Getting outside of the bubble: taking liberal arguments seriously

Paul Scott challenged us to look at what Eric Garland, a Progressive blogger, has to say and to take it seriously as a way to win the White House.  Paul is right — we cannot make a convincing argument unless we know what our opponent in the argument believes.  Insulting Paul doesn’t make us stronger.  Rather than spin around in our own fish bowl, we have to look at what others are saying, correct their misconceptions, and either challenge or concede to their arguments head-on.

In that spirit, I’m taking a serious look at Eric Garland’s post.  I’m not giving anything away here when I say that, having weighed it carefully, I’ve found it wanting.

Eric might also want to look seriously at conservatives, since he seems to be have accepted several canards propounded by the media and other liberal sources.  In that regard, I would remind him that the Wheel of Political Fortune has tended to rotate in roughly eight year cycles:  Reagan’s conservativism got 12 years (counting Bush); Clinton’s Progressivism got 8 years; Bush’s compassionate conservativism got 8 years; and Obama is now getting his 8 years.

Whether Obama will also get his own addendum years, as Reagan did with Bush Sr., remains open to question.  Americans are a generous and forbearing people, but unless Obama significantly improves the economy, or significantly re-educates Americans so that they lower their economic and employment expectations, Obama’s next four years may be the Democrats’ last four for a while.

Let’s start with Eric’s contention that he is the kind of voter that Republicans seek:

  • My family lineage goes back to the MAYFLOWER, BOAT ONE!!! (Garland family of New England-> John Adams -> Howard Alden -> Plymouth colony ->KINGS OF MUTHAF***IN’ ENGLAND)
  • I am a heterosexual, married to the super Caucasian mother of my two beautiful children who are, inexplicably, EVEN WHITER THAN I AM.
  • I am college educated (Master’s degree!) and affluent.
  • I am a job creator and small businessman.
  • We pay a lot of taxes! Every year!
  • I grew up in a rural area and despise laziness!
  • Having started my own business, I have complained at length about the insanity of federal, state and local bureaucracy – and its deleterious impact on the innovative small businessman.
  • I currently live in the suburbs in a historically Red state.

I’m not sure Eric is the perfect specimen he thinks he is.  Or rather, he’s the perfect specimen only if you accept his rather ugly view of conservatives.

Family lineage:  As a first generation Jewish American conservative, I was unaware that the Republican party had admissions criteria based upon 1950s WASP country club rules.  To the contrary, the Republican party, unlike the Democratic party, does not classify people by race, religion, or country of national origin.  Instead, it seeks values voters.  As I use it, and as the the conservatives I know use it, the term “values voters” should be understood to encompass constitutional values such as individual liberty; market-based capitalism; small, affordable government; freedom of speech; freedom of worship; etc.  In other words, the oldies, but goodies.  These are values intrinsic too all Americans regardless of the divisive victim identities that the Democrats and Progressives have sought to impose on the American body politic since the 1960s.  We understand that people like Eric can’t help their boring lineage.  They are still welcome amongst conservatives.

Sexual orientation and race:  By boasting repeatedly about his, and his family’s, whiteness and heterosexuality, Eric sounds a little too much like a candidate for the KKK (which was, as his high education level surely informs him, a Democrat connected party).  Eric’s obsession with his race and sexuality highlights the Democrat/Progressive habit of parsing Americans into sexual and racial boxes.  Honestly, we conservatives really don’t care about those archaic, eugenicist classifications.  What we do care about are shared values, tied to the Constitution.  I know bunches of gays, whites, Jews, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics (and whatever other little boxes Progressives like to check) who believe in limited government.

What all conservatives have figured out is that, once government gets big enough (and ours certainly has gotten that big), it can start picking winners and losers.  That’s good for the winners.  Unfortunately, as Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Communists, and the mentally disabled discovered in Nazi Germany; as Kulaks discovered in Soviet Russia; and intellectuals and glasses-wearers discovered in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, if a Big Government identifies you as a loser, you’re pretty much dead.  The smaller the government, the less risk for minority groups.  Ideally, as the Founders perfectly understood, one wants a government that’s big enough to protect all of its citizens, but not one so big that it does what Eric does:  parses them into “in” groups and “out” groups, and then punish the “out” groups.

College educated and affluent:  It’s great that Eric and his family are college educated and affluent.  I’m sure his mother is very proud.  It may come as a surprise to Eric that many conservatives are educated too. And almost as many conservatives have spent many years trying to unlearn the Left wing pap that made up that education.

The real world doesn’t put the same premium on the Ivory Tower that the Ivory Tower puts upon itself.  Womyn’s Studies contribute little to intellectual attainment or economic betterment.  And if you’ve got an MBA predicated on Keynesian economics — well, you’re about to see that economic view take a hit in the real world, just as it did when Roosevelt put it into effect (with the Depression massively worsened under his aegis), or when Europe put it into effect with its now-collapsing soft-socialism, and as America will see play out as the Harvard-educated Obama continues to pick winners and losers in today’s economy.

The secret that hasn’t yet infiltrated the Ivory Tower is that governments are slow, inefficient, and corrupt.  They analyze data inefficiently, apply their analyses unfairly, and then pervert the market (using taxpayer money) to prop up their so-called “winner’s” failures.  Today’s education, which is directed at creating a Leftist man, rather than a broadly educated man, is nothing to boast about.

A job creator and small businessman.  Again, that’s great.  Conservatives believe that job creators and small business people should support conservative values, because lower taxes, fewer regulations, and less government control (not no government control, but less) enhance small businesses and create more jobs.  We find bewildering the number of small business owners who willingly vote for politicians who impose ever greater burdens upon them, stifling their building to thrive and grow.

Pays lots of taxes:  Eric sounds almost enthusiastic about those taxes.  One wonders if he’s ever asked himself if the government makes better decisions about spending that money than he does?  I’m sure Eric doesn’t quarrel — and neither do I — with government spending it on core government functions that all civilized nations support, such as national security, roads, public health, etc.  I wonder, though, if he’s thought seriously about the economics and morals of taking stimulus dollars and deciding which businesses, interests, and individuals should get special treatment using American tax dollars.  Likewise, I wonder if he’s ever considered the wisdom of tethering people more and more tightly to welfare by taking dollars out of the market and then having the government channel those same dollars to people rendered unemployed by the deleterious effect high taxes have on jobs.

Rural and not-lazy.  Again, good for Eric.  Republicans like rural, not-lazy people.  Republicans also like suburban or urban not-lazy people.  Basically, Republicans like people who are willing to put some energy into living their own lives, rather than sitting back complacently, waiting for a hand-out.

Complained about bureaucracy:  It’s rather peculiar that Eric hates bureaucracy, but still supports Obama and his Democrats.  This headline explains my bewilderment:  “Obama Administration Proposes 6,125 Regulations And Notifications In Last 90 Days.”  Why would someone who dislikes the burdens of a large bureaucracy vote for the candidate whose promise is to increase government interference in and control of every aspect of our lives?

Red Stater:  I bet Eric likes living in a Red State.  His taxes aren’t as high as they could be (try living in Blue California), and he’s not dealing with the failed economies that plague the Blue States (have I mentioned California?).  In other words, Eric is living well thanks to Red State, conservative values voters, who have supported lower taxes and more individual freedom.  It’s ironic and sad that his current goal is to reduce the entire United States to a wacky economic combination of Detroit (bankrupt), California (bankrupt), Illinois (bankrupt and corrupt), and other blue stated wonders, filled with “smart” people and big debt.  It’s not just the states that are bankrupt.  Bankrupt states produce bankrupt individuals.

(Thinking about this makes me kind of sad that I didn’t pursue my original law school goal of becoming a bankruptcy attorney.  It seemed like such a great idea during the recession that existed when I was started law school.  As the Reagan economy improved, through, I rethought things, and went for general business litigation.  Now would be a good time to be a bankruptcy attorney.  Take a firm like Wadhwani & Shanfeld, for example, which clearly started as a two attorney enterprise, and now has five offices scattered throughout meatless-Monday Southern California.  That’s the great thing about America — there’s always a silver lining for someone.  Also, I like that firm because it’s quite clear that the founders are from different cultural/racial backgrounds, but they came together to create a successful all-American enterprise.  Woo-hoo!)

But back to my main point….

Per Eric’s definition, the modern Republican party would desperately like to look like the old Democrat KKK, which utterly fails to explain why it celebrates extraordinary people and politicians such as Mia Love, Marco Rubio, Allen West, Herman Cain, Bobby Jindal, and other Americans who are concerned more with values than with little boxes on government survey forms.

Eric reveals his blinkered view of conservativism when he claims he is a prize of the type conservatives seek.  It’s nice that he pays taxes, creates jobs, is educated, works hard, and lives in a Red State, but he’s flattering himself a little too much.  It isn’t what he is taxes and education that matter, when it comes to elections, it’s what he believes — and honestly, his beliefs aren’t so hot.  What Eric believes leads down a single road:  higher taxes; fewer jobs; continued Leftist educational indoctrination; higher welfare and food stamp rolls; a population made up of disparate groups all vying to be crowned “biggest victim”; and Red States joining their Blue compatriots in bankruptcy and corruption.

Perhaps if Eric could see beyond his Jon Stewart, New York Times, MSNBC definition of conservatives, he might realize that the conservative ideology offers him and others a great deal more than he ever imagined, without interfering too greatly with what I assume are his core values.  Let’s take his critiques of conservatives one at a time:

Science – One of the reasons my family is affluent is that my wife and I have a collective fifteen years of university education between us. I have a Masters degree in Science and Technology Policy, and my wife is a physician who holds degrees in medicine as well as cell and molecular biology. We are really quite unimpressed with Congressional representatives such as Todd Akin and Paul Broun who actually serve on the House science committee and who believe, respectively, that rape does not cause pregnancy and that evolution and astrophysics are lies straight from Satan’s butt cheeks. These are, sadly, only two of innumerable assaults that the Republican Party has made against hard science – with nothing to say of logic in general. Please understand the unbearable tension this might create between us and your candidates.

As far as I can tell, in the last election, it is a sad truth that the Republican party managed to field a few idiots, such as Todd Akin, Tom Smith, and Roger Rivard, who are genuinely ignorant, in a very mean-spirited way, about rape.  Otherwise, though, Republicans are like other Americans, in that they understand that horrors of rape and the morally difficult consequences that result from rape.

Thus, conservatives recognize that rape is a terrible thing, one that becomes a permanent, damaging part of a woman’s psyche.  What some pro-Life conservatives say, though, is that this purely an evil act may nevertheless have resulted in something good:  an innocent life.  To them, it would compound the evil of rape if it was followed by the murder of an innocent.  They are not unsympathetic to the rape victim, they just believe that, in the balance, two wrongs don’t make a right.

I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with them, because the topic deserves a post on its own.  I’m simply saying that candidates such as Paul Ryan, Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, and John Koster have set out a moral position that has nothing to do with science.  In the same way, there’s nothing science-related about Barack Obama’s repeated willingness to oppose a bill that would have required physicians to care for late-term babies that, rather than being aborted as planned, end up living.

The question of an innocent life within a full-realizedwomen is one of morals, not science, and it’s a profound cognitive error to conflate the two.   Also, I can’t resist adding that, when it comes to idiots, the Democrats have managed to field quite a few of their own cranks, crackpots, gaffe-meisters, and other mean-spirited, ignorant people.  The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that, while the Republican idiots didn’t get elected to office, the Democrat idiots did.

Climate – Within just the past 18 months the following events have come to our attention: a record-breaking drought that sent temperatures over 100 degrees for weeks, killing half the corn in the Midwest and half the TREES on our suburban property – AND – a hurricane that drowned not New Orleans or Tampa or North Carolina but my native state of VERMONT. As an encore, a second hurricane drowned lower Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island. The shouted views of decrepit mental fossil Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that this is a fraud perpetrated on the American people by evil, conspiring climate scientists is belied by such events and is looking irresponsible to even the most skeptical.

I’m always amazed at the way supposedly educated people confuse correlation and causation.  The one does not imply the other.  That is, just because we’re seeing impressive climate events at the same time that most Americans drive cars doesn’t mean the two are related.

Most conservatives willingly acknowledge climate change.  Indeed, they’ll go further than just focusing on the changes that took place since Al Gore, in the early 1970s, was convinced that the earth would soon freeze over.  They’ll concede that the earth’s climate has been changing non-step since the earth first came into being.

Where conservatives differ with the self-identified scientifically brilliant climate change crowd is in believing (a) that human activity can change climate and (b) that warming is a bad thing.  (The picture below is of Greenland, which was once Green and sustained significant Viking colonies.)

With regard to human activity, conservatives admit that humans can affect the environment, most notably with pollution.  Most conservatives believe that they are the earth’s stewards and that this stewardship requires acting responsibly so that we do not make filthy the world around us, or carelessly destroy nature’s bounty.  We do not believe, though, that the climate change crowd has adduced sufficient evidence to show that today’s bad weather is human-kind’s fault.  News about Climategate, or the profound errors regarding Himalayan glaciers, indicates that we are right to be suspicious.  (Regarding glaciers, for example, we know that they’ve advanced and retreated relentlessly for most of the earth’s lifespan.)

And with regard to the apocalyptic view of warming, those of us reasonably conversant with history know that a global warming trend is good for humans.  It increases the growing season, releases more water (which is essential to all human existence), and makes available more land on which to grow food.  For example, the periods both before and after the mini-Ice Age were good ones for human development.

A few more things to throw into the mix:  We know that it’s only since Victorian times that people have been keeping accurate weather records, which means that we’re basing a lot of conclusions on only 150 years of data.  We know that the computer models on which much climate hysteria is based have frequently proven wrong.  And we know that many of the problems we’ve seen from hurricanes have happened, not because hurricane are worse (and after all, our records are only 150-200 years old), but because we have very dense coastal populations.  It’s like the difference between a fatal car crash involving one passenger and a crash involving seven:  it’s the same crash, but the mortality rate in the second instance is seven times greater.

Healthcare – My wife and I are quite familiar with America’s healthcare system due to our professions, and having lived abroad extensively, also very aware of comparable systems. Your party’s insistence on declaring the private U.S. healthcare system “the best in the world” fails nearly every factual measure available to any curious mind. We watch our country piss away 60% more expenditures than the next most expensive system (Switzerland) for health outcomes that rival former Soviet bloc nations. On a personal scale, my wife watches poor WORKING people show up in emergency rooms with fourth-stage cancer because they were unable to afford primary care visits. I have watched countless small businesses unable to attract talented workers because of the outrageous and climbing cost of private insurance. And I watch European and Asian businesses outpace American companies because they can attract that talent without asking people to risk bankruptcy and death. That you think this state of affairs is somehow preferable to “Obamacare,” which you compared ludicrously to Trotskyite Russian communism, is a sign of deficient minds unfit to guide health policy in America.

Eric’s analysis about the US healthcare system works only because he is relying on the WHO metric –that is, he’s looking at access, not quality.  I’m not going to beat this horse here, because I don’t have to.  Scott Atlas’ masterful The Worst Study Ever explains the difference between socialized and American medicine, as well as the flaws in the WHO study.  More than that, he does so concisely and in terms even the well-educated can understand.

There’s no doubt that the pre-ObamaCare American system was inefficient and needed improvement.  Turning it into England’s National Health Service, however, which serves the young and healthy sort of well, but is bad news for others, is not the way to reform American medical care.

War – Nations do have to go to war sometimes, but that Iraq thing was pretty bad, to put it mildly. Somebody should have been, I dunno – FIRED for bad performance. Aren’t you the party of good corporate managers or something? This topic could get 10,000 words on its own. Let’s just leave it at: You guys suck at running wars.

Eric might want to explain what happened in Libya, which was Obama’s war:  Why did we go in, how much did we spend, and what did we get for the money, aside from some murdered Americans, including the first U.S. Ambassador killed since 1979?  Eric might also want to look into the skyrocketing deaths on Obama’s watch in Afghanistan — deaths that are wasted, because we already know that they will be followed, not by victory, but by retreat.  Lastly, Eric might want to contemplate that, since 1900, most of the wars in which America got involved started on a Democrat’s watch:  WWI (Wilson), WWII (Roosevelt), the Korean War (Truman), the Vietnam War (Kennedy and Johnson), and the war in Libya (Obama).  Perhaps having a stronger hand at the helm might have avoided those wars in the first place.

Deficits and debt – Whenever the GOP is out of power, it immediately appeals to the imagination of voters who remember the Lyndon Baines Johnson (!) administration and claim that the Republican alternative is the party of “cutting spending” and “reducing the deficit.” The only problem with your claim is that Republican governments throughout my entire 38 year life (Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43) have failed to cut spending and deficit and debt EVEN ONCE. I hope you understand that your credibility suffers every time you promise one thing for three decades and do the EXACT OPPOSITE. Egads – if you actually were the party of fiscal responsibility – you might win our votes despite your 13th century view of science!

I’ve got to agree with Eric — the Republicans have been stinky at fiscal responsibility.  Really stinky.  The only ones who have been worse are the Democrats.  James Taranto nailed it in his column explaining that, right up until the Tea Party got serious about the deficit, the only thing that the Republicans did was to temper Democrat spending:

Deficit hawkishness was the main strain of postwar Republican conservatism until the Goldwater movement of 1964. When lefties long for the “mainstream” Republicans of yore, this is a large part of what they have in mind. A conservatism that cares only about balancing the books not only fails to challenge the encroachment of the welfare state but actively aids it by taking political pressure off the left.

Here’s how politics would work in a world in which deficit hawks dominated the Republican Party: The Democrats would propose a new entitlement. Some Republicans would oppose it, but once it was clear it was going to pass, they would drop their opposition and push for tax increases instead.

It’s a win-win for the Democratic left. They not only fulfill their ideological goal of ever-expanding government, but they get the political credit for doling out benefits and they shift the blame to Republicans (or at least share it with them) for the concomitant tax increases. Conservatives are reduced, to paraphrase Newt Gingrich, to acting as tax collectors for the welfare state. With Republican cooperation, Democrats can be the party of generous benefits and low taxes. Lyndon B. Johnson dramatically expanded the former while reducing the latter.

The current strain of conservativism, birthed by the Tea Party, is small government conservativism.  The Big Tent has room for social conservatives, but the real press here is what got Reagan into office on his second run for the presidency:  shrinking the federal government.  As Taranto explains in the article quoted above, talking about shrinking government is easier than actually shrinking government, but the focus is still on restraining growth, not just on figuring out a way to pay for it.

Eric’s attitude — which is that Republicans are wastrels, so I’ll vote for the party that’s even more irresponsible with taxpayer money — is a classic example of cutting of ones nose to spite ones face.  Eric should be demanding more small government conservativism, not retaliating against Republican profligacy by opening his checkbook even wider for infinitely worse Democrat profligacy.

The bottom line in the rational world, and one that Eric, as an educated man and businessman, should know well is simple:  over the long term, you cannot spend what you don’t have.  When your spending outruns your earning by too great an amount, you have very limited choices:  continue to spend yourself into bankruptcy, which is the Obama choice; cut your spending, which is the Tea Party choice; and earn more money, which is what Obama contends is his choice, one made by using the government’s taxation powers.  Where Obama errs is that it is impossible to close the gap by taxing the rich.  Instead, by killing the goose that lays the golden egg, Obama’s approach will merely accelerate the bankruptcy.

Gay marriage – As the child of Baby Boomers who got divorced (as was the fashion!) in the 80s and 90s, and for whom 50% of my friends had their homes broken by divorce in the critical years before age 18, I sure am unsympathetic to your caterwauling bullshit that “gays will destroy the sanctity of marriage.” Perhaps if everyone in your generation didn’t take the period of 1978 – 1995 to start surreptitiously banging their neighbors and coworkers, only to abandon their kids because “they just weren’t happy,” I would take your defense of marriage more seriously. The institution of Middle Class suburban marriage was broken by the generation of aging white Baby Boomers who populate what is left of the Republican Party, so your defense is wrongheaded and disingenuous. And moreover, as someone who got called “faggot” about 127 times a day from the years 1985 through 1991 – guess what – I grew up to be pretty good friends with actual homosexuals, whose sexual orientation is usually the least significant thing about them. The Republican perseveration on homosexuals as any sort of threat consigns them to history’s trough of intellectual pig dung.

Eric errs (again!) in assuming that, because conservatives haven’t embraced gay marriage, they hate gays.  Not so.  As with abortion, this is a complicated issue that sees a clash of differing liberties.  As I’ve written often, “marriage” has two distinct components:  religious and civil.  When church and state were one, that wasn’t a problem; when they parted ways, with the Constitution guaranteeing that the government would stay out of the religion business, the potential for conflicts arose.  As we’ve seen with the ObamaCare contraception/insurance mandate, when the government issue edicts that conflict with doctrine, the Constitution is directly implicated.  So too with “gay marriage.”  It’s extremely easy to posit a situation in which a church refuses to marry a gay couple, which then sues the church, claiming that it violated their civil rights.

My suggestion, and I think it’s a good one, is for the government to get out of the marriage business and into the civil union business.  It is then free to define civil unions however it wishes:  male/female, female/female, male/male, goat/cow, etc.  The state’s concern would be “What’s good for the state?”  Considerations would be population replacement or control, economics, stability, etc.  This would leave marriage as a purely religious union.

Frankly, if there wasn’t such a mad rush towards gay marriage, people would be able to step back for a moment and contemplate what their goals are and what the potential pitfalls are.  I don’t have a problem with ensuring that committed gay couples obtain the same civil benefits (and burdens) as other committed couples.  I do have a problem with a pell-mell rush into changing an ancient institution in such a way that it creates a certain clash with faiths, in such as way as to lead to a serious Constitutional crisis.  Am I anti-gay?  No.  I am pro-civil rights, pro-religion, and pro-Constitution.  But in all the rush, nobody is listening to people like me.

Meanness– Your party is really mean, mocking and demonizing everyone who does not follow you into the pits of hell. You constantly imply – as Mitt Romney did in his “47% speech” – that anybody who disagrees with you does so not by logic or moral conviction, but because they are shiftless, lazy parasites who want “free stuff” from “traditional Americans.” Wow, you guys managed to follow up a stunning electoral defeat with insulting the very people you wish to attract for a majority in the political system! Brilliant! You are losing elections because being angry and defensive and just-plain-mean is more important than being smart and winning elections – and thus you deserve everything happening to you.

First all all, mean is not an argument; it’s simply an ad hominem insult, and deserves little consideration.  In the spirit of finger pointing, here are few examples of mean from the other side of the aisle.  I’m too lazy to find links, but anyone wishing to do so can easily find examples:  Conservatives are lambasted as Nazis, racists, homophobes and misogynists.  It’s mean to call them those names.  Israel, the only true liberal democracy in the autocratic, totalitarian, antisemitic, anti-Christian, homophobic Middle East, is routinely castigated as a Nazi, apartheid state that deserves to be destroyed.  That’s mean too.  During the Bush presidency, Democrats characterized Bush as a Nazi, as Hitler, as a chimpanzee, as a murder, and as an idiot.  That’s not very nice.  Barack Obama spent his entire 2012 political campaign ginning up class resentment against rich people or, as I like to call them, employers.  That’s not nice.  Obama’s Occupy movement raped women, attacked people, defecated all over the place, brought barrels of human waste into buildings, rioted, destroyed public property, and harassed people in their own homes.  That’s mean too.

I hope that I have established to Eric’s, and everyone else’s, satisfaction, that calling people names is (a) a game that both sides can play and (b) completely pointless in terms of moving the ball from one side of the debate to the other.

Oh, and by the way, it’s really nasty to call your opponents in the argument “A-holes.”

If you want to know exactly where you failed in 2012, and will continue to fail, here it is. Look you assholes, I’m as traditional an American as it gets, and I do not “want free stuff.”  I am a taxpayer, and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. I got my first job – dragging bags of cow manure, horse feed and fertilizer around a farm store – when I was 12. I started my first company when I was 28. I have followed the vast majority of the rules set out for middle class white males (for good and for ill.) And if it weren’t bad enough that your policy positions are a complete clusterfuck for the reasons I lay out in great detail, you manage to follow up the whole exercise with insulting me, my wife, and my friends of every stripe who didn’t vote for your political party – all of whom are hard-working, taxpaying, job creating, law abiding, great AMERICANS of EVERY COLOR AND CREED.

In my experience, people revert to obscenities and crude insults only when they’re boors or when they have no ideas — or both.  Eric has a few good points (Republicans need to spend less), but mostly, he wallows in myths, canards, and insults.  In that last paragraph quoted, when he drops the pretense of facts and objectivity (all of which are easy to counter), he reveals his true self:  he is not a serious or a decent person.  He is, instead, a bully.

Having escaped my bubble and carefully examined Eric’s arguments, I understand both where he’s coming from and where he is going — and I can’t say I like either his point of origin (an ideological location I once shared) or his ultimate destination.  Eric argues from ignorance and heads to obsolescence.  Let us hope that, in the coming years, his world view does not prevail.

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  • Earl

    Great job, BW….and explains precisely why I don’t waste my time reading leftist blogs.
    Or many right-wing ones, either.
    I have both limited time, and especially limited patience, for the worthless and insulting drivel they spew.

  • rick9911

    WOW !!  BRAVO !!
    I would add that the union of male and female is the basis of continued existence and civilization and as such should have its special place in society, If that place is no longer marriage then we need another.

  • Caped Crusader

    Reading between the lines, Eric has a great deal of hurt and unresolved conflict emanating from his family experiences, causing his need to lash out and attack anything that reminds him of his bitter experiences. As usual, his comments are classical projection, faulting all others with the deep conflict and inner guilt he feels within himself. Why in the world do progressives feel the need to place everyone in a minority box and look at them as a special member to be pandered to? A normal person sees another person as an individual and evaluates them as such when deciding their worth as an individual human.

  • Charles Martel

    I propose that we add a second word to accompany “fisked:” Booked.

  • lee

    i spent a lot of time on the who report. its all aout how socialized is your medicine. i wrote at some length over at moxie d. hoxie. using my cellphone right now and have no access to capital letters or punctuation marks. 

  • Huan

    “fourth stage” cancer?
    the lingo is off, suggesting incomplete appreciation of the field he and his wife assert familiarity of

    btw, the US has better cancer survival than the other socialized western healthcare system

  • Caped Crusader

    Ultimately,  facts will make NO difference to those who have imbibed the progressive Kool-Aid long enough to become chronically intoxicated, and could not see the locomotive engine of disaster bearing down upon them.

  • lee

    See my multitudinous comments under “One that I missed”:

    I am about to tackler “The Children! The Children” argument.

  • Ymarsakar

    i always take leftists seriously. Much as I take murderers, rapists, criminals, and fighters seriously.

     The Leftist cannon fodder will refuse to open their eyes until they learn what hate truly is. When they and their own suffer the Left’s scalpel in the name of Scientific Utopia, then and only then will they realize what they have become.

  • Ravana

    Bookworm, I think your position on gay marriage is an excellent one that would be palatable to a lot of people. 

    However, I think you are mistaken on US healthcare. I read the Atlas article that you linked to, but found it unconvincing. For example, the writer’s arguments that attempt to question the data on life expectancy rankings are not genuine. Why take fatal accidents out of the equation? Surely, if you have an accident and are refused or are delayed in getting access to medical care, the accident has a larger chance of being a fatal one? Also, it is not just because of the life expectancy statistic that the US healthcare system is regarded as inefficient.  There’s a lot of other data that the writer ignores. If you check the raw data on Infant Mortality Rate rankings and Maternal Mortality Rate rankings, even on the CIA World Factbook website, you would find that the US is ranked 49th and 47th of 183 countries, respectively.

    While it is true that the US offers the best healthcare in the world to those who can afford to pay for it,  the problem is that so many of its citizens cannot afford access to it. Healthcare is a merit good, under-provided and under-consumed by the free market. Government does need to step in to increase provision and consumption, because these have so many positive effects on individuals and society as a whole.  

  • Bookworm

    Ravana:  Regarding the health care metric, I can’t speak to the workplace accident issue, but I can speak to the infant mortality.  America is one of the few countries that counts all live births, not just births that have a probability of long-term survival.  The reason we compare badly to other countries on that scale is because the other countries identify as dead those infants who have a perilous or zero chance of surviving.  Since they’ve discounted fragile infants, their statistics are artificially more robust.

    Remember:  lies, damn lies, and Leftist government infant mortality statistics.

  • Charles Martel

    Ravana: “Healthcare is a merit good, under-provided and under-consumed by the free market. Government does need to step in to increase provision and consumption, because these have so many positive effects on individuals and society as a whole.” 
    Assertions are not proof. Several questions occur when reading these claims:
    —In what respects is healthcare “under-provided and under-consumed” by the free market? How does a market consume its own goods?
    —“Government does need to step in:” What is the philosophical basis of that claim? And to what extent should government step in?
    —What are the positive effects you allude to?
    —What indicators can you give us that show how government can increase competitiveness?
    —The money question: Who pays for the government’s implied ability to perform healthcare tasks well?

  • lee

    Ravanna and Bookworm:

    Bookworm–just a slight correction.

    The infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of children less than one year of age per 1000 live births. Most western countries–except the US–only count as live births cases where an infant breathes at birth and many of them do not report all live births of babies under 500 g and/or 22 weeks of gestation. We count and report everything

    Two of the main contributors to infant mortality in the US is premature babies and low birth weight babies. And as far as premies go, the degree to which we try and save premies is amazing. Many of the premature births here would NOT receive the attempts to keep them alive in those upper 46 countries Ravanna mentions. (Ah! The joys of socialized medicine!) And would also, thus not be counted in the Infant Moratlity Rate. (Lies, damned lies, and statistics.)

    And two of the US’s biggest contributing factors to low birth babies: LOTS of teen pregnancies and lots of women over 35 giving birth, both high risk groups. This also leads to our maternal mortality numbers being higher than we might want.

    Why so many teen pregnancies? 
    Why so many pregnancies among women over 35? 

  • Bookworm

    Thank you, lee!

  • lee


    The reason Atlas discounts accidents has a lot to do with the fact that we have a LOT more cars than the other countries, and we drive many more miles. We are a bigger country, very spread out, with lots of people in the middle. And lots of people commuting over an hour for work, in a way that they don’t in Japan, Austria, Switzerland, etc. Even the large geographic countries on the list (Canada and Australia) do not have the driving numbers we have–their populations are much more concentrated in specific areas, and their populations are much smaller, so that CAN be concentrated. We drive MANY more miles on average than pretty much any country in the list, and this increases our chances of being in an autocollision. Which makes comparing apples to oranges in the life expectancy numbers.

    BTW, life expectancy is an AVERAGE. If you take ten people, and one of them lives to a hundred, five of them die of childhood illnesses at the age of five, and four of them die in battle at the age of 25, the average life expectancy is 22.5. (This is why the life expenctancy in the Middle Ages was so low–lots of children dies, lots of women died in childbirth, and lots of men died in battel. But no one just keeled over of “old age” at 42.) If you take another ten people, and three of them live to 75, three of them keel over of heart attacks at 50, three live to the age of 85, and one gets run over playing in the street at the age of five, the average life expectancy is 63.5. If you take a group of ten Americans, and two of them live to the age of 75, two of them live to 85, two keel over of heart attacks at 50, and four crazy teenagers drive like maniacs and die in a car accident at the age of sixteen, the life expectancy goes down to 48.4 

    Approximately 40,000 Americans die in automobile accidents. The chances of a sixteen-year-old driver being in a fatal car accident are five times greater than those of a twenty-year-old driver.

  • lee

    I spent a lot of time reading that WHO report, and Scott Atlas hits the nail on the head. It is all about making out socialize medicine to be the cat’s pajamas. Some of the rankings are based on how much the government outlay is on healthcare, the more more capita, the higher the rating. Another ranking was based on out of pocket spending per capita, and the lower the number, the higher the ranking. (We are a wealthy country, so our $5 is not exactly comparable to a Zimbabwan outlaying $5. But costs are not linked to any sort of GNP, GDP, average income, or anything like that. You should see where this statistic is heading…) The “Financial Fairness” was HEAVILY weighted, and designed to buoy up socialize medicine in the rankings. (Atlas says it made up 25% of the score!)

    I loved the one where we sucked because we don’t have as many doctors per 1000 people as, oh, say FRANCE. But we have MANY, MANY, MANY more PA’s, NP’s, RN’s, medical technicians, etc., per 1000 people than the other countries ranked. But only DOCTORS counted.

    Scott Atlas ragged on the “responsiveness” ranking, but if you really read it, we do come out pretty good. It’s just presented in the WHO as another way make the US look bad. The reality is, we do better than anyone else in the time it takes to see a doctor, get a diagnosis and get treated, than ANY OTHER COUNTRY ranked in this idiotic report. (These are what goes in to evaluating responsiveness.) We also KICK BUTT on five year cancer survival rates. And to me, these are two of the primary essences of HEALTHCARE. But in the WHO report, it counted for probably less than 1% of the ranking.

  • Huan
  • Earl

    GREAT piece, Huan…..I’ve already shared it with some folks who (really) need it!!

  • ceruleanbill

    One of my resolutions after this election was to read more conservative blogs.   I agree with the writer’s observation that you have to know what the other side thinks, and either refute it or acknowledge it’s correctness.  That learning process is why I’m here. I don’t believe either side has a monopoly on the correct answers, and I do believe that each side has rabid supporters who should be scorned.

  • Mike Devx

    I do think we’ve got a screwed up health system.  It’s amazing that it is as good as it is, given the circumstances.  I also think our infant mortality rate *could* be a lot better.

    A health care system driven by, not the individual citizen being an informed purchaser, but by your place of employment.  Just starting with that one… think about it, isn’t that bizarre?

    Socialized medicine and universal health care as is presented by the liberals, though, will NOT improve anything.  It will cause a decline in the quality of health care that we do have.

    It took decades to create this Frankenstein health care monstrosity that we have right now.  So many interests, so deeply entrenched.  And there is no way to start over from scratch; there is no magic wand to be waved. No easy answers.

  • ceruleanbill

    Mike –
    you are absolutely right about the state of our health care system.  It certainly doesn’t deserve that name.  When it is good, it is very, very good – but when it is not, it can be and frequently is,  abysmal.  I also wish that it could be eliminated  – but so many people like it/are used to it/ benefit from it (financially, that is), that I’m not expecting that. 
    For me, it comes down to a question of control.  I resent that insurance companies can impose their will on me, or control the coverage that I need.  Yet I recognize that there are always people who will game the system; given their head, they’ll bankrupt it.  I say this with gritted teeth: that’s not fair to the insurers.  We need balance.  I’m not sure that I can agree that Obamacare will make it globally worse, but it certainly has the possibility of doing so.  We’re going to have to be alert consumers. 

  • Michael Adams

    Two things, if I may.
    Paul Scott strikes me as yet another Leftie who believes that Conservatives would change, if we only knew the Party Line. They seem unable to get their heads around the idea that we hear the Left’s view on every hand, often shared it, once upon a time, and walked away. We did not come under the spell of some Conservative Svengali, although, after I embraced Conservatism, I came to find Limbaugh quite entertaining. No, for most of us, reality collided with the theory, and reality, eventually, won. They are unlikely to drag us back. 
    Thing two is that we read science in a scientific manner.  We do not accept arguments from authority. There has never been any such thing as scientific consensus, that was really science.  A mere hundred years ago, there was a “scientific consensus” that some races are inferior and others are superior.  A famous Democrat President invited the entire Supreme Court and Cabinet to the White House for a screening of Birth of a Nation, so prevalent was that particular consensus.It has been discredited.
     As to the current “scientific” fad, we who know history are well aware that England was so warm in the eleventh century that they grew grapes in the southern part of that country, as they did in Vinland, now known a Newfoundland. OTOH, in 1350, the Thames froze so thickly that they built a fire and roasted an ox on the ice, and never melted through. Even if we did not already have too much evidence of fraud, e-mails that  one “scientist” sends to another chortling over the latest trick, we still have a proper scientific skepticism. Maybe the past sixteen years of global cooling are mere weather, and not climate, but that would also apply to storms and droughts.  At ay rate, the changes predicted have been scaled back, and now no one is looking for a twenty foot rise in sea levels.One foot, which is more than predicted, we can handle. The rest just looks like a very unscientific mass hysteria.

  • Mike Devx

    Michael Adams, I’ve been trying all evening to figure out how to respond to the “Science” part of that rant.

    But you have written the response I wish I could have.  Well done!  I admire what you wrote.  It’s everything and more that I wished I could say.  Spot On!


  • Caped Crusader

    Since we are off on the health care system please allow me a few observations as one who practiced medicine in various forms and situations over a period from 1956 to 2012. Having recently retired, after practicing continuously since graduating from medical school in March 1960, I may be able to add some perspective, since I have practiced medicine longer than many of you have been alive, and have seen a long spectrum of changes over these years.
    !. When litigation was almost unknown, my first malpractice policy in 1960 set me back $38 yearly and covered acts for that year and any that might arise from that year in perpetuity (occurrence type insurance). This remained so until 1974, when the malpractice crisis first occurred and the cost went up to multiple thousands yearly and became what is known as “claims made” type policies that cover you for that year only, and each new policy covered you for that year only, which was not a problem, but whenever you ceased practice you must buy a policy known as a “tail coverage” so that you will be covered for any acts that may come to litigation in the future. These type coverage greatly increased to cost of medical practice.
    2. The government had minimal involvement until 1965 when Medicare was passed. At first there were few loopholes, restrictions, etc. but as with any government involvement it has become evermore restrictive, cumbersome, and bureaucratic. Let me give an example: In the 1980’s Medicare agreed that @$2100 was a fair fee for the removal of a cataract and implantation of an intraocular lens and normal pre and postop care, thereby restoring sight to a blind eye. How much would it cost if a lawyer did it, it they could? Maybe it would be great to work on a contingency basis–you see , we get 30% of your income in the future. Fair for lawyers, why not for doctors? Today even with the procedure being infinitely more refined in 30 years the reimbursement is @$600. Initially everyone was happy, there was plenty of money; you sent in a simple bill and received payment. Today it hardly pays to go to the trouble of operating. Over this 30 year period expenses have gone up tremendously and payments have declined to about 1/4 the amount of 30 years ago. What labor union would accept this deal of an ever decreasing pay each year? There are simply not that many more oldsters YET. To me this decline is unexplainable; the doctors are not getting the money and neither are the hospitals. It must be siphoned off by the ever increasing third parties who have their finger in the pie.
    3. When I started out over 50 years ago insurance was purchased to protect oneself from major illnesses, surgery, and hospitalization. You paid the usual bills for minor illness out of pocket and the charges were very small compared to today, and no expense of filing insurance claims for minor sums. When all this extensive third party pay for everything began @30 years ago there was an interview in Medical Economics with a old doctor which has proved prophetic. He said, “Nobody will ever come up with a system better than the patient turning to you and asking, ‘How much do I owe you Doctor?’. You know if you rip him off he will never be back, self policing can’t be beat.” When I began, 90% of the people paid on the way out. Today nobody pays unless it is a small co-pay and none ask how much it costs. No need for a million dollar computer system, dealing with myriad insurance companies, and several people to run it. All this and the staff needed greatly increases cost and does nothing to improve treatment. How would you like to buy car insurance to cover getting your tires inflated, new wiper blades, washes, vacuuming the interior, fluid for the washers ,coolant, oil, etc. But when you went in for service the mechanic must know the proper five digit code for the each part, and a six digit code corresponding to the need for that part, and if the high school dropout on a computer denied it because they did not match and show a need for this to be done, you must pay the bill. That is the perfect analogy for today’s insurance scheme. Insane.
    4. For some 20 years, as part of my university teaching participation, I went one day each week to the VA hospital to assist and teach residents. This is a totally government run system, and believe me this kind of efficiency will further bankrupt the country. VA hospitals are a boondoggle for the local congressional district and their primary function is to hire local people, and if a few vets get helped along the way, so much the better. If the government really gave a damn about vets, they could give each one a 24 carat gold card entitling them to be treated in any hospital in the land, all expenses paid by the government, and get it done for ten cents on the dollar.
    In government hospitals there are often patients who are essentially boarding to keep the census up, so next years budget can be larger, and a small percentage of beds are turned over for the few REALLY sick patients. This is the way the game is played, busy, busy, busy, while essentially doing nothing. One hospital I was in had a patient torpedoed in the Gulf of Mexico in 1940 and had been occupying a bed for 20 years; he was a mild diabetic, there to keep the census up. Your faithful government in action.
    How government efficiency works: (From The Pajama Game).
    In summation the great increase in medical costs have been caused by various forms of over regulation, meddling, thinking up useless hoops for doctors to jump through, and government involvement, litigation; and certainly to a large extent the great advances in technology in the last 30 years; and who would not want them. I, myself, cured of  an extremely virulent lymphoma in 1974, that had it been 5 years earlier would have meant my death. Cataract surgery 18 years ago, caused by the enormous doses of steroids during chemotherapy, restoring my vision to as good as it was when I was 30 years of age, and remaining so to this day. You can quote all the statistics you like, but I don’t see anyone going to a socialist country for better treatment. We have the best in the world, with all it’s faults. Enjoy it while you can for it will not be here much longer.

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  • Elysse

    Good analysis of the parties’ different points of view.. Both have great arguments. to be honest, I have a very open mind about this. I try to listen to both sides. Of course, you may oppose each other, and you may present contrasting facts, but I find myself agreeing and disagreeing to both sides. I for one, is pro-gay marriage, as I see it as their right. I am against any form of abortion, whatever reason it may be, unless for health reasons, wherein the pregnancy should be terminated. I know that rape is bad but if the victim gets pregnant, it’s not the child’s fault. I’m Asian and I feel bad that there’s a division and discrimination in our society. It’s happening for so long now and I guess it would go on longer. I’m not really good with financial analysis but I believe that with times like this, every citizen should know what to do, know how to adjust, work harder, live simpler, live within your means. If worse comes to worst, there are great bankruptcy lawyers that can help out and would know what are the best steps to take. I’m just a simple citizen, wanting to know what’s going on in our society and I’m glad to find articles like this that would help me weigh what’s true and what’s not.

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  • jj

    This remained so until 1974, when the malpractice crisis first occurred…
    “Malpractice crisis” first occurred, I like the phrase.  Really?  There were all of a sudden thousands of lousy practitioners coming out of the woodwork?  Or, (perhaps somewhat more realistically), that was the year the light-bulb first went on in lawyer’s heads in a big way as they realized: “hey – there’s money to be made here!”
    To me this decline is unexplainable, the doctors are not getting the money, and neither are the hospitals.
    Then keep an eye on the lawyers!  They’ve bent practically every other aspect of society out of shape to suit – and benefit –  themselves, how not this?

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  • Earl

    Caped Crusader:  My grandpa (RIP), my Dad (RIP), and my Mom also practiced in “the old days”, and would affirm exactly what you describe.  And jj hit the nail on the head — we graduate so many lawyers in this society that “entrepreneurial” types are constantly looking for the “next big thing” to exploit.  
    Tobacco is played out, at this point….and ethanol is still too popular for them to go after that, so the field is open.  I’m guessing that Obamacare has got some landmines in it for the tort crowd – why wouldn’t it, considering their importance to the Democrat party?
    California just dodged a bullet by rejecting Proposition 37 to label all foods for GMO content.  The language was written by members of the tort bar and it would have set off a firestorm of lawsuits about size of lettering, location of postings, etc. etc.  Precisely as did the requirement that every facility label itself if any carcinogens are present….no one is safer, but signage is everywhere.  As folks have figured out exactly how to avoid getting a lawsuit from some hungry lawyer, the parasites are looking for another host.

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  • Ravana

     Charles Martel:
    —In what respects is healthcare “under-provided and under-consumed” by the free market? How does a market consume its own goods?
    In a free market healthcare is only provided to those who can afford to pay for it. However, since healthcare has so many external benefits to society, it is good for society as a whole to provide healthcare for everyone.  The free market does not take this into account when it allocates resources.
    A market is a ‘place’ where consumers and producers meet to exchange goods and services. Consumers have imperfect information about the benefits of certain types of healthcare (e.g. vaccinations, since the benefits of these lie in the uncertain future). Some consumers, especially poorer ones, may not be willing or able to consume these types of healthcare in a free market, since they have to pay for it.
    —”Government does need to step in:” What is the philosophical basis of that claim? And to what extent should government step in?
    The basis of that claim is the belief that there are significant benefits to society as a whole from more people consuming healthcare. It is not necessary believe that access to healthcare is a right, although, I personally would prefer to live in a society that does care for the sick irrespective of their ability to pay. Government should step in to provide basic healthcare to those who cannot afford to pay for it. Those who do have the ability to pay should have the right to purchase the best quality their money can buy.

    What this would give way to is a system where a consumer has a choice between cheap or free government run hospitals (usually with longer queues and a lower quality of care) and private hospitals that offer faster access and usually a better quality of care. Consumer choice would actually be increased. The accessibility of cheap or free government hospitals provide competition for the private hospitals, which provides a disincentive against overcharging.  
    —What are the positive effects you allude to?
     Reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, alleviation of worry at times of illness not just for self but for extended family and social circle, the security and feeling of wellbeing of living in a society that cares for its members during a time when they are most vulnerable, an improvement in quality of life and an increase in average living standards.
    Apart from that, vaccinations and other preventative healthcare measures stop the spread of disease, and the benefits of this to individuals as well as society as a whole should be obvious. Ask yourself, would the eradication of small pox have been possible without government intervention in the health care market?
    —What indicators can you give us that show how government can increase competitiveness?
    What kind of indicators would you accept?
    —The money question: Who pays for the government’s implied ability to perform healthcare tasks well?
    I didn’t imply that the government can perform a given healthcare task more cost efficiently than a private provider (see above).
    Government provision should be funded through taxation.
    Bookworm: Do you have any sources to back up your assertion that the USA is the only country that follows its particular system of reporting healthcare statistics? While there may be some differences in reporting among countries, the fact that the US trails in so many basic health statistics and by so much, plus the general acceptance of these statistics by health economists around the world, leads me to think that is yet another example of retreating inside the Conservative bubble.

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  • Ron19

    The type of health care provision you appear to be talking about is what we used to have.  A hospital or doctor would have a standard set of charges for the care they provided, and, based on their perception of the patients’ ability to pay, could discount or waive their charges.  The medical system could do the same kind of thing that lawyers do that is called “pro bono” (free) work.  A hospital could have a charity ward, and doctors could receive “in kind” payments, such as a bushel basket of food, or free work on their car, etc.  Or never send out a bill.
    Then, I think after Medicare/Medicaid arrived, the government said that there could be no discrimination in billing; all would be charged the same and be expected to pay the same.  Some doctors and charity organizations countered by opening up independent “free clinics” and the doctors and nurses would work without pay.  For instance, City of Hope hospital ships and Doctors Without Borders, plus the local free clinic in a poor neighborhood near where they normally lived and worked.  They could provide whatever level of care they wanted to, including primary care.
    Even before Obama came along, more and more doctors stopped accepting new Medicare patients, because getting paid was such an onerous, expensive, and frustrating process.  Trying to get the fees they charged from private insurers is difficult, but getting paid by the government is far worse. 
    Rush Limbaugh found out a few years ago, when he was in Hawaii and Katherine thought he was having a heart attack, when asked for his insurance card at the entrance to a hospital emergency room, he whipped out his credit card.  The hospital was so grateful they gave him a substantial discount for paying by credit card, which could be immediately verified and immediately paid, with the usual hold that you get when you reserve a hotel room in advance.
    I’ll admit that I’m pulling this stuff out of my long-term memory, and not doing extensive research to verify what I’m saying.  Could someone who was there in the trenches clarify things here?  Caped Crusader?


  • lee

    Back in my 20’s, I went through a period where I was underinsured and paid miserably, but too much to qualify for Medical. And I had a couple of health issues hit that were not cheap. i developed a nasty eye infection that sent me to an ophthalmologist. I didn’t waste my time talking to the recpetionist about my monetary problems, but I did talk to the doctor. Who told her to charge me the Medical rate, work out a payment schedule, and who gave me free sample of the medicine I needed.

    I wound up about a year later in the UCSF emergency room. They treated me (as they were required to by law) even though I had no insurance and no idea on how to pay. I got the bill, called back to talk to someone about working out a payment plan. (Which, by the way, was on the bill: “To work out a payment plan, call (415) XXX-XXXX”) First, I got a real b***h who called me a deadbeat, and told me they were going to send me to a collection agency (I wasn’t even late yet!) I called back and spoke with her supervisor who was nice, helpful, and with whom I worked out a payment plan. I was able to pay it off in a few months.

    BTW, this is how medical care USED to be handled before the 50’s when insurance started. My mom had her tonsils out as a child. Her father took out a loan, and paid it off. I think the insurance thing has contributed to the high costs of health care: There have to be so many more people involved in taking care of the billing; people who were involved don’t question the bills(*), and frankly, the Joint Commission drives up prices, too.

    (*) I was scheduled for a needle biopsy once, under ultrasound. I got there, the surgeon and the radiologist were there. They looked again at the new ultrasound and decided I didn’t need the biopsy after all. The biospys kit was NEVER opened. The inusrance company was billed directly, but I got a copy of the bill. On it, was the biopsy kit, which was not cheap. I called the insurance company to tell them that no biopsy was performed (the biopsy was NOT on the bill, though the kit was), and that the kit was NEVER opened. They thanked me because most people don’t even bother following up like that.

  • Beth

    Ron19/Ravena–Aren’t there STILL County Health Offices across the nation that provide vaccinations, well-baby check-ups, and more to those who do not have insurance–as well as those who DO have insurance?  There’s one here in my (corrupt) Illinois county.    Are there not still the religious affiliated health services that provide the same kinds of services at little to no cost for the poor?  As someone above said, hospital emergency rooms must provide emergency services regardless of ability to pay. 
    We ARE a country that cares about the sick and poor–frankly, the government now is making it more and more difficult to do just that (with the HHS Mandate for one). What services are NOT provided to the poor?  I’m not being flip–I really want to know.  Are there poor people with cancer who are not getting treated and thus dying?  Are there poor people who have diseases untreated?  Are children not getting vaccinated?  Are babies not getting regular check-ups?  Are old people not getting the help they need?  Where?  Who?
    Shamefully I must say that several of my own family members crow joyfully over Obamacare.  They do not have full-time employment because they want to have the ‘freedom’ to follow their dreams.  Why shouldn’t they be able to be artists, photographers, bar-tenders, AND not have to pay for their medical coverage, contraception and abortion.  Their ‘freedom’ is binding the rest of us in chains.

  • Caped Crusader

    Ron19 #37
    Glad to make a few more random comments:
    1. Until the current system birth pangs began @ 30 years ago, medical care involved TWO people; The patient and the doctor. Want confidentiality, you had it. Want personal care with the doctor having the time to listen to you, you had it. Want a reasonable bill, with a thought given to what you could afford, you had it. No rules, no regulations, no fifty overseers, you had it. Charity patients were taken care of by doctors and hospitals making special provisions tailored to each patients needs. One patient that still is remembered after 40 years is a man who was poor and wanted his cataract removed and had no insurance but was too proud to accept charity, so we worked out a $5/week payment plan that gave him the dignity he wanted, and he never failed to come by the office every Friday with his $5 bill in hand to pay, with a smile on his face. Now when you go to the hospital or doctor you sign and receive 5-30 pages of printed material informing you of all the rights you have and how much is being done to insure your privacy.  TOTAL BS, now with hosts of third parties seeing and handling your records, and going into several national computer systems believe me you have no privacy. If you think you do, I have some ocean front property in Colorado you might be interested in buying.
    2. As you might suspect, and as Captain Renault said in Casablanca, “round up the usual suspects”; the current system was thought up by a “wizard of smart” at Harvard, who had never seen and treated an actual live patient in his life. Rather than spending your time with the patient and thinking of little else, the doctor must now quantify time spent with myriad others factors and assigning a 6 digit number and a 7 digit number corresponding to the symptoms and disease, and the correlation must agree that each substantiates the other in order to be reimbursed; in other words every patient encounter is a bean counting situation. Prior to 30 years ago in a hospital there were a few little old gray haired ladies in the records department who did this and sent the numbers to the insurance companies. It was not done at all for office encounters unless surgery was involved.
    3. To know what the biggest scams of the moment are you need only watch TV. Biggest advertisers currently are malpractice and drug untoward result lawyers and durable medical equipment purveyors. The last year of my mother’s life she needed a motorized chair which was paid for by Medicare. When she passed away it was in perfect condition and I attempted to return it for further use. They had no provision for returns and/or refurbishment if needed and I was informed they only dealt with new equipment. Medicare paid @ $10,000 for it, an unbelievable amount. Unbelievable waste of money. It was hard to find anyone who wanted it and we just left it at the nursing home in hope someone could use it.
    4. The end result with Obamacare will be exactly like all other government run hospitals. keep the unions happy and if some get medical care, well and good, and you will have no say in anything.

  • Caped Crusader

    A few afterthoughts in the “round up the usual suspects” mode:
    It was Teddy Kennedy who got some law passed to reign in the drug detail reps leaving samples with the doctor. Prior to that your office would be awash in any drug you desired to hand out an adequate supply to those needing help.
    It was Jimmy Carter who turned the mentally unstable out on the street, with the resulting consequences. He also ended the ban on professionals advertising in any media they desired. Now instead of GE, Dupont, etc. advertising on TV, it’s “slip and fall” lawyers.

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  • lee

    I also used to go to a dental clinic associated with a dental school. They did NOT take any form of insurance. You paid, and if you wanted to resubmit to your insurance for reimbursement, you could, and they had a form for you. The prices were VERY good. You could either pay all at once (and get a discounted rate) or pay over time. There were two options for that–one half of the period of time it was anticipated the procedure would take, or over the full period of time. The first option was a little cheaper than the second option. But the second option was MUCH, MUCH cheaper than going to a dentist in private practice.

    I now go to a dentist that is within several dental networks. She is in a fancy office, in a fancy neighborhood, but her rates are very good. Why? She does NOT submit to the insurance company for payment. You have to pay her, and the insurance company reimburses YOU. She is in the networks because the insurance company then will approve her rates, approve her, and thus reimburse the patient. But she saves money by not really dealing with them. You write a check, you get a form, you mail it in. After awhile, you recieve your reimbursement check from the insurance company. So far, I have been reimbursed the full amount for any work I have had done.

  • Charles Martel

    Ravana, thanks for your reply. I have some problems with it:
    “It is not necessary believe that access to healthcare is a right, although, I personally would prefer to live in a society that does care for the sick irrespective of their ability to pay. Government should step in to provide basic healthcare to those who cannot afford to pay for it.”
    If it’s not necessary to believe that access to healthcare is a right, I still don’t understand the basis for your assertion that it should be something very much like a right. I know your justification is that it benefits “society,” in terms of everything from reducing worker absenteeism to strengthening the mystic bonds that bind us all together, etc.
    But can you tell me why the government should be involved in matters of industrial efficiency and production, let alone family solidarity? How is the government qualified to assist with economic policy when the history of such involvement almost always ends in catastrophic inefficiencies or failures (the southern EU, California, Cuba, USSR, Greece, pre-Thatcher UK, Venezuela, Illinois, Massachusetts)?
    Who defines “basic healthcare?” (The government, obviously.) What happens if a poor person needs more than the minimum level of healthcare you allude to? Does the government then send that person on to a for-pay facility? What if the for-pay facility does not want to treat the patient for the amount of money offered? Can the government force the facility to treat the patient? Who pays for that?
    “What this would give way to is a system where a consumer has a choice between cheap or free government run hospitals (usually with longer queues and a lower quality of care) and private hospitals that offer faster access and usually a better quality of care. Consumer choice would actually be increased. The accessibility of cheap or free government hospitals provide competition for the private hospitals, which provides a disincentive against overcharging.”
    This doesn’t quite make sense to me. First of all, no government on earth can provide “cheap” services without distorting the economy somewhere else. Remember, the cheapness comes thanks to the power of government coercion. Also, there is no such thing as a free government service—somebody has to pay, and I suspect that the people you want to pay are the amorphous “rich.” 
    Secondly, you are actually describing a one-way consumer choice. Only consumers who have means would be able to choose between the two systems. The poor would be relegated to the “cheap or free” [sic] government hospitals—hardly a choice. The so-called disincentive against overcharging posed by the existence of government hospitals actually is disproven in real life. For example, the level of care provided by the “free” Canadian and British healthcare systems is so low that it has spawned a network of internal and cross-border private medical practitioners who can charge what they want because they know their customers are desperate for something beyond veterinary-level healthcare. (Also, who defines “overcharging?” A government panel?)
    You acknowledge that government-run hospitals would be inherently less efficient and qualitative than private facilities. (Doesn’t it distress you how easily you accept the inherent inability of government to provide quality healthcare?) Besides, in the United States you could probably make a legal “social justice” case that this would be unequal treatment that penalizes people simply because they are poor.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Actually, Ravana, this is the system we have/had. Any poor person could check into any hospital emergency room and be guaranteed care. The problem was, emergency rooms were overwhelmed by people who wanted treatments for head colds, scrapes, and other frivolous needs where simply a couple of aspirin would do.

    When you drop the real or perceived price of a product to virtually nothing (as “free” healthcare does), you create overwhelming demand and shortages. Then, everybody loses. It’s simple economics. 

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  • Ron19

    I was just reading Rush’s web page “The Long Game to Recapture the Country” from Thursday, , where he is talking about how big business has been demonized.Specific industries that have been demonized in the near past have been big oil and big pharma.I realized that big pharma is no longer demonized since they caved in on Obamacare, even though they are still doing what they have always been doing this century.

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