. As far as your other post, you tell wrong. Now, do you wish to give any more grand theories of how the nature of the population in the former East Germany affects the unemployment rate in France as much as it does in Germany?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Why not reduce the Medicare age every year by one year? 2007-66 2008-65, and so on. Meanwhile, sart medicare for a 1 year old, and increase it by one year every year 2006-1 2007-2, and so on. Over time, this will build a consensus to just get everone on the Medicare rolls, and will build consensus to evolve Medicare.

Posted by: Mike Timmons on March 8, 2006 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

No, grape, it is only correct if one doesn't understand what the the word "theft" means, which apparently includes you. Your take is essentially irrational, in that Gregory demonstrated with his first post that he desired an invective-filled exchange, therefore the exchange did not "end up" that way, it began that way. Tell me, once again, why do you find it notable that those who initiate with a rude and insulting tone have that tone imitated? I'm truly curious; please inform me. Apparently, you lack the self-awareness required to grasp that you will generally be treated as others treat you. How did you become so socially stunted?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

UHC is the only CONSERVATIVE approach, in any society where 'conservatives' are either Christians or capitalists. Christians, of course, believe that all of God's children should have the help of doctors when they need them. The other conservatives, the ardent capitalists, naturally want to remove the healthcare burden from business. Well, at least that would be logical.

Posted by: Marcus on March 8, 2006 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:18 AM:

No, grape, it is only correct if one doesn't understand what the the word "theft" means

What you wrote earlier is close enough,

telling an individual that they will imprison or kill the individual, if he does not give something of value

unless you are being totally pedantic, which you are.

Gregory demonstrated with his first post that he desired an invective-filled exchange

Incorrect. He just described your modus operandi in his initial comment...And even if he did express a desire for an invective-filled exchange, you were a fool enough to give it to him.

therefore the exchange did not "end up" that way, it began that way.

If you practice some form of self-delusion, you mean. The two of you could have chosen to make it different.

why do you find it notable that those who initiate with a rude and insulting tone have that tone imitated?

I don't. That statement is something that you've constructed in your own mind.

Apparently, you lack the self-awareness required to grasp that you will generally be treated as others treat you.

And you lack the maturity and self-confidence to rise above all that. If you let some guy commenting on a blog faze you, how well do you deal with the real world?

How did you become so socially stunted?

Ooh, now that's probably the clearest example of projection that I've seen since I've began commenting on this blog.

G'night all...Way past my bedtime...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 8, 2006 at 12:53 AM | PERMALINK

Crush, it apparently escapes you that when one comments on something, it means one finds it notable. Why on earth do find it an example of someone being "fazed" if they mirror the tone of someone they are conversing with? Why do you think that an insulting remark (and you are simply delusional if you think Gregory's initial remark was not insulting) does not indicate a desire for an insulting exchange? Geez, you have a lower estimation of Gregory's intellect that I do, and I hardly thought that possible! You seem to actually believe that Gregory insults people with whom he wishes to have an exchange marked by civility! I'd say that Gregory should be insulted by that remark, but if you are correct, ol' Greg lacks the brain power to understand this.

I'm serious; how did you get this far without grasping that people are generally treated in the same manner that they treat others?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Somehow in my long explanation of the German system, perhaps it got lost that a substantial part of the health system is financed through the premiums paid equally by employers and employees. The government's primary expenditure is simply paying the premiums of those not otherwise covered, much like Medicaid/Medicare in the US.

If I understand it correctly, the public health system was set up by the government, but is "run" by a partnership between the government, insurance providers, and the medical establishment. The specifics of coverage and reimbursement are decided by a body made up of representatives from these parties.

To get back to the useful interstate highway analogy: let's imagine if it had been created by a large number of competing, highway-building corporations. Does anyone really think we would be able to get around easier and with less cost with such a system? (Or more exactly, an amalgam of systems?)

Like our interstate highway system, I think the creation of a unified health system with universal coverage is a similarly fitting endeavor for government.

Posted by: sparks on March 8, 2006 at 6:06 AM | PERMALINK

you are simply delusional if you think Gregory's initial remark was not insulting

Whoooooooo....now that's a revealing statement! In my initial remark, I noted that the Will Allen show consists of assertions followed by invective. And looking back over the thread (I love the fact that Will's statements remain for all and sundry to evaluate for themselves), we see that Will has provided -- yes! -- assertions and then invective. Thus we see that my prediction, like my summation of Will's "taxation is theft" position, is essentially correct.

Will, if you find an essentially correct description of your behavior insulting, I suggest that it's your behavior that's at fault, not the description.

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

I'm just curious. Whatever happened to the barefoot Chinese doctors that were to provide cheap primary care? Can we import a few?
Posted by: DRoell

They weren't doctors. Many weren't even able to read. They relied on these decision flowcharts with pictures and symbols.

Most wouldn't cut it as EMT's.

China's health care is in the toilet. Fantastically corrupt. Currently China is spending less than 2% of GDP. It's ranked third from the bottom.

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

It never ceases to amaze me that the loony libertarian / right-wing antigovernment cranks are ignorant of the political philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, whose treatise on this subject has been influential since the 17th Century.

But then, I suppose they'd then have to acknowledge the existence of a social contract, so they just sort of mentally edit it out and skip right to Ayn Rand.
Posted by: Gregory

It's just like their extraordinarily selective reference to Adam Smith. I suspect there's this Little Golden Book series out there. 'Great Economic Theory for Little Wingnuts'.

The one on Hobbes only higlights the dismal 'short & brutal' aspect and perhaps his recoiling in justified horror from the worst abuses of the Committee of Public Safety.

In other news that great economics shill Alan Greenspan is getting an $8.5M advance for his 'memoirs'. Boy, I'm gonna camp outside my local B&N for that one.

Not.

Posted by: CFShep on March 8, 2006 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

grape_crush
Do providers of health care have incentive to keep costs down?
Certainly not, providers make their money from health care.

This is where I disagree; the government doesn't have a profit motive, either
That's true, I pointed out that their motive was power, not profit. And yes I'd rather keep that power in the hands of the individual.

See, this is where I think the wheels come off...For example, it would be difficult for an individual to negotiate the best price for an emergency appendectomy...
Surely, and when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere you're at the hands of people that will charge whatever they want, too. But most medical care is not of an emergency nature. For the bulk of your medical care you can "shop". And if you are gouged for emergency services, and this is important, you will know it. You can bring complaints, call the BBB, whatever. You can actually provide incentive for that emergency care provider to not gouge people. And think a bit, you'll realize plenty of current situations where incentives are applied after the fact to prevent future problems (e.g. child discipline).

You can't count on individuals to always make the 'good decision'...You know that.
Some will make good decisions, some bad decisions. Same as always. But if a bad situation is recognized, it can be acted on. As you probably imagine, the idea of a bureaucratic decision that can't be changed due to the inertia of government doesn't appeal much to me.

And for everyone else
It was fun reading you clowns claiming that government produces wealth. I'm glad to see you've gained such a suddenly high opinion of Bush and our 3 branches of Republican government. It was the first time, I believe, that I've ever seen people claiming bureaucracy is a wealth creation tool. Anyway, it was a real hoot.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 8, 2006 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

As to my views, I try very hard to avoid speaking of any actions of the state being "fair" or "unfair", since these terms are hopelessly nebulous, being entirely dependent on the vantage point of the observer.

Well, Will, I think this is half-true.

You have an established history here at this blog of railing against the power of gov't to wring tax dollars from your bank account and use them for purposes of which you do not approve. That's what is known in English as a 'fairness' issue.

So, you don't hesitate to criticize gov't power for being unfair. It's just that you also acknowledge, here & in the past, that you don't know how to define what is indeed fair.

And you're only too eager to exploit the difficulty of defining fairness to attack the credibility of people with whom you disagree.

Hey, I think you're right: defining fairness is very difficult. And yet, on some level it is not so difficult. It is sufficient to say that fairness is in the eye of the beholder, as you seemed to suggest above.

So, if the majority reaches a consensus about what is fair, then that consensus will have a tendency to rule, and there is a certain justice to that outcome. Please note that democratic forms of gov't often protect minority viewpoints.

This does not endorse practises like slavery, which in times past was common. It merely acknowledges that in times past slavery may have been widely seen as fair. Of course, we don't really know how a poll of all citizens would have turned out in times of slavery. Maybe even then the consensus was 'unfair.' But lack of democratic institutions--please note the possibility--could have rendered that consensus irrelevant in the face of the power of the ruling classes.

Posted by: poot Smootley on March 8, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

I want a single payer plan (with options for those who want to buy more private insurance), however, I would start with having a single payer plan for children. Anyone who wants to enroll their child would be able to by a marking a single check box on his/her tax return. Their taxes might go up somewhat, depending upon income and all the usual tax things. Many people would enroll their children, but those who are happy with their current insurance would not have to.
I think that this gets around the right wings usual excuse that somehow people who do not earn enough to buy insurance somehow don't deserve it. I think it is much harder to blame a child for not earning at lease $35,000 at 5 years old. How can we leave innocents uninsured?

Posted by: patrick on March 8, 2006 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK
It was fun reading you clowns claiming that government produces wealth. I'm glad to see you've gained such a suddenly high opinion of Bush and our 3 branches of Republican government. It was the first time, I believe, that I've ever seen people claiming bureaucracy is a wealth creation tool. Anyway, it was a real hoot.

Dear conspiracy nut,

Please note my opinion that it is not at all fun to be so frequently reminded that human beings can be as pig-headed and ignorant as yourself.

Posted by: poot Smootley on March 8, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Please note my opinion that it is not at all fun to be so frequently reminded that human beings can be as pig-headed and ignorant as yourself.
Thanks for sharing your opinion.

As for my opinion of government, Cambodia with a population of 13.5M suffered deaths of 1.5 to 2.3M due to government. Somolia with a population of 8.5M suffered deaths of 41K due to anarchy.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 8, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

As for my opinion of government, Cambodia with a population of 13.5M suffered deaths of 1.5 to 2.3M due to government. Somolia with a population of 8.5M suffered deaths of 41K due to anarchy.
Posted by: conspiracy nut

And you're in favor of which of these exactly?

Posted by: CFShep on March 8, 2006 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Of course, when Gregory writes that his first remark noted....

"that the Will Allen show consists of assertions followed by invective"


...he demonstrates his illiteracy once again, but this time does so by mis-reading something that he wrote himself, which is quite a trick. Of course, it is quite possible that he is merely lying, which he is also wont to do. For instance, when Gregory writes...

"And looking back over the thread (I love the fact that Will's statements remain for all and sundry to evaluate for themselves), we see that Will has provided -- yes! -- assertions and then invective"

...he is being untruthful, since, as anyone can read, my exchanges with Smootly and obscure are invective-free, for the simple reason that neither of them, ulike you or grape, have shown a desire for such an invective-filled exchange. Gregory, along with explaining just how stupid you are (after all, you still seem to fail to grasp the definition of the word "theft"), and how lacking in self-awareness you are, could you also explain why you are so dishonest?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

And you're in favor of which of these exactly?
Damn, and they accuse me of setting up strawmen. This may come as a shock to you, but those aren't the only 2 options available.

A nice option is the Constitution of the United States. I'd be in favor of following that, like actually paying attention to Article I, Section 1 (where Congress makes the laws, not the unelected agencies like the EPA) and Section 8 (the enumeration of the powers of Congress).

And funny thing, I don't see administering health care in those enumerated powers.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 8, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK
As for my opinion of government, Cambodia with a population of 13.5M suffered deaths of 1.5 to 2.3M due to government. Somolia with a population of 8.5M suffered deaths of 41K due to anarchy.

I would call this comment good evidence of the incoherent nature of your thoughts. What does this have to do with whether or not government institutions can create wealth? Indeed, any half-way sensible person would concede that it has been amply established on this thread that gov't does indeed play a crucial and indispensible role in creating wealth.

Furthermore, what do those arbitrarily selected numbers show on their own terms? Next to nothing.

As others have noted, your modus operandi is to throw fruit salad against the wall and watch hopefully to see if anything sticks.

You're a nitwit, cn.

Posted by: poot Smootley on March 8, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK
Of course, when Gregory writes that his first remark noted....

"that the Will Allen show consists of assertions followed by invective"


...he demonstrates his illiteracy once again, but this time does so by mis-reading something that he wrote himself, which is quite a trick.

That's quite true. I originally said pompous assertions followed by invective. In the interest of brevity -- and since, after all, we hardly need me to point out Will's pompousness, since he does such a good job on his own -- I omitted the modifier. Oh, woe is me!

All fun aside, though, I characterized your style as assertions followed by invective, Will, and the evidence is right here. The dishonesty of your claims of what I wrote is exceeded only by the baffling stupidity of lying about something that anyone can reference on this very thread (but then again, misrepresenting what others say is one of your favorite tactics, so it's hardly surprising). I say this over and over, Will, but our respective posts are all right here on the thread, and I'm quite confident in letting readers judge for themselves.

Whether you posted comments that did not have invective among the many that did is irrelevant. The fact is that I described your posting style correctly. You began with assertions (okay, pompous assertions, if you please). You followed with invective. That's that.

Again, if you consider an accurate description of your behavior an insult, the fault is with your behavior, not the description.

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

Clark has stepped up to the bar. He said in his Real State of the Union recently that we need to move toward a single-payer system.

Though I guess talking about who stepped up to the bar is now off-topic.

Posted by: catherineD on March 8, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

D'oh! Boinked the blockquote tag. The first three paragraphs are Will's, the rest is mine.

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Smootley, please post anything I've written where I was "railing against the power of gov't to wring tax dollars from" my "bank account and use them for purposes of which" I "do not approve". You chracterization inaccurate. I have stated that there are actions taken by the state which are an illegitimate use of power, in that they are not essential to preventing either tyranny or anarchy, while acknowledging that people can have very legitimate disagreements as to what actions of the state are required to prevent those two conditions. My position, and how you have just characterized it, aren't even close to being synonymous.

As to your unwillingness to specifically inform us as to when majority will is not sufficient to define "fairness", I'll ask in a different way:

When the majority in this country, through their duly elected representatives, concluded in the early 20th century, that it was entirely fair to have the state sterilize people who tested out with low I.Q.s, against the will of those sterilized (with, ironically, the strong support of those who called themselves "progressives") , was the test of "fairness" met? Why or why not? When the majority in this country, through their election of the very popular FDR, decided that citizens of Japanese descent should be stripped of their property and herded into camps, was it "fair"? Why or why not? After all, the Supreme Court also decided in both instances that these actions were entirely lawful, and the majority certainly supported it, or at least did not oppose it to any degree. Thus, these actions must have been "fair", right? If not, please, explain from what general principal that you deem these actions unfair.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Indeed, any half-way sensible person would concede...
It would be more accurate to say "Indeed, all us moonbats have agreed...".

Furthermore, what do those arbitrarily selected numbers show on their own terms?
They show that governments are great killers, much more so than individuals. Want more examples? Even our Founding Fathers recognized the evils of government, that is why the US Constitution is basically a limit on government power.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 8, 2006 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of dishonesty, by the way, Will's latest post is a perfect example of two of Will's Laws of Commenting:

* Only Will Allen gets to paraphrase. He is under no obligation to do so honestly.

* The only valid definitions are the ones Will Allen decides are valid.

Like I said, you gotta admire such an intellect, hey?

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Gregory, you are so interested in brevity that you left out seven letters which entirely changes the tone of your initial remark. Will you please explain, just once, how you came to be so stupid and dishonest? Yes, Gregory, the readers of this thread can evaluate the posts, and draw their own conclusions as to why my exchange with you is invective-filled, while my exchange with Smootley and obscure are not, even if you are too cretinous or dishonest to grasp it.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory is just here to throw fruit salad against the wall and watch hopefully to see if anything sticks.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 8, 2006 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

No, gregory, paraphrasing is fine by anyone, as long as it is accurate. When, for instance, you employ the word "theft" inaccurately, the paraphrase which contains that word is inaccurate. Similarly, Smootley's paraphrase isn't even close to my position, and feel free to diagram the sentences to show otherwise. Words have specific meaning, Gregory, which is a concept which you either are to dumb to grasp, or are too dishonest to acknowledge.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Gregory, you are so interested in brevity that you left out seven letters which entirely changes the tone of your initial remark.

Okay, then, Will, since you insist, you have proven that my characterization of your behavior as pompous assertions and invective is accurate. Happy now?

But again, if you find an accurate description of your behavior insulting, the problem is with your behavior, not the description.

Yes, Gregory, the readers of this thread can evaluate the posts

...unfortunately for you ...

and draw their own conclusions as to why my exchange with you is invective-filled, while my exchange with Smootley and obscure are not, even if you are too cretinous or dishonest to grasp it.

Yes, yes, Will, we're familiar with your lame justification for your invective. But that doesn't change the simple fact that I predicted pompous assertions and invective, and you delivered.

It was a trap, Will. You could have simply avoided it, but noooooooooooo. Instead, you proved me right. If I'm such a moron, and you fell for my trap and proved me right and you wrong, what does that say about you?

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

No, gregory, paraphrasing is fine by anyone, as long as it is accurate. When, for instance, you employ the word "theft" inaccurately, the paraphrase which contains that word is inaccurate.

But I didn't employ the word "theft" inaccurately. grape_crush had you here:

What you wrote earlier is close enough,

telling an individual that they will imprison or kill the individual, if he does not give something of value

unless you are being totally pedantic, which you are.

So you were able to find a dictionary definition that differed from that definition by incorporating the concept of illegality. So what? That hardly renders my characterization incorrect, or obliges me to accept your definition over mine, especially since you're trying to worm your way out of being proved wrong yet again.

I hate to play your pedantic games, but are you saying that taking by threat of force isn't theft? Or are you saying that theft didn't exist before there were laws against it? That's the only way to prove that your definition is valid and mine not so.

Tell you what, Will. If you'll assert that the answer to those two questions is "yes," I'll admit here, publicly, that my characterization of your statement in question was indeed inaccurate. (As cmdicely noted, my attribution of "taxation is theft" to loony libertarians in general is still valid.) How bout it?

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

No, Gregory, it's only been established that you are a liar, an idiot, or both. Now, go back to misreading your own posts.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

No, Gregory, it's only been established that you are a liar, an idiot, or both. Now, go back to misreading your own posts.

No, that hasn't by established.

Hey! You're right, Will! Argument by assertion is fun!

Again, though, if you find an accurate description of your behavior insulting, the problem is with your behavior, not the description.

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, since you cannot grasp the definitions of very simple words, I'll help out. Sometimes taking property by force is theft, and sometimes it isn't, because the taking of property by force is only one element to the activity known as "theft". Goodness gracious, you really are an idiot, aren't you?

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

"hasn't by established" s/b "hasn't been established," of course.

Once more, Will, you could establish that I was at least mistaken by affirming that taking by threat of force isn't theft and that theft didn't exist before there were laws against it. Are you game?

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Sometimes taking property by force is theft

So you admit that my definition is valid, even if other ones also exist (I presume that neither one of us are talking about stealing bases, which was also in the definition you cited, but hey, that could be my illiteracy again). Thanks, Will.

Now, are you prepared to assert that theft did not exist before there were laws against it?

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Lemme see.....

Gregory leaves out one word that he has written, when asserting what his initial post said, which greatly changes the tone of that post, but no, he isn't a liar, or an illiterate. Gregory then asserts that my "style" as "assertions followed by invective", despite the fact that my exchanges with two other people in this thread are lacking invective. Perhaps Gregory can now explain why my invective-containing "style" with others in this thread does not, in fact, contain invective.

Oh, no, you aren't a dishonest idiot, Gregory.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

With each post, Gregory, you explore new depths of idiocy. Read very, very, s-l-o-w-l-y. Taking property by force is one element of the activity known as theft, but it is not the only element of the activity known as theft, so, no, your definition is not valid.

Similarly, having one's body not touching the ground, or not touching a solid or liquid object(s) which is, in turn, resting on the ground, is one element of the activity known as "flying". It is not the only element, however, which is why someone sitting in a 747 at 30,000 feet can be said to be flying, while the unfortunate incident wherein you fell out of a tree at an early age, and apparently sustained irreversible brain damage, was not an instance of a person who was "flying".

Good grief.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Will, I've cheerfully acknowledged that pompous assertions and invective are an accurate description of your style. What's dishonest is pretending that acknowledgement doesn't exist, but I know better than to expect honesty from you, so I don't mind.

The point is, it's still an accurate description, the fact that you sometimes post non-invectives notwithstanding -- after all, your justification for your invective, lame as it is, is pretty well an admission that you do it.

Again, if you find an accurate description of your behavior insulting -- as you appear to insist upon -- the problem is with your behavior, not the description.

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Taking property by force is one element of the activity known as theft, but it is not the only element of the activity known as theft, so, no, your definition is not valid.

Will, I think we've established that accepting your assertions of what is valid and what isn't - hell, acception your assertions period -- is a mug's game. You may not want to admit it, but others in this thread have weighed in that my definition was, in fact, perfectly valid. If that wasn't what you meant, perhaps, as grape suggested, the fault lies with you and not the rest of us.

But anyway, if you want to insist that illegality is the cruicial element of what defines theft, all you have to do is assert that theft didn't exist before there were laws. I'm waiting....

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

...and anyway, as cmdicely pointed out, my attribution of the notion that "property is theft" to loony libertarians in general is perfectly valid. That you are, apparently, too illiterate to understand a collective noun, is not my problem. You've been quite strident, Will, in your attempts to distance yourself from the group that I call "loony libertarians," but the bottom line is, Will, that I don't find your protestations all that convincing.

One other thing you do have in common with loony libertarians is a bottomless reservoir of intellectual dishonesty. That, and arrogance. That, and arrogance, and a persecution complex. That, and...well, you get the picture.

It's been fun, Will, but frankly, sharing a thread with only you makes me feel like I need a shower, so I'll just accept your conspicuous refusal so far to assert that that theft didn't exist before there were laws as an admission that legality isn't the crucial element of the definition, and leave you -- before I give you the all-important last word! -- with one final thought:

If you find an accurate description of your behavior insulting -- as you appear to insist upon -- the problem is with your behavior, not the description.

Posted by: Gregory on March 8, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

No, Gregory, your initial impulse was to lie regarding your first post, or perhaps you really can't read, and you've yet to to acknowledge that it is only my exchange with you, and to a lesser degree, grape, which contain invective, so you are still lying. Also, only one person has said that your definition of the word "theft" is valid, so your employment of the word "others" is still another example of your dishonesty. Why do you lie so much?

Yes, gregory, prior to the establishment of law, there was no theft, but no, that does not mean that all forceful taking of property prior to the establishment of law were legitimate. Since you really have difficulty with the concept of sets and subsets, I will explain further. "Theft" is a subset of the set known as "illegitimate taking of property by force", but it does not comprise the entire set. I know that this is likely beyond your intellect, but, heck, even a parakeet can learn, so there may be hope for you as well.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

but others in this thread have weighed in...
Gregory, do I understand you in that you are relying on other moonbats to back your assertions?

That's funny. You all share a brain, of course the other moonbats think like you.

Posted by: conspiracy nut on March 8, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory, stop. This is embarrassing. You now write...

"If you find an accurate description of your behavior insulting -- as you appear to insist upon -- the problem is with your behavior, not the description."

......and in doing so, you still dishonestly fail to acknowledge that the behavior which you describe, the use of invective, has only been used in the exchange with you, and to a lesser degree, grape, thus it is not an accurate description. Why do you lie so much?

Also, the use of a collective noun is only appropriate after it has been established that the person you have directed it to is part of such a collective. Since there are any number of issues with which I am in disagreement with those who consider themselves "libertarian", this has not been established, thus your use of the collective noun is yet again stupid, dishonest, or both.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Having waded through the trash fight, it's hard to remember this was a thread on health care. Can't you guys take it to email?

"Somehow in my long explanation of the German system, perhaps it got lost that a substantial part of the health system is financed through the premiums paid equally by employers and employees. "

It wasn't lost on me. So basically, it's a massive employment tax--and that would go on top of social security and in addition to Medicare. FICA is currently 12.4 percent with a cap, and Medicare is 2.9 with no cap. So we're upping Medicare to fund this--and how much? Cap or no cap?

I'll make up some numbers, and you tell me if they're realistic:

FICA stays intact. Medicare is 9% with no cap. So on salaries through 90K (or whatever), the hit goes from 15.3 to 21.4, split between employer and employee. On people with salaries over the ceiling, the tax triples.

Employers won't be able to decide whether or not they offer health care, and for those who do offer it, they won't have any bargaining ability to reduce their health care costs.

Self-employed people will have to pay the full load, again having no choice about their health care costs.

That's without mentioning the massive increase in the cost of employing people at the lower wage levels.

You don't think it sounds slightly insane?

BTW, people were talking about unemployment rates in Europe. Several countries, including Britain, game their unemployment numbers by pushing people into "training" or "disability" just to make their economy look better. There have been quite a few studies on it.

Posted by: Cal on March 8, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK
They show that governments are great killers, much more so than individuals. Want more examples? Even our Founding Fathers recognized the evils of government, that is why the US Constitution is basically a limit on government power.

Your numbers demonstrated no such thing. You live in la-la land and the nature of your character is such that your principle pleasure comes from being a source of annoyance to other people.

I am grateful that I don't share your taste for dragging discussions away from substance to name-calling.

Have a nice life.

Posted by: poot Smootley on March 8, 2006 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK
As to your unwillingness to specifically inform us as to when majority will is not sufficient to define "fairness", I'll ask in a different way... Thus, these actions must have been "fair", right? If not, please, explain from what general principal that you deem these actions unfair.

Will,

I don't mean this in a personal way, but you clearly paid little attention to what I wrote about defining "fairness," otherwise you wouldn't have asked the questions you did.

I gave you a pretty explicit answer to what I think about the problem.

*Also, it would be refreshing if you would come out once and admit that you have ex-treeeeemely thin skin. No offense intended.

Posted by: poot Smootley on March 8, 2006 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry Smootley, but I don't see anything in this statement......

"So, if the majority reaches a consensus about what is fair, then that consensus will have a tendency to rule, and there is a certain justice to that outcome. Please note that democratic forms of gov't often protect minority viewpoints".

....or in anything else you've written, which can inform us of the "fairness", or "unfairness" in sterilizing low I.Q. individuals, or in interning citizens of Japanese descent. That is why I asked you specifically whether you consider these acts by the state to be "fair" or not, and from what general principal you derive that conclusion. Yes, you say that democratic forms of government often protect minority viewpoints. As these instances establish, however, they sometimes don't, and I'm just inquiring as to what principals you employ when deciding that not protecting minority viewpoints, or minority status, is to be considered "fair". I'm not trying to be hostile. I truly am curious as how you come to your conclusions.

As to my allegedly thin skin, when a person, like Gregory, consistently demonstrates through his own words that a rude and insulting tone is what he considers appropriate, then mirroring that tone is quite reasonable. Gregory is among the worst offenders here, but it is a feature of this forum (and no doubt many others, across the political spectrum) that people who sound a discordant note here, no matter how civil, are frequently subjected to unecessarily rude and insulting rhetoric.

Posted by: Will Allen on March 8, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't it Kevin Drum and Matthew Yglesias that not too long ago argued that medicare was in dire straits? They argued that medicare was in much worse shape than social security, and fixing medicare would be extremely difficult and complicated.

Now you want to propose "medicare for all"? Great idea.

"It really is true that maintaining all of our current policy commitments with regard to Medicare will wind up boosting spending to an unwisely high level." - Yglesias

"Medicare policy is extremely complicated. Our health care system is messed up in a large number of ways, and Medicare has many design problems that lead spending to be higher than it needs to be. But Medicare policy is not only complicated, and difficult, but deadly boring. Devising a workable proposal that would control spiraling costs in a smart way would be very hard. In fact, it would be beyond the capacity of pretty much every pundit in town." - Yglesias

"Medicare, on the other hand, will start dipping into its trust fund in a mere six years. And no one thinks this estimate is going to improve: thanks to skyrocketing healthcare costs, Medicare might very well be in worse shape than we think it is. As a result, the cost of Medicare is likely to increase by a staggering 7 points of GDP over the next 50 years." - Drum

"Conversely, Medicare reform is really, really hard. You've got the same funding issues as Social Security, except much bigger and much closer; and in addition you also have to face up to spiralling healthcare costs. And figuring out a way to contain healthcare costs is a subject that nobody wants to tackle. Not Democrats and definitely not Republicans." - Drum

Posted by: chief on March 8, 2006 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Yay, Kevin! I'm late to the party, but this is exactly what Democrats need to do: Put out clear, simple, strong policy and fight for it.

Single-payer universal health care
(not incremental, complex b.s.)
Public campaign financing
(cut off corruption at the root! not empty "lobbying reform")
Increase minimum wage to a living wage

Posted by: Nell on March 8, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

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明星
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Posted by: 565656 on March 9, 2006 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK

We live in a wonderful nation nearly three hundred million strong. Among us are some of the brightest minds in every field of study. When we have had great leadership, we have dedicated ourselves to great and noble causes before and accomplished near miracles in short periods of time. The time has come for us to rally around a cause so glaringly obvious that it is clear both to those on the far left, the far right and everyone in between. We need a health care revolution in this country.

Many who see the problem look to solutions provided elsewhere in the world and see a government run, single-payer, universal health plan as the solution. I believe this solution to be so, well, been there, done that, 1965 thinking. It has never worked brilliantly anywhere it has been implemented. Some countries have better systems than others, but all the countries provide marginal service which is neither cost-effective, nor patient friendly.

There is no doubt that our complex patchwork of pseudo-systems is the most expensive in the world and provides service that while the best in the world for many, is only average in spreading that greatness across universal coverage. It is important to note that even in countries which provide universal coverage, the populations on a whole are not universally covered. For example, small pockets of rare minorities always get the worst service.

I think that we should be ashamed of ourselves if we accept a single payer system that has really failed to produce anything but mediocrity in every country it has been tried in. Additionally, our country is exponentially larger than these others and so the systemic faults would be proportionally larger in our application. The cost would be astronomical in both dollars and human suffering.

The good news in that we can draw on the brilliant, talented and caring members of our large community and come up with a system so wonderful it becomes the model for the rest of the world to emulate. Any new system should include three main components:

1. It must be universal in nature where everyone is covered through a combination of free market plans, federal re-insurance funds, and a redesigned Medicare safety net.

2. It must provide individual portability so consumers can change plans regardless of pre-existing conditions.

3. It must provide a plethora of free market plans which allow individual consumers the range of options to pick a plan that fits their balance of need and budget. Even low wage earners should be able to buy simple plans to at least cover some of their health care needs.

Additionally the plan should include three core economic elements:

1. Pre-Tax Medical Savings Accounts: Consumers can buy a variety of their health care needs in cash transactions which uses market forces to increase competition and drive down prices. Routine medical exams, some prescriptions, immunization, simple blood work, dental cleanings, and other small or routine expenses all could be paid for from these cash accounts.

2. Consumer purchased insurance plans. - These plans would cover consumers for expenses greater than those paid for from health savings accounts, and for things which require ongoing treatments. All plans would, or at least could, have ceiling limits where responsibility of liability is transferred to larger, or perhaps national, re-insurance fund. Consumer would no longer get health insurance through their employers. Transitional regulations would force business to give raises to all employees based on the cost of their health care.

3. National Re-Insurance Fund This fund, separate from the general funds of the government, is used to cover catastrophic health needs allowing insurance companies to cap their liability which will allow companies to provide much more reasonably price plans. This re-insurance fund would also be set-up to cover the policy portability issue. If consumers need to switch insurance companies and pre-existing conditions make it difficult for free-market forces to work unabated, consumers would get help paying premiums with a re-insurance fund co-payment. This re-insurance treasury would be funded by a surcharge on health insurance premiums of about five percent paid equally by consumers and insurance companies.

Regardless of the specifics, I am sure that if we pool our minds, our hearts, and our resources together we can create an amazing system that really delivers world-class, top-notch, health care to each and every member of our society without breaking the back of anyone. I know that if we dream together, debate together, and work together, we can create a true masterpiece of public policy remembered hundreds of years from now for its brilliance. Or, we can use a tired old system more reminiscent of the 19th century than of the 21st. It is up to you. Do you want the best the world has to offer? Or, do you just want to settle for the same dysfunctional system much of the rest of the world wishes they didnt have either?

Lets start a true health care revolution! (Peaceful please, no need for violence.)


Posted by: Chad Currin on March 9, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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