Fun With Headlines

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Reader Mark Janness sends two headlines, both pulled today from the liberal website Alternet:

· Private Health Insurance Is Not the Answer: Why are we keeping a hopeless, for-profit health insurance system alive?

and…

· Walter Reed Is a Second Hell for Injured Vets: The American people must make clear their disgust with the way the Pentagon treats injured service members.

Translation: The government is incompetent! More power to the government!

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  1. Obviously, Radley, you do not understand the liberal mindset. Otherwise, you would know that similtaneously believing in contradictory ideas is a rational basis for policy decisions.

    Tut. tut.

  2. You know who’s in charge of the military hospitals? Conservatives.

    You know who’d be in charge of National Health Care For All, Especially The Poor? Liberals.

    The two things are apples and oranges.

  3. Well, there’s an obvious justification for the contradictions, but Alternet has gotten so bizarre lately that I think Aresen is probably more correct on this one.

  4. “More power to the government!”

    Well, at least they don’t have guns. Oh, wait…

  5. Translation: The government is incompetent! More power to the government!

    What we need are conservatives in charge for a change. Think of how we could shrink the government if only we had a republican president and a republican controlled congress. Oh, shit…

  6. The “translation” of the second headline into “The government is incompetent!” rests on the premise that the Pentagon would like to take better care of injured service men, but that it’s unable to do so. I think that’s an unwarranted assumption.

  7. I agree. With this administration, tax cuts for the rich take precidence over properly funded care for vets.

  8. So what will happen to the National Health Care for all in a rare chance(1994-2006) that the Conservatives are in charge, you know the same conservatives who fumbled the Iraq War and the cause of the current Walter Reid crisis. What then?

  9. This is an example of a common libertarian fallacy – just because there are examples of government failures doesn’t mean that government always fails. Notice that nobody at Reason will apply this same standard to the free market, which has a long history of not being 100% perfect.

  10. In fairness, the pentagon does not hold a monopoly on treating patients like crap. HMOs control a large part of that market.

    Before the howling starts, I’m not endorsing socialized medicine; just pointing out that privately funded care is not a panacea either.

  11. Earth to liberals. It is hard to get more funding for vet hospitals because the benefits are insanely expensive as they are. Exporting that expense to the nation as a whole is not solving any problem I can see.

  12. Not that I really think either is a good idea, but there is a difference between a nationalized health care industry (which Walter Reed would be an example of) and a nationalized health insurance industry, being called for in the second headline.

  13. Jason, one of the main reasons health care is so expensive is that administrtive expenses for private companies eat up about 20% of each premium dollar. The comparable rate for Medicare is 2%.

  14. I understand if you repeal the Bush tax cuts, you will have more than enough money for universal healthcare that is much better than what vets get now. You will also have money to inspect every piece of cargo coming into the country. And increase regulatory body enforcement. And feed all the hungry. And improve our schools. And balance the budget.

  15. Funny, ha, ha, ha, it will never happen because, eh, because they will be stopped by the people. Yea, the people will stop them by, by …
    Think about it. Its not funny when you realize one party is campaigining on socializing health care and the other when same thing, except more slowly and WHAT IS TO STOP THEM?
    Lawsuits? Yea right.
    One thing and one thing only, THE LIBERTARIAN MILITIA, now more than ever, because if not now, then its too late fools.

  16. Bill,

    You are suggesting that a nationalized monopoly on care is more dollar efficient because there is less red tape? Really?

    Medicare functions within the current framework and its costs are offset by everyone who pays the bills. In a wholly nationalized system, you internalize your costs. National plans are efficient if the only output you care about is delivery of any minute quality of care to everyone. It is not dollar efficient. It does not maximize research potential. It is not competitive by definition. And it certainly isn’t cheap overall.

  17. I don’t know how it is at Walter Reed but most military bases have contracted medical out to private contractors, So says my retired military friends.

    I’m not sure which is worse, plain ole incompetence, or lack of care due to short staffing (usually budget constraints). Either way, the vet is screwed.

    “””Earth to liberals. It is hard to get more funding for vet hospitals because the benefits are insanely expensive as they are. Exporting that expense to the nation as a whole is not solving any problem I can see.””””

    Whine, whine, whine, It’s should be part of the cost of going to war. We should galdly pay tax dollars to care for troop injured on missions of the state, or stop sending the military into harms way.

    The nation OWES it to them.

  18. Jason, do a simple test. Compare life expectancy in Western Europe, Canada, and Japan with that in the US. Then compare health care expenditure per person. The American health care system costs more, delivers lower life expectancy, and leaves tens of millions in fear of bankruptcy.

  19. You know who’s in charge of the military hospitals? Conservatives.

    I worked for the VA for several years. There are few “conservatives” or “liberals” among its bureaucrats. These are career government workers, the same folks who will end up running a civilian health care system. In my experience using military hospitals, they function much the same.

    You know who’d be in charge of National Health Care For All, Especially The Poor? Liberals.

    I’ve also worked in not-for-profit social service agencies and interacted with government welfare agencies and the career folks who run both. There’s a remarkable resembelance with VA staff. In most there are a few caring individuals that labor mightily to overcome a mind-numbing bureaucracy that stifles any real caring.

    The “translation” of the second headline into “The government is incompetent!” rests on the premise that the Pentagon would like to take better care of injured service men, but that it’s unable to do so. I think that’s an unwarranted assumption.

    What the military “wants” is irrelevant. We are in a situation where the President is making demands on a military that is stretched beyond the breaking point, and Congress is alternately cheering him on and cussing him. It’s a case of generals chosing whether to run out of bandages at Walter Reed or bullets in Bagdad.

  20. How much of that administrative cost of private health insurance is due to looking for ways to deny coverage?

    That’s what gets people upset. They sign up for this horribly expensive plan and then, when the crunch comes, the insurance company spends all this effort looking for ways to reneg on the contract. Amazing what they shove in under “prior condition.”

    Getting a damn bill paid by an insurance company should not require having to hire a lawyer. Getting health insurance shouldn’t require having to hire a lawyer.

    THAT’s what’s going to finally push this country towards national health insurance. Too many health insurance companies being greedy hogs who don’t provide what their customers want.

    Libertarians don’t want this? Then FIX THE SYSTEM. Otherwise it WILL get pushed up to the government level.

  21. You are equating life expectancy with better health care and i’m not so sure one necessarily means anything about the other when you reach a certain point or life expectancy. Sweden, Greece and France have a life expectancy of about 77-78 years. Japan has a life expectancy of 80. Does that mean Japan’s health care system is better than those countries? Too many variables for such a simplistic formula to be true.

  22. the above mentione dpost was for Bill Pope btw.

  23. That’s what gets people upset. They sign up for this horribly expensive plan and then, when the crunch comes, the insurance company spends all this effort looking for ways to reneg on the contract. Amazing what they shove in under “prior condition.”

    You should read the Washington Post series (linked to in the second headline’s article) on how the government is doing in treating Vets. Doctors there look for every reason to deny disability to soldiers injured in Iraq, citing any specious “prior condition” they can find.

  24. Grumpy realist makes a fair point.

  25. “This is an example of a common libertarian fallacy – just because there are examples of government failures doesn’t mean that government always fails. Notice that nobody at Reason will apply this same standard to the free market, which has a long history of not being 100% perfect.”

    *sigh*

    The “free-market-isn’t-perfect-so-why-don’t-we-trust-the-government-fallacy”.

    Free markets and private companies DO screw up royally. The difference is that they go bankrupt if the screwup is big enough. They don;t get to perpetuate their mistakes by just spending more money in the same way.

    Nor does the government always fail or even always less efficient. Free markets, however, do not allow coercion in order to achieve one’s goals.

  26. So what will happen to the National Health Care for all in a rare chance(1994-2006) that the Conservatives are in charge

    Perhaps the best argument one can make to begin to convince a liberal that there might be something to limiting the size and power of the government is to point out that the Republicans are going to be in charge roughly half the time. I say “begin to” because his or her head may come close to exploding at first — you have give the idea a lot of time to soak in.

    (By the way, to be fair, there are analagous head-exploding questions one can ask a purist Libertarian.)

  27. You are suggesting that a nationalized monopoly on care is more dollar efficient because there is less red tape?

    On bit of fallacious thinking behind the push for nationalized healthcare is that it would be more efficient because of economies of scale. A while back, while studying California’s public school system, I realized that you are unlikely to see economies of scale unless there is competition present.

  28. Mike Laursen wrote, (By the way, to be fair, there are analagous head-exploding questions one can ask a purist Libertarian.)

    Give me one Mike, just one?

  29. Getting a damn bill paid by an insurance company should not require having to hire a lawyer. Getting health insurance shouldn’t require having to hire a lawyer.

    As much as this shit gets tossed around you would think I might at least know someone this has happened to. My insurance pays promptly with no hassle. Hell, they even pay bills they shouldn’t. I was injured on the job and required surgery. Both the state of Idaho and my insurance company paid. My brother was born with a f*cked up heart. He’s hasn’t had a problem getting insurance. In fact, the only insurance hassle I know of was with my neighbor’s dog; it had a tumor their pet insurance refused to pay to remove because it was benign. But I’m sure I just live in a bubble … I’ll let you get back to your Lifetime movie about the country layer what takes on those insurance company fat cats.

    Jason, do a simple test. Compare life expectancy in Western Europe, …

    Funny, I hear this one a lot too. Mostly from the same folks who like to bitch about Americans and their unhealthy lifestyles. What would convince me of the superiority of centrally allocated healthcare would be life expectancy and recovery rates post diagnosis. I know it’s not a perfect metric (you know, needing to be diagnosed in the first place), but it will go a long way to making your point.

  30. I certainly agree that Alternet has been getting increasingly bizzare lately. Whenever I wonder if my votes for libertarian candidates should have been cast for democrats, I just take a look at Huffpo or Alternet. They straighten me right out.
    BTW, one of the biggest reasons for high private-pay health care costs is cost-shifting prompted by Medicaid’s payment patterns. In general, if an institution has ever taken a federal dollar for anything, they are required by law to provide Medicaid funded care. Medicaid pays only about 80% of their estimate of your costs.
    Let me repeat that. 80%. Not your estimate but their estimate. Not 80% of your charges but 80% of costs. If you provide Medicaid care, the only way to stay solvent is to viciously overcharge those who hold private insurance.

  31. Mike, well I am waiting for the question.

    Mike Laursen another lame brain, shithead.

  32. Whoa there, Terry.

    Anyway, I wish I could remember which of my criminal justice books I read years ago that went into some detail into why healthcare is so expensive (it had a lot to do with theft and corruption, since it was a criminal justice book, natch).

    What I do remember is that nationalising it will not make the problem go away.

  33. Whoa there, Terry. I was actually getting some work done instead of surfing the Web.

    OK, here’s one: In accordance with the non-aggression principle, should the United States be given back to the ancestors of the native Americans from whom the territory was stolen?

  34. “Free markets, however, do not allow coercion in order to achieve one’s goals.”

    Stop talking nonsense… a strictly free market allows any activity at all of any kind… this is why governments are always… yes always… created by participants in totally free markets. The need to avoid the coercive behavior of some players in the market… we tend to call it theft or fraud.

    Libertarian philosophy provides for a government role in the market whereby government prevents many types of behavior that are detrimental to the operation of the market.

    Somalia has no coercive actors in its free market. Right?

  35. I imagine that people who don’t know the difference between a hospital and an insurance system will find this post quite compelling, Radley.

    That, and people too fond of their ideology to notice.

  36. “a strictly free market allows any activity at all of any kind …

    Somalia has no coercive actors in its free market. Right?”

    Straw man argument.

  37. joe,

    I’m guessing that you are saying that the administration of Walter Reed Hospital is at fault, and not the government-financed health care system that fund said hospital.

    I’ll bite: How do the Washington Post articles on Walter Reed agree with that claim?

  38. “a hopeless, for-profit health insurance system

    tell that to my father, aunt, and niece… all of whom had cancer and were saved by the “hopeless system” in a world-class cancer center. yes, because perhaps it doesn’t work for some, let’s screw everyone… good lord… i think i saw a baby outside in some bath water…

    i’ll never forget being treated in both the UK and japanese health care systems while teaching overseas… you want to talk about hopeless. oh wait, i wasn’t treated… i waited, and waited, and waited, and then flew home to be treated.

  39. The real problem at Walter Reed is BRAC. Why spend money – that you can spend on patients – to maintain buildings that you’re not going to use because you’re moving to Bethesda?

    That and the fact that certain political appointees at DOD think that the actual humans in the armed forces are way too expensive and try to save money by stinting on certain “extras” like facilities at Walter Reed.

    And the fact that Congress has miserably failed in their duty to oversee the executive branch. If Congress voted the money for good facilities, this would not be an issue.

    Oh, and the headlines were pretty stupid.

  40. I’d be happy to make the liberals a deal. First let’s actually have a real private system. You know, eliminate the 47% of taxpayer-funded health costs. If that system sucks, we’ll try a national system.

    [rant]One reason our system is screwed is because people are ignorant fools. They actually believe that health insurance should be connected to employment! (Notice how often liberals vote to force businesses to provide health insurance. Why the fuck should health insurance have anything to do with employment?!)[/rant]

  41. I imagine that people who don’t know the difference between a hospital and an insurance system will find this post quite compelling, Radley.

    So should we surmise then that you think public funds would be a better way to finance crappy hospitals?

    First Old Lady: “The food in this restaurant is awful!”

    Second Old Lady: “But they do give us large portions.”

  42. The government isn’t incompetent, you narrow- minded propagandist. People are incompetent, Plenty of incompetent people fuck up in the private sector, and plenty of very competent people devote their lives to government service. You’ll never sell you extremist anti-government rhetoric to the majority of Americans, so enjoy jacking each other off in your pathetic little cult.

  43. …not that public funding would do anything to increase the quantity of health care we get. To the contrary, we already spend as much per person in this country as any socialized system you want to point to. Limiting ourselves to what people are willing to finance in taxes, that really would be a shame.

    The private insurance we buy is mostly in addition to what the government already finances–it’s just there so a portion of us can escape all the horror.

  44. This is how government health care works:

    The Navy Hospital tells my buddy Ray he has a blockage and needs to go home and take Metamucil.

    It was a blockage all right. Fargin’ cancer.

    Ray’s dead now.

  45. If the vets only get to enjoy the fruits of privatized health care, like this:

    A paraplegic man wearing a soiled hospital gown and a broken colostomy bag was found crawling in a gutter in skid row in Los Angeles on Thursday after allegedly being dumped in the street by a Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center van, police said. The incident, witnessed by more than two dozen people, was described by police as a particularly outrageous case of ‘homeless dumping’ that has plagued the downtown area.”

  46. The same logic, from a single author:

    1.7 Million Veterans Lacked Health Coverage In 2003

    1.694 million American veterans were uninsured in 2003, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers released today. Of the 1.694 million uninsured, 681,808 were Vietnam-era veterans while 999,548 were veterans who served during “other eras” (including the Persian Gulf War)….

    …David U. Himmelstein, M.D., study author and Harvard Medical School Associate Professor, commented: “This administration professes great concern for veterans, but it’s all talk and no action. Since President Bush took office the number of uninsured vets has skyrocketed, and he’s cut VA eligibility, barring hundreds of thousands of veterans from care. Our president has put troops in harm’s way overseas and abandons them and their families once they get home.

    “Like other uninsured Americans, most uninsured vets are working people. And uninsured veterans are denied the care they need – turned away because they can’t pay,” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a study author and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program. “We need a solution that works for veterans, and for all Americans – national health insurance.”

  47. And here’s Paul Krugman using the ‘success’ of healthcare for vets to claim govt deserves more power.

  48. Aresen,

    “Straw man argument.”

    Maybe, but in my defense it was a strawman (clumsily) designed to expose a strawman on the other side of the argument.

    Not that your first post on this thread isn’t a strawman either…

  49. And Aresen,

    Why is it that free markets always converge on some sort of organizing framework that restricts the behavior of its players? Chaotic systems operate better when there are regulatory elements involved. Complex adaptive systems have a tendency to offload complexities onto their environment to facilitate more efficient operation. Economies are no different. Markets operate more efficiently when they are provided a stable framework by an active government. Or can you provide an example from history of a market that didn’t quickly develop some form of government to help regulate the players involved. Even the much touted Viking society of Iceland had a form of clan governance.

    And by the way… a recognition of the world’s complexity and contradictions is a great place to start a policy debate.

  50. THAT’s what’s going to finally push this country towards national health insurance. Too many health insurance companies being greedy hogs who don’t provide what their customers want.

    Actually health insurance in particular and insurance in general are some of the most heavily regulated products on the market. Government at both the federal and state levels tell insurnace companies what they must write into their policies, and in many cases what premiums they can charge. And often as not, government changes the rules in midstream.

    The problems you cite are mostly the product of caring governments protecting us from the greedy insurnace companies. As usual.

  51. I am a retired Army guy, VN era. A miss diagnosis at a VA hospital almost killed me. The irony of the whole thing was that I told the doctor what the problem was (strangulated hernia). He sent me back to work, the following day I was forced by pain to go to a civilian doctor who made a correct diagnosis in about 2 minutes and urged immediate corrective surgery. Five years earlier, while in the army, I had surgery that left me with a 10 % disability. I have several other personal experiences with the socialized military medicine that are equally frightening, like waiting a couple hours behind a bunch of pregnant women to get an X-ray to prove that my foot was broken (on duty, 1/2 mile from the post hospital). I’ll support socialized medicine when I see the Twins with a yeast infection waiting behind the guy with a gut shot wound.

  52. …a couple hours behind a bunch of pregnant women…

    jimmy, I was a Navy brat, born to a navy wife in a navy hospital and while I have no actual recollection of the experience I am told it apparently was not the best.

    From what I can gather from military personnel and dependents they get extremely good primary care. If things get complicated the quality of care declines unless one is lucky enough to get to a hospital with the one staff member who is exceptional in the specialty one needs.

    This by the way is about the same report that I get about experiences with health care from my acquaintances in Canada, Australia and Britain.

  53. The Navy Hospital tells my buddy Ray he has a blockage and needs to go home and take Metamucil.

    In all fairness, TWC, doctors in private hospitals make serious diagnostic errors all the time too.

  54. “Chaotic systems operate better when there are regulatory elements involved.”

    This kind of gets to the crux of it for me.

    If I’m what you mean by a chaotic system, I want to know what makes you think I want your regulatory element. I don’t want any of your help. Why can’t you just leave my health insurer alone? Why can’t you just leave me the fuck out of your little plan? I don’t want to pay for other people’s health care.

    …yes, I think we’d all be better off if the government stayed the hell out of health care, but that’s icing on the cake. The truth is that I just want you to leave me alone.

    I don’t want your help. …and I don’t care about you.

    This message has been brought to you by the people at the Free Ken Shultz Foundation and the Ad Council.

  55. “If I’m what you mean by a chaotic system, I want to know what makes you think I want your regulatory element.”

    You don’t get it, apparently. The system will provide you (the individual) with better results if it includes regulatory elements that smooth out its operation, help it avoid local, non-optimal minima, and dampen negative trends. In all complex adaptive systems, these types of regulatory elements emerge in some form or another. It doesn’t matter what the individual agents in the system want, many properties emerge only at larger scales are operate independent of the properties of the smaller scale structures.

    In other words, collectives are real things that impact your life. Mostly in positive ways, whether you are smart enough to recognize the latent benefits or not.

  56. “and operate”

  57. “In other words, collectives are real things that impact your life. Mostly in positive ways, whether you are smart enough to recognize the latent benefits or not.”

    Are you saying you know what’s best for me in some weird paternalistic way?

    …or is that simply a personal attack?

    For your sake, I hope it’s the latter. I’ve only come across two kinds of people who think they know what’s best for all of us–liars and idiots.

    The liars are the ones who realize they can’t possibly know what’s best for all of us, but they pretend they do for any one of a number of reasons. The idiots–now they’re the really dangerous ones. They’re the ones that really, truly, honestly believe, not just that they can know what’s best for all of us, but that they really do know what’s best for all of us.

    The idiots come in a bunch of different flavors too. There’s the religious fundamentalists–Christian right wing, Islamic, you name it, and then there’s the ones on the left. …who think that if we won’t all work together to do what’s in our own best interest of our own free will, then they’re just gonna have to make us do it for our own damn good.

    Gee, I’d hate to think you were one of the idiots. Accusing someone of being one of them, that’s one of the nastiest things I think I could say about somebody in a forum like this. I’d rather give you the benefit of the doubt and just take your comment as a personal attack.

  58. Gee Ken,
    You’re are having a bizarre reaction to the idea that your individual choices are embedded in a larger interdependent network of independent agents. The idea that your actions depend upon and influence a vast network of relationships organized in ways that benefit you. I have never stated that I know what’s best for you. I have only discussed abstract concepts about relational structures in complex networks. Complex adaptive networks self-organize over time and tend to develop regulatory mechanism to increase the efficiency of information flow across information space. In societies, we sometime refer to the auto-emergent systems of regulation as governance… but that doesn’t mean I am telling you that I know what is best for you… I am claiming that you benefit from a vast history of subtle tweaks to a complex interactive network of relations between collections of independent agents… free markets create governments through a natural historical process that tends towards more efficient and more effective results for their members…if you strip government out of the free market, the free market will just recreate government anew…

    Grow the fuck up.

  59. I am all but certain that the latent benefits of your collective are worth less to me than my money, but while I’m growing up, why don’t you enlighten me?

    Let’s say there’s someone who doesn’t want your help and doesn’t care about you. Why should he want to pay for your health care? What are the latent benefits of your collective, and why should he care about them more than his money?

    This is a thread about socialized medicine, isn’t it? Nice take, by the way, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else pitch socialized medicine as a product of free markets that rose up to impose our wishes on us in spite of ourselves. Isn’t that what you’re suggesting?

  60. The truth is that I just want you to leave me alone.

    Jefferson Davis inauguration “All we ask, is to be left alone”

    Amen, brother

  61. Hey Ken,
    I see you might actually want to have a discussion.

    “Nice take, by the way, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else pitch socialized medicine as a product of free markets that rose up to impose our wishes on us in spite of ourselves. Isn’t that what you’re suggesting?”

    It would be an example of a more general trend that I am identifying. A basic tenet of libertarian thought is that there is a free market-governance dichotomy. In fact, if you posit that the free market works in the way it is said to work, then you have to recognize that governments are a by-product of that process. Like all complex adaptive systems, the free market will spontaneously develop certain regulatory mechanisms as a way to off-load complexity into its environment. Just as individuals off-load complexity on the the system, the system off-loads complexity onto the environment…these processes are inevitable. Framing them as the result of misguided individuals who only want to boss you around seems sophmoric to me.

    For some interesting work on this stuff…
    http://www.santafe.edu/research/publications/workingpapers/03-12-070.pdf

  62. Jefferson Davis inauguration “All we ask, is to be left alone”

    Being forced to work for other people’s health care isn’t exactly equivalent to 19th century slavery, but I appreciate the support.

    …still, if you’d found a reference to a slave saying he just wanted to be left alone, that probably would have been better.

  63. Framing them as the result of misguided individuals who only want to boss you around seems sophmoric to me.

    Candy coating being forced to pay for other people’s health care with the language of ’90s management guru speak seems sophomoric to me.

  64. “the language of ’90s management guru speak”

    Okay, we’ll use the language of laisse faire economics…

    The invisible hand of the market created government. If you take away government, the invisible hand will just replace it.

  65. laisse faire…
    er, uhm

    laissez-faire

  66. KT has it right. all you americans who think a single payer system is the way to go really should spend some time living under one like us Canadians. Single payer systems mean one thing – rationing. we’re will have to start dismantiling our system up here in Canada soon as demographic pressure will make it unaffordable. it already eats up 40% of most provincial budgets and even with cash infusions from the federal government is heading higher.

    want to wait 6 months for an MRI or 9-12 months for a hip replacement then go for it you crazy government-o-philic lunatics.

  67. Neu Mejican,
    I think you’re confusing the free market with the idea that all successful systems acquire parasites. There is a role of government when you consider the (sad but true) necessity for violence; competition amongst merchants of violence is war and so a monopoly must be granted to them over territory. These actors then have incentives to steal from the rest of the people in “their” territory. It is not in the best interest of the market that the governments are allowed to do so.

    John Nash showed that there’s benefits in voluntary industry standards, but the key is voluntary. If the standards aren’t voluntary, the incentives change. Authors of voluntary standards have an incentive to keep the cost of implementation down to encourage wide acceptance; authors of involuntary standards are typically established members of the industry (even government authored standards and government regulatory agencies have committees dominated by members of the industry), who then have an incentive to keep implementation costs high to exclude added competition. The “regulation” of industry by the violence merchants should be limited to the enforcement of voluntary contracts, and then only to prevent the powerful of the two actors from becoming a violence merchant to enforce their will.

  68. Jon, I don’t think he’s confused about anything. …except maybe that our objections to paying for other people’s health care are a function of semantics.

    He can put a pig in a dress and call it Miss America, but I will not gladly pay for other people’s health care. …by his definition, Social Security, Medicare and the Income Tax are all libertarian programs. It’s ridiculous.

    He isn’t confused. He’s full of shit.

  69. Libertarians don’t want this? Then FIX THE SYSTEM.

    Umpteen statist interventions into our health care system, going back to the government pressures in WW2 that tied health insurance to specific jobs, and suddenly it’s our responsibility to fix what’s wrong with health care lest folks like you make it more statist?

  70. Jon,

    I think you are largely correct in your description of the issue, but the parasite/regulatory mechanism distinction is important. They operate in different ways within the system. Both are inevitible to a degree. Both have the potential to harm at certain scales. The process, thankfully, is largely self-correcting in the long term. A parasite that is harmful will eventually cripple the system resulting in its own demise, and a regulatory mechanism that becomes too inefficient will crumble under its own weight.

    I stand by my position. The invisible hand created government to provide for necessary functions within the system. Removing the government whole-cloth doesn’t remove the need for those functional requirements to be met. The invisible hand will recreate government to fulfill certain needs no matter how hard you try and rig it. It is the balance between liberty and governance that optimizes the system. Too much of one or the other leads to sub-optimal performance.

    Ken – Sorry about the earlier confusion. I guess you don’t want to have an adult discussion. So, I now posit that you are this Ken Shultz

    http://ethics.sos.state.nm.us/LOBBY/940025.HTM

    former mayor of Albuquerque, and lobbyist sucking on the government teat.

  71. Reading these comments is truly the pinnacle of enlightenment! “Liberalism is a mental disorder.”

  72. We already have a model, example and set of consequences to describe the socialization of medicine. It’s called Social Security.
    As originally proposed (and sold to a gullible and/or panicked Supreme Court), it would never exceed 6% of income, take care of all elderly and poor unable to finance their own retirement, and reduce poverty among the aged.
    Anyone care to guess how much more than 6% of my income has been “collected” over the years? How much more than the 1% or so rate of return I would get if I had invested the money in the stock market, annuities or probably even South American copper futures?
    Once the government establishes a compulsory program, the result is predictable: cost overruns, rising taxes and waste, followed by the damning realization that it didn’t even manage to do what it was supposed to in the first place.
    As long as the phrase “Good enough for government work” exists and is recognized in the language, tasks, functions and societal goals turned over to government must be as few and as limited as possible.
    Unless you like your chains better….

  73. You libs can always send in extra money with your taxes. Why don’t you show your support for our troops by sending in extra money with your taxes?
    Oh I forgot, the second definition for the word liberal is hypocrate. aka Global Warming is here, but not bad enough to make me want to cut down on my own carbon footprint GORE.

  74. We must remember that most of the bureaucrats in the Department of Veteran Affairs and Department of Defense are liberal hold-overs from the failed Clinton administration. And since liberals hate the military, these liberals are just holding out on the care for our soldiers. They don’t see any reason to help care for military people. They’d rather spend their money on poor black usless people in the cities here.

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