Free Health Care, And Other Goodies Everyone Loves

Would you like free cookies? Or a new flat panel TV for your living room? Actually, why think so small — how would you feel about a brand new Lexus for everyone in your family? The answers, no doubt, are yes, yes, and, with the exception of really diehard BMW fans, yes! Of course, you might feel differently about accepting those free goodies when, a few years down the road, you find out you actually have to pay for them — and that the cost will be so high you'll either have to start working weekends or forgo some other things you really wanted to do (vacations, remodeling your kitchen, finally enrolling in yodeling school). The point is, it's tough not to take a handout when it's dangled in front of you.

So it's not surprising in the least that even GOP polls show that a majority of Americans want government to provide health insurance, and that there's wide support for a "public plan." Nor is it surprising that increasingly frustrated reform advocates like Paul Krugman essentially seem to be calling for legislators to dismiss concerns about costs. Indeed, for months, many health reform advocates have pointed to Massachusetts as a model for how to achieve consensus about reform. Of course, that only happened because the parties involved tacitly agreed to postpone cost concerns and spend their energies bargaining for handouts. Naturally, costs have skyrocketed.

Americans want all sorts of things they can't afford and, even when asked vague questions about whether or not they'd support a tax to pay for something, rarely factor in long- and medium-term costs when pollsters interrupt their dinners to ask if they'd like the government to provide health insurance. But as the CBO has been busy reminding Congress, policies that expand health insurance are hardly cost-free; as every child (and Californian) must eventually learn, "Ooh, shiny, I want that" isn't exactly the sort of guiding principle that leads to effective governance. 

Further reading: Last week, Steve Chapman wrote about why, when it comes to health care, you can't have it all

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  • ||


    ...how would you feel about a brand new Lexus for everyone in your family? The answers, no doubt, are yes, yes, and, with the exception of really diehard BMW fans...



    Depends on who's picking up the tab for the insurance and gas.

    If it's me, I'll stick to my old clunker. It's paid for and cheap on gas.

  • ||

    Sorry Peter, but you've got a typo... shouldn't it be:

    increasingly frustrated reform advocates like Nobel Prize winner Dr. Paul Krugman, PhD?

  • Paul||

    Indeed, for months, many health reform advocates have pointed to Massachusetts as a model for how to achieve consensus about reform.



    Yeah yeah, and everyone looks to Portland as a model for how to do light rail, Seattle looks to Boston as a model for how to build a traffic tunnel under a city, and Paul Krugman looks to old Eastern Europe as a model for how to run an economy: Get the government involved and the "price" will go down.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    I'm loyal to Acura. So fuck off!

    Like the entry though. Need to show it to a couple of folks.

  • hmm||

    Americans want all sorts of things they can't afford...

    That says it all and is something that really can't be argued against. The basic market constraints of having to fund everything from a new car to health care to anything you want being lessened by government intervention ends up causing a huge fucking mess for all.

  • ||

    If central planning worked, the Soviets would have won the cold war. No matter how badly they fail, planners always want just one more chance.

  • ||

    Americans want all sorts of things they can't afford...

    We are our own worst enemies because we forget that we are our own worst enemies.

  • ||

    http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/prostate-cancer/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier

    If the government running the VA can do this, think what it can do for you?

  • ||

    http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/06/rogue_cancer_unit_at_the_veter.php

    wrong link. Sorry.

  • Rich||

    How about "free [insert desire here]" via "heads, you pay for mine; tails, I pay for yours"? Helps keep things in perspective.

  • ||

    If central planning worked, the Soviets would have won the cold war. No matter how badly they fail, planners always want just one more chance.



    Since all those national healthcare systems in first world countries, some of which having been around for 60 years, are such abject failures while the market based system in the U.S. is such a wild success.

  • ||

    And let's not forget the massive failure of the interstate highway system (not to mention interstate commerce streamlining itself), the armed forces, social security, medicare, the FBI, national parks, federal environmental regulations---all those massive failures. Yes much better for planning to be done, uh, diffusely.

  • spambot||

    Even the Guardian is critical of the NHS Tony:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/aug/12/nhs.health

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/jun/07/politics.health

    Wake up and get over the ideology that healthcare is a right at ANY COST. Ours has sucky aspects to be sure but I am not going to trust the folks who brought us Homeland Security and Amtrack to have access to my medical history and destiny thank you very much.

  • spambot||

    "the armed forces, social security, medicare, the FBI, national parks, federal environmental regulations---all those massive failures."

    uhh yeah there are some massive failures in there. Do you really need examples? I mean come on!

  • Paul||

    Since all those national healthcare systems in first world countries, some of which having been around for 60 years, are such abject failures while the market based system in the U.S. is such a wild success.

    Wait, are you talking about these wildly successful public heatlh systems?

  • ||

    If it looks too good to be true, it isn't. The government there is always someone else who will pay for it, right? What about all those people earning more than $250k a year, they have plenty of extra cash. Of course, the minute you do decide to be a responsible and self-dependent person, you're taking it up the ass from the Beloved Leader and his followers because God forbid someone not become a slave to the welfare state.

    People are retarded. That's all I really got to say on that.

  • ||

    Only someone who has never been to an Army or VA doctor can talk about the armed forces being a great medical success. Medicare of course is a disaster that is about to eat the budget. Isn't its failure the reason the Obamasiah is demanding national healthcare? Yeah, the government does an okay job of building roads and killing people. But everything else you list there really is a failure. And you are so stupid you don't even realize it.

  • H.L.||

    What's wrong with giving people what they want?

    And they should get it good and hard.

  • ||

    So specific examples of inefficiencies or abuse are enough to condemn programs that have been, on balance, massively successful?

    Where does that leave our current system, which has proved massively unsuccessful and which contains the most inefficiency and abuse of all?

    The problem with arguments against a public option for health care is that there aren't any good ones. Just a bunch of red scare hysteria.

  • ||

  • Paul||

    the armed forces, social security, medicare, the FBI, national parks, federal environmental regulations

    Armed forces. I would agree, successful. Their mission is simple: Break things and kill people. I'm surprised you would list the Armed Forces as an example Tony? Or is "armed forces good" now with Obama as commander in chief?

    Social Security: Fail. Ponzi scheme, nothing more.

    Medicare: Fail. Constantly in need of "reform". Contains "costs" by simply not paying for stuff or reducing compensation by fiat. Doctors increasingly leaving system.

    FBI: ?!! Now gets involved in everything where a tenuous 'interstate commerce' argument can be made.

    National parks: This is public property, get out.

    Environmental Regulations: Unconstitutional. These should be laws, not 'policies and procedures' which carry a criminal penalty if not followed. I have no problem with congress passing laws. I have a very big problem with unaccountable career hacks passing laws... erh, I mean "policies and procedures".

    We're no longer a nation of laws, Tony, we're a nation of "policies and procedures" which carry jail sentences if not followed. And no, I didn't catch the "addendum to the regulations" this morning. So I'm probably breaking some law.

    Ignorance of "policies and procedures" is an excuse.

  • ||

    "Where does that leave our current system, which has proved massively unsuccessful and which contains the most inefficiency and abuse of all?"


    We have a 78 year lifespan despite some really nasty lifestyle habbits. The US has the highest cancer survival rate in the world. The US medical research and pharmacuetical industries are the envy of the world. How is that a massive failure? Oh yeah, you and your ilk don't get to run everything.

  • ||

    Paul,

    Nobody is proposing eliminating the private healthcare industry or even having government-provided healthcare. Just government -provided health insurance. The private sector will still be there. All that will change is that private insurance will have to compete with government insurance. If indeed it's inevitably more efficient and provides for better quality healthcare then they should do just fine, right?

  • ||

    Resurgent Republic is not the GOP.
    Their sampling error is just like CNN's. They poll people at home during the day, who are most likely Obama voters and living off the dole.
    Even the article you link to says "GOP-leaning" not GOP. It's a meaningless term. To a left-wing, Huffington Post/DailyKos/Democratic Underground/Andrew Sullivan -reading maniac like von Brunn, the Wall Street Journal would be considered "GOP-leaning."

    All the real polling data out there shows nothing of this sort. People are overwhelmingly against a government takeover of health care.

  • ||

    Paul,

    Regarding armed forces, I was simply responding to John's hysteria about "central planning" as if the phrase itself weren't redundant, and as if actually meant something to be afraid of. John's just a sloganeering wingnut, so I don't expect him to understand. But everything you posted is a complete distortion of reality. Social security is not a failure or a ponzi scheme as is so often claimed by libertarians and Republicans. Medicare is living proof that a government-based insurance system can actually be more efficient than a private system. But to uphold your ideology you need lies to counter this reality.

    I won't address your ranting about policies and procedures vs. laws because I don't see how it's relevant.

    My point was that John's tired, disproved scaremongering about how the federal government just can't do anything right is belied by factual reality. Universal healthcare is considered a fundamental right in the rest of the civilized world, and has not been the failure scaremongers have pretended it is.

    I think libertarians and Republicans are deathly afraid of this issue because the realities of healthcare make their market (i.e., industry) worship seem as silly as it is.

  • ||

    "If indeed it's inevitably more efficient and provides for better quality healthcare then they should do just fine, right?"


    No you fucking retrard. Not when the government option is subsidized by a few billion dollars of our tax money. Employers will get rid of health insurance as a benefit and dumb everyone on the crappy Obamacare option. Everyon one who doesn't have the money to pay an extreme premium for now very small and exclusive private health care will be fucked. It will turn healthcare into the education system were limosine liberals all tell us how important the public system is why using the private ones, that most people can't afford, themselves.

  • ||

    "Nobody is proposing eliminating the private healthcare industry or even having government-provided healthcare."

    You are wrong.
    Read the proposed legislation.

  • ||

    If the government running the VA can do this, think what it can do for you?

    I'm sure, like wrong door drug raids, that was an isolated incident.

    Oh wait ...
    Report: VA Facilities Improperly Sterilized Colonoscopy Equipment

  • ||

    "Medicare is living proof that a government-based insurance system can actually be more efficient than a private system."

    WRONG!! "Since 1970 - even without the prescription drug benefit - Medicare's costs have risen 34% more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid, the vast majority of which is purchased through the private sector."

    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=480067

    Medicare is more expensive and less efficent than the private sector and is in fact responsible for the healthcare "crisis" you claim to want to solve.

  • ||

    "Since all those national healthcare systems in first world countries, some of which having been around for 60 years, are such abject failures while the market based system in the U.S. is such a wild success."

    First of all, the US system is NOT a market based system and to the extent that governments (the Federal Government and state governments)have gotten involved, we have problems.

    As far as the success of the health care systems in other countries, I don't consider the following success stories:

    The elderly are rationed out of the system.

    In Canada today, there are more than 800,000 citizens on waiting lists for surgery and other necessary treatments. The wait is more than 18 weeks.

    Canada ranks 24th out of 28 countries in doctors per thousand people. Before the government took over the health care system, Canada ranked second.

    People in Canada have a hard time finding doctors. About 10% of the public in Canada are currently seeking a primary care physician.

    In Nova Scotia, health officials have resorted to using a lottery to determine who gets to see a doctor.

    Over the past decade, about 11% of physicians trained in Canadian medical schools have moved to the US. The average Canadian doctor earns only 42% of what a doctor earns in the US.

    Canada ranks 13th out of 24 counties in access to MRI's, 18th in access to CT scanners and 7th out of 17 in access to mammograms. That lack of access is why Canada has seen a 9% decline in breast cancer screening for middle-aged women.

    More than a million Brits in need of medical care are currently waiting to get on a waiting list. Each year, Britain's National Health Service cancels around 100,000 operations.

    Sweden's waiting lists have led some patients to visit veterinarians. S

    Sweden's patients in need of heart surgery are often forced to wait as long as 25 weeks.

    Every European government rations drugs to save money. Eighty-five new drugs hit US pharmacy shelves between 1998 and 2002. During that same time period, however, only 44 of those drugs were launched in Europe.

    Doctors are also paid much less in other countries than in the US. Whereas the average doctor in the US makes around $300,000 a year, in Italy, the average doctor earns $81,414, in Germany, it's only $56,455, and in France, it's $55,000.

    The US leads the world in treating cancer. The survival rate for breast cancer after 5 years is 83.9%, for women in Britain, it's only 69.7%. For men with prostate cancer, the survival rate is 91.9% in the US, but only 73.7% in France and oly 51.1% in Britain. Men and women are 35% more likely to survive colon cancer than their British counterparts. Much of this success in the US is due to cancer screening where the US leads the world.

    Between 1999 and 2005, the US was responsible for 71% of the sales of new pharmaceuticals. The next two largest pharmaceutical markets - Japan and German - account for just 4% each.

  • ||

    John,

    Hey I'm with you; I don't like the idea of two tiers of healthcare services. I believe healthcare should be considered a fundamental right and be equally applied regardless of one's wealth status.

    So all you're bitching about currently is a potential system that's a little less unfair than the one we have now.

  • Paul||

    Nobody is proposing eliminating the private healthcare industry or even having government-provided healthcare.

    Let me just make a quick outline/prediction of how this will go.

    Public healthcare "option" will appear. Costs will continue to spiral out of control and strangely, will spiral out of control faster than before. The Paul Krugman army will quickly condemnt the public option as the problem, in that it doesn't go far enough. Price controls will be slowly introduced, industry-wide. Predictably, the whole system will begin to become unbalanced, and what little private forces left in the healthcare system will be blamed as the cancer in the system, and will be eradicated altogether. As costs continue to spiral out of control, the inevitable care rationing will take place. Lifestyle choices will no longer be "choices" because hey "i'm paying for your healthcare". Costs will ultimately be controlled the way they're controlled everywhere: limitations on care.

  • ||

    Hey I'm with you; I don't like the idea of two tiers of healthcare services. I believe healthcare should be considered a fundamental right and be equally applied regardless of one's wealth status.

    Food and shelter are both more important than health care. Let's have the feds, who can't fucking sterilize colonoscopy equipment, take that over as well.

    Tony, tell the truth, are you just a troll or do really beieve this cockamamie bullshit you spout?

  • Paul||

    I believe healthcare should be considered a fundamental right and be equally applied regardless of one's wealth status.

    So what you're saying is you don't want the two-tier system they have in Canada, where it was illegal to seek private care, so those who could afford it (wealthy, Canadian MP's)quietly slipped across the border to, you know, actually get illegal care which promped the now famous canadian supreme court decision: Reform the damned system, or else?

  • ||

    I thought you cranks were the ones who thought a little competition would be good for business, what gives? Anyway, I just got off the phone with my benefits manager. The monthly premium is about to skyrocket at my wife's place of work and her employer is going to have to punt the price to his employees. Not really a problem in our case since my wife can join my plan, but what about the rest? Fuck the health insurance sector and their lobby. I'd gladly walk away from the premiums and pay more in taxes to know that my coverage wasn't tied to employment, or subject to arbitrary denial, cancellation, or rate hikes. If the private carriers do such a bang up job than they should have no problem offering a superior service at a better price point than the public option. And as someone who has been a VA/VHA patient, they offer world class services. The Dr. covered in the NY Times story was on loan to the VHA from Penn. Had he remained in private practice his idiocy probably would have been swept under the rug or litigated away. Public healthcare at least offers an option for recourse through congressional inquiry, and getting dicked over on a bill is more part and parcel of the private health insurance industry than what I've experienced with Tricare/VA/VHA - although I'm with Cigna now and have few complaints. If this is all you folks can cite - bringing up the Euro-Socialism boogy man - when opposing a public option, good luck. No wonder the polls are so lopsided against you on this issue. Better to sit this one out and read something with a dragon on the cover. Save your powder for something you can win on, like the drug decriminalization issue. This one is a steamroller.

  • ||

    I can paste over some facts too:

    1. Canadian and European systems are on average 10% of GDP while in 2007 the U.S. cost was 16.2% even though tens of millions were not covered. These escalating costs represent America's biggest competitive disadvantage going forward.

    2. Canada's health care system which fully looks after 32 million people costs roughly what the private-sector health insurance companies make in profits in the United States looking after less than half the population for excessive premiums.

    3. America's health care system is even more uncompetitive if litigation costs and awards for medical bills are added. One estimate is that this adds another 3% to the 16.2% GDP costs of the American-style health care. In Canada and Europe, medical costs are borne by taxpayers as a whole so there are no court costs and awards necessary.

    4. Canada's and Europe's health care systems enhances economic productivity. Workers diagnosed with illnesses can still change employers and be employable because they are not rejected by employers with health benefits due to pre-conditions.

    5. Infant mortality is much lower in Canada and Europe than in the U.S.

    6. Outcomes with major illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, are better than in the United States.

    7. Longevity is better in Canada and Europe than in the U.S.

    8. No emergency is neglected in Canada.

    9. Some elective procedures may take longer if compared to blue-ribbon U.S. health care but that's no comparing apples with apples. More appropriately, the overall population's care should be compared and there are tens of millions of Americans who are uninsured or uninsurable.

    10. No one in Canada goes broke because of medical bills whereas ARP estimates half of personal bankruptcies are due to unpaid, high medical bills. More Americans go bust or lose their homes due to medical costs than the sub-prime problem.

    11. Canadians are able to choose their own physicians and to seek multiple opinions.

    12. Canadian doctors and nurses are better trained than American counterparts and U.S. physicians must study for at least a year in order to qualify to practice in Canada.

    13. Drugs made and invented in the United States are cheaper in Canada, Europe and Japan because our communal health care means volume discounts and savings passed along to society. Americans are overpaying.

    14. Americans are being cheated by a patchwork quilt system where the highest risk people -- veterans, the indigent and elderly -- are insured by governments but the "gravy" or young, healthy people are handed over to private insurance companies.

    --From the National Post

  • Fascitis Necrotizante||

    Had he remained in private practice his idiocy probably would have been swept under the rug or litigated away. Public healthcare at least offers an option for recourse through congressional inquiry...

    Pure win.

  • ||

    "All the real polling data out there shows nothing of this sort. People are overwhelmingly against a government takeover of health care."

    Do you have a reference?

  • Jordan||

    Tony, you seriously listed social security and medicare as success stories? You do know that those two collectively represent several tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, right?

  • ||

    Tony, tell the truth, are you just a troll or do really beieve this cockamamie bullshit you spout?



    What bullshit would that be? The notion that healthcare access should be a universal right? You mean the opinion shared by the majority of citizens in industrialized countries including this one?

  • ||

    "1. Canadian and European systems are on average 10% of GDP while in 2007 the U.S. cost was 16.2% even though tens of millions were not covered. These escalating costs represent America's biggest competitive disadvantage going forward."

    Quality is more important to me than cost. We spend more on health care because we believe in quality health care. Canada and European countries cut costs through rationing and thus offering less quality health care.

  • classwarrior||

    Paul, an interesting note regarding your link to the Supreme Court of Canada decision to legalize the provision of private health insurance in Quebec. Since that ruling four years ago, not a single private insurance company has stepped up to the plate to offer coverage to individuals. It seems they don't think there will be enough demand for such a product, despite all the talk about how crappy the Canadian health care system is.

  • ||

    Jordan,

    Do you or anyone else on this site bother to check facts at reputable places, or is this just a FOX news lovefest? Because these discredited talking points are wearing very thin. Of all the problems this country has to solve, social security and medicare are among the easiest.

  • Jordan||

    1. Canadian and European systems are on average 10% of GDP while in 2007 the U.S. cost was 16.2% even though tens of millions were not covered. These escalating costs represent America's biggest competitive disadvantage going forward.



    Medicare.

    4. Canada's and Europe's health care systems enhances economic productivity. Workers diagnosed with illnesses can still change employers and be employable because they are not rejected by employers with health benefits due to pre-conditions.



    Yet another problem caused by government intervention in the market.

    5. Infant mortality is much lower in Canada and Europe than in the U.S.

    6. Outcomes with major illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, are better than in the United States.

    7. Longevity is better in Canada and Europe than in the U.S.



    Lifestyle choices and reporting differences re: infant mortality.

    10. No one in Canada goes broke because of medical bills whereas ARP estimates half of personal bankruptcies are due to unpaid, high medical bills. More Americans go bust or lose their homes due to medical costs than the sub-prime problem.



    This statistic is complete bullshit and you know it.

    13. Drugs made and invented in the United States are cheaper in Canada, Europe and Japan because our communal health care means volume discounts and savings passed along to society. Americans are overpaying.



    I hope you don't want any new drugs to be discovered then. You know somebody has to pay for them.

  • ||

    "The notion that healthcare access should be a universal right?"

    Nobody has a right to coerce others to provide health care for them. That would make the health care provider a slave.

  • classwarrior||

    Bookworm, the main reason the US healthcare "system" costs more is not higher quality (certainly not measured by life expectancy) but higher administrative overhead and profit (20%+ vs. 2-3% for Medicare and the Canadain system).

  • ||

    Quality is more important to me than cost. We spend more on health care because we believe in quality health care. Canada and European countries cut costs through rationing and thus offering less quality health care.



    Rationing absolutely does not mean lower quality. It simply means efficiency. If you'd read some of the other points in my list you'd see that the American system is most certainly not better quality.

  • ||

    Paul, your "prediction" makes no sense. Please explain how the introduction of a public option is going to lead to costs spiraling out of control.

  • Paul||

    I thought you cranks were the ones who thought a little competition would be good for business, what gives?

    The zillion pound hammer of government introduces "competition" by getting into the business. That's not competition. But I'll give you two more posts to figure out what it is, and post the answer here.

    I'd gladly walk away from the premiums and pay more in taxes to know that my coverage wasn't tied to employment, or subject to arbitrary denial, cancellation, or rate hikes.

    Hey, did you know that's hot topic amongst libertarians on how to reform our "private, free market" system? Welcome to the forum.

    Had he remained in private practice his idiocy probably would have been swept under the rug or litigated away.

    You're hovering around the truth. You're so close. It's like watching my daughter begin to take her first steps. Kind of exciting...

    Public healthcare at least offers an option for recourse through congressional inquiry,

    Ah, the speedy, non-political, bipartisan process of congressional inquiry. The long winter evenings will FLY by!

    Save your powder for something you can win on, like the drug decriminalization issue. This one is a steamroller.

    We're not winning on drug decreminalization. But we might win on this. And yes, government control is, well, a steamroller.

    Hey, I just have to ask, are you one of those guys on the 4X4 threads I hang out on that bitches about his premiums and the costs of his drugs ($300 a month they want! Bloodsuckers!) while in another thread you proudly show off the pictures of your $18,000 solid front axle swap? Just curious.

  • Jordan||

    Do you or anyone else on this site bother to check facts at reputable places, or is this just a FOX news lovefest? Because these discredited talking points are wearing very thin. Of all the problems this country has to solve, social security and medicare are among the easiest.



    Feel free to provide a link to prove me wrong then.

  • ||

    Congressional inquiry? Did someone really write that? That comment had to be the Reason staff stirring the pot, because Tony has so failed on this one.

  • Paul||

    not a single private insurance company has stepped up to the plate to offer coverage to individuals. It seems they don't think there will be enough demand for such a product, despite all the talk about how crappy the Canadian health care system is.

    If you were a private insurance, would you touch the Canadian market? I wouldn't get within a hundred miles of that market. Do you know why? I'll let you guess.

  • ||

    Yes, it would be that cockamamie bullshit. The majority of Americans opinion impresses an intelligent person not a whit.

    Here is just one example why.

    Evolution, that is, the idea that human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life
    - Definitely true: 18%
    - Probably true: 35%
    - Probably false: 16%
    - Definitely false: 28%
    - No opinion: 3%

    Creationism, that is, the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years
    - Definitely true: 39%
    - Probably true: 27%
    - Probably false: 16%
    - Definitely false: 15%
    - No opinion: 3%

  • The Angry Optimist||

    So, Canada drives out private insurers, steals their money and destroys their businesses, and then no private company wants to come back?

    Huh. I wonder how many white farmers live in Zimbabwe, too.

  • ||

    "5. Infant mortality is much lower in Canada and Europe than in the U.S."

    That has nothing to do with quality of health care in the US vs. Canada and Europe.

    To quote Sally Pipes in "The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care":

    "The WHO defines a live birth as any infant that, once removed from its mother, 'breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles.' The US follows that definition - counting the births of all citizens that show any sign of life, regardless of birth weight or prematurity"

    "Other nations are far more conservative. In France, for instance, the government requires a 'medical certificate stating that the child was born alive and viable' in order to attest the death of a baby. In Switzerland, 'an infant must be at least 30 centimeters long at birth to be counted as living.' In France and Belgium, babies born at less than 26 weeks are automatically registered as dead."

    "Plus, the US has very sophisticated (and very expensive) neo-natal units. These help doctors keep premature babies alive, but such babies are at extremely high risk."

  • Paul||

    TAO gets the cookie.

  • Fluffy||

    Tony,

    You're an idiot.

    A Ponzi scheme is one in which early investors are paid returns generated by the payments of later investors. That's it. That's all it is.

    That means that Social Security is by definition absolutely, positively, without question and without possible dispute by anyone but a fucking liar or fool, a Ponzi scheme. It's been a successful Ponzi scheme so far, largely because it can compel new "investors" to enter into the scheme at the point of a gun, but a Ponzi scheme it is nonetheless.

    And yes, the interstate highway system is a dismal failure in economic, social, cultural and environmental terms.

  • Paul||

    Paul, your "prediction" makes no sense. Please explain how the introduction of a public option is going to lead to costs spiraling out of control.

    Wow, you're kidding right? Tell you what, let's take an example that's seen as the "model" for Obama's healthcare reform. Now let's read about "spiraling medical costs", subsidies from the federal government because the MA plan has seen costs grow even faster than ever imagined:

    Even if the state garners enough money from those two sources, the plan's future rests on slowing the growth of healthcare costs in general, a task many analysts say is far more challenging than shaping the complex health reform law in the first place.

    "If we don't grapple seriously with the cost of healthcare, the support for reform will erode and the perception will become broader that it is unaffordable," said Jon Kingsdale, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector, which oversees much of the reform effort.
    [...]
    "We've said from the beginning that the basic problem with the reform is that if you don't restructure the system, it becomes rapidly unaffordable and the commitment to cover people begins to fade," said Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and a founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates for a government-run health system like Canada's.
    [...]
    The Patrick administration has asked coalition members for suggestions on how to raise money and cut costs, and dozens of proposals have been submitted.

    Advocates are pressing the administration to expand the number of companies subject to a penalty for not insuring their workers, a step the administration could take without legislative approval but which would probably draw strong opposition from businesses.
    [...]
    "Expanding coverage is easy compared to controlling healthcare costs," said Nancy Turnbull, a Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector board member and associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health. "Nobody has to give much up to expand coverage, but in controlling cost there will always be losers."



    http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/03/26/healthcare_cost_increases_dominate_mass_budget_debate/?page=2

    Reform away, my friend. Reform away.

  • Paul||

    It's been a successful Ponzi scheme so far, largely because it can compel new "investors" to enter into the scheme at the point of a gun, but a Ponzi scheme it is nonetheless.

    You forgot one thing, Fluffy. It can also pull in funds from other sources. One of those sources is sometimes referred in polite conversation as "the general fund".

  • Zeb||

    I am not sure what the best health care system would look like. Many of the countries with universal coverage are not the horror stories many people make them out to be. There are problems to be sure, which they will have to deal with eventually. And we have problems here as well. And never having seen a free market in modern healthcare, no one really knows how that would turn out either. So I don't know what would be best, either for my own interest, or for people in general.

    But I do have a big problem with the claim that health care is a right. You do not have a right to compel other people to do things for you. That is a pretty fucked up idea, to think that you have a right to have some government agent extract resources from other people, at gunpoint, to give you something that you want. Mandated/subsidized universal coverage may or may not be a good idea, but it sure as hell is not a right.

  • ||

    A Ponzi scheme is one in which early investors are paid returns generated by the payments of later investors. That's it. That's all it is.



    If that really were the complete definition of a Ponzi scheme, you'd be right. But that's not what a Ponzi scheme is. It requires fraud, for one thing. With social security, people know what they are getting. Ponzi schemes are doomed to fail because eventually the suckers run out. With SS, as long as the money coming in roughly matches the money being paid out, it can be sustainable forever. There is no unsustainable progression in what is essentially a pay-as-you-go pension system. Solvency requires tweaks to benefits and taxes, of course, depending on population changes, but to compare social security to a Ponzi scheme is to be superficial and misleading.

  • ||

    TANSTAAFL

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Shorter Tony: SS is not a Ponzi scheme, because the government can force you to pay in.

    That's pretty much what you said there, Tony.

    With social security, people know what they are getting.



    Yeah, and I don't like it. Can I get out now? What's the point in "knowing what you're getting" if you have to choke it down anyway?

    "Force and Fraud", Tony. Learn that they are equivalent.

  • Paul||

    It requires fraud, for one thing. With social security, people know what they are getting. Ponzi schemes are doomed to fail because eventually the suckers run out.

    Couple of things on that. Telling people that you've got a pyramid scheme does not take the "Ponziness" out of the structure. Also, Social Security is doomed to fail because eventually the suckers run out.

    With SS, as long as the money coming in roughly matches the money being paid out, it can be sustainable forever.

    It won't, and it isn't. To wit:

    Here's the problem: As in the United States, the German public pension system is pay-as-you-go. Today's workers are paying for today's retirees. But the birth rate is declining and people are living longer. At the moment in Germany there are three workers supporting each retiree. Within 30 years it'll be down to just one worker for every pensioner.

    The government is now trying through tax breaks to encourage more people to take out private pensions. In a park in Munich I met this skilled factory worker. He's 55, and he's not looking forward to his retirement.



    http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2009/05/15/nad_mm_germany_retire/
    See? That's EXACTLY what the person running a Ponzi scheme tells himself. Exactly. Was listening to a segment on Bernie Madoff the other day, and one of the investigators said of Ponzi Schemers: (I'll paraphrase here)

    The level of delusion is pretty fantastic. Not delusion in the victims, but delusion in the person running the scheme. They believe, really believe that they'll be able to keep it going, keep enough investors and eventually turn the whole thing legit. They really believe it.

  • Paul||

    "Force and Fraud", Tony. Learn that they are equivalent.

    I disagree, TAO. Fraud is a lie, an obfuscation. We can learn to detect it, and once detected, avoid it, and even prosecute it.

    Force is naked aggression.

    Force and Fraud together is basically what the Federal Government is perpetuating on its people:

    Fruad: Social Security, a self sustaining system that will keep our old people from worrying about their future.

    Detection: But social security is facing a major imbalance. I want out.

    Force: Shut up and accept it, we'll raise taxes or pull from the general fund. Either way, you're going to get it.

  • Fluffy||

    It requires fraud, for one thing.

    No, it doesn't. If I openly set up a pyramid or chain letter scam, I am running a Ponzi scheme. Even though I've told people what I'm setting up. Heck, I even could be convinced that openly acknowledged pyramid schemes should be legal - but they would be Ponzi schemes nonetheless. Because eventually the money would run out and someone would lose.

    Solvency requires tweaks to benefits and taxes, of course, depending on population changes

    Sure, and Ponzi could have kept going forever too, if he had been allowed to force new investors to invest larger and larger sums, or if he had been able to stiff previous investors by lowering the promised payout.

    Basically you're saying, "Social security can stiff everyone by cutting benefits whenever we decide to, so it's not a Ponzi scheme." Even though that's exactly what a Ponzi scheme does - works fine for a while, but then eventually stiffs on payouts when the money runs out. So your proof that Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme is actually one of the aspects of the program that is most like a Ponzi scheme.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Paul - I suppose I am speaking from the Objectivist point of view, where they are equivalent in that they both attempt to short-circuit our reasoning ability. A man who is presented a box that is full of lead, that is advertised and sold as if it is full of gold, had no chance to fairly evaluate its contents. If you're forced to buy the lead for the price of gold, you're in the same boat.

  • ||

    To everyone arguing with Tony:
    You're a victim of propaganda. Give up now and accept The Truth©

  • Paul||

    And going back to my previous post, I really think this should be the quote of the year when talking about healthcare reform. I used to argue this constantly in threads of yore with you-know-who. He would pound his fist and scream "access!" and I would pound my fist back and say "Access to what? I give you access to the MRI machine in my basement... it doesn't exist yet, but you have "access" to it".

    "Expanding coverage is easy compared to controlling healthcare costs. Nobody has to give much up to expand coverage, but in controlling cost there will always be losers." --Nancy Turnbull, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector board member and associate dean at the Harvard School of Public Health.

    *poof* You're covered! What's that? Oh you actually want to see a doctor now. Oooooohhhh. Uhm, yeah, about that. If you could just sign your name on the list, we'll get to you juuuust as soon as we have an opening, or a doctor, or a clinic, or money...

  • ||

    To everyone arguing with Tony:
    You're a victim of propaganda. Give up now and accept The Truth©


    Remember when Tony essentially argued that murder is against the law because of majority rule? Anyone have a link to that?

  • ||

    AMERICA'S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY!

    It's official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.

    STAND READY AMERICA TO SEIZE CONTROL OF YOUR NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.

    We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

    And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

    Progressive democrats and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and demand that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

    Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

    In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don't even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

    Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

    God Bless You

    Jacksmith - WORKING CLASS

  • hmm||

    The only one Tony listed that isn't a failure was the armed forces. And one could argue that following orders to go kill brown people to nation build is a failure, but the problem with that is the chain of command needed to wage war if it should ever occur and be even remotely just. A bit of a catch 22 so not a failure.

    He did forget to mention the post office and NASA and... ah hell it could go on all night.

  • hmm||

    Forgot, as far as money goes and expenses the military is a huge fucking failure. They make GM and Chrysler look like amateurs.

  • ||

    I said some time ago that if the government could deliver me an endless supply of hot babes in bikinis, I'd become a pinko. Let's go, Ruling Party! You could make me a high-profile sellout any day of the week!

    -jcr

  • ||

    I suppose I am speaking from the Objectivist point of view, where they are equivalent in that they both attempt to short-circuit our reasoning ability.

    I would say that force and fraud have similar effects, but they're not the same thing. I would compare them to cyanide and bullets. They'll both kill you, but through entirely different means.

    -jcr

  • John C. Randolph||

    But that's not what a Ponzi scheme is. It requires fraud, for one thing. With social security, people know what they are getting.

    Tony, are you by any chance in the market for a bridge? How about a nice game of poker?

    I really want to talk to you before the Scientologists or some clever people in Nigeria suck you dry.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Rationing absolutely does not mean lower quality.

    Oh, I don't know about that. I would have to say that not having some product or service is a kind of absent quality.

    BTW, anyone who's ever lived under a rationing regime, whether it's Cuba today, or the USA during WW2 can tell you in no uncertain terms that the rationed goods were of considerably lower quality than they could buy on the black market.

    -jcr

  • zoltan||

    How do you defend healthcare as a universal right?

  • denture repair||

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