Foreign Policy

Moore and Castro, Sittin' in a Tree

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More Cuban embargo idiocy, more Michael Moore publicity-mongering, or both? The Treasury Department is investigating the filmmaker for taking some 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba for some sweet Castro-style health care as a set piece in his forthcoming shock doc on the health care system, Sicko.

Old Hit-and-Running from Matt Welch on how the Treasury Dept's Cuban madness has affected an entertainment form second only to Michael Moore flicks in Americans' hearts, baseball.

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  1. I’ll vote both.

    It would be much cooler if Moore were making a documentary about the embargo.

  2. I could swear Moore did something like this a long time ago on one of his short lived TV shows (The Awful Truth or TV Nation). They staged a health care olympics between the US, Canada and Cuba.

  3. sweet Castro-style health care

    Ha ha ha. Used ironically it’s even funnier.

  4. Of course Moore will make it seem like the healthcare given out by the Cuban government for propeganda purposes is the healthcare recieved by the typical Cuban. Those 9-11 workers also get to go home to a free country as opposed to living on the prison island known as Cuba. Moore will mention none of that either.

    In addition, Moore’s point will be to advocate for a single payer socialized healthcare system. Last I heard such a system was on of the list of things Reason and libertarians in general object to.

    The law is the law. Does Reason expect the treasury department not to enforce the law because it is Michael Moore? OF you don’t like the law change it, but I don’t think you can blame the people who enforce the law. Moreover, the fact Michael Moore might get in trouble for his propagandizing for socialized medicine is pretty low on the harms associated with the embargo.

  5. Sounds like John has either seen this movie or has knee-jerk reactions to the words “Michael” and “Moore” when placed together.

  6. It would be much cooler if Moore were making a documentary about the embargo.

    But even cooler still if he did a documentary about how the Castro family has enriched itself while the Cuban people have slid deeper into poverty.

    You’d think a real populist would be all over that.

  7. Not to comment on Moore or the project, but the Cuba embargo is a friggin’ joke. Is there any reason that it’s kept in place right now except for politicians being scared of losing Florida in the next election if they drop the embargo?

  8. RC Dean: you mean to suggest that a dictator enriched himself at the expense of his citizens? How will I ever get over the shock?

  9. Is there any reason that it’s kept in place right now except for politicians being scared of losing Florida in the next election if they drop the embargo?

    No.

  10. John’s assessment of MM is dead on. He’s not that complicated of a man and has been pulling the same stunts for decades. It’s a no brainer.

    As far as “the law is the law” goes; There are plenty of laws libertarians object to. While there is merit in the argument that it is better to repeal bad laws than to have the law unenforced, it never the less shocks the conscience to see bad laws enforced and we can rightly object to it. Think “fugitive slave act” for example.

  11. Not to comment on Moore or the project, but the Cuba embargo is a friggin’ joke. Is there any reason that it’s kept in place right now except for politicians being scared of losing Florida in the next election if they drop the embargo?

    That and the possibility that a socialist state might succeed if given a fair chance.

  12. Sicko isn’t autobiographical?

    Is there any reason that it’s kept in place right now except for politicians being scared of losing Florida in the next election if they drop the embargo?

    Of course! Just think the moolah to be had from all of those meticulously maintained classic American cars in Cuba that will go on the market when the embargo drops. The longer it holds, the more they’ll be worth in the end.

    Castro isn’t a shill for Big ’58 Chevy; he just wants to maximize his investment.

  13. Exiles + Big Sugar = this bonehead policy.

    My fav embargo story: they’ve found what might be a few billion barrels of oil of the coast of Cuba. Not an insignificant find. It’s like 20 miles off Florida or something. But we can’t touch it due to the embargo. So it’s going to be exploited by spanish, indian, norwegian, canadian etc oil companies. Maybe that’s why HAL went to Dubai.

  14. But even cooler still if he did a documentary about how the Castro family has enriched itself while the Cuban people have slid deeper into poverty.

    RC Dean: you mean to suggest that a dictator enriched himself at the expense of his citizens? How will I ever get over the shock?

    Thank goodness this type of thing never happens in America, though and it only happens in dictatorships like Cuba.

  15. That and the possibility that a socialist state might succeed if given a fair chance.

    It’s for classic one-liners like this that I don’t kick in the filter for Dan.

    Hee-larious!!

  16. “That and the possibility that a socialist state might succeed if given a fair chance.”

    You mean like Romania under Ceausescu?

  17. I oppose the embargo and the travel restrictions (embargoes I might support in some cases, in theory; travel restrictions I don’t support, period). Moore should be able to make his stupid movie without government interference.

    Moore bends the truth too much to be respected. I don’t need more evidence of that to come to that conclusion. Feel free to disagree with me, but I’ve seen enough of his work to make my own decision.

    Cuba is not a nice place to live, and the government is quite oppressive. People who fawn over Castro are fools and have a distorted conception of what freedom and democracy truly are.

    Communism and large-scale socialism are flawed institutions that usually lead to tyranny and impoverishment of the general population. Of course, the overlords somehow always end up wealthy. Whether socialism-lite will end up in the same place over the long term is an unanswered question.

  18. Cuba WAS given a chance; it had the whole of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s to run its affairs with free access to the entire Soviet bloc, and to many countries outside it (Mexico for one). That amounted to many billions of people, all of whom were living under varying grades of socialism.

  19. You mean like Romania under Ceausescu?

    Or how the French live longer than Americans while spending far less on healthcare?

  20. RC Dean: you mean to suggest that a dictator enriched himself at the expense of his citizens? How will I ever get over the shock?

    It may not be a shock, but a little outrage from people who purport to be on the side of the common man would be nice.

    Otherwise, your populism starts looking more like a pose than a conviction.

  21. WTF people I’m just trolling.

  22. clown12: France is not in the United Kingdom; the French healthcare system is not the NHS. French healthcare is regulated by the state, as it is in the US, but it is not run by the state to nearly the extent of Britain’s or Cuba’s.

  23. David Ross:

    No need to change clone12’s name to mock it. One gets the idea that folks like that get stamped out in a factory, somewhere…

  24. 70% medical subsidy for *all* French citizen seems to me more “socialist” than the US system.

  25. Nothing says high-minded, intellectual Libertarianism like thrid-grade name-calling.

    Of course this could be also why Libertarians are much better at sniping rather than at actually running things.

  26. Or how the French live longer than Americans while spending far less on healthcare?

    It’s the foie gras.

  27. Sicko isn’t autobiographical?

    Best post this week!

  28. Free geese for everyone!

  29. Or how the French live longer than Americans while spending far less on healthcare?

    They just prop up their dead to make it *look* like they’re alive.

    You do have some link that shows that every dollar of French “health care spending” is the same as every similar dollar in the US, right?

  30. JW: What do you mean by your last sentence? Seems like hemming and hawing by somebody who doesn’t want to be convinced. Of course the dollars are spent differently, as both systems are quite different. But I admit, I really don’t understand your question (and I may not even disagree with you). Why don’t you just tell us what you’re getting at?

    Healthcare spending per capita

    Private healthcare spending per capita

    Public healthcare spending per capita

    As you can see, the US spends more per person on healthcare. We spend more public money, and we spend more private money.

  31. The Cuba travel ban is still stupid regardless of Moore’s inexcusable admiration of Fidel.

  32. On an unrelated note, here’s something for you, Dan T. I’m gonna keep posting it until you respond.

  33. “Of course this could be also why Libertarians are much better at sniping rather than at actually running things.”

    You’re just jealous because you’re not funny.

  34. Or how the French live longer than Americans while spending far less on healthcare?

    No, Silly, it’s the red wine. Whee–time for another bottle.

  35. That and the possibility that a socialist state might succeed if given a fair chance.

    This is how we find out if Dan T. is a troll or not a troll.

    Dan T. do you really believe this statement? Or was it just intended to be red meat for the wolf-pack here at H&R?

  36. Cuba trades freely with every country in the world but the USA and somehow it is our embargo that is making them poor?

    JFC, is the Pacifica Network passing out the Commie Kool-Aid today?

  37. “Or how the French live longer than Americans while spending far less on healthcare?”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but are payroll taxes counted in that estimate?

    If there not, then those figures are nonsense because a large chunk of the spending for health care in France comes out of payroll taxes.

  38. That and the possibility that a socialist state might succeed if given a fair chance.

    Bwahahahahah!

    Yeah cuz that is the problem….maybe if they were given a fair chance 200 million people would have been killed by socialist states in the 20th century rather then only 100 million.

  39. Or how the French live longer than Americans while spending far less on healthcare?

    Well, I doubt high-fructose corn syrup and Big Macs make up a big part of the average French diet, so that’s half the battle right there.

    This isn’t to say I think the U.S. has the best health care system in the world, but I also think there are other factors at work besides levels of spending and who does a better job at health care.

  40. maybe if they were given a fair chance 200 million people would have been killed by socialist states in the 20th century rather then only 100 million.

    Socialist states don’t even give each other a fair chance, what with Vietnam overthrowing the Khmer Rouge and all.

    And look at the way the Soviet Union and China became mortal enemies after the Korean War. Just imagine all the opportunities for outsourcing of gulags and cultural revolution that were missed!

  41. Michael Moore has boobs.

    This paste eater epitomizes the millions of americans with self inflicted diseases clogging our hospitals. And really, I couldn’t care less. That is until Moore and his ilk ask me to pitch in “my fair share” when it comes time to cut off his foot cause he couldn’t keep his hand out of the cookie jar.

    Take a trip over to the CDC’s website and you’ll find that americans are killing themselves with booze, fatty foods, tobacco, and sedentary lifestyles. Maybe they are on to something over in Cuba; poverty.

    I hope he ends his film with a pack of skinny cubans floating his fat ass to Florida.

  42. Cuba trades freely with every country in the world but the USA and somehow it is our embargo that is making them poor?

    JFC, is the Pacifica Network passing out the Commie Kool-Aid today?

  43. Ah, shit, sorry about that.

  44. Dan T. do you really believe this statement? Or was it just intended to be red meat for the wolf-pack here at H&R?

    I sort of believe it – I mean, if Communism is destined to fail, why do we need the embargo?

    Consider that it’s been official US policy to try to make Cuba as poor as possible, and then Americans look at Cuban poverty as an example of how its system doesn’t work.

    I will confess to a little of the “red-meat” factor – obviously I posted that knowing that it’s heresey around here to even consider that socialism might work given the right circumstances.

  45. Everyone seems to be piling on Dan T. But, it seems a lot of people would characterize the extensive welfare states of the Nordic nations as “socialism,” but they seem to be doing not just fine, but better than the US.
    http://www.scandinavica.com/culture/society/UNreport.htm
    The World FactBook shows Norway to kick the collective butt of the US in GDP per capita, to take one example…
    Secondly, I’m sensitive to the idea that restricting freedom economically often is directly correlated to other forms of tyranny, but some of you guys seem to have a simplistic view on this. I mean, the very laissez-faire US killed and tyrannized millions of people of color for a large chunk of its history (and its more laissez-faire portions of its history to boot), but I think it would be weird to blame this tyranny on ‘capitalism.’ Likewise varying degrees of government intervention have existed in nations with varying degrees of tyrannical governments (Russia/socialism, Spain/capitalism, Sweden/socialism, UK/capitalism).
    Third, it’s just a fact that the US has worked very hard to destabilize Cuba. Anyone care to disupte that?
    That being said, Castro is a meglamanicial, evil dictator. He may have dones some good policy changes, but his failures are more telling. For folks like Moore, or recently Oliver Stone, to cover this up stinks.

  46. Let me see if I have this straight..

    As a US citizen, if I travel to Cuba I can be subject to prosecution.

    But as a Cuban, if I can make it 90 miles or so to the US I get automatic asylum?

    Only in America.

  47. This isn’t to say I think the U.S. has the best health care system in the world, but I also think there are other factors at work besides levels of spending and who does a better job at health care.

    I agree

  48. I sort of believe it – I mean, if Communism is destined to fail, why do we need the embargo?

    We don’t need an embargo to show that Communism failed. Communism self-destructed years ago.

    “We” (as in U.S. sugar growers) need an embargo in order not to have to compete with Cuba in a free market.

  49. They just prop up their dead to make it *look* like they’re alive

    JW,

    You do realize that it’s the US who inflated its life expectancy average by putting Terri Schiavo on a machine for 20 years right?

  50. That and the possibility that a socialist state might succeed if given a fair chance.

    I sort of believe it

    Sorry Dan T., but that is a cop-out. We are not talking about single-payer systems for deliverying medical care, we are talking about true socialism.

    A Socialist State means the State owns everything; plans the production of everything; and distributes the results of production to the populace however it sees fit.

    The scandinavian countries are not socialist states even though they are heavily into socialized medicine and other social services.

    Russia has more natural resources to work from than any other country on earth, including the US. And yet the socialist state could not support itself, and it collapsed from within (with a little help from the US military spending spree under Reagan).

  51. …if Communism is destined to fail, why do we need the embargo?

    Every once in a while, Dan T., you ask a good question.

  52. You’re just jealous because you’re not funny.

    Irrelevantly funny, eh?

  53. A Socialist State means the State owns everything the means of production; plans the production of everything; and distributes the results of production to the populace however it sees fit.

    A quick clarification.

  54. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I thought the embargo was designed primarily to prevent Cuba from becoming a giant Soviet military base. With that problem solved, the embargo seems rather pointless, apart from Florida politicking.

    Free trade is almost always the better option.

  55. As to Michael Moore, ignorance is bliss.

  56. Correct me if I’m wrong, but are payroll taxes counted in that estimate?

    why should that be counted? You can calculate the expense by simply adding up all the medical bills, whether those bills were ultimately paid by the government or individuals are irrelevant for the purpose of calculating aggregate cost.

  57. You can calculate the expense by simply adding up all the medical bills, whether those bills were ultimately paid by the government or individuals are irrelevant for the purpose of calculating aggregate cost.

    I trust you mean medical bills paid, or the US will look awful in comparison to a more publicly funded system.

    US health care providers routinely send people bills that everyone knows will never be paid. The shortfall is met by raising the charges on the people and insurers who do pay their bills.

    Do you actually know whether this difference is properly accounted for in these comparisons?

  58. “A Socialist State means the State owns everything the means of production; plans the production of everything; and distributes the results of production to the populace however it sees fit.”
    I’m glad that you crossed out “everything” since if that were the definition then there would be about as many socialist states as unicorns. I’m not even sure the qualification “owns the means of production” helps out a great deal as even in the USSR there were elements of the economy that were not necessarily planned by the state (Ayn Rand even wrote about these in We the Living, for example the various forms of the New Economic Program). According to your reasoning China is not a socialist state, and I guess not even Cuba (Cuba makes a ton of money off of tourism a great deal of which is not ‘planned by the state).
    I think it is better to admit that there is a continuum of government involvement in the GDP (either by planning or ‘steering’). Different nations have varying scores on that. Some nations with higher ‘socialism’ scores than the US have better outcomes (Norway or Sweden) while many nations with higher scores have worse outcomes (think North Korea). I think libertarians should point out that especially when one gets to the outliers at the socialism end things get pretty miserable. But clearly some level of ‘socialism’ is compatible with economic success, liberty and well being. It makes for poor bumper stickers, but nuance will win out in the end if the goal is truth attainment.

  59. I’m not even sure the qualification “owns the means of production” helps out a great deal as even in the USSR there were elements of the economy that were not necessarily planned by the state (Ayn Rand even wrote about these in We the Living, for example the various forms of the New Economic Program).

    No doubt that the “smaller” the enterprise involved, the more opportunity to operate without state intervention. But as far as any significant industry was concerned, the state controlled it all.

    There isn’t anything, including food, that you would find in the average Moscovites apartment that didn’t come originally from a state operated facility. Second-hand goods may have passed from individual to individual, but you couldn’t buy a new TV that didn’t come from the state-operated TV factory.

  60. The USSR and China went in different directions in the 90’s. The USSR tried to free-up “social” aspects of society while maintaining central control of production. It didn’t work out. China tried free-up “enterprise” while maintaining strict social control of the population. That worked better, but even that is starting to unravel.

    I give China a much better chance of emerging as true free-market society with civil liberties in the near future than Russia has. Russia seems to be devolving at this point.

  61. US health care providers routinely send people bills that everyone knows will never be paid. The shortfall is met by raising the charges on the people and insurers who do pay their bills.

    So? The fact these unrealistically high medical bills are ultimatley paid by someone meant that it is an actual healthcare cost.

  62. There isn’t anything, including food, that you would find in the average Moscovites apartment that didn’t come originally from a state operated facility.

    I should qualify that. Imported goods were just starting to be accessible and affordable to the masses during my first trip to Moscow in 1995. But even at that times, imported goods found in my guests apartments would have been limited to Nikes, CDs, and VHS tapes.

  63. What do you mean by your last sentence? Seems like hemming and hawing by somebody who doesn’t want to be convinced.

    No hemming. No hawing.

    My point is to assume that when the old “we spend more” than other countries on healthcare is that we are all spending on the exact same thing.

    I haven’t looked at your links yet, and they may answer the questions I ask below–I’ll have time later–but we don’t know what “healthcare spending” means in France or in the US. This has meaning and all we are doing is filling in the blanks of the definition with our own biases.

    Does France exclude certains things that are counted in the US? Does the average health consumer in the US spend their money on things that the average Frenchman doesn’t? Are the 2 figures even comparable by what’s being measured to begin with? Or are we just supposed to presume that they are measuring the exact same thing?

  64. By the way, I was advised that the only thing scarier than waking up in a Russian jail was waking up in a Russian hospital.

    My company had insurance programs in place that would airlift us to Finland if we had any life-threatening accidents or illnesses while in Russia.

  65. No, medical bills are not generally paid at the billed charges, certainly not the ones that make it to insurance companies. I’d guesstimate somewhere about a 20-30% return, and that’s only because I work in the industry, adjusting medical claims all day…

    Somewhere in there is something to be said about ‘price-gouging’ the uninsured. But then, I wonder how many uninsured people pay the full billed amount? I suspect that most providers would be willing to accept much less than they are billing for.

  66. I think part of the spending in the US is that our doctors prescribe an MRI everytime somebody gets heartburn.

  67. You do realize that it’s the US who inflated its life expectancy average by putting Terri Schiavo on a machine for 20 years right?

    Huh. I didn’t realize ‘ol Terri skewed the mean like that. That you took that statement seriously only amplifies mediageek’s post.

    So, what, do the French just take their elderly out to a field afar and leave them to die?

  68. So, what, do the French just take their elderly out to a field afar and leave them to die?

    Wasn’t it France that was letting all those old people die last year?

  69. The fact these unrealistically high medical bills are ultimatley paid by someone meant that it is an actual healthcare cost.

    No it doesn’t.

    To take a trivial example, Joe Homeful and Joe Homeless get the same emergency medical procedure done. The procedure costs the hospital $1000. The hospital, knowing 50% of its patrons don’t pay, makes it up by raising the rates so the paid bills totally cover the costs.

    Thus two bills are issued for $2000. Only the one sent to Joe Homeful is paid.

    Total health care costs: $2000
    Total billed health care: $4000
    Total paid health care bills: $2000

    One hopes that no one is using the billed charges to determine how much health care actually costs in the US, but you are now making me worry.

  70. One more point that hasn’t been addressed yet: regardless of your feelings about Moore or his films, why are no libertarians protesting here the fact that the US government is trying to drum up pointless charges against a filmmaker who has been highly critical of the government in the recent past?

  71. On an unrelated note, here’s something for you, Dan T. I’m gonna keep posting it until you respond.

    I’m not trying to duck a challenge but I’m not clear as to what this is about or what response you’re looking for.

  72. Lamar @3:24,

    Right on. That’s been my experience, both at my job and in my personal medical treatment. You wouldn’t believe the amount of tests some of these claims are larded with. My old doc was crazy about blood tests. Then I’d see this bill where they were ‘charging’ 300-400 dollars each for them, then later I find out through my job that the insurance company pays them about 5-20 dollars for those tests…

    It’s disconcerting. Sadly, when we get saddled with some busted-dick government medical system that we’re not allowed to opt out of or not pay for, I think a good amount of blame will be able to be levelled at the providers themselves. Or something.

  73. One more point that hasn’t been addressed yet: regardless of your feelings about Moore or his films, why are no libertarians protesting here the fact that the US government is trying to drum up pointless charges against a filmmaker who has been highly critical of the government in the recent past?

    A film-maker filming himself breaking the law is pleading with the government to punish him. Moore obviously wants this to happen.

  74. (Just getting back from lunch and catching up….)

    Let’s assume that the claim that the French live longer despite lesser medical spending is true for the moment.

    This only speaks to quantity. Who cares, if those extra few years are spent in geriatric misery? Is the US higher in spending because we offer a greater quality health care, in general terms, than the French do? Ther is no indication of any health-related happiness (IOW, you’re “healthier” or at least feel better) relative to health care spending.

    I don’t know the answer to that question, but to assume that because X lives longer and therefore is better off is a fallacy.

    I’d rather have 60 great years in better health than 80 mediocre years. Note, I’m not making affirmative statements as to any disparities bewteen the 2 countries in terms of health care, just challenging assumptions.

    Statistics are a poor way to make a point, since nobody has any idea what the data contained within them are.

  75. Huh. I didn’t realize ‘ol Terri skewed the mean like that. That you took that statement seriously only amplifies mediageek’s post.

    Maybe I should never take you Libertarians seriously, eh?

  76. The French count zombies.

  77. Maybe I should never take you Libertarians seriously, eh?

    Does anybody?

  78. The French count zombies.

    Since they never bathe, it is difficul to tell the difference.

  79. This only speaks to quantity. Who cares

    So it doesn’t matter if capitalism leads to greater material wealth than communism if you can’t measure the “happiness” of one versus the other?

  80. Maybe I should never take you Libertarians seriously, eh?

    Or at least learn to recognize satire.

    Lamer–Looked at your links and it doesn’t shed any light on what the stats really *mean.* Right now, they’re just numbers in the abstract.

    How much R&D is conducted in the US compared to other countries and is that counted? Are Cialis commercials and other pharma marketing counted as “spending,” assuming that’s something that is much higher in the US? Are Vioxx verdicts in that mix? What about tobacco settlement money? Cosmetic surgery? Counted in the US, but not in France?

    Does this make my point any clearer?

  81. So it doesn’t matter if capitalism leads to greater material wealth than communism if you can’t measure the “happiness” of one versus the other?

    Maybe I shouldn’t be taking you seriously.

    Of course they’re happier in Communist countries. Isn’t that what they’re told to be?

  82. Sorry, Lamar, not Lamer. D’oh!

  83. Or at least learn to recognize satire.

    Like the fact you really think I think Terri Schiavo materially inflated US’ life expectancy? Or are making obviously hyperbolic statements something reserved for Libertarians?

    As for your claims about the pharma R&D costs, unless they were counted in the US aggregate healthcare costs, which I highly doubt, they are irrelevant to the issues at hand.

  84. Some nations with higher ‘socialism’ scores than the US have better outcomes (Norway or Sweden)

    Just to be fair, all those Scandinavian countries score in the top 20 of the Index of Economic Freedom, and their scores are only marginally different than the U.S.. Places like Sweden are even more free market than the U.S. when it comes to things like airline competition, investing Social Security/Insurance withholdings, etc.

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to hold up some of the most capitalist countries in the world as being beacons of successful socialism.

  85. Like the fact you really think I think Terri Schiavo materially inflated US’ life expectancy?

    Yep, mg is right. You can’t tell a joke worth a damn.

    As for your claims about the pharma R&D costs, unless they were counted in the US aggregate healthcare costs, which I highly doubt, they are irrelevant to the issues at hand.

    Even though you don’t know yourself, you’re willing to dismiss the idea and soldier on. Now that’s irrelevant!

  86. JW,

    You objected to data showing the superiority of the French healthcare system in one generally agreed upon dimension because it is merely “quantitative”. For you to not be a hypocrite, you would also have to ignore the higher material wealth generated by capitalism compared to communism because it is likewise only a “quantitative” measure.

    And your throw-away sarcasm merely undermines your own point. We don’t have a “measure” for happiness in communist countries, but we are reasonably sure that there is some correlation between material well-being (up to a certain level) and happiness. Likewise, for you to say that higher life expectancy in France says nothing about the system there without knowing how happy they are is a completely cop-out because while it’s not a one-to-one relationship between longevity and happiness, we are reasonable sure that there is a correlation.

    Furthermore I suspect were the numbers the other way around, you would not be so prone to these convenient objections.

  87. Even though you don’t know yourself, you’re willing to dismiss the idea and soldier on. Now that’s irrelevant!

    Funny, I thought the burden of proof belongs to the one who brought it up. Please show us your contention that Pfizer’s R&D cost are counted in the US aggregate healthcare cost.

  88. You objected to data

    WHAT data?

    Likewise, for you to say that higher life expectancy in France says nothing about the system there without knowing how happy they are is a completely cop-out because while it’s not a one-to-one relationship between longevity and happiness, we are reasonable sure that there is a correlation.

    I know absolutely nothing about French health care, nor did I claim to. I simply pointed out that bandying about statistics with no concrete meaning is just jerking off.

    Furthermore I suspect were the numbers the other way around, you would not be so prone to these convenient objections.

    Only if I were a mindless jingoist.

    I’m a consumer of health care in the US. You can be damn sure that if I’m getting far less bang for my buck than the average French that I’ll be mighty annnoyed. Your factless claim doesn’t address that one iota.

    If you’d care to answer any of my questions, go nuts.

  89. Funny, I thought the burden of proof belongs to the one who brought it up.

    You are absolutely correct.

    clone12 | May 10, 2007, 12:24pm | #

    You mean like Romania under Ceausescu?

    Or how the French live longer than Americans while spending far less on healthcare?

    Have fun with that burden.

  90. JW,

    You mean like this?

    http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/chcm010307oth.cfm
    Per capita healthcare cost
    US $5,711
    France $3,048

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
    Life Expectancy
    US 78
    France 80.59

    Now, care to prove that Pfizer’s R&D cost is counted in the US healthcare cost above?

  91. FYI, that’s an almost standard threat OFAC sends to many people who visit embargoed countries (Cuba and Iran, esp.).

    It’s a civil penalty, essentially a gigantic moving violation ticket that used to cost around $7500 to pay off. You just request an in-person hearing and they usually drop if off the radar.

    Good publicity for Moore though! Must have made Druge’s cornhole pucker with excitement.

  92. As for your claims about the pharma R&D costs, unless they were counted in the US aggregate healthcare costs, which I highly doubt, they are irrelevant to the issues at hand.

    All evidence points to the vast majority of pharmaceutical R&D costs in the world being charged to the US aggregate health care cost.

    The single-buyer drug distribution models of most developed countries means that they can get drugs at prices well below those required to cover costs of R&D and market initiation. The only price that drug companies need to keep the price of the drug above is the marginal running cost of production.

    So US consumers pay much more for pharmaceuticals in order to cover the R&D costs. Buying those drugs goes straight to the health care aggregate, and the US looks far more expensive than other countries on this count.

  93. I’m not trying to duck a challenge but I’m not clear as to what this is about or what response you’re looking for.

    It’s quite simple. You claim to be a liberal, yet you support the War on Drugs in spite of how racist, classist and overall repressive it is.

  94. Let me throw this out there. My wife once told me that she believes 50% of ER procedures were order simply to cover one’s ass, and likewise 20% of procedures outside the ER. Now, she may just be conservative, but she is a very good physician, so I believe her. She also told me that the patients who probably should sue never do. So there’s that.

  95. Per capita healthcare cost
    US $5,711
    France $3,048

    Life Expectancy
    US 78
    France 80.59

    Interesting numbers, but useless by themselves.

    First you need to eliminate all costs associate with cosmetic surgeries from the US numbers as well as any and all “elective” procedures that would be paid for out of pocket (like laser eye surgery) that would not be provided by the French system. That way you might be close to an apples-to-apples comparison of “necessary” health expenditures.

    Then you need to eliminate the enormous costs the US spends on terminal patients in the last weeks of life that are generally not provided by socialized medical systems.

    Now you need to go attack the life expectency numbers to eliminate biases do to lifestyle (obesity, drugs/alcohol, crime, traffic accidents, etc) so that you can compare the actual impact of health care on life expectancy.

    Come back when you can show a direct relationship between aggregate health care expenditures and life expectancy.

  96. Just to be fair, all those Scandinavian countries score in the top 20 of the Index of Economic Freedom, and their scores are only marginally different than the U.S.. Places like Sweden are even more free market than the U.S. when it comes to things like airline competition, investing Social Security/Insurance withholdings, etc.

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense to hold up some of the most capitalist countries in the world as being beacons of successful socialism.

    Good point.

  97. MikeP,

    I think there is definitely something to this effect. Although I’m not sure to what magnitude.

    However, this does beg the question. Under this system, the country with socialized medicine are better off than the country without it (since the governmet as a monopsony has a far greater bargaining power). If this is indeed the primary driver for the high price of healthcare in the US, isn’t it an argument for socialized medicine in the US?

  98. However, this does beg the question. Under this system, the country with socialized medicine are better off than the country without it (since the governmet as a monopsony has a far greater bargaining power).

    Given the choice of doctor employed by the state or a doctor employed by Walmart, I’d go for walmart every time.

    Health care costs in the US are skewed by the tax structures that favore employer provided health care coverage, by professional practices that limit competition, and by legal liability claims that result in many, many CYA tests that are of no practial purpose.

  99. Life expectancy is a poor way to measure quality of health care, that is among industrialized nations that for all purposes have good care. If infants are included then we need to parse infant mortality figures. Does the US have higher infant mortality because of poor infant care, or maybe exceptional care (a french stillborn is an american neonatal ICU patient). How many deaths in the US are due to diseases of excess? That is, american healthcare can only do so much for folks eating, smoking, and drinking themselves to death. Should these folks count?

    A better measure would be life expectancy for a given illness. What are the rates of survival for breast cancer, lung cancer, COPD, traumatic head injuries, organ transplants, and so forth. Anyway, a difference in life expectancy of 2.5 years out of 80 doesn’t say shit; it’s like 3 parts in 100.

  100. Carrick,

    You objection is already accounted for. OECD measure does not include cosmetic stuff.

    http://www.ecosante.org/OCDEENG/411000.html

    And as for your skepticism with regards to the correlation between money spend and actual results- well look at the US.

  101. well look at the US

    My wife developed osteoarthritis at a very early age and had both knees replaced at 45. She is 3 or 4 sigmas outside the norm.

    She would have been confined to a wheelchair before she would have been treated in any socialized medical system.

    An ex-pat that I knew in Moscow had both of his babies delivered in the US, not in Europe (especially not in Russia).

    I want no part of any form of single-payer system imported from Canada, or France, or Scandinavia, or anywhere else.

  102. This is Michael Moore once again manufacturing oppression.

  103. Under this system, the country with socialized medicine are better off than the country without it (since the governmet as a monopsony has a far greater bargaining power).

    The reason government monopsony buyers of drugs can get below market rates is by reserving the right to say “no”. Today, if the US didn’t pay the R&D costs of pharmaceuticals, no one would. It is not clear to me that the US would be “better off” having no drugs or having drugs so cheap that no new drugs would be produced.

    The fix is not to socialize drug provision in the US, but to free it up. End import restrictions on drugs. That will allow US buyers to shop around for lower prices, and it will make the drug companies charge monopsony buyers the prices they should bear.

  104. Carrick,

    The great part about anecdotes is that eveyone has them:

    http://thinkprogress.org/2007/02/09/america-this-is-your-health-care-system/

    “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.”

  105. Interestingly, Denmark, usually considered a typical Scandinavian socialist country, was ranked the 5th most competitive economy on Earth according to the The IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook. Sweden and Iceland also made it in the top ten. The US was first followed by Singapore and Hong Kong.

    And for those wanting to see what happens if a Socialist country in the Americas has the chance to succeed, Venezuela’s economy was ranked least competitive.

    http://www.imd.ch/research/publications/wcy/upload/scoreboard.pdf

  106. Today, if the US didn’t pay the R&D costs of pharmaceuticals, no one would.

    I doubt that. It might happen at a lower rate, but you can also argue it is the externality-free rate.

  107. I doubt that. It might happen at a lower rate, but you can also argue it is the externality-free rate.

    That’s why I qualified it with “today”: In time, the pharmaceutical companies would figure out how to price their drugs for a world of monopsony buyers.

    But as I noted, the better solution is not to give government the authority to dictate drug prices, drug policies, and drugs themselves, but simply to allow free trade in drugs.

    I don’t quite understand your “externality-free” comment. I see no externalities here.

  108. If the US is paying for the world’s R&D cost without getting due benefits, isn’t it an positive externality (wrt to rest of the world)?

  109. But as I noted, the better solution is not to give government the authority to dictate drug prices, drug policies, and drugs themselves, but simply to allow free trade in drugs.

    Perhaps. Now for the sake of argument, let’s say in exchange for low prices, PharmaX gets Canada to restrict reimportation of drugs so it can make a killing selling Placeburex in the US. How would a free-market solution in the US adjust to that?

  110. If the US is paying for the world’s R&D cost without getting due benefits, isn’t it an positive externality (wrt to rest of the world)?

    I suppose it is. I am so used to thinking of drugs as a discriminatorily priced good that I wasn’t quick to see the free riding the developed world is doing here.

  111. How would a free-market solution in the US adjust to that?

    It wouldn’t. But at least the Canadian government would be paying the cost of enforcing their own contract rather than relying on the US government to do it.

  112. You guys are proving my point for me. Sweden, Norway, etc., are great places for freedom and commerce WHILE engaging in redistributionist and welfare state activity that many on this site would decry as “socialism.”
    http://stats.oecd.org/wbos/default.aspx?DatasetCode=CSP2007
    Check out what US v. Norway spends on social programs and what their taxes are on the average worker.
    Libertarian think tanks have always been a little confused as to what to do with Scandanavian countries where big government works well with freedom, productivity and commerce. When they come out with “freedom rankings” to show that, well, these countries are really free they do not mean they are not big government nations (if they do then they are fools). They get high rankings because they have a strong judiciary, well educated work forces, and a strong rule of law. And THAT proves my point, right? You can have all those goodies WITH big government.
    As they say on the Bar Exam, discuss. This oughta be interesting…

  113. MikeP,

    I supposed in this scenario, whether US should adopt socialized medine depends on the relative cost/benefits of the shifting enforcemnt cost to Canada vs having a lower pirce/lower innovation process.

  114. To get back on the subject at hand, it always amuses me how some people who claim to dislike Fidel Castro continue to support economic sanctions against Cuba even though they have actually helped keep Castro in power for so long (and that’s because he uses the sanctions as a crutch for his regime’s failures).

  115. Ken,

    I don’t know about Libertarian think tanks being “confused.” Cato hosted a policy forum on that very topic.

    Should the United States Be More Like Scandinavia?

    Download a Podcast of the Event (MP3)

    It’s enlightening.

  116. Should the United States Be More Like Scandinavia?

    There is a ready-made experiment we can perform: just ask Minnesconsin to secede.

  117. As a Chicagoan, I object. That would leave me only Michigan for summer weekend getaways.

  118. Canadian heathcare expense per capita is only marginally less that the U.S., and we typically must wait months for many elective procedures. Also remember that the world lives off the inniovation and development fostered by the U.S. for-profit system.
    To my knowledge only three countries in the world forbid thier citizens the opportunity of using thier own money to purchase health care services within thier borders: N. Korea, Cuba and Canada.
    The other factor that I have not seen addressed is the crazy civil litigation that must add at least 10-20% to costs. (No citation,just a guess)Tort reform might make the U.S.the undisputed champion in healthcare.

  119. AlfromAlberta,

    If by “only marginally less than” you mean 40% less, then you are correct.

    http://www.kff.org/insurance/snapshot/chcm010307oth.cfm
    US $5,711
    Canada $2,998

    And your guess about the impact of litigation on healthcare is over by about 10-20%.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2006_02/008311.php

  120. Back to the topic,
    Anyone wanna bet that Castro is already dead or in a Sharon-like vegetative state? The only person outside of Cuba who claims to have spoken to him recently is Chavez, and the various newspaper columns attributed to him could easily have been ghost written.

    His no-show at the Mayday rally was telling. Castro never willingly gives up the opportunity for a four hour speech.

  121. (Back from the drive home, a haircut, dinner and putting the kids to bed…)

    clone12, you aren’t proving anything except that you can find stats that back up your conclusions. These are aggregate numbers and we have no way of knowing what country is measuring, reporting and/or excluding what.

    You objection is already accounted for. OECD measure does not include cosmetic stuff.

    http://www.ecosante.org/OCDEENG/411000.html

    That link says nothing about cosmetic spending one way or another.

    If the US is paying for the world’s R&D cost without getting due benefits, isn’t it an positive externality (wrt to rest of the world)?

    By george, I think he’s getting it.

  122. clone12–Looking at your link and this link shows non-correlative data.

    Finland spends even less than France, they’re actually the cheapskate of the bunch, yet their lifespan is roughly that of the US. Japan also spends less than France, but has *higher* life expectancy than France, by about 1.5 years. Sweden, spends less, lives slightly longer.

    Basically, if you compare the 2 data sets, there is no connection between life expectancy and per capita health care spending.

  123. On the off chance the clone12 is still around . . .

    Your anecdote is totally irrelevant as a counter point to mine. The downside of socialized medicine is that individuals that do have the resources to acquire private insurance are denied the right to do so.

    How a civilized society deals with the impoverished is a completely separate topic. The socialist solution is to deny the middle and upper classes the right to serve themselves in order to provide services to the poor. I find that concept to be immoral. The libertarian solution may be to just leave the poor to themselves, but there is also a libertarian school of thought that recognizes the need to provide a safety net.

    I have no problem with giving a portion of my wealth, in both the form of charity and taxes, to help those that need help. But no one has the right to strip me of my personal rights for self-determination under the banner of social justice.

  124. “pigwiggle,

    Even when you account for stillborns, US still does worse.”

    Wow, really missed the point. Really.

  125. JW,

    You are proving that you disregard facts and statistics inconvenient to your ideology. Yes, Finland and Japan have much better life expectancy than the US and they they spend less. Guess what? Japan has socialized health care system, just like France.

    And you might look at the link again. Which of the OECED category would a boob job exactly fall in?

  126. The libertarian solution may be to just leave the poor to themselves, but there is also a libertarian school of thought that recognizes the need to provide a safety net.

    carrick,

    There is no libertarian “solution” to social ills. The major difference between libertarianism and every other political philosophy is that it doesn’t purport to solve problems, it tries to not cause them. I believe that it is immoral to use any force to solve social ills. I also believe that it is wrong to stand by idly while people are suffering. I willingly make the effort, both through donations and volunteering to try to improve my fellow human’s lot.
    I imagine you feel the same way, but your comment may tend to mislead people that libertarianism is immoral. It is not. It is amoral, but that does not mean that libertarians must be or are themselves amoral.

  127. Carrick,

    If there is a libertarian school of thought that says we should do something to stop Tiny Tim from freezing to death, I would like to hear about it.

  128. Pigwiggle,

    Which other point would you like me to debunk, like how while you’re more likely to survive breast cancer and prostate cancer in the US, you’re more likely to survive stomach cancer in France or that you’re more likely to survive Skin cancer in Sweden:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2007_04/011115.php

    Of course they do it with only about 60% of the US per capita expenditure. That seems pretty efficient to me.

    And as for the argument that a difference of 2-3 years is a piffle, keep in mind that the difference in life expectancy is not just 78 year old man in the US living to 80, it’s also a 55 year old man being able to live to 57. In terms of foregone wages, that would be about $200K for a typical person during that life stage. This is not trivial lost of human capital.

  129. If the US is paying for the world’s R&D cost without getting due benefits, isn’t it an positive externality (wrt to rest of the world)?

    By george, I think he’s getting it.

    Get what, that you would rather subsidize the health wellbeing of the Chinese than to improve the health of all Americans, including yourself?

  130. Get what, that you would rather subsidize the health wellbeing of the Chinese than to improve the health of all Americans, including yourself?

    China is a bad example. China is poor: As I hinted at above, discriminatory pricing means that drugs will be sold there at marginal cost whether or not the government is a monopsony buyer. And drug companies will be happy to do it.

    It would be better to use the example of a wealthier nation that can negotiate a price barely above marginal cost solely because they can legally refuse to acquire it for their minions.

  131. You are proving that you disregard facts and statistics inconvenient to your ideology.

    Yeah, it’s me who’s ignoring data. You figured it all out.

    Can I have some of the cherries that you’re picking? They’re much fresher than mine.

    Get what, that you would rather subsidize the health wellbeing of the Chinese than to improve the health of all Americans, including yourself?

    C’mon, you’re joshing, right? This is just fucking with me now.

  132. JW: I get what you’re saying, but just to make it more complicated, if we count drug and medical research as healthcare expenses, do we also offset the profits made from the fruit of that research?

    I thought it was generally known that we are overmedicated, and that we get an MRI for a hangnail. I have only anectdotal ev to support this, so take it as that. I know, for example, in Spain certain antibiotics do not require a prescription or a visit to the doctor’s office.

  133. I imagine you feel the same way, but your comment may tend to mislead people that libertarianism is immoral. It is not. It is amoral, but that does not mean that libertarians must be or are themselves amoral.

    Highnumber, your statements are better written than mine.

    If there is a libertarian school of thought that says we should do something to stop Tiny Tim from freezing to death, I would like to hear about it.

    clone12, the libertarian school of though says that no one has the right to prevent you personally from attempting to help Tiny Tim. It also says that no one has the right to force you to help Tiny Tim.

    In my mind, one of the biggest problems with state-provided services is that so many people believe that they are fulfilling their personal, moral obligation to help the needy by letting the state take a chunk of their paycheck.

    My preference is for Tiny Tim to be served by private charity. But I am not opposed to state-provided safety nets so long as they are well conceived, well executed, and do not encourage any expectations of long-term support.

  134. If there is a libertarian school of thought that says we should do something to stop Tiny Tim from freezing to death, I would like to hear about it.

    carrick,

    I should summon Urkobold for that comment.

    Besides whining about our health care system, what do you do to help people? Do you volunteer? Donate money? Raise money? I hope that you do. Since you have so much extra energy for whining, why not direct that extra energy toward more of your voluntary efforts, instead of immorally having a figurative gun pointed at our heads to do what you think is right?

  135. Oops, sorry, not carrick. clone12.

    Sorry, carrick.

  136. JW: I get what you’re saying, but just to make it more complicated, if we count drug and medical research as healthcare expenses, do we also offset the profits made from the fruit of that research?

    Lamar, don’t misunderstand me as clone12 obviously is. I’m not making the argument that spending more = better health care. Frankly, I have no idea what is the “ideal” situation is, but it’s clear that there isn’t a correlation between life expectancy and per capita spending and that the answer to what (and how) is being measured is far more complex than can be answered here. FWIW, I’m with highnumber @ 12:18am.

    I’m just challenging Neo-Fabianist chumps who like to throw around meaningless stats to “prove” their already foregone conclusions.

  137. I am especially sorry because I knew I was not responding to carrick. I knew I was responding to that clone person, but the comment I was responding to was directed to carrick. My face is red. I am shamed.

  138. You are forgiven, highnumber.

    Now go git’em.

  139. JW, I took your argument as a negation of Clone12’s post. I was able to link to stats breaking it down by public and private spending (hopefully somebody found that useful), but you were looking for something way more specific. I suspect that Moore’s movie will suffer from the same flaws you mention, i.e., there’s really no way to compare “healthcare” (as vague as it is) between very different systems that are themselves ill-defined.

  140. Shocked, shocked I am that even though the only writer for Reason with apparent experience with the French system declared it manifestly superior, commenters and writers here still pretend otherwise:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_04/006078.php

  141. Oh! Well never mind then! Thanks for clearing that up for us. I mean, if Matt says so…

  142. highnumber,

    In response to your ad hominen attack, yes, I do donate and volunteer.

    But let’s get back to your moral high horsing for a second. The infant mortality disparity in the US is such that compared to Finland, 2000-6000 parents needlessly lose their children every year, and until your libertarian system can provide superior results, all your high-faluting hagiographic idealization of libertarianism is worthless.

    We prefer capitalism to communism not because one is more “pure” than the other but because one is capable to delivering an emopirically superior return. Why should libertarianism be exempt from this test?

  143. “Which other point would you like me to debunk”

    There was only one point, but feel free to go on “debunking” all the straw men you want. The point, again, is that life expectancy is a very poor measure of quality of care. I’m doubtful that it is reasonable possible to deconvolve all the confounding bits.

    Like I said, a better measure of quality of care would be survival rates for particular disease. And you have shown even that is problematic. Sweden apparently does quite well with skin cancer. Perhaps it is because the incidence (according to the WHO) has tripled in the last few decades whereas it has only doubled in the US. Their physicians may have more experience, or maybe more R&D funds are spent, or maybe better early detection and public awareness, or maybe a superior medical system. Who knows. Hey, but don’t let that get in the way of grinding that axe.

  144. “We prefer capitalism to communism not because one is more “pure” than the other but because one is capable to delivering an emopirically superior return.”

    Huh. I prefer capitalism because it is impossible to separate personal freedom from economic freedom. If all you are into is return and efficiency you are an ass.

  145. JW,

    Where did I ever say that you are saying more spending equals better life expectancy?

  146. pigwiggle,

    You are ass-sadly mistaken. Look at CATO and this blog. At least half of the posts/articles are arguing FOR libertarianism on the claim that it is MORE efficient. And that’s as it should be.

  147. Highnumber,

    And as for my “whining”, I figure you Libertarians would be used to it seeing as how you guys would rather be terminally pure of ideology than actually trying to run the world with its warts and all.

  148. “Look at CATO ..”

    OK …

    Cato’s Mission

    The Cato Institute seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. Toward that goal, the Institute strives to achieve greater involvement of the intelligent, concerned lay public in questions of policy and the proper role of government.

    Pththt.

  149. Pigwiggle,

    Welcome to the real world. Nobody ever gets that exactly perfect data, We do with what we can. Of course we can alway improve on data.

    On the other hand, like a creationist, you are now moving the goalpost. Oh, you have transition fossil A, but hark! you don’t have tarnsition fossil A.1a! Oh you mean we do have breakdowns by diseases? I mean they’re not good enough now!

    My “axe” that I’m grinding? it’s the one that says your pretention that you don’t have an axe to grind on your own while accusing others of this axe is intellectually dishonest. I’ll fully admit that I have a preconceived prior, just like you, and furthermore I’ll also admit that the data is noty perfect, just like the per caita GDP between US and Soviet Union in 1991 aren’t exact perfect comparisons. But for you to wave it off because it’s not as perfect as you want it is a massive cop-out.

  150. On the other hand, like a creationist, you are now moving the goalpost.

    First the straw man, and now the association fallacy. Dude, you are loosing it.

    Really, come on. Read back; one point, just one point – life expectancy is a poor measure of care. You are the one who brought up how problematic my putative measure was. I agreed.

  151. No shit,

    And to do that, CATO strives to show that libertarianism is more efficient. Look at the economics section, it doesn’t say that libertarianism is “better” because it provides more “freedom”, but because it would be more efficient, for example in opposition to legislate against the gender pay gap: “For men and women who never marry and never have children, there is no earnings gap”.

    This is an argument of efficiency.

  152. Of course they are crude measures, but it doesn’t mean that it is completely non-informative, and I think it’s wrong for you to completely wave it off.

  153. clone12,

    I made no ad hominen (sic) attack. I made a suggestion that you redirect your extra energy where it could be more helpful.

    I am not a utilitarian. Your talk of consequentialism does not sway me. Perhaps you should read up on the Non-aggression principle.

    As far as your suggestion that libertarians try to run the world rather than be idealists, you have clearly missed the point. Libertarians no more want to run the world themselves than we want you to run it.

    Regarding the efficiency of free markets, yes, libertarians do argue, correctly, that a free market is more efficient than a controlled market. This is a benefit of a free market, not the compelling reason for them, for many, likely most, libertarians.

  154. clone12,

    Cato believes in a free society of free people and limited government. Some of the freedoms of free people are social freedoms and some are economic freedoms. It is an accident of teleology that the economic freedoms submit to analytical study better. That is, one can prove economic gains due to economic freedoms much more readily than one can prove social gains due to social freedoms. Social costs and benefits simply do not translate easily to analytic forms.

    Lo and behold, most of the supportable arguments that libertarianism is superior come from an economic angle.

    To bring this back to your cherry picking of stats, the US can improve its infant mortality numbers by forcing contraception on all women under the age of 20 and denying reproductive assistance to all women of any age. Is the social benefit worth the social cost? How would you measure it? How would you argue it? How would you judge?

  155. Highnumber,

    You talk of how you do not care about results likewise does not sway me, or in my opinion, Americans at large. They will vote for libertarian solutions where it works, and against it where it doesn’t.

    And as for your advice of “redirecting my energy”, I would likewise say to you that if you ever went to public school or used a public service of any sort, you should take your vows of libertarianism more seriously.

  156. clone12,

    That makes no sense, but I think you’ve cued us all to…

    Drink!

    and, I’m afraid, you have summoned Urkobold. He(?) should arrive shortly.

  157. the US can improve its infant mortality numbers by forcing contraception on all women under the age of 20 and denying reproductive assistance to all women of any age. Is the social benefit worth the social cost? How would you measure it? How would you argue it? How would you judge?

    …And that might be a great reductio ad absurdum counterpoint… except that rest of the OCED countries got their results without resorting to such measures.

    And for you guys (not neccessarily you MikeP) who think results don’t matter, are you saying that you would still believe in libertarianism even if it were proven to lead to massive poverty?

  158. If you’re pre-committed to a cause regardless of what result it brings, then I guess it won’t make any sense to you.

    Drink it is!

  159. clone12,

    WHAT ARE YOU A CLONE OF – MY ANUS?
    THE WORLD DID NOT NEED MORE THAN ONE OF THOSE.

    YOU HAVE EARNED MY WRATH FOR NOT BOTHERING TO UNDERSTAND ANYONE ELSE’S ARGUMENTS AND CONTINUING TO PROJECT YOUR OWN FAULTS UPON OTHERS.

    YOUR PUNISHMENT:
    GO TO THE LIBRARY TO READ SOME BOOKS ON LIBERTARIANISM. DAVID BOAZ’S BOOK IS A GOOD PLACE TO START. YOU WILL FIND IT IN THE ADULTS’ SECTION. ASK THE LIBRARIAN. HE/SHE WILL POINT YOU TOWARDS IT.

    Urkobold HAS WEARILY SPOKEN.

  160. clone12, you have yet to address the issue of whether or not it is moral to prevent people with the resources to acquire medical services that the need or just want in order to ensure that poor people get medical services.

  161. Carrick,

    I don’t think it is.

    Now let me ask you this question: If the French system truly means you get to keep more of your money and the poor has better medical services, how are you worse off as a result?

  162. Total health expenditure is defined at http://www.irdes.fr/ecosante/OCDE/411000.html. The PPP adjustments, which are done by the OECD, take into account the purchasing power of different currencies, and are calculated by looking at the cost of an identical basket of goods in each currency.

    Clone12, while the report that you reference may have significance, but it cannot be used as a basis for the simplistic comparison of GDP expenditures that you make way above in the thread. The true aggregate costs are “adjusted” based upon local purchase power, which is wildly different from country to country. I mean just compare the actual price to purchase a Big Mac in the US, Britain, and France using a single currency as a baseline. A Big Mac meal in the US costs about 4 dollars in the US and about 4 pounds in Britain, meaining the true price is about 80% higher in Britain.

    So the health care expenditure comparison is not in some absolute reference frame (either USD or EURO) but in terms of the relative ability of a citizen to buy a medical procedure in his or her own currency. This dramatically changes the nature of the comparison.

    If you knew that, then you were being dishonest in posting the aggregate numbers above without explanation. If you didn’t know that, then you are not qualified to make any useful judgements.

    Either way, you are no longer worth talking to.

  163. If the French system truly means you get to keep more of your money and the poor has better medical services, how are you worse off as a result?

    Last post on this subject.

    As I said before, in France, my wife would have been confined to a wheel chair before she would have been treated for her arthritis. Who gives a shit if I have more money in my pocket (which I don’t believe to be true).

  164. If the French system truly means you get to keep more of your money and the poor has better medical services, how are you worse off as a result?

    If I don’t get the care I want, then I am worse off. Is that not obvious?

    It may simply be that people in the free(-er) health market of the US want to spend more for health care. If people value their health as highly as one would expect, then the majority of the population of the US that is wealthy enough to afford overspending for health care will overspend for health care. Providers and insurers who recognize that wealthier people will spend a greater proportion of their wealth for greater health care will serve these interests.

    Your contention that this greater spending does not produce greater benefits and therefore serves as an argument for socialized medicine is an argument for coercion, plain and simple.

  165. Just in case clone12 thinks I’m being hysterical.

    These types of articles pop up routinely. Britain is not the only country experiencing this problem as high-cost treatments emerge for life-threatening illnesses.

    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=429982007

    20 March 2007

    PATIENTS are having to wait longer for routine operations such as hip and knee replacements, despite claims that waiting lists are at an all-time low.

    Figures obtained by The Scotsman show that since 1998, median waiting times have increased for 17 out of 25 common procedures.

    In some cases, patients are being forced to wait for more than two years for surgery. And there are massive variations in the performance of individual health boards, with patients in some areas waiting twice as long, on average, as elsewhere in the country.

    Patients’ groups said Scots waiting for routine surgery were paying the price as the NHS concentrated on treating killer diseases like cancer . . . . .

  166. Carrick,

    I don’t understand your objection.

    Aside from the fact The OECD already taken PPP into account, or that the BigMac-implied PPP is only about 15% to 20%[1]- far less than the 40% cost differential in healthcare between France and US. It is also going the other way. Things are MORE EXPENSIVE IN FRANCE, which means that if you were to take your own objection seriously, the health cost differential between France and US is WORSE than you are capable of admitting, because that Franc ostensibly buys “less” than what a dollar can buy- meaning that the French live longer using less “real” money than Americans.

    Oh, and as for your anecdotes, guess what? We also have stories here of middle-class family in the US who’s daughter DID become paralyzed not becasue they can’t afford it, but because they got stuck in HMO bureaucratic hell, so I see your anecdote and raise you another one [2].

    [1]http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.cfm?lesson=em156&page=teacher

    [2]http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/4/17/184527/759

  167. MikeP,

    My contention is if libertarianism does not produce superior results, than it sucks.

    And if we should argue along the line of “I-matter-the-most”, then why shouldn’t I vote for a system that costs me less and produces same or better results?

  168. “PATIENTS are having to wait longer for routine operations such as hip and knee replacements, despite claims that waiting lists are at an all-time low.”

    I read a bit about this, and saw it addressed in question for the PM one night. The UK put a great deal of resources into trying to increase the then bottleneck of service. There was a lack of facilities to treat the number of patients. Now they have more facilities but not enough money for procedures. So now patients in the UK are waiting for money in place of space. Anyway, in the questions for the PM Blair justified the closing of several hospitals this way. They spent money on space that they needed for procedures; the wonder of central planning.

  169. “My contention is if libertarianism does not produce superior results, than it sucks.”

    Yeah, I hear this kind of business from conservatives and liberals alike. I guess it comes down to what you value. Say you are conservative, then screw freedom for security. Liberal? Screw freedom for some perceived benefits for the less fortunate. That’s why you don’t distinguish between a private provider deferring costs to the voluntary patron from the government’s taking. You place to little value on freedom. So little, that the threat of force and voluntary patronage are peripheral (if not negligible), rather than central concerns.

  170. You place to little value on freedom

    And you place so little value to reality. Let me guess, Brian Doherty is a sellout to you because he concedes that global warming involves the type of externality that might require some sort of government coordination, however lightly that should be. Why, that’s almost a slippery slope to slavery!

    Ah, the purity of the anarcho-libertarians. So pure, so unrealistic.

  171. My contention is if libertarianism does not produce superior results, than it sucks.

    We’ll get back to you when there is a health care system somewhere in the world that is vaguely free market.

    And if we should argue along the line of “I-matter-the-most”, then why shouldn’t I vote for a system that costs me less and produces same or better results?

    If you vote with your dollars or euros, that’s fine by me.

    If you vote for measures that use government power to constrains others’ freedoms in ways they don’t want, that is simply coercion.

  172. MikeP,

    Saying that the US is not “true freemarket” is like saying the Soviet Union is not “true communism”, While the statement is trivially true for both, it is obvious that the US system is more to libertatians perference than anything else in the world. This is no true-scotsman terrority.

    As for your outrage over this “coercion”, unless you believe that we live in a magical world of utopian anrachism where there is no government and people pay zero taxes and live on magic libertarian pixie dust, you already accepted this “coercion”. The difference is of degrees and not of kind, and frankly I’m not all that bothered by your hyperboles.

  173. “And you place so little value to reality. Let me guess, Brian Doherty is a sellout to you because he concedes that global warming involves the type of externality that might require some sort of government coordination, however lightly that should be. Why, that’s almost a slippery slope to slavery!”

    Damn, you’re dumb. So, using the government to keep my neighbor from crapping up my property is no different than my neighbor using the government to extort funds on his behalf. Again – damn you are dumb.

  174. clone12,

    The difference between the goodness of various potential powers of government may be one of degrees, but there is a point where the sign of the degree changes. And that point marks a difference of kind.

    The standard by which I judge a government power to be legitimate is whether it addresses an actual market failure. And except for contagion and sanitation, health care is a completely private good. It is not in my eyes a legitimate responsibility of government no matter how many statistics comparing various metrics from two very different nations you come up with.

    If you want to discuss universal health care as part of a safety net that keeps riots out of the streets, you are in debatable public goods land. If you want to socialize all persons’ health care under one government run umbrella, you most certainly are not.

  175. MikeP,

    To some extent I think the public good arguments have some merit- Bismarck’s social security plan might have staved off a mass-communist takeover in Germany by placating the rioting masses that most certainly made the Russian libertarians a most unhappy bunch.

    But then again, I can also make an argument that efficiency has a certain long-run public good flavor. Humor me for a second and accept the premise that the French system indeed is cheaper and costs less-that’s extra money left over for national defense etc. that “extra money” would be a huge chunk of money over centuries, now wouldn’t you want that resources to be there when World War IX rolls around, if for nothing else but your progeny’s sake?

  176. Humor me for a second and accept the premise that the French system indeed is cheaper

    If a frog had wings, he could fly and he wouldn’t bump his ass.

  177. clone12,

    It’s not as though the greater dollars going toward the greater health care costs in the US are disappearing from the economy. They are still in the economy and, to the degree that they represent overspending, simply comprise a transfer of wealth from the health care consumer to the health care producer.

    I rather think that the more of these dollars that are retained in the private sector, the wealthier society will be in the long run, and the better able to handle World War IX.

  178. grump old man,

    If libertarians runs the world, via magic anarchist pixie dusts, and US has the best healthcare because people spend more here and die sooner.

  179. “It’s not as though the greater dollars going toward the greater health care costs in the US are disappearing from the economy. They are still in the economy and, to the degree that they represent overspending, simply comprise a transfer of wealth from the health care consumer to the health care producer.”

    While both scenarios has the same amount of paper money, the one with cheaper healthcare cost uses that freed up money to buy a shovel. EconomyA has $100 GDP and bundle X of goods, economyB has $100 GDP and bundle X of goods plus a shovel.

  180. Calling libertarians anarchists is like calling socialist totalitarians.

    Anarchist take the most extreme interpretation of libertarian philosophy and totalitarians take the most extreme interpretation of socialist philosophy.

    Your repeated references to pixie dust just confirms your feeble understanding of libertarian thought.

    I suggest you take an extended sabatical to France and leave the rest of us alone.

  181. It not like it’s hard to find a job in France. And they are hugely supportive of immigrants coming to take advantage of the socialist paradise.

  182. While both scenarios has the same amount of paper money, the one with cheaper healthcare cost uses that freed up money to buy a shovel. EconomyA has $100 GDP and bundle X of goods, economyB has $100 GDP and bundle X of goods plus a shovel.

    The amount less paid by the person in the cheaper system might have gone toward a shovel. But the amount more paid by the person in the more expensive system went to buy a shovel for the doctor. There is no less wealth in the economy.

  183. Grumpy Old Man,

    Funny, the voters in America has say that if anyone should leave, it would be you.

  184. MikeP,

    I’m not sure that’s always the case. Part of the higher cost comes in hiring paper pusher who otherwise would be making shovels, so in the end you’re still a shovel short.

  185. Funny, the voters in America has say that if anyone should leave, it would be you.

    Hmm, the post office must be slow in delivering the vacate notice to me.

    You know ageism is a serious matter. My AARP buddies will kick your ass for that.

  186. so in the end you’re still a shovel short.

    Don’t need a shovel. The mexican that I pay under the table brings his own shovel.

  187. Now now,

    How’s that saying go, don’t dish if you can’t take?

  188. GOM,

    But you can afford two Mexicans if your healthcare cost goes down by 40%!

  189. Part of the higher cost comes in hiring paper pusher who otherwise would be making shovels, so in the end you’re still a shovel short.

    Shovels are made in China now. Without paper-pusing jobs, many, many people would be unemployed.

  190. How’s that saying go, don’t dish if you can’t take?

    Telling you to take a sabbatical in France is not the same as telling you to go to hell or anything.

    I amazed by the number of people that propose we follow some other system French/British/Candian/Whatever without having spent a single day in the country they so fervently admire.

    I’ve been to France several times. It a beautiful place with good food and great wine. But I don’t have any desire to live under their economic system — any part of it, not just their version of socialized medicine.

  191. “Dan T.”

    I’ve come to believe th “T.” is for taint.

  192. Telling you to take a sabbatical in France is not the same as telling you to go to hell or anything.

    Neither is telling you that you are free to leave this country. Why do you have such a thin skin?

    I’m also amazed at the you-don’t-deserve-to-opine card you Libertarians play. By your argument, since none of you are as rich as Warren Buffet, you don’t deserve to say anything about the estate tax.

    Again, all your sermons about the morality of the libertarian ideology means no more to me than a communist telling me how moral his ideology is. If you cannot deliver superior results, your ideology and approach is worthless.

  193. If you cannot deliver superior results, your ideology and approach is worthless.

    Do you think that France’s inability to deliver a Big Mac at the price you can get one in the US means France’s ideology and approach to food is worthless?

    Worthless… Talk about a dearth of nuance.

  194. If you cannot deliver superior results, your ideology and approach is worthless.

    thanks for clearing that up for me clown12

  195. …if Communism is destined to fail, why do we need the embargo?

    Wha? Dude the embargo has helped Castro.

    We really should have another one of those “what the fuck we know and what the fuck we believe as libertarians” meetings soon, cuz you guys are all over the fucking map.

  196. Part of the higher cost comes in hiring paper pusher who otherwise would be making shovels, so in the end you’re still a shovel short.

    Well except those paper pushers allow for a highly mechanized flexible economy that produces far more shovels per shovel maker then a would be possible without them.

    Pretty much the page one stuff on division of labor in “The Wealth of Nations” ie something we have know for over 200 years.

  197. Regarding the efficiency of free markets, yes, libertarians do argue, correctly, that a free market is more efficient than a controlled market. This is a benefit of a free market, not the compelling reason for them, for many, likely most, libertarians.

    Fuck that. Liberty is moral because it produces better result. If it did not then we would not be human and it would not matter. Ants and bees do just fine being ants and bees

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