Pharyngula

The McCain record on the environment

John McCain made some pleasant noises about supporting science in his Science Debate 2008 responses. They were outright lies, however. If you want to get pissed off at a politician, read the analysis of McCain’s voting record on environmental and alternative energy issues. His voting record is nearly indistinguishable from James Inhofe’s — he has routinely either skipped out on crucial votes or voted against renewable energy and environmental conservation.

And it’s not just the environment! If you want to be really frightened, read what he said about health care:

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

He wants to do to health care what the Republican party has done to the economy!

Judge him by what he has done, not what he says he has done, because the straight-talk express seems to be a twisty bunch of lies and detours that never gets to its promised destination.

Comments

  1. #1 Bill Anderson
    September 20, 2008

    Well, there we have it. There are no surprises for me in this, but hopefully the swing voters will see this sometime soon.

  2. #2 Scrabcake
    September 20, 2008

    BAMMM. First post! I’ll have to go read those. Gotta respect those traditional values in healthcare. None of that lieberal medicine stuff. /sarcasm.

  3. #3 Opisthokont
    September 20, 2008

    This is a clear case of capitalism run amok. Health care is not a “product” any more than education or legal counsel. “Innovations” in health insurance are such inhumane practices as capitation and formularies specified by accountants and board members (rather than doctors), and generally go against the interest of the “consumer”. So long as health insurance is run for profit, things cannot go otherwise.

    As for these “excesses of state-based regulation” — what exactly does that mean, anyway? If we are to have a private-run healthcare system, “state-based regulation” is all that stands between the “consumer” and the abuses inherent in the “product”. The excesses are to be found on the side of the regulatees, not the regulators.

  4. #4 mayhempix
    September 20, 2008

    SIngle Payer Universal Healthcare

  5. #5 Scrabcake
    September 20, 2008

    Also, this reads like a high school essay.

  6. #6 AndrÚs Diplotti
    September 20, 2008

    Why, yes. Unregulated health care saves money that could be used for better, more urgent goals. Say, filling the gaping financial holes caused by an unregulated economy.

  7. #7 John Knight
    September 20, 2008

    Right now, I feel the same way that PZ feels when he reads some nonsense about science written by a non-scientist.

    But I get that feeling a lot from non-economists. My whole life is a like physicist touring a Star Trek convention. I keep hearing conversations in which people seem to be talking about economics, but it bears no resemblance to the market as economists actually understand it.

  8. #8 Steven Dunlap
    September 20, 2008

    Last year when I was spending more time on my own blog than here I wrote an explanation of the business models of health insurance and their interaction with the government. The whole “competition is good” line folds given the reality that “competition” is the problem, not the solution.

    For those who are interested You can read the Health Insurance posts here. Questions, comments, insults? Feel free to comment on my blog (it would be a first).

    I realize that PZ has written somewhat critically that someone “flogging their own blog” is suspect activity here. Since these two posts are on topic and that I am not keeping up the blog much lately (therefore not really trying to promote it as such), I saw no harm. If, however, this is a Bozo no-no I will not do it again.

  9. #9 John
    September 20, 2008

    *clap*

    *clap*

    *clap*

    You really should go work for a political campaign, PZ, because you are a born propagandist. I do not mean that as a compliment. What’s really sad is that you probably don’t even mean this as a propaganda piece, but actually believe your own pants pissing hysterics. You probably think this post is some sort of logical argument.

    This is a standard method from the propaganda manual. Candidate X votes against the “Feed the Children” bill. Now, maybe X thought that there’s a better way to feed the children, or that the bill was worded badly and could have been abused. Maybe there were too many earmarks and riders. Maybe he just thought the billions would be spent and no children would actually get fed based on past experience with similar bills leading to corruption and waste.

    But the gibbering ideologies like you, because Candidate X is a member of The Evil Dark Side That Wants To Enslave Us All, will run through the streets screaming “Candidate X wants THE CHILDREN to STARVE!”

    Maybe McCain’s votes weren’t for other reasons. Has anyone asked *him*? We sure as hell don’t learn that from the puff article in Salon, that bastion of technical and scientific reporting. As a scientist, I would have thought you more skeptical of non peer reviewed publications.

    Now, let the branding me of a “Retardican” or “Neocunt” begin, even though I hate McCain and the GOP. Don’t let reality stop you, folks. Call me a “concern troll” while being self-blinded to the validity of the concern, or more interested in your own egotistical vitriol than actually getting a good result this November. Maybe you can get Sandra Bernhardt to come over and say I’ll be raped by black men like she did about Sarah Palin. Keep snatching defeat from the laws of victory, folks. Maenwhile, I’m going to go try and do something *constructive* for the Obama campaign.

  10. #10 negentropyeater
    September 20, 2008

    How can you be talking of such details, when McCain says that he’s going to fix Washington, and Palin confirms, that it needs some shaking up and some fixing ?

  11. #11 Tophe
    September 20, 2008

    McCain’s program will tax you for health benefits and “incentivize” employers to not offer insurance, meaning more people without work-based insurance.

    Yay.

    Dumbasses.

  12. #12 Jan Chan
    September 20, 2008

    You know, libertarians will be pissed of by your liberal pro-government control attitude.

  13. #13 Blake Stacey
    September 20, 2008

    Actually, libertarianism has just been a conspiracy whose goal was the nationalization of all major financial institutions. Any libertarians who disagree with me are part of the conspiracy.

  14. #14 John Knight
    September 20, 2008

    “Mr. Scott, when is that tax code going to be ready?”

  15. #15 Norman Doering
    September 20, 2008

    The fact that both presidential campaigns have been dealing out dishonest allegations and pseudofacts, the way just blatant lying works after both sides keep getting caught at it, suggests we should do something to fix the political system:

    http://normdoering.blogspot.com/2008/09/political-science-of-future-is.html

  16. #16 Jason
    September 20, 2008

    oh no, not the Libertarian vote: those guys who wouldnt vote liberal even if the Republican platform was facism, as long as it offered a tax break for the rich. Libertarians are part of the problem, not the solution.

  17. #17 Jason
    September 20, 2008

    Not to mention, ideological debate aside, that the Libertarians are the same anti-science assholes who have been spewing lies about the ‘conspiracy of global warming,’ doing everything in their power to do to environmental science the same thing creationist have been trying to do to biology.

  18. #18 mayhempix
    September 20, 2008

    Stephanie Miller:
    “A libertarian is a Republican who smokes pot.”

  19. #19 freelunch
    September 20, 2008

    Gee, John, it’s too bad that you are so completely unaware of any of McCain’s history that you not only ‘put the best construction’ on everything he’s done, but you speculate that his motives are contrary to his stated aims. Feel free to concern troll all you want, we’ll know better.

  20. #20 Your Mighty Overload
    September 20, 2008

    John John Jonnie-boy

    Oh dear, you don’t seem to get the concept of probability or trends very well, do you?

    If a candidate votes against one or two bills, or suggests revisions, then what you point out might actually well be true. However, when these behaviours are repeated time after time, irrespective of the “variables” (i.e. different versions of the bill, with differing ammendations) then it forms a trend.

    Since PZ was commenting on a TREND, not an individual decision, then his analysis is correct.

    Furthermore, this is supposed to be an election campaign, if John McCain cannot even make clear a valid plan of action at this time, when he can call the shots, he’s not going to do anything about it when he is in office. If he had problems with earlier drafts, this should be his time to shine – sadly for him though….

  21. #21 CS
    September 20, 2008

    John, for some strange reason I am having a very hard time believing that you are supporting Obama.

  22. #22 Jivlain
    September 20, 2008

    John @ #9: Well, where’s the record of him fighting hard to pass bills that don’t have those sorts of riders, or are better ways of doing things, or which are better worded?

    I just looked through a list of bills he sponsored or cosponsored: he cosponsored and found him cosponsoring:
    S.3031: A bill to amend the Clean Air Act to limit the use of ethanol to meet the renewable fuel standard, and for other purposes
    S.280: A bill to provide for a program to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by establishing a market-driven system of greenhouse gas tradeable allowances, to support the deployment of new climate change-related technologies, and to ensure benefits to consumers from the trading in such allowances, and for other purposes.

    S.280 sounds nice and all, but considering the bills he’s stopped from getting even to a full vote and all it doesn’t seem to back up the claim that he has “a long record of that support of alternate energy”, let alone that he has “not missed any crucial vote”.

  23. #23 JStein
    September 20, 2008

    Obviously, McCain has lied, and he’s lied alot.

    He seems to be counting far to heavily on the voters in the Squirrel Meat Belt. (I do apologize to those of you who have seen the video already)

  24. #24 John
    September 20, 2008

    @CS

    Your belief is irrelevant to reality. That’s your ideology speaking. I didn’t jump of the hysterics bandwagon, so I must be on THE OTHER SIDE (wooooo noises). C’mon. Call me a Retardican. You know you want to.

    freelunch:”concern troll”

    Atta boy!

    @YMO: I said I hate McCain and the GOP. Accept that or not. I don’t really care. The Salon article was shallow nonsense.

  25. #25 Matt Heath
    September 20, 2008

    oh no, not the Libertarian vote: those guys who wouldnt vote liberal even if the Republican platform was facism, as long as it offered a tax break for the rich. Libertarians are part of the problem, not the solution.

    Ed Brayton, of this very site, is a libertarian for Obama. I think a few of them really believe all the “small government” and “freedom” talk.

  26. #26 John
    September 20, 2008

    Jivlain:I just looked …

    That’s all I was advocating. Details.

  27. #27 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    At the State Fair I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Jack Uldrich, Dean Barkley’s challenger for the Independence Party for the Minnesota Senate seat now held by a dishonest dumbfuck lying piece of shit named Norm Coleman.

    When we got on the subject of healthcare and what he plans to do about it I expected some sort of moderate position between the Republican plan to force people to pay taxes on their insurance benefits to subsidize the profits of the insurance companies, and the sort of Universal Health Care which most Democrats want but Obama is too centrist to propose.

    Turns out that Uldrich was more in favor of a strictly libertarian approach to health care, and put the blame on patients for getting sick. Basically, “if you can’t afford health insurance you shouldn’t get sick, whiner!” He said that our health problems are a function of bad choices in diet and exercise. As a smoker, I can see his point to a certain extent. But that was a stupid thing to say to the parent of a child with a seizure complex. She developed them at the age of three and it had nothing to do with her diet or exercise and she wasn’t a smoker.

    The treatments have been freakin’ expensive and I have learned about how wonderful the “doughnut hole” gimmick is in standard health care plans. Last fall our annual benefits rollout lecture went through an explanation of 14 different health care plans with gimmicks to enrich the insurance companies while reducing their responsibility.

    The plan I chose for 2007 turned out to be a nightmare in reality because I actually ended up needing to use it. Silly me, expecting service for the premiums I had been paying. In November her neurologists ordered a psychological evaluation to determine if there were any detectable negative effects from her continued usage of a certain anti-convulsant medication (without which she would be in a near-constant state of seizure.) The psychologists office billed the insurance company. The insurance company said “We shouldn’t have to pay because that is not a medical procedure, it is a psychological battery. Our behavioral health department needs to pay it.” The behavioral health department said “We shouldn’t have to pay it because it was prescribed for examination of the effects of a medicine prescribed by a physician. Our medical division needs to pay it and the doctor needs to re-code the bill.”

    This went back and forth for six freakin’ months, and in the meantime, the doctor’s office was sending us bills for the full amount and it nearly went to collections. What made me most angry was the fact that I was paying premiums to a single company, but because the two divisions are responsible for their own profitability they were trying to abdicate their expense. It was only with the threat of taking our problem to the insurance commissioner that they finally figured out how to divide payment.

    This is the same company whose chair used backdated stock options to steal from his stockholders. He netted 1.3 billion dollars when he sold his options. People in Minnesota know who I mean. It’s a “nonprofit” agency that owns both hospitals and health insurance companies.

    McCain’s solution is to take away our large-employer group benefits by taxing those benefits, and then putting us out into the waiting arms of this same insurance market, but now we are on our own without the benefit of shared risk pooling. The idea of a tax credit to pay for the insurance premiums doesn’t do us any good if any one of us, or members of our family develops an illness that the private insurance market doesn’t want to cover. We won’t have coverage and when we get sick we will have no choice but to tie up the emergency rooms of county hospitals, driving up property taxes. I don’t doubt that Republicans are going to counter by changing the laws to permit county hospitals to deny service to the uninsured.

    47 million people are uninsured because of the way that the private insurance market has been working so wonderfully. Tell me how a degree in economics would enable one to see how this makes sense, John Knight(#7). Particle physics is relatively easy to understand in comparison.

    And to John #9, you are not a concern troll. You are a content-free sneer-meister.

  28. #28 Alan Chapman
    September 20, 2008

    Capitalism run amok? The health-care industry is among the most (if not the single most) regulated industries in the U.S. Competition is the problem? There is little to no competition. The UHC shills are as ignorant about economics as creationists are about evolution, and they just as zealously regurgitate the spoon-fed pablum they’ve heard. UHC appeals to the most primitive of emotions: envy. The covetous think it unfair that others have more than them and so they demand the use of government force to rectify this disparity. The sham is so simple. Maintain altruistic pretense from behind a facade of false philanthropy and take umbrage when challenged. Just demand “free” health-care for all and pat oneself on the back for caring. Grow up.

    The Problems With Socialized Health Care.

    Socialized Healthcare: When Money Trumps Life

  29. #29 FlameDuck
    September 20, 2008

    Candidate X votes against the “Feed the Children” bill. Now, maybe X thought that there’s a better way to feed the children, or that the bill was worded badly and could have been abused. Maybe there were too many earmarks and riders. Maybe he just thought the billions would be spent and no children would actually get fed based on past experience with similar bills leading to corruption and waste.

    Well, maybe, maybe, maybe. The standard method from an apologists material. I don’t mean that as a compliment either. If McCain was indeed motivated by one of those maybes, why not propose changes to the bill? Well the logical conclusion is that he is against the idea, rather than the implementation, you’re the one with the logical fallacy.

    Maybe McCain’s votes weren’t for other reasons. Has anyone asked *him*?

    Science doesn’t work like that. Asking someone for the truth, when he is demonstrably incapable of distinguishing between true and false, is also a logical fallacy. What you do is establish a pattern based on observations, and then form a hypothesis. Then you attempt to falsify your hypothesis. Unfortunately there is no indication that the hypothesis that John McCain can charitably be considered a lair and a fraud, is likely to be falsified any time soon.

    Personally I hope McCain and Palin win. Natural selection baby, evolve or die. With McCain at the wheel China will destroy what little remains of the USA after the GOP is through with it. All great empires crumble eventually. The Greek, The Roman, The Holy Roman, The Spanish, The German, The British. Now the USA. McCain will simply bring about this inevitable end sooner rather than later and as Americans, those of you who survive, will be much stronger (and hopefully a lot less religious) for it.

  30. #30 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    Ummm, no mention of Obama’s crew and their complicity in all of this financial mess?

    We’re doomed when even the “rationalists” get caught up in the bipolar political finger pointing and can’t see that BOTH PARTIES are complicit in screwing this all up.

    Obama got schooled by the fed and was told to shut up and toe the line…

    And he did. By unelected suits who are really running the show.

    Wake up and be rational.

    Please.

  31. #31 mayhempix
    September 20, 2008

    Just when you think they can’t sink any further, the libertarians pile on more ideological fantasy shit. Alan Chapman is going down with his fundamentalist free market ship.
    Blub. Blub. Blub.

  32. #32 Matt Heath
    September 20, 2008

    Personally I hope McCain and Palin win. Natural selection baby, evolve or die. With McCain at the wheel China will destroy what little remains of the USA after the GOP is through with it. All great empires crumble eventually. The Greek, The Roman, The Holy Roman, The Spanish, The German, The British. Now the USA. McCain will simply bring about this inevitable end sooner rather than later and as Americans, those of you who survive, will be much stronger (and hopefully a lot less religious) for it.

    Yep, something like what lead up to the collapse of the (2nd or 3rd) German Empire. That’s what the world needs right now. /sarcasm

    Social Darwinism is ungood.

  33. #33 Norman Doering
    September 20, 2008

    Jason wrote:

    … Libertarian vote: those guys who wouldn’t vote liberal even if the Republican platform was fascism, as long as it offered a tax break for the rich. Libertarians are part of the problem, not the solution.

    And it’s Robert Reich, from Clinton’s administration, who is saying that the bailout is, “Another major step toward socialized capitalism,” and coming up with a more free market approach:
    http://robertreich.blogspot.com/2008/09/bailout-of-all-bailouts-is-bad-idea.html

  34. #34 Nix
    September 20, 2008

    Alan Chapman@#28:

    UHC appeals to the most primitive of emotions: envy.

    Well, I must say I don’t feel in the least envious when I hear about the US healthcare system. I feel horror and pity, yes, but envy? No.

    The NHS has now saved my life three times, my sister’s once, and my parents’ twice. One of those instances happened when my parents were so short of funds that were we in the US I would have died, only I wouldn’t have had a chance because my father would have died two years before I was born.

    I love universal healthcare. The NHS may be slow and it may be creaky, but eventually it works. Nobody is abandoned because they don’t have money right now.

    I can’t see how anyone could be *against* universal healthcare, unless they think that they’ll never fall ill for a long period of time (hint: if you’re ill enough you can’t work) and never grow old.

  35. #35 pcarini
    September 20, 2008

    C’mon.. the voters in the Squirrel Meat Belt* don’t care about the issues, that’s for French Elitists.

    *[Edward Current]

  36. #36 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    I keep hearing conversations in which people seem to be talking about economics, but it bears no resemblance to the market as economists actually understand it. – John Knight

    An understanding demonstrated by just how well the US economy is doing after decades of deregulation, following the advice of economists such as yourself.

  37. #37 LadyH
    September 20, 2008

    @Alan Chapman #28
    Speaking as a canadian with “Socialized” medicine, you can kiss my big fat shiny white ass. You pay more for less care than anyone else in the western world. Your child mortality rate is the highest in the western world. Your excuses suck and are irrelevant.
    /getting off soapbox now

  38. #38 negentropyeater
    September 20, 2008

    Alan Chapman,

    UHC appeals to the most primitive of emotions: envy. The covetous think it unfair that others have more than them and so they demand the use of government force to rectify this disparity.

    What an asshole !

    UHC doesn’t make a poor wealthy, does it ? So how can you say that it rectifes the fact that others have more than some ?
    UHC appeals to the most basic of human qualities : being humane. Something you are obviously not.

    Strange, as usual, the links you provided do not compare with the #1 country (ranked by the WHO) for health, France, and a champion of socialized medicine. Oh, but I forget, the USA is #37 and spends twice as much per capita. Oh, but I’m sure you’ll find an excuse to discredit this.

  39. #39 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    UHC appeals to the most primitive of emotions: envy.

    You obviously have health care confused with automobile shopping. I don’t see basic health coverage as a luxury item. I know that I will pay increased payroll taxes in order to cover the cost of insurance, but then I am sure that will be offset by not having to pay premiums for capricious coverage.

    But perhaps you are right. I am sure the mother whose child is dying of a treatable illness envies the family whose kids were treated when the symptoms first appeared.

  40. #40 Brian Coughlan
    September 20, 2008

    The UHC shills are as ignorant about economics as creationists are about evolution, and they just as zealously regurgitate the spoon-fed pablum they’ve heard.

    I had to laugh at the end of this little screed. Every developed country in the world has UHC, with the single glaring exception of the US.

    Sweden pays per capita half of what america pays for health care, yet has better child mortality and longevity rates than the US. I suspect the numbers are similar for every other EU country.

    Dude, you are the one trotting out the spoon fed pablum. That you don’t realise it is hysterical.

  41. #41 pcarini
    September 20, 2008

    C’mon.. the voters in the Squirrel Meat Belt* don’t care about the issues, that’s for French Elitists.

    Bah, JStein at #23 beat me to it. I’m heartened by the fact that other people are keeping current, though :)

  42. #42 Brian Coughlan
    September 20, 2008

    I see my last comment merely echoed a surge of responses to Chapmans distasteful post. Let me try and be a little more creative.

    I’m hoping this crisis will pendulum the US back to where it was the end of world war II. A healthy mixed economy. We’ve seen countries try extremist socialism and we’ve seen a few countries try extremist capitalism. Both have failed. The balance is a mixed economy with critical items like education, health care and baseline social welfare provided by free market actors, with the state as a monopoly customer representing the interests of society as a whole. Everything else should be left to the market, within the context of sensible regulation and oversight. It’s not rocket science, at least not with the data gathered over the last 150 years, and most EU contries are doing this, or something very similar already.

    Why is the US so incredibly regressive? The answer is simple. Republicans. they have spent the last 20 years championing lunacy to win elections, giving a voice to religious wackjobs time after time after time. They have poisoned american society with a lethal cocktail of religion and nationalism, and brought your country (and by extension the world) to the brink of disaster, simultaneously on several fronts.

    This is Bush’s legacy. He almost destroyed the world, but like everything else in his life, managed to fuck that up to.

    My Friends (copyright JMcCain 1979) …. you have a chance here to flush the fat, bloated tapeworm that is the Republican party out of the global digestive tract. Please do it, so we can get on with the actual stuff that needs sorting.

    Thank you in advance.

  43. #43 Falyne, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    Gottendammerung, I’m going to have to figure out a better way to describe myself. I tend to use the phrase “social small-l libertarian”, because I’m in favor of as much individual freedom* as possible. I.e., total drug legalization, enter into legal contracts (ie, civil union) with any other of-age competent citizen, etc., etc.

    But I’m very much NOT an economic libertarian, nor a free market zealot. I believe in doing what works for the greatest good and greatest productivity, which is often the free market (which is NOT the same as laissez-faire, and needs to be regulated against trusts and other wasteful things), but in a sector with lots and lots of externalities (like health care), the evidence comes down FIRMLY on the side of socialization being better.

    I mean, as other folks have pointed out, just LOOK at how the rest of the industrialized world is doing. Our health care in the US is utter crap, and we spend an insane amount on it. This really shouldn’t even be an argument, except we Americans have a knee-jerk reaction to the word “socialist”. Gyah!

    *That’s another thing. Many big-L Libertarians focus on ‘State’s Rights’. Local governance has some virtues, but if state’s rights are in conflict with individual rights, I am in that moment a federalist. :-P

  44. #44 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    Brian Coughlan@42,
    Hi, welcome back. I can’t agree that, with exceptions and regulation, “everything else should be left to the market”. We are facing an environmental crisis which is slower-burning, but even more dangerous, than even a 30s-style slump – and that’s because markets simply can’t deal with the long term, or with system-wide externalities. As was done in WW2, at the very least governments need the power to influence the investment direction of major companies, limit their access to commodities in short supply, and force coordination of plans within and across sectors. Winning WW2 was not left to market forces, for the very good reason that this would have risked losing it. Global warming, combined with other serious environmental problems, is a danger on the scale of an Axis victory. My hope is that the financial crisis’s exposure of all the “free market” guff we’ve been subjected to for the last 30 years for the crap it is, will make such a change possible. we then have to ensure that governments are under better democratic control – though it’s by no means easy to see how that can be done in the USA.

  45. #45 RJ
    September 20, 2008

    @9: Since PZ presented evidence concerning a pattern of behavior by McCain, your attempt at a criticism is irrelevant, and actually pretty bizarre. Then after accusing PZ of pretending to know what is in M’s mind, you pretend to know what is in PZ’s. Very strange.

    @28: Sorry my friend, but the evidence is in. It’s a settled question. The vast majority of advanced industrialized countries have single-payer insurance, and have better health outcomes than the US, and cheaper on top of that! End of argument, check-mate. #28, curiously, also engages in that weird sort of pseudo-psychoanalysis of people with opposing opinions. If you really think no one could support single-payer health coverage for completely rational reasons, I think it is you who is driven by base emotions. Give me a break, please.

    @7: The investment bank bailout is another reductio of the deregulation program. Some of the deregulation in the US and elsewhere in the 80’s seems to have been a good idea, but the program as a whole is not saving people money. Here there is room for reasonable disagreement, but the haughty insistence that non-economists can’t have a reasonable opinion is vexing.

    Look, deregulation was supposed to save us money. Well, fine, leave your thumb on the scale and don’t count the endless taxpayer bailouts. Rip-off. True, the upper-middle class has grown significantly. The average person is worse off than in 1980, at best working much longer hours for the same package of goods and services. People can’t afford to move away from mom and dad, dude.

    Fine, blame foreign competition. There’s still more disposable income than there’s ever been. There’s no money for new schools, of course, but plenty for the proliferation of $1000 hookers.

    The visible evidence, dude.

    Yes, the D’s are massively complicit in the deregulation program. The most zealous advocates tend to be Republican, and the Democrats have pockets of grassroots leftism, but on economic policy, when push comes to shove in Washington, it’s Wall Street pulling a leash with each arm.

    @many: There are many libertarians who are more principled than you make them out to be. Anyway, the R’s and D’s really aren’t that different on macroeconomic policy, so for a principled libertarian the R’s offer nothing to cancel out their abrogation of constitutionally protected rights and their massive expansion of government.

    It is bizarre to hear Internet libertarians complaining about the D’s expanding government now. Christ, how many paramilitary organizations does a country need? Could it be that the US government wants to make citizen oversight expensive and difficult? The libertarian arguments have much more bite as against the R’s than the D’s.

    For what it is worth, my observations are that most libertarians who get involved in the mainstream of politics are pretty selective in its application. Interfering with the right to have more brands of popcorn, very bad, massively expanding the power of the vice-president’s office without mandate, that’s a-OK.

    The more principled libertarians who will vote for somebody other than MacSame, and who are not science-deniers, maybe you don’t hear about them as much. They’re a little boring: they apply their principles relatively consistently, and aren’t in the habit of saying perverse things about science. Nothing to see here except rational decision-making.

    @America: As a Canadian, it is difficult to express the wonder, if that is the right word, at partisans of the previous government run on a platform of massive change, while on top of that, being unusually close to the previous administration in every way! Is there something in the water?

    I’m not a libertarian, but I love freedom, and I want my American friends to be free, too. Therefore, the party that has massively contracted freedom and expanded government power to a dizzying variety of agencies with no citizen oversight, will be voted out if Americans love freedom. Oh, by the way, you’d be making the world a whole lot safer at the same time. Pretty please, with sugar on top?

  46. #46 Midnight Rambler
    September 20, 2008

    Brian @40:

    I had to laugh at the end of this little screed. Every developed country in the world has UHC, with the single glaring exception of the US.

    Ireland doesn’t, actually. It has sort of a worst-of-both-worlds system, with Medicare-like coverage for low-income people and a system of public hospitals that are extremely slow and incompetent. Any GP visits, or to get an appointment in less than six months (including for something like a cancer biopsy that should be done immediately) will cost you out of pocket. There is also private insurance, which is extremely expensive and doesn’t cover anything.

    In sum, there are places in the developed world with worse systems.

  47. #47 Brian Coughlan
    September 20, 2008

    Winning WW2 was not left to market forces, for the very good reason that this would have risked losing it. Global warming, combined with other serious environmental problems, is a danger on the scale of an Axis victory.

    A great example Nick and I agree. I did include the following get out clause in my comment Everything else should be left to the market, within the context of sensible regulation and oversight.

    I consider carbon offsets, the mandated scrapping of incadescent bulbs and subsidies for promising alternate energies to be part of that “sensible regulation”.

    The free market is not anarchy, it happens within an agreed and leglislated framework. The goal of the framework should be to serve the interests of society generally. I think Sweden is a good example, as near to utopia as we’ve got yet.

  48. #48 Feynmaniac
    September 20, 2008

    Honestly, I’m incredibly baffled as to why this is even a close election. The Republican party has shown it cannot govern. It has fucked things up royally at home and abroad. Sarah Palin, who is arguably not even qualified to run a town of 7,000, is the VP nominee. It gets even scarier when you realize McCain is so old that she would quite likely take over.

    From an outsider’s perspective is seems like the US is on a path of self-destruction. Maybe the Republicans don’t care because they believe Jesus is coming soon. They’ll still be waiting for it even after they have melted the ice caps and eliminated the middle class.

    I’m hoping Obama wins, but even if I don’t think the US would be able to get universal health care, stop global warming, and get a gov’t that gives a shit about the poor. Power is just too concentrated to the super rich.

  49. #49 Brian Coughlan
    September 20, 2008

    Ireland doesn’t, actually. It has sort of a worst-of-both-worlds system, with Medicare-like coverage for low-income people and a system of public hospitals that are extremely slow and incompetent.

    As it happens, I am actually Irish and I can confirm your observation that the Irish health care system is one of the worst in Europe. Nonetheless, if you need your hips replaced and can’t afford it, you’ll get it done within 12 – 18 months.

    The per capita spending on Health is about 30% of the US, yet the child mortality is still better. Ironic that the worst example we can find is still better than the US.

  50. #50 Jadehawk
    September 20, 2008

    McCain’s pretense of being a “Maverick” would work a lot better if he hadn’t chosen Palin for VP. And in any case, the U.S. is so far behing the rest of the industrialized world on environmental and health issues, it’s embarassing. especially when you consider that Americans pay more tax per capita on healthcare than any other industrialized country, and STILL don’t manage to get everyone covered!
    And the illusion of “choosing your own doctor” that the libertrarians always preach is a myth anyway: you choose the doctor your insurance picks for you. or the ER if you’re in the unfortunate position of not having insurance. There’s much more choice where there’s socialized healthcare.

    And as for the environment: nothing short of a DRASTIC change of how things are done in the U.S. is going to do anything. All this should have been initiated ages ago to make a smooth transition possible. Now it’s more like “adapt or die”. GM being a prime example: they’ve refused to offer more fuel efficient cars, and now they’re swamped in SUV’s they can’t sell and close down factories and fire people, while Toyota and Honda are laughing their asses off.
    And the ones who will suffer most from this are people too poor to adapt quickly, i.e. to find a new, non-oildependent job, move closer to work (or work closer to home), buy a more fuel efficient car, etc.
    most likely though, changes won’t come soon enough anyway, and when it does finally come the sudden change will bring even more suffering than change now would. It’s pretty depressing

    And to the libertarians out there: if it weren’t for government regulation, cars would be as deadly as they were in the 50’s, there would still be lead in paint and gas, and we’d all suffer from skin cancer because of a non-existent ozone layer. your precious marked doesn’t give a damn about the wellbeing of people. all those things only finally changed because of immense pressure from consumer advocates to pass laws regulating those things.

  51. #51 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    The per capita spending on Health is about 30% of the US, yet the child mortality is still better. – Brian Coughlan

    Brian, you’re overlooking the obvious fact that the surplus infant deaths in the USA occur among the children of the poor; it’s their own fault – they should have chosen richer parents!

  52. #52 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    Brian@47,

    The key point I’d make is that the central feature of capitalism is that investment decisions are determined by (expected) profit. A firm which tried to factor in system-wide risks (like losing WW2 or destroying the environment) would, other things being equal, lose out to one that did not – and indeed company law mandates corporations to consider only the interests of the shareholders. We cannot afford to let market forces determine investment decisions, because companies following them will systematically ignore externalities and long-term risks. We can try to influence decisions by measures such as carbon credits, but the evidence so far (from the EU) is that such schemes are very liable to special interest capture. Any serious attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will require building infrastructure that will not pay off in terms of profit for decades – and that will be very different according to the approach chosen; and sharing of technical advances with rivals, both domestic and foreign. We need, in such crucial areas, to replace market forces by “negotiated coordination” (the term comes from Pat Devine’s 1988 Democracy and Economic Planning).

  53. #53 hermit
    September 20, 2008

    Opening up the health insurance market……..

    Sure, they’ll compete like hell for the “20-somethings” and exclude like hell the “50-somethings”.

  54. #54 Falyne, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    If the universe becomes even more FUBAR and McCain wins, I’m going to have a tough time choosing where to go.

    I’m originally from San Diego, and am now in NYC after 5 years in central PA. Central PA was waaaaaaaaaaay too #%#$^$$!$@ cold for me, so I simply canNOT live in Canada or any Scandinavian country. I’m also a city person, and would like (at least for the rest of my 20s) to live somewhere not-backwatery, but this is negotiable. I speak some Japanese, so Tokyo would be an option, although Japan’s not a very progressive country in a lot of respects. NZ would be awesome, but I’ve heard their immigration is kinda restrictive to keep all of us asylum seekers out. Australia’s probably my best option.

    Meh. Or I could just become a rancher somewhere in Patagonia and give up on the rest of humanity. :-P

  55. #55 Jadehawk
    September 20, 2008

    Falyne, move to Denmark. Moderate climate combined with excellent social structure and a healthy market :-)

    Personally I think that if McEvil wins, I’m fleeing back home (Germany), though smuggling the boyfriend in might be a bit of a problem, and I can’t leave the poor critter here in North Dakota!

  56. #56 Falyne, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    Huh, I hadn’t thought of Denmark. I think the North Dakotan definition of “moderate” might not be the same as the San Diegan, though ;-)

    Then again, a mean temperature of 0.0C is, while literally freezing, fairly livable. The 170 rainy days a year sounds a little much, but…

    Ok, 3rd highest population of atheists and agnostics? That DOES sound good. Ok, it may be time to learn Danish. (The pastries are tasty, too. ;-))

  57. #57 BobC
    September 20, 2008

    If you want to be really frightened, read what he said about health care

    I don’t have health insurance because for me it would be a waste of money. I never get sick. I don’t drive and I don’t ride in cars, so I’m not likely to be in an accident.

    What bugs me is doctors take advantage of people who don’t have insurance. They charge uninsured people much more than what insured people are charged.

    A few years ago I had a very small bump on my neck checked to make sure it wasn’t cancer. It turned out to be harmless. I was charged a small fortune, probably more than twice what an insurance company would have had to pay. I’m usually against price controls, but taking advantage of a person whose life may be in danger is not right. Doctors should not be allowed to make uninsured people pay more.

  58. #58 PatMercado
    September 20, 2008

    Personally I hope McCain and Palin win. Natural selection baby, evolve or die. With McCain at the wheel China will destroy what little remains of the USA after the GOP is through with it.

    You’re a sick sack of shit, FlameDuck. Wishing for something that could cause harm and suffering to millions for your ideology.

  59. #59 Katharine
    September 20, 2008

    FlameDuck –

    While wishing harm on people is disingenuous and cruel, I have to agree that certain Americans will survive all this if such happens – I’m thinking of moving to Europe after I get my PhD or, if shit happens sooner, after I finish undergrad (I’m a neuroscience student and I’m hearing there are great neuroscience institutes in Western Europe) . What I think we need to consider is what WILL we do if McCain gets elected? We have to have a contingency plan. What’s the worst-case scenario?

  60. #60 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    There’s a certain unreality about all the plans to flee the USA if McShame gets in. The USA’s policies and fortunes have major effects throughout the world – as the current financial crisis shows.

  61. #61 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 20, 2008

    I don’t have health insurance because for me it would be a waste of money. I never get sick. I don’t drive and I don’t ride in cars, so I’m not likely to be in an accident.

    And you’ll never get old either.

    How easy is it to get insurance in the USA when you are old?

    I was charged a small fortune, probably more than twice what an insurance company would have had to pay.

    “Probably”?

    How do you know?

    What’s the worst-case scenario?

    By hook or by crook, McPain/Failin win, the former croaks, the latter gets an order from God to eliminate the Russians and proceeds to do so, and both countries are wiped from the map, along with everything else that’s too close or downwind.

    I don’t think this is the most realistic scenario, however. Have a look here: as of the latest polls, Obama gets 273 electoral votes, McCain 265 — and that’s even though both Ohio and Florida currently have tiny majorities for McCain (and so do Nevada and Virginia, which have been peculiarly unstable in the polls in the last months, not to mention Indiana, where the Republican majority has drastically shrunk since 2004).

  62. #62 negentropyeater
    September 20, 2008

    Faylne,

    why not Barcelona ? Climate very similar to San Diego, the mediteranean Sea, size wise similar, nobody cares about which religion you are or not (Zapatero is openly agnostic), very international, young and hip, etc…

  63. #63 negentropyeater
    September 20, 2008

    #62 for Falyne (not Faylne)

  64. #64 Brian Coughlan
    September 20, 2008

    We need, in such crucial areas, to replace market forces by “negotiated coordination” (the term comes from Pat Devine’s 1988 Democracy and Economic Planning).

    Or we could just opt for global governance structures that make all the artifical competition on the economy moot. A single tax code, health care system and social welfare net for the planet. I’d be for that.

    I shall have to look this book up and have a read, thanks Nick and g’night:-)

  65. #65 Doubting Foo
    September 20, 2008

    McCain sucks ass.

    BTW, my wife and I got turned away from the Obama rally in Jacksonville, FL. There were SO MANY FUCKING PEOPLE is was crazy!

  66. #66 Jadehawk
    September 20, 2008

    @Nick Gotts

    you’re right that whatever happens to the U.S will have aftershocks in the rest of the world, but I’d rather deal with the aftershocks than sit at the center of the disaster. Plus, Germany is a country that’s already fairly advanced in renevable/sustainable resources, so it’ll rebound much quicker than the U.S. Especially THIS corner of the U.S, where non-oildependent infrastructure is nonexistent.

  67. #67 Alan Chapman
    September 20, 2008

    Here they come like a bunch of floppy-shoed clowns fumbling out of a circus tent. Do you people read your own news? The NHS is a scandal-ridden bureaucracy which has been responsible for thousands of needless deaths. It is guilty of the very thing for which you excoriate capitalism.

    Government regulation is responsible for ruining the health-care industry in the U.S., but the socialists blame capitalism for the ensuing calamity. The legislature rearranges the laws, calls it deregulation, and problems get worse. The socialists blame capitalism and demand more government regulation right on cue. The socialists never ask WHY health-care is so expensive. They are interested in establishing only that health-care is a right to which they are entitled. How can you be rightfully entitled to something that imposes financial obligations others? Any so-called “right” to do this would undermine rights by definition. The socialist is unconcerned because he is busy conflating rights with wishes under false pretense.

    If health-care is a right then you can easily test that assertion. Remove the government middle-man from the equation so that you are no longer insulated from the consequences of your own actions. Tell your neighbors that you have a right to health-care and threaten them with violence if they decline to pay. See if they agree with your definition of rights.

  68. #68 Jadehawk
    September 20, 2008

    wow, what a wonderful pile of libertarian bunk. The U.S. has the one of the least socialized health-care systems in the Western World. It is also the most expensive and least effective (lack of health-insurance alone is causing an average of 20000 deaths every year; highest infant mortality; declining life expectancy in poor people; etc. ad nauseam).
    And the NHS is the WORST example of socialized healthcare and still does a better job.

    The reason it looks like everything the U.S. government touches goes to hell is not because government regulation is bad; it’s because the U.S. does a miserable job at it. The Republicans dismantle a functioning program, and then when it can’t do what it’s supposed to do they point to it and say “look, government is failing!”. It also doesn’t help that badly functioning government programs only get small, chaotic patchwork rather than the complete overhaul necessary.
    Still, I’d rather have imperfect regulation than none at all. I’m endlessly grateful for things like: The Clean Water Act; The Clean Air Act; the EPA; The Consumer Product And Safety Act; the OSHA; the Freedom of Information Act; Traffic And Motor Safety Vehicle Act; etc

    And none of those things were brought to you by the “free” market

  69. #69 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “I keep hearing conversations in which people seem to be talking about economics, but it bears no resemblance to the market as economists actually understand it. – John Knight

    An understanding demonstrated by just how well the US economy is doing after decades of deregulation, following the advice of economists such as yourself.”

    Deregulation IS NOT THE CAUSE of the meltdown. Anyone who (like McCain and Obama) clings to this nonsense is afraid of the simple truth.

    The US stopped producing wealth last century. There was some final shakedown with the tech boom, producing computers (parts) for homes to fuel the internet craze yaddy yaddy…

    But Production? Gone. My mother’s nurse’s aide was a former machinist who got retrained because his factory moved to Taiwan. Dude had tattoos and a goatee. Classic RNA to be sure… The point being, the US is not producing anything but dollars, and we’ve been gaming the rest of the world because they’ve relied on the dollar’s stability for quite some time now.

    The trouble is, without producing wealth, you have to create it artificially. You have the federal reserve hand out virtually free loans. You have them print money. You keep repeating how wonderful and sound everything is and you lie about inflation until the curtain finally drops and the charade is exposed. Then you bailout the broken system with more created money, not bothering to mention that this will cause more inflation and literally steal money from the poor and middle class. You blame it on the “corruption” of a few and a “lack of regulation”, but you don’t mention that the same people who caused the problem would be the regulators.

    You insist that you are “bailing out” homeowners while you are really taking American taxpayer’s money and bailing out foreign investors who bought the crappy “bundles” because you told them America was doing so grandly, and they believed you. You do all of this “bailing out” in secret meetings that the public are not allowed in on, but you never explain why.

    Then you chant “it was deregulation”! over and over and make sure your two hand-picked presidential candidates do the same…

    Then you set up a false dichotomy and get Americans either on one side of the abortion and gun issue or the other, and you keep stirring the pot so they won’t notice that you are pissing in the pot.

    When asked directly why you are screwing up the system, you call the guy asking a “kook” and you make sure your media people do the same.

    Anyway, that’s how you fuck up America.

  70. #70 FlameDuck
    September 20, 2008

    Yep, something like what lead up to the collapse of the (2nd or 3rd) German Empire. That’s what the world needs right now. /sarcasm

    Well if you have a better solution, I’m all ears. You’ll notice however that while the interim period from the collapse of the Weimar Republic, to the defeat of Nazi Germany may have been turbulent, the outcome is actually a wonderful country with very hospitable and humble people who are very much aware of the lessons learned through history.

    Social Darwinism is ungood.

    It’s also an oxymoron, nice try at an ad hominem argument tho’.

    While wishing harm on people is disingenuous and cruel

    Oh I don’t wish harm on anyone, but I’m sick and tired of protecting these kind of morons from their own stupidity. I’m not saying make stupidity illegal, but why not just remove all the warning labels from everything and let the problem sort itself out?

    What I think we need to consider is what WILL we do if McCain gets elected?

    Fight, hide or flee I guess. It depends on what field your degree is in. With the Jesus Freaks calling the shots, and since prayer is less effective than bullets for dealing with infidels, working for a weapons contractor could become quite lucrative. While they might despise biologists, they’re not going to rely on prayer to protect against a real or imagined biological terrorist threat. Hopefully their hypocrisy will keep the rest of us safe.

  71. #71 Logan N
    September 20, 2008

    On a related topic, a Democratic state senator is gunning for Inhofe’s position this election round. Andrew Rice.

  72. #72 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “”wow, what a wonderful pile of libertarian bunk. The U.S. has the one of the least socialized health-care systems in the Western World. It is also the most expensive and least effective (lack of health-insurance alone is causing an average of 20000 deaths every year; highest infant mortality; declining life expectancy in poor people; etc. ad nauseam).””

    Actually, the US system was responsible for HUGE advances in medicine, driven by the market and a desire to make money.

    Most healthcare systems that are “successful” are in small, educated countries with managable populations and small militaries.

    The US could easily manage state health care systems without forcing the populace to comply with the desires of those who wish to enslave us all to Washington because they can’t think in any other way.

    States with a majority of “no thank you” to UHC can keep a private sytem.

    The point being, smaller invites competition, it allows for innovation, and it can run side by side with a private system in 50 unique ways.

    Yes, the US government does things badly. No, it is not just those evil republicans fault.

    Just look at Dodds’ role in the Fannie mess…

    I wouldn’t want Washington running my lawn mower…

  73. #73 Falyne, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    If the NHS is flawed, then that’s reason to fix the NHS. Just like the fact that FEMA is a cesspool of cronyism and incompetency doesn’t mean that it’s better to let the free market rebuild a city. No, something that’s this full of externalities and requires the sacrifice of short-term profit for the long-term greater good will NOT be handled well by a pure free market.

    Yes, the US has a bastardization of a system representing the worst of both worlds. It messes with the freedom of the job market, too, as workers have their health care tied to their jobs and are thus less likely to leave, which means wages aren’t as competitive. So, yes, a purely capitalist system would probably be better than what we have now.

    But for health care, socialism is BETTER. Socialism is LESS EXPENSIVE. I give you THE REST OF THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD as evidence. Look at their population’s health statistics. Look at how little they spend per capita to reach those benchmarks. These are better and cheaper health care paradigms than any other in all of human history!

    Having working roads imposes a financial obligation on others. Having a military (ok, the current one’s too big, but SOME capability for defense is needed) imposes a financial obligation on others. Having a police force, a fire department, or any other sort of infrastructure, imposes a financial obligation on others.

    It’s called ‘having a functional civilization’. Deal with it.

  74. #74 Jams
    September 20, 2008

    “How do you know?” – David Marjanovi?

    …that insurance companies pay less for medical treatments than individuals? Purchasing power is a staple of the insurance industry. Insurance companies trade and store up huge amounts of dept owed to a single institution (like a hospital) then negotiate the amount down. You want your money? We’re not afraid to go to court over this. Sometimes individuals can pay as much as ten times more than a large insurance company would for the same service.

    Of course, a consistent climate of service negotiation encourages service providers to raise prices so that they have larger margins to absorb powerful negotiators like insurance companies. This results in an across the board rise in service costs that pretty much offset the purchasing power of the insurance companies. However, individuals who don’t have that purchasing power end up paying the inflated prices which encourages them to buy insurance, which insurance companies like.

    Note that insurance companies never encourage service providers to drop standard prices, but rather, they negotiate specific payments. The more payments they can negotiate down, or tie up in court, the faster services raise prices, and the faster those prices rise, the larger the growth in insurance sales. If all goes well, you can even raise your premiums as a reaction to inflating service prices WHILE your sales are increasing for the same reason.

    It’s actually quite brilliant in a sick sort-of way.

  75. #75 negentropyeater
    September 20, 2008

    Alan Chapman,

    don’t try to wiggle your way out of this, just answer, why is the USA #37 without UHC and double the spending per capita of France who is #1 with UHC. Govt regulation being equal.
    BTW Govt regulation on healthcare has nothing to do with socialism, it has to do with imposing certain quality standards that noone (including the most ultracapitalist Americans) can trust the free markets to maintain from themselves.

    Gee, why is there govt regulation in the airline business ? You’d probably advocate to get rid of it too, no ? Or is that Socialism also ?
    And what about in the banking and insurance sectors, we’re just discovering right now the kind of havoc that the mantra of bare minimum regulation of your completely irresponsible idiotic creed is going to cause !

    Go away, you have nothing to offer here, you are completely naked.

  76. #76 jadehawk
    September 20, 2008

    Scott, that’s why this war on science is such a big deal to the U.S. at the moment, science is one of the great things that the U.S. DOES produce, but in another generation or so, that won’t be the case. If education in the U.S. went back up to a very high standard, while at the same time assuring that the largest possible number of people could get this good education, then the U.S. could remain at the forefront of the world economy, by selling technology etc. highly industrialized countries with expensive work-forces need to specialize like that (Germany is doing that in renewable energy technologies, and a lot of other European countries go with luxury exports; Japan on the other hand has for years focused on exporting high-tech)

  77. #77 FlameDuck
    September 20, 2008

    How can you be rightfully entitled to something that imposes financial obligations others?

    Because you live in a society of “others”? How can you be rightfully entitled to law enforcement officers investigating crimes committed against you? I weigh about 240 pounds, have been training and instructing martial arts for about 20 years and have a pretty mean streak. I will never get mugged, and if I do, I can probably handle myself. Why should I pay taxes that go to pay the salaries of law enforcement officers, because you’re too lazy to exercise regularly and too incompetent to defend yourself in a fight? I have no gripe with Iraq, why should I pay taxes to fund a war I disagree with?

    Let me answer that for you. Because that’s the rules of society. In exchange for our tax money, the society provides “strength in numbers” to protect against crime, disease, terrorist attacks and other undesirable elements. How can you live in a democracy and not understand this?

  78. #78 Jadehawk
    September 20, 2008

    oh and also: I’m not anti-capitalist. I am fully aware that market forces are impressively good at producing innovation. But there’s no evidence that a “free” market approach to systemic, long-range problems has ever worked, especially when the dealing with those problems cuts into short-term profitability. unregulated competition would weed out all companies which would take those long-term consequences into account before they can do any good. and don’t say “voting with the wallet” is the way to go. in many cases, consumers aren’t even presented with a better choice, because the better choice would be “unreasonably” more expensive. Plus, when it’s a life-or-death issue, people don’t really have much in the way of a choice, it’s pay-up-or-die then.

  79. #79 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “”Scott, that’s why this war on science is such a big deal to the U.S. at the moment, science is one of the great things that the U.S. DOES produce, but in another generation or so, that won’t be the case.””

    I agree. We did science well and we were exceptional entrepeneurs (sp?).

    Last century, we were the best in manufacturing and we had the resources other countries had to import. We produced wealth and became wealthy.

    We don’t do that now.

    We are the “golf course society”. We produce people who play golf, while other countries get dirt underneath their nails.

    Consumerism isn’t good for the earth but it is good for the flow of money.

    Having said that, it really is time to collectively come up with new paradigms. The current one has run its course.

    The current direction we are headed (big, clumsy government run by small cabals of people) is fascistic.

    It is time to dismantle the behemoth, and use old federalist ideas in new and progressive ways.

  80. #80 Katharine
    September 20, 2008

    I hate it when libertarians whine about their taxes going to help other people. Selfish bloody bastards.

    No person is an island. If raising taxes will contribute to such things as the availability of health care to all and contribute to things that we all need that are way more important than property or money, I am all for everyone being a little poorer.

    Individual rights and the rights of society both need to be respected – and there is a way to respect both without undermining either.

  81. #81 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    Alan Chapman@67,
    In addition to the points made by Jadehawk, the NHS started getting into trouble when the Tory government began preparing it for privatization by imposing an “internal market” and outsourcing services like hospital cleaning. These measures, of course, had enormous transaction costs, both in cash terms, and in terms of staff morale. The so-called Labour government has continued in the same direction, allowing private companies to cream off the simple operations, then dump the patient back on the NHS if there are any complications.
    If health-care is a right then you can easily test that assertion. Remove the government middle-man from the equation so that you are no longer insulated from the consequences of your own actions. Tell your neighbors that you have a right to health-care and threaten them with violence if they decline to pay. See if they agree with your definition of rights.
    Typical libertarian crap. What I (and I imagine many others) would say is that health care ought to be a right. The point of having a universal, public system is so everyone can get this right to roughly the same extent, and without imposing all the costs on a handful of neighbours – even if, for example, they happen to be born with a condition that requires years of expensive care. Oh, sorry, they should have thought of that before they got born, shouldn’t they?

    Scott from Oregon@69,
    Your claim that deregulation is not responsible for the problem is made, as is usual with libertarians, without the slightest attempt at producing evidence. The US and UK are the most deregulated large countries – just coincidence that it is in these that the problem has arisen? You might also want to look up the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 – which was passed in response to demands by banks and insurance companies. This Act repealed the restrictions imposed on banks by the Glass-Steagal Act of 1933, which was passed following the last great crash to separate retail and investment banking. A number of economists including Robert Kuttner, Robert Eklund and Mark Thornton (the latter is a libertarian) have blamed the GLBA for the subprime mortgage fiasco which led into the current crisis.

  82. #82 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “”Your claim that deregulation is not responsible for the problem is made, as is usual with libertarians, without the slightest attempt at producing evidence. The US and UK are the most deregulated large countries – just coincidence that it is in these that the problem has arisen?”

    And I blame the federal reserve for trying to float a phony economy eight more years with almost free credit and the policy initiated by Clinton that promoted passing out bad loans to poor risk recipients to give poor risk people a chance to buy a home.

    I also blame the entire machine for denying the existence of the problem until they could no longer deny it.

  83. #83 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    Scott from Oregon,
    OK, I blame the failure to institute democratic socialism fifty years ago. The point is, one of the proximate causes is deregulation, and specifically the GLBA – which I notice you don’t address at all. Since this is typical of your approach – ignore anything specific – I conclude that it’s the result of invincible ignorance – you don’t want to look at specifics, because at some level, you know you’re bullshitting.

  84. #84 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “which I notice you don’t address at all. Since this is typical of your approach – ignore anything specific – I conclude that it’s the result of invincible ignorance – you don’t want to look at specifics, because at some level, you know you’re bullshitting.”

    Or you can conclude that I am predisposed to thinking in “big picture” generalities and leave the “specifics” to the anal and the retentive…

    The reason so many countries are affected by the US’s problems right now, is that the US plays center stage to THEIR monetary systems.

    The reason the US rose to that role was because of its relatively free markets, its stability, and its openess and accessibility. Those things are gone but the charade works for awhile…

    Sure, some lack of regulation helped, but the problem is, the regulators are also the profiteers in a system where even the US government doesn’t know what is said in their meetings, and our front running candidates for president are dictated to and told to toe the banksters line…

  85. #85 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    The reason the US rose to that role was because of its relatively free markets, its stability, and its openess and accessibility.

    Having stolen half a continent from its previous inhabitants had a lot to do with it.

    our front running candidates for president are dictated to and told to toe the banksters line – SfO

    On that, we can agree.

  86. #86 Bob of QF
    September 20, 2008

    Here’s another poll to skew:

    http://www.pbs.org/cgi-registry/poll/poll.pl

    The question is:

    “Do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States?”

    Available answers:

    “yes”
    “no
    “not sure”

    So far YES IS WINNING!!!!

    Help!

  87. #87 Jadehawk
    September 20, 2008

    the U.S. also rose to its current role because it didn’t have its populations decimated and didn’t have to spend insane amounts of social and economic power to building up destroyed infrastructures. over and over again, in some instances. fighting wars on foreign turf has its advantages. so does relative stability. the rest of the industrialized world is catching up though

  88. #88 Alan Chapman
    September 20, 2008

    #34 The NHS has now saved my life three times, my sister’s once, and my parents’ twice.

    Guess what? The “free” health-care system in Cuba saved Fidel Castro’s life, but don’t tell that to these people.

    #68 The U.S. has the one of the least socialized health-care systems in the Western World.

    Health-care regulations in the U.S. number in the hundreds of thousands, and the regulatory burden and Byzantine bureaucracy come at a cost.

    …lack of health-insurance alone is causing an average of 20000 deaths every year.

    It isn’t the lack of health-insurance that is causing the deaths. It’s the lack health-care (due to various mitigating factors such as high cost). Guaranteeing access to health-insurance doesn’t guarantee access to health-care. It only guarantees access to health-insurance. If the health-care supply is insufficient to meet the demand then it doesn’t matter what kind of insurance you have. The solution is not to insure everyone. The solution is to increase the supply of available health-care, which can’t be accomplished via the magic-wand of legislation.

    …highest infant mortality; declining life expectancy in poor people; etc. ad nauseam.

    Perhaps you can explain why these problems get worse as government regulation of health-care and spending increases. By your logic, all of these problems should be nonexistent by now.

    #75 …why is the USA #37 without UHC and double the spending per capita of France who is #1 with UHC. Govt regulation being equal.

    UHC doesn’t lower the cost of health-care. It just spreads the cost around to more people. Hence, the high cost remains and UHC doesn’t solve the underlying problem.

    #77 How can you be rightfully entitled to law enforcement officers investigating crimes committed against you?

    Rightful entitlement is contingent upon agreement by interested parties to stipulations in a contract. Rightful entitlement cannot be unilaterally imposed by one party upon another.

    Why should I pay taxes that go to pay the salaries of law enforcement officers, because you’re too lazy to exercise regularly and too incompetent to defend yourself in a fight?

    Excellent question. I’d also ask why one should be forced to finance health-care for somebody who lives a reckless lifestyle. If health-care is “free” then such a person would have no incentive to alter his behavior.

    I have no gripe with Iraq, why should I pay taxes to fund a war I disagree with?

    You shouldn’t be forced to.

    Let me answer that for you. Because that’s the rules of society.

    No, let me answer it for you. What you’re doing is anthropomorphizing an abstract construct – “society” – and conferring it with rights. Then you’re juxtaposing the rights of “society” with your own, thus attempting to validate the implication that you’re entitled to rights which you did not otherwise posses. It has the veneer of a sound argument but it’s really just sophistry.

  89. #89 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    Alan Chapman,
    How can you continue to ignore facts so blatantly? If UHC does not cut costs, how is it that France, with UHC, pays about half per capita what the US, without UHC, pays – and gets better results? How is it that even a poor dictatorship like Cuba matches US rates of infant mortality and life expectancy on a tiny fraction of the US spend?

  90. #90 Falyne, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    …….sweet ceiling cat.

    Measuring things “per capita”, which means “for each head”, which means the average cost for each citizens, means we’re ALREADY taking the “spreading the cost around to more people” part into account. The cost is still much, much, much lower.

    Also, if people won’t change their lifestyle for the sake of their own health and survival, they won’t do it for cost, either. The former is generally a LARGER incentive.

    And, again, paying for the common infrastructure is the cost of living in a functional society. This isn’t anthropomorphic, it’s taking note of the requirements of the system. If you don’t like having roads, police, or health care because you have to pay for them obliquely, go build your libertarian/anarchist utopia somewhere else.

  91. #91 Bob of QF
    September 20, 2008

    http://www.pbs.org/now/polls/poll-435.html

    Bad link, sorry.

    Try this POLL:

    Is Palin qualified?

  92. #92 Falyne, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    D’oh. Should be “for each citizen”, singular, in the first paragraph. A silly goof to make while pointing out the poor reading comprehension of another, I must admit.

  93. #93 echidna
    September 20, 2008

    scott from oregon @84I am predisposed to thinking in “big picture” generalities and leave the “specifics” to the anal and the retentive…

    Ah, that explains it. Let your mind float free, don’t bother with the facts. They just get in the way. Without facts and details your thoughts are nothing. At the other end of the spectrum, it is possible to get stuck in details without seeing the big picture also.

    Powerful thinking is moving between the big picture and the facts and details. That’s what scientists do all the time, and why you will always get your arguments handed back to you on a plate.

  94. #94 Alan Chapman
    September 20, 2008

    #80 Katherine: If raising taxes will contribute to such things as the availability of health care to all…

    It won’t because you can’t magically suspend the laws of economics through legislation.

    …I am all for everyone being a little poorer.

    I have good news for you! You don’t have to wait for taxes to be raised. You can give away as much of your own money as you want to help the needy RIGHT NOW. I’m curious. How many needy people have you volunteered to shelter and feed in your home?

    #81 What I (and I imagine many others) would say is that health care ought to be a right.

    I hear you loud and clear. I’ve been hearing that for decades. There is a long list of things that Americans think ought to be rights, which is why they petition the government so that they can use force. It’s ironic, of course, that they would need to do this if those things were, in fact, rights at all.

    …for example, they happen to be born with a condition that requires years of expensive care. Oh, sorry, they should have thought of that before they got born, shouldn’t they?

    Nick, please. Americans donated $300 billion to charity in 2007 and churches took in another $100 billion. All this despite the $3 trillion they paid in taxes at all levels of government.

  95. #95 Falyne, FCD
    September 20, 2008

    #80 Katherine: If raising taxes will contribute to such things as the availability of health care to all…

    It won’t because you can’t magically suspend the laws of economics through legislation.

    Somehow, France pulled it off. I’ll take evidence over hypothesis, thaaaaaaaanks.


    I have good news for you! You don’t have to wait for taxes to be raised. You can give away as much of your own money as you want to help the needy RIGHT NOW. I’m curious. How many needy people have you volunteered to shelter and feed in your home?

    The fact that you think individual effort with a non-negligible personal risk is a simpler solution to a widespread systemic problem is kinda mind-boggling. Hint: it’s not going to happen on anywhere near the necessary scale. It’s not workable.

    Nick, please. Americans donated $300 billion to charity in 2007 and churches took in another $100 billion. All this despite the $3 trillion they paid in taxes at all levels of government.”

    And the Gilded Age of Robber Barons had record levels of philanthropy… alongside record levels of the old, disabled, and impoverished eating dog food, if they could manage that. Reliance on aristocratic generosity is hardly a workable system, either.

  96. #96 Alan Chapman
    September 20, 2008

    #89 Nick, I already answered your question about UHC and costs.

    Regarding Cuba, if a baby dies shortly after birth then it’s not counted among infant mortality statistics. It’s considered an abortion. Furthermore, expectant mothers are encouraged to abort babies which doctors believe might have certain debilitations, which lowers the infant mortality statistic.

  97. #97 Steve LaBonne
    September 20, 2008

    To our fucking dumbass Rethug shill “friends”:

    Anybody who DARES to prate about “capitalism” from this moment forward, after the announcement of the obscene Bush / Paulson proposal to build a giant fucking funnel from the Treasury to Wall Street with any outside review whatsoever specifically prohibited, should be drowned out by peals of derisive laughter. And then tarred and feathered.

    High reward /zero risk may be a lot of things but it sure as bleeding hell ain’t capitalism.

  98. #98 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “To our fucking dumbass Rethug shill “friends”:

    Anybody who DARES to prate about “capitalism” from this moment forward, after the announcement of the obscene Bush / Paulson proposal to build a giant fucking funnel from the Treasury to Wall Street with any outside review whatsoever specifically prohibited, should be drowned out by peals of derisive laughter. ”

    Ummm, I believe you mean Socialism… don’t you? Socialized protection for bad business practices? That’s what happened. And Barack went along with it, because they told him to.

    “Powerful thinking is moving between the big picture and the facts and details. That’s what scientists do all the time, and why you will always get your arguments handed back to you on a plate.”

    Ummm, just stating something is so does not make it so. I present a world view which is not popular amongst this crowd, which seems to have a vested interest in socialism to go along with the Athiesm… Not sure I understand the whyfors of that, but big government and a nannie state seem to be the preferred goal around here.

    That means my world view will encounter some resistance. Even a non-scientist can understand that…

  99. #99 Steve LaBonne
    September 20, 2008

    Ummm, I believe you mean Socialism… don’t you?

    What we are looking at here could be described as… National Socialism, perhaps. Or perhaps “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

    Because only a fucking moron would describe robbing the poor and middle class to further enrich the rich as “socialism”, tout court.

    You’re not a fucking moron, by any chance?

  100. #100 amphiox
    September 20, 2008

    What I think it really boils down to, in the end, is that Libertarians want the right to opt out of the social contract.

    Societies generally don’t want that, since the social contract is about strength in numbers, which requires, well, numbers. So over the course of history many means spanning the spectrum of coercion to incentive have been tried to make sure members of the social contract stay members.

    That said, either you opt out of everything, including policing, defence, sanitation, maintenance of transportation (not just for you, but for the delivery of things like food and water), etc, and go live in the mountains with your seven pieces of personally knapped flint, you must draw a line somewhere and accept that government is required for something. So where do you draw that line? Why defense and not healthcare? Why policing and not economy? To me it seems pretty arbitrary.

    I know a very intelligent self-identified libertarian whose opinion I respect in most things declare his belief that health care is not a right but a privilege, earned by obtaining though one’s own efforts the financial means to pay for it, but also declare that scientific research must be funding by government agencies like the NIH.

  101. #101 Steve LaBonne
    September 20, 2008

    They’re welcome to opt out. In return, since they’re no longer entitled to the protection of the society to which I belong, I should be able to shoot them with impunity. They’ll just have to raise private armies to stop me or avenge their deaths.

  102. #102 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    Alan Chapman@96
    Nick, I already answered your question about UHC and costs.
    No, you didn’t. you claimed, without evidence or argument, that UHC was not cheaper – simply ignoring the facts that show otherwise.

    Regarding Cuba, even if what you say is true, it is still remarkable that life expectancy is almost identical to the USA on a tiny fraction of the budget.

    And basic needs, like health care, should not be dependent on charity, even if that were a feasible alternative to state provision, which it is not.

    I guess what I find so disgusting about “libertarians” is the toxic combination of selfishness and self-righteousness. OK, go on, be selfish – just stop trying to pretend there’s any principle behind it. And stop gabbing about “force” – practically the whole of your country was taken from its previous inhabitants by force or fraud – and the descendants of those thus mistreated are in many cases quite identifiable. If you’re so against things being acquired by force, why don’t you campaign for it all to be returned to them? I know perfectly well why – you’re rich now, so you don’t want anyone taking what you regard as yours, despite the fact that your possession of it is based on historically recorded fraud, theft, and murder.

  103. #103 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    High reward /zero risk may be a lot of things but it sure as bleeding hell ain’t capitalism. – Steve LaBonne

    Actually, Steve, it’s pretty typical of capitalism: privatise the profits, socialise the losses has always been an important capitalist principle.

  104. #104 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “”Regarding Cuba, even if what you say is true, it is still remarkable that life expectancy is almost identical to the USA on a tiny fraction of the budget.””

    Not at all. Americans are fat lazy pigs. If you go to Cuba, you’ll find that the people love to sing and dance. Dance is exerecise, in case you don’t know…

    In Cuba, people walk to the bus, or ride a bicycle… That’s exercise, in case you don’t know. In America, people walk to their garage… That’s usually about twenty feeet, in case you aren’t familiar…

    There was a scientific study or two (these are my best stabs at facts) that demonstrate a relationship between exercise and longevity.

    The fact that Cubans die at the rate of Americans just shows how screwed up Cuba is, as they should have a good ten years on our fat asses…

    “””What we are looking at here could be described as… National Socialism, perhaps. Or perhaps “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. “””

    Ummm… yes… So?

    Are you talking about “welfarism” then? Is that what you want socialism to mean? Robbing from the rich and giving it to the poor? Is that where your head is at when its not checking out colon polyps?

    “”I guess what I find so disgusting about “libertarians” is the toxic combination of selfishness and self-righteousness. OK, go on, be selfish – just stop trying to pretend there’s any principle behind it. And stop gabbing about “force” – “”

    What I find miserably gross about strong welfare stateliberalism is thatthese liberals won’t simply go out and adopt someone in need. There are more liberals with spare bedrooms and extra cash (or so it would appear by their largesse) to house and feed every person in need. Why doesn’t this happen?

    Because these types of liberals are hypocrites to the 11th degree and want “others” to be forced to pay for their humanitarian desires. Quite often, you find, these types of liberals put out their hand at every opportunity and are quite satisfied to live off of the efforts of others. They justify this all with calling self-initiated and successful people “selfish” (who ARE the biggest philanthropists?) and “self-righteous” instead of just going out and bringing home someone in need.

    I mean really. If you want facts. Do the math. There are more liberals than destitute by a large margin. Where is the love?

  105. #105 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    Scott from Oregon,

    Don’t. Be. Silly.
    If I gave away all my wealth, it would make only a tiny difference to the amount of poverty in the world. One reason “liberals” (I’m not a liberal, but I realise that the idea of anything further left than that gives you the vapours) favour collective provision is because it works at a national scale, as shown in western Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia. It actually reduces human suffering, and expands human opportunites, particularly for those born relatively poor. Another reason is that a “liberal” does not have to be a sucker, willing to give up everything themselves while others give nothing; what is desired is equity, or fairness; and that no-one should have to rely on charitable handouts.

    Quite often, you find, these types of liberals put out their hand at every opportunity and are quite satisfied to live off of the efforts of others.
    Evidence for this claim? Oh, sorry, you’re a “big picture” man, which means you don’t have to supply evidence for any of your assertions. How convenient.

    Incidentally, I’m not calling “self-initiated and successful” people selfish. Some are, some are not. I’m calling “libertarians” selfish.

  106. #106 Steve LaBonne
    September 20, 2008

    There are no “self-initiated and successful” people. Start out naked and with no tools in the middle of a jungle and see how much wealth you can “create”.

  107. #107 Steve LaBonne
    September 20, 2008

    P.S. Libertarians with their infantile I-me-mine mentality remind me of Jim Hightower’s famous description of George H. W. Bush: they were born on third base and think they hit a triple.

  108. #108 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “Another reason is that a “liberal” does not have to be a sucker, willing to give up everything themselves while others give nothing;”

    Nobody said “everything”. Just a bed, food, some kind words and conversation. Maybe even a job at the business you own…

    If every self-described liberal actually did that, just think… No more poor and uncared for…

    So where is the love?

  109. #109 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    SfO,
    We’ve heard your line that Americans die young because they are fat and lazy before. Does it ever occur to you to go a step further, and ask why they are? Could it be because US healthcare businesses have no interest whatever in prevention, which doesn’t generate much in the way of profit? Universal healthcare systems tend to put considerable emphasis on prevention, because doing so cuts the cost to the state.

  110. #110 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “We’ve heard your line that Americans die young because they are fat and lazy before. Does it ever occur to you to go a step further, and ask why they are? Could it be because US healthcare businesses have no interest whatever in prevention, which doesn’t generate much in the way of profit? Universal healthcare systems tend to put considerable emphasis on prevention, because doing so cuts the cost to the state.”

    I’ve told you why. We eat bad, and we have become lazy. No “program” will change that. Self reliance and initiative will do far more than a pamphlet. Rich and lazy countries grow fat and unhealthy. Look it up.

  111. #111 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “”There are no “self-initiated and successful” people. Start out naked and with no tools in the middle of a jungle and see how much wealth you can “create”.””

    You mean like clothing, a nice tree house and a store of food? Perhaps some weapons? A nice bongo out of stretched turtle skin?

    Paradise, man…

  112. #112 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    SfO,
    I don’t own a business. Nor do I claim to “love” everyone. It is not necessary to love people to recognise that they should have a right to basic necessities. That right can only be provided to everyone by collective provision. You clearly must know that individual charity has never come close to doing so, so I conclude you don’t share my belief that there should be such a right. You prefer the right of the rich to hang on to whatever they have – even when they only have it because they live in a country built on violence, fraud, and slavery.

  113. #113 mayhempix
    September 20, 2008

    Boy, go away for the day and the thread fills up with libertarian kooks. They are so detached from the real world and so into their utopian fantasies that they regurgitate free market lies while oblivious to how silly and juvenile they sound.

    This idea always freaks them out:
    Single Payer Universal Healthcare.

  114. #114 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    I’ve told you why. We eat bad, and we have become lazy.
    – SfO

    *Sigh” What I asked you was why Americans are so much fatter and lazier than most Europeans. And of course, poor Americans die younger than rich ones, so it’s not because Americans are rich that they die young. Moreover, the evidence that government programmes can make a difference to whether people live healthy lives is abundant. for example, look at
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/sep/11/health.smoking.
    Oh, but I forgot again – you’re a “big picture” man, so evidence against your views doesn’t count.

  115. #115 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “You prefer the right of the rich to hang on to whatever they have – even when they only have it because they live in a country built on violence, fraud, and slavery””

    Ummmm… and hard work, innovation, scientific inquiry, a reasonably free market with lots of arguing over just how free it should be… We did steal some German scientist… And people flocked here to “be involved”… Other than all that, you might be on to something…

    “”SfO,I don’t own a business. Nor do I claim to “love” everyone. It is not necessary to love people to recognise that they should have a right to basic necessities. That right can only be provided to everyone by collective provision. “””

    Ummm, actually, according to my math, if just every OTHER liberal took in and housed and helped out one destitute person, then the problem would be solved.

    Just one, Nick. Go on. Show us the love…

    “””Boy, go away for the day and the thread fills up with libertarian kooks. “””

    And you are? Something special in your own mind, I take it?

    Perhaps a glorified sycophant?

    I have an idea. How about, the Democratic Party healthcare system? Just about half the population covered under your system, the other half left to their own devices? Then you don’t have to try and make people do something they have no wish to do… See? easy. Now why aren’t you putting that together?

  116. #116 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “And of course, poor Americans die younger than rich ones, so it’s not because Americans are rich that they die young.”

    There are no poor Americans. Spend a day in Calcutta and come and tell me Americans are poor.

    The poorer in America eat crappy food while the rich eat good food and join a frigging gym.

    If you are dirt poor in America, you are essentially either dumb, lazy, or truly handicapped. The truly handicapped can have anything from me I can afford to give. The dumb can get a job doing menial work. The lazy can go to hell.

    Getting kids to enjoy exercise and sports can help those willing to be helped.

    The rest will just line up at Mickie Dees and complain about not being able to wipe themselves anymore…

  117. #117 mayhempix
    September 20, 2008

    @Scott from Oregon

    You guys take the bait way too easily. Too funny.

  118. #118 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT
    September 20, 2008

    If you are dirt poor in America, you are essentially either dumb, lazy, or truly handicapped.

    your true colors are showing

  119. #119 mayhempix
    September 20, 2008

    Hey Nick,

    The activist I told you we are doing the docu on…
    I wasn’t able to stay on the thread, but FTR he later came to the conclusion that if the communists had beat the fascists in Spain, it would have been replacing one set of ideological murderers with another.

  120. #120 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    We did steal some German scientist… And people flocked here to “be involved” – SfO

    You stole practically the whole bloody country! Do you really think the previous inhabitants of Oregon, for example, willingly handed it over?

    Ummm, actually, according to my math, if just every OTHER liberal took in and housed and helped out one destitute person, then the problem would be solved.

    Show your work. In any case, you are, as is your habit, ignoring empirical evidence that doesn’t fit your view. Charity has never eliminated destitution in any country. Collective provision has. Only a fool tries something which has repeatedly failed when something that has succeeded is available. And as I said, I’m not claiming to love everyone – just to recognise their right to basic necessities. Your feeble attempt at guilt-tripping me won’t work. Even if it were feasible for every “liberal” to adopt a homeless person, the net effect would be a greater concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the selfish and greedy. I want them to have to contribute as well, both to avoid this, and because that means more will be available to help those in real need – particularly as the selfish and greedy are likely to be richer than average.

  121. #121 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    There are no poor Americans. Scott from Oregon

    Liar.

  122. #122 Kel
    September 20, 2008

    There are no poor Americans.

    Wow, that’s insanely na´ve at best.

    But of course Scott from Oregon has given that impression all throughout his posts.

  123. #123 Nick Gotts
    September 20, 2008

    SfO@111.

    Your ludicrous fantasy of self-sufficiency would be forgotten the first time you get injured or ill. Even aside from that, your knowledge of how to make tools and weapons – even that such things are possible or necessary – is a result of being brought up in society.

  124. #124 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “Even if it were feasible for every “liberal” to adopt a homeless person, the net effect would be a greater concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the selfish and greedy. ”

    Ummm, why? You seem to have disposable income available to help the needy. You advocate taking disposal income and giving it to the needy. So? Go and do it.

    What you are really saying is you want someone else to do it. Hypocrite.

    “If you are dirt poor in America, you are essentially either dumb, lazy, or truly handicapped.”

    The social services in this country, along with the church org’s and the secular orgs, make this statement true.

    If you are truly needy in America, you will get welfare. If you get welfare, you are 30 times richer than someone on the streets of Calcutta. In America, people say they are poor when they are living in their car. Their 10,000 dollar car…

    Americans are not poor. Even the poorest are not poor. Unless they make that choice.

  125. #125 mayhempix
    September 20, 2008

    “If you are dirt poor in America, you are essentially either dumb, lazy, or truly handicapped.”

    If you are that blinkered in America, you are essentiallly either Republican, racist or truly Libertarian.

  126. #126 Kel
    September 20, 2008

    If you get welfare, you are 30 times richer than someone on the streets of Calcutta.

    Scott, do you realise that the cost of living in the US is maybe a little more than what it is in the 3rd world? That a dollar might only get you a loaf of bread here, but it could get a lot more over there. Here in the western world we pay much more for the same goods as they do in the 3rd world. When someone can’t afford to pay for the basic costs of living, that is being poor.

  127. #127 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “There are no poor Americans.
    Wow, that’s insanely na´ve at best.”

    Actually, it is based on walking through truly poor countries. You should get out and see “poor”. You’ll never call an American poor again.

  128. #128 Alan Chapman
    September 20, 2008

    #95 France imposed a program that spreads a financial burden around. This is not a solution because it doesn’t address the root cause of the prohibitively high costs. If costs continue to rise then France will be forced to either increase taxes or ration the available supply.

    Somebody invariably trots out some canard they read in high school history class, which gets repeated without question because high school is almost always the last place people learn about history. Of course, the book we read in my history class neglected to mention the millions who were lifted out of poverty because of those so-called “robber barons.” Apparently, there was only enough room in the book to include propaganda intended to foment class envy and now we have generations of entitlement-minded people who think society owes them something.

    I’m curious. What were those people eating before the greedy capitalists made them eat dog food?

    #102 Nick, pay close attention. If a medical procedure costs $10,000 then it still costs $10,000 with UHC. UHC just spreads the financial burden around. The government can’t arbitrarily decree that the procedure is going to cost $5,000. It can try, but price controls cause shortages and lines. You can’t simply legislate away a cost you don’t like. UHC doesn’t address the problem of high costs.

    Basic needs don’t have to be dependent on charity. Charity exists for emergencies.

    …you’re rich now, so you don’t want anyone taking what you regard as yours…

    That’s very childish, but thanks for proving my point. BTW, I’m not anywhere close to rich.

  129. #129 Scott from Oregon
    September 20, 2008

    “When someone can’t afford to pay for the basic costs of living, that is being poor.”

    What you mean is that when someone can’t keep up with the high standards of everyone else,… you call them poor.

    Here in Oregon, you can get a welfare card for 111 bucks every two weeks to eat with if you are “poor”.

    Imagine a poor boy in Haiti with that much buying power…

  130. #130 Kel
    September 20, 2008

    Actually, it is based on walking through truly poor countries. You should get out and see “poor”. You’ll never call an American poor again.

    Yes, because it costs the same amount for a loaf of bread in each country… You do realise that monetary systems are relative and those without financial income can’t freely move to these countries you call poor.

    Of course there are starving people in many parts of the world who could eat for a year based on what I spend a week on alcohol. But that doesn’t mean that those without income now in the western world could survive on that income. If I gave all my alcohol funds to charity, it would go a hell of a lot further in India than it would in the US or Australia. When there are those who can’t keep a roof over their heads, who can’t afford to eat, what would you call them? That is the very fucking definition of poverty.

  131. #131 mayhempix
    September 20, 2008

    SFO “Here in Oregon, you can get a welfare card for 111 bucks every two weeks to eat with if you are “poor”.
    Imagine a poor boy in Haiti with that much buying power…”

    So what you are saying is that we should treat people here like they do in Calcutta?
    Or could it be that the only reason you can even make your argument is because we don’t.

  132. #132 Kel
    September 21, 2008

    Here in Oregon, you can get a welfare card for 111 bucks every two weeks to eat with if you are “poor”.

    Imagine a poor boy in Haiti with that much buying power…

    Yes, what can someone buy in Haiti for $55.50 a week as opposed to living in Oregon on that amount? How much is rent there? Food? clothing? Cost of living varies in each area, so stop trying to equate the two based on absolute values.

  133. #133 John Knight
    September 21, 2008

    Allegedly, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is the highest in the industrialized world. However, it has long since been shown that the relatively high rate of infant mortality in the U.S. is an artifact of reporting practices. The death of very low-weight premature babies are typically reported as infant mortalities in the U.S. In European countries, these deaths are treated as miscarriages.

    Indeed, by many indices, the U.S. provides superior health care to socialized systems like the Canadian system. IIRC, the rate of pacemaker implantation is significantly higher in the U.S. than in Canada. And in Britain, a health-care scandal in which people in need of medical care were waiting for hours & hours in emergency rooms was succeeded by a health-care scandal in which hospitals engaged in “patient stacking”: leaving patients in ambulances outside the hospital for many hours in order to reduce their ER wait-times.

    Allegedly, countries like Canada spend much less per capita on health care. However, in Canada, significant expenses, like the cost of hospitals & other buildings, are paid under other budgetary headings.

    At a minimum, there is reason to be skeptical of universal health-care schemes.

  134. #134 Kel
    September 21, 2008

    Indeed, by many indices, the U.S. provides superior health care* to socialized systems like the Canadian system.

    *for those who can afford it

  135. #135 Scott from Oregon
    September 21, 2008

    “Yes, what can someone buy in Haiti for $55.50 a week as opposed to living in Oregon on that amount? How much is rent there? Food? clothing? Cost of living varies in each area, so stop trying to equate the two based on absolute values. “”

    You just don’t get it, do you? You have never really seen “poor” have you?

    “So what you are saying is that we should treat people here like they do in Calcutta?
    Or could it be that the only reason you can even make your argument is because we don’t. ”

    Not sure what any of this means. America takes care of their poor far better than most countries of the world, minus the EU countries. And we have fewer “poor”. And most of our poor are fat. Go figure…

    I think welfare is a good thing. I just think it should be a state or county thing and not a federal thing. And it should not just be in the form of handing out checks.

    It should be innovative and require something in return from those who seek it.

  136. #136 Alan Chapman
    September 21, 2008

    I don’t know where all of you live, but the poor around here all have cars, cell phones, cable or satellite TV, nice clothes, sunglasses, jewelry, air-conditioning, and appliances. They’re so poor that they can afford to get tattoos and piercings, and buy Starbucks coffee every morning. Nobody should have to endure such indignity. If only the government would protect them from those greedy, selfish capitalists who care only about enriching themselves.

  137. #137 John Knight
    September 21, 2008

    John Knight: I keep hearing conversations in which people seem to be talking about economics, but it bears no resemblance to the market as economists actually understand it.

    Nick Gotts: An understanding demonstrated by just how well the US economy is doing after decades of deregulation, following the advice of economists such as yourself.

    To be accurate and complete, you should say, “decades of deregulation and re-regulation.” Despite some positive developments, America has not become the manifestation of Hayekian economic thinking – much less the laissez-faire paradise dreamt of by radical libertarians.

    As to the current health of the American economy, well, the U.S. unemployment rate is little more than half the French unemployment rate, and less than a third of the Swedish unemployment rate (if comparable unemployment figures are used rather than official figures). Not bad.

    True, there are current issues in the financial sector, issues largely generated by government corruption & mismanagement (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac). IOW, your post makes as much sense as “Ensign Sulu, you should have beamed down more dilithium crystals for the economy.”

  138. #138 mayhemp[ix
    September 21, 2008

    “If a medical procedure costs $10,000 then it still costs $10,000 with UHC. ”

    Completely false. Cost difference comes from cutting out the insurance middlemen who leach off the money between us and the doctor. It has been proven in countries with socialized healthcare. A sIngle payer on-line insurance form would be liberating financially for both doctors and patients. Everything is covered and we choose the doctor. Both Hawaii and Massachusetts lowered processing costs. Your dogma places way too much emphasis on profit at all costs worried about the fact that not as much profit can be gleaned from a UHC system.

  139. #139 Kel
    September 21, 2008

    You just don’t get it, do you? You have never really seen “poor” have you?

    No, you are the one who doesn’t get it. Yes I have seen the “poor” but that’s entirely irrelevant. What you said is an absolute load of crap. It’s like saying “America doesn’t torture war captives because they only use waterboarding; you should see what the Arabs do”. That’s it, that’s your whole damn argument. That America is well off so there is no-one here that struggles as badly as in Calcutta. Someone give this man a medal for pointing out the obvious. But you are neglecting that suffering does indeed happen thanks to poverty in your own country.

    This is why I called that view na´ve, because it is na´ve. It’s playing the relativity game with completely different circumstances. You are redefining the word poor to fit in with your own view.

  140. #140 SC
    September 21, 2008

    If you are dirt poor in America, you are essentially either dumb, lazy, or truly handicapped. The truly handicapped can have anything from me I can afford to give. The dumb can get a job doing menial work. The lazy can go to hell.

    You’re right, Rev. His true colors are showing. What an ignorant, ideologically-blinded, repulsive piece of work SfO is. I’ll say the same thing about him and these others as I did about Brian Macker. As irritating as they are, it’s good in a way for them to continue to comment, since the more they do the more they reveal the ugliness and warped thinking behind their alleged dedication to principles. So they are accomplishing something here – demonstrating that they’re every bit as morally bankrupt as they are intellectually bankrupt.

  141. #141 mayhempix
    September 21, 2008

    “I just think it should be a state or county thing and not a federal thing.”

    So there should be no higher jurisdiction if a state or county are negligent and it’s just tough luck to those who lose out? And you say you believe in welfare… who should pay for it?

  142. #142 Randy Stimpson
    September 21, 2008

    Bush want congress to authorize as much as $700 billion to buy troubled mortgage-related assests. This is an obscene transfer of money from tax payers to financial institutions. I think there is a better was to handle this crisis and it should have been done a long time ago.

    CONGRESS NEEDS TO OUTLAW PREDITORY BUSINESS PRACTICES. For example, I am willing to bet that almost everyone who can’t pay their mortgages also has a pile of credit card debt and that they are paying like 29.9% interest on that borrowed money. That’s obscene. Credit card companies should only be allowed to charge a maximum of 12% interest. Also, if there is debt at more than one rate on the card, the debt should be rotated out in the order that it was acquired. Currently credit card companies rotate out the lowest interest rate debt first.

    Putting a 12% cap on credit card debt would put hundreds of dollars a month in the hands of many struggling homes owners that could keep them from going into foreclosure.

    And what about those cell phone contracts? And how about reinstating the uptick rule?

  143. #143 mayhempix
    September 21, 2008

    “That’s it, that’s your whole damn argument. That America is well off so there is no-one here that struggles as badly as in Calcutta. Someone give this man a medal for pointing out the obvious.”

    I tried point out the same thing to SfO but he just doesn’t see it.

  144. #144 Miko
    September 21, 2008

    And to the libertarians out there: if it weren’t for government regulation, cars would be as deadly as they were in the 50’s, there would still be lead in paint and gas, and we’d all suffer from skin cancer because of a non-existent ozone layer. your precious marked doesn’t give a damn about the wellbeing of people.

    Well, that’s a pretty typical unfalsifiable hypothesis, but let’s do our best to come up with a test anyway. We found out that China was shipping toys with lead paint. Did consumers a) keep buying them, or b) stop buying them?

    I hate it when libertarians whine about their taxes going to help other people. Selfish bloody bastards.

    Those below the median income are paying about 3% of the taxes in the U.S., leaving 97% for those above median. I realized that that was a moral atrocity back when I was a grad student (and hence at the lower end of the 3% group) and so voted against my own personal financial so-called interests from purely ethical considerations. I don’t whine about my taxes going to help other people; personally, I’m glad to contribute and would do so voluntarily even if all taxes were eliminated. But I do complain about the government acting in my name to steal money from people who don’t want to give it. You’re free to pay other people’s medical bills without involving the government, so your vote is really just about forcing people to do what you want without convincing them that it’s either a good idea or in their interests. And that’s just intellectual laziness. It’s not about selfishness or generosity: it’s about freedom. Democrats have lukewarm support for social freedom; Republicans have lukewarm support for economic freedom; Libertarians have full support for all forms of freedom.

    Incidentally, are you aware of the Libertarian Party’s plank for making charitable donations a tax credit instead of a tax deduction? It should be pointed out that the main purpose of this is to encourage private charity, which belies your claim that we’re all just selfish jerks.

    And, of course, the claim (made by others) that Libertarians are all conservatives is false. Personally, I see conservatism as a much more dangerous threat to freedom than liberalism could ever be, since neoliberals just want some of my money (and I can always just make more) while conservatives want to control everything that I think and do. I’m voting Barr and my second choice would be not voting at all, but my third choice would be Obama.

  145. #145 Tash
    September 21, 2008

    I live in Australia, and I have to say I know more about American politics than our own! Is there anyone left in America who is going to vote for McCain? What a tosser!

  146. #146 Miko
    September 21, 2008

    I’m endlessly grateful for things like: The Clean Water Act; The Clean Air Act; the EPA; The Consumer Product And Safety Act; the OSHA; the Freedom of Information Act; Traffic And Motor Safety Vehicle Act; etc

    While we’re at it, let’s talk sovereign immunity. When the EPA tells the Dept of Energy or Dept of Defense that they’re violating clean air and water laws, they get ignored. When government agencies violate OSHA standards in their offices, nothing happens. One of the worst abuses of our current government is its insistence that it doesn’t have to abide by its own regulations and as such it’s one of the worst polluters on the planet. Ending sovereign immunity is a key (long-term) goal of basically all libertarians.

    Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t have especially clean air and water. This is because these issues were handled by government regulation. In a libertarian (small-l, since this is probably too extreme for the near future) justice system, the rights of citizens to sue for damages wouldn’t be restricted by laws like the acts you mentioned. One jury case demonstrating the harm caused by these polluters would result in damages so extreme against the companies in question that none would dare try it again. Instead, we have EPA regulations that still allow companies to dump dangerous levels of pollutants into the environment and give them slap-on-the-wrist just-a-cost-of-doing-business fines for exceeding the levels, and nothing happens.

    And regarding the FOIA: that’s a libertarian policy. Nothing scares us more than the government keeping secrets from us.

  147. #147 Scott from Oregon
    September 21, 2008

    “No, you are the one who doesn’t get it. Yes I have seen the “poor” but that’s entirely irrelevant. What you said is an absolute load of crap. It’s like saying “America doesn’t torture war captives because they only use waterboarding; you should see what the Arabs do”. That’s it, that’s your whole damn argument”.

    Ummm, no, it is not like saying that. It is like saying Americans are not truly “poor”, which is exactly what I said. Our social welfare adequately insures that that is not the case.

    “”That’s it, that’s your whole damn argument. That America is well off so there is no-one here that struggles as badly as in Calcutta. Someone give this man a medal for pointing out the obvious.”

    I tried point out the same thing to SfO but he just doesn’t see it.”””

    I see what you are trying to say. That not every American is as wealthy as the average American. So? Boohoo. My first job where I paid taxes was at 15 as a laborer remodeling apartments for welfare recipients. I learned the old fashioned way about poor welfare folks. They drank beer and watched me work, making jokes about how stupid I was for gettin’ me a job…

    I remember watching a woman in Cuba pulling a plug out of a disposable Bic lighter, and refilling it with butane, then putting the home made plug back in. She couldn’t afford to throw it out, you see. And she was your average Cuban. I remember walking down some pretty horrific back alleys in Calcutta. I wanted to see “poor” and now I wish I had never seen what I saw. Americans are not poor. Even the poorest are not poor.

    I’ve heard that open markets and capitalism has changed the fabric of India in the last twenty years. Maybe I can back to Calcutta and look again?

    Damn all that market enterprise crap… Seems to help people.

  148. #148 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    well, the U.S. unemployment rate is little more than half the French unemployment rate, and less than a third of the Swedish unemployment rate (if comparable unemployment figures are used rather than official figures). Not bad. – John Knight

    I think you’ve forgotten the 4 1/2 million in US prisons (about half the global total), who don’t get counted. Neat way to keep the figures down, and generate lots of lovely profit for the prison corporations.

    True, there are current issues in the financial sector, issues largely generated by government corruption & mismanagement (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac). – John Knight

    Bwah-ha-ha! “Current issues”! Like the biggest financial crisis in nearly 80 years, which has forced the government to intervene on a vast scale – because the real world, which economists of your kind blithely ignore, whacked them in the face. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were, in case you’d forgotten, privately owned and run, although government sponsored. Other major contributors to the mess (Bear Stearns, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Merril Lynch, not to mention all the other banks which will be bailed out under Bush’s plan) are entirely private. One major piece of deregulation, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, pushed by the banks and supported by your kind of economist, is blamed by a range of other economists for the crash.

    “we’d all suffer from skin cancer because of a non-existent ozone layer. your precious marked doesn’t give a damn about the wellbeing of people.”

    Well, that’s a pretty typical unfalsifiable hypothesis – Miko

    Not at all. Get the US to withdraw from the Montreal Protocol, and the destruction of the ozone layer will get going again. This is a crystal clear case. Scientists (government funded ones) found that certain chemicals were damaging the ozone layer, governments worldwide took note and negotiated an agreement to stop producing them, the damage has now just about stopped getting worse (on the predicted schedule). Left to the market, there is not the slightest doubt (except to a “libertarian” ideologue) that the damage would have continued to worsen.

  149. #149 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    Nick, pay close attention. If a medical procedure costs $10,000 then it still costs $10,000 with UHC. UHC just spreads the financial burden around. The government can’t arbitrarily decree that the procedure is going to cost $5,000. – Alan Chapman

    Alan, take your ideological blinkers off a moment and try thinking, if the brain-damage from years of “libertarianism” allows. Aside from the fact that a lot of that $10000 will be shareholder profit, in a profit-driven medical system those procedures that generate the most profit get over-used. The US, for example, has a very high rate of elective caesareans – almost 1/4 of live births. Conversely, the medical companies have little or no interest in prevention, because it doesn’t pay – indeed, if successful, it will tend to reduce their profits.

  150. #150 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    Scott from Oregon,
    You can stop trotting out your crap about “you should see Calcutta”. I’ve been in South African squatter camps, and I still say there are plenty of poor Americans.

  151. #151 negentropyeater
    September 21, 2008

    Alan Chapman #128,

    #95 France imposed a program that spreads a financial burden around. This is not a solution because it doesn’t address the root cause of the prohibitively high costs. If costs continue to rise then France will be forced to either increase taxes or ration the available supply.

    You really are such a dolt !

    According to the WHO health report (2000) Americans spent on average per capita $ 4187 per year on health care (for ALL 300 mllion Americans !), the highest in the world by far, both in amount, and as a % of GDP (13.7%). Of that amount, only $ 1643 is financed via public funds (taxes, medicare, etc…), the rest being out of pocket or private insurance.
    With that, on all qualitative indicators on overall health system performance the US ranks #37, just in front of Cuba.

    By comparison, the French spent on average per capita $ 2369 per year. Of that amount, $ 1634 is financed via public funds (taxes, sÚcuritÚ sociale,…: UHC) the rest being out of pocket and complementary insurances.
    With that, on all qualitative indicators on overall health system performance France ranks #1 in the world.

    Which shows clearly that when done well, UHC can bring the costs down succesfully compared with free markets, and maintain a high level of quality for everybody.

    The costs are not “prohibitively high”, they are far lower than they are in the USA without UHC, and the qualitative results for EVERYBODY, rich or poor, are far better.

    Even if healthcare costs were to rise faster than inflation (which they haven’t in the last years), they would do the same in the USA, so this is no argument to compare the two systems. Then taxes would go up in France, or the budget deficit, but it remains a matter of choice whether one would rather finance the instuments to maintain a healthy population, or military campaigns in the middle east.

    You keep repeating the same nonsense without bringing any evidence, facts or figures, no substantiation, just pure bullshit, like all demaguogues.

  152. #152 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    negentropyeater,
    Isn’t it remarkable how closely the “libertarians” resemble creationists in their attitude to evidence? Not surprising, in fact, that there’s an overlap (Vox Day, Ron Paul): once you get used to ignoring reality in one sphere, it doubtless becomes easier to do it in others.

  153. #153 Arnosium Upinarum
    September 21, 2008

    Scott? Poor? You compare a wealthy country with poor countries, then wriggle out what you regard as a significant point? In a country as wealthy as the US, in which everyone is immersed in an infrastructure and economy (imagined to be) second to none you can detect no poverty? You really have to go to a foreign country to experience “real” poor?

    You are going to have to learn how to calibrate your instruments, m’boy.

    In LA I saw a guy regularly pushing a shopping cart down the street loaded with indescribable stuff salvaging even more stuff from trash bins, some of it, I figure, must have included discarded nutritional sustenance. If he lived in India or Cuba or Haiti or wherever else you like to deem inferior to the US, his circumstances would undoubtedly be subject to the conditions found in THOSE countries. Yet they would nevertheless almost certainly be similar to the circumstances he’s subject to RIGHT HERE ANYWAY, in the good ol’ USofA.

    And there are LOTS of them. People in cities who scrounge for cardboard boxes to sleep in, under overpasses. FAMILIES who live in glorified shoe-boxes called “trailer-parks” who face grim prospects.

    SO WHAT? Right? They get to scrounge from the very best trash cans. They’re free to get off their arses and get decent jobs and live in decent houses. Right? SO WHAT? And all you have to offer is a snide “boohoo”?

    Have YOU ever been poor, mate?

    You do a lot of foreign traveling. Huh. Flying high. Have you ever taken an Amtrack train across this country?

    The question is, why are there any poor in America in the first place? What’s the excuse for it?

    Next time you come across one of them “really” poor individuals in a foreign country, you might want to think a little more carefully about whether they’re really any worse off than those hundreds of thousands of folks in the US – as full of wealth and opportunity as it is – which seems so incompetent in eliminating its own poverty.

    What’s “REALLY” poor? What’s the difference: Individuals in a third-world country who struggle to survive because their country is economically incapable of supporting them, or individuals who struggle to survive in a filthy-rich country who, evidently, like you, just plain doesn’t give a damn?

  154. #154 negentropyeater
    September 21, 2008

    Nick,

    I think they basically have a problem with evidence based reasoning and critical thinking, so people like Alan Chapman, Libertarians, Creationists, etc… rather hide behind ready made sentences such as “they are spreading the financial burden around”, thinking that sounds bad, without even asking themselves how to demonstrate whether it is bad or not.
    It’s a basic communications problem, I sometimes get the impression it’s a waste of time.
    My personal experience has been that people who have had a mental blockage in their childhood with basic mathematics, will always have a problem with evidence based reasoning. I guess it’s in the logic or something. Do you have the same experience ?

  155. #155 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    negentropyeater,
    I don’t think that’s it, because neoclassical economists need a certain mathematical facility, but blithely ignore the well-documented fact that real people do not behave as Homo economicus is supposed to. I think it may instead be a need to have everything packaged up neatly, so you can tell yourself you understand how the world works. Once you have an infallible text, or set of principles, everything is just so much simpler! Contrary evidence can be ignored, because you already know it can’t be right, or is being misinterpreted, or is the result of a conspiracy. This is a tendency we all have, but some let it take over their minds completely.

  156. #156 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 21, 2008

    scott from oregon @84 I am predisposed to thinking in “big picture” generalities and leave the “specifics” to the anal and the retentive…

    Ah, that explains it. Let your mind float free, don’t bother with the facts. They just get in the way.

    Exactly. If you ignore the details, you risk seeing pictures that are so big they don’t even exist. Humans are very good at seeing patterns, so good we often see patterns that aren’t there.

    In evolutionary biology, for much of the 20th century many people just didn’t believe that natural selection was enough. They believed to see all kinds of big pictures: Schindewolf’s typostrophe theory, Marsh’s Law, Cope’s Rule… Then people started taking a closer look, and all of these big pictures evaporated one by one. (Cope’s Rule is the last to resist total destruction, but I don’t think it’s going to take long.)

    The truly handicapped can have anything from me I can afford to give.

    Which isn’t enough. It has never been. For millennia societies have encouraged charity, even made it a religious duty, and what is the outcome?

    The dumb can get a job doing menial work.

    Assuming there are any jobs, moron. Especially jobs in menial labor are getting fewer by the hour, not just inside the rich countries (by outsourcing), but also in total (by automatization and whatnot).

    This is a big picture — one that you have completely failed to notice.

    I’ve told you why. We eat bad, and we have become lazy. No “program” will change that. Self reliance and initiative will do far more than a pamphlet. Rich and lazy countries grow fat and unhealthy. Look it up.

    So why, of all First World countries in the world, has only the US grown “fat and unhealthy” to anywhere near that extent?

    Because in the USA the poor cannot afford any food other than McDonald’s, even if they have three jobs. Elsewhere in the First World, there are almost no such people.

    How come?

    As to the current health of the American economy, well, the U.S. unemployment rate is little more than half the French unemployment rate, and less than a third of the Swedish unemployment rate (if comparable unemployment figures are used rather than official figures). Not bad.

    You forgot a couple of those dreaded details. For example, being unemployed in the EU is much less of a catastrophe than being unemployed in the USA. Furthermore, the USA needs more jobs per capita to get people the same level of income because the minimum wage is such a sick joke — people can have three jobs and still be poor! Over here, if you have one job, you need to have a large family to drop below the poverty line. Very few people have two jobs, and I don’t think anyone has three.

    Those below the median income are paying about 3% of the taxes in the U.S., leaving 97% for those above median. I realized that that was a moral atrocity

    It isn’t, because 1) those above the median income can afford it; 2) only those above the median income have enough money for all the taxes — you can’t take money from where there isn’t any. (Louis XVI tried it anyway. The outcome is history.)

    Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t have especially clean air and water. This is because these issues were handled by government regulation.

    No, as you demonstrate further below in the same paragraph, it’s because there’s too little regulation, and what there is is way too toothless.

    In a libertarian (small-l, since this is probably too extreme for the near future) justice system, the rights of citizens to sue for damages wouldn’t be restricted by laws like the acts you mentioned. One jury case demonstrating the harm caused by these polluters would result in damages so extreme against the companies in question that none would dare try it again.

    The right to suuuuuue! ROTFLMAO! :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    Suing, too, is capitalism. Who can afford the better lawyers? Who can even afford going to court at all? How naive. Cute, really.

    Instead, we have EPA regulations that still allow companies to dump dangerous levels of pollutants into the environment and give them slap-on-the-wrist just-a-cost-of-doing-business fines for exceeding the levels, and nothing happens.

    Throw the CEO and the board of directors in jail instead of giving them a slap on the wrist, and tighten the regulations. Fix it instead of abolishing it.

    Isn’t that obvious? Self-evident?

    I see what you are trying to say. That not every American is as wealthy as the average American. So? Boohoo.

    No. He’s saying that some Americans — horribly many, in fact — are poor compared to the cost of living in the USA. That’s not the same.

    What do I care whether Bill Gates is a billionaire or a trillionaire? If he can make that much money in spite of paying his fair share of the taxes, let him!

  157. #157 negentropyeater
    September 21, 2008

    Nick,

    neoclassical economists do have a certain mathematical baggage, so do some IDists like Behe and Dembski, but they volutarily misuse it, knowing that those who will be looking at it and repeating the findings (like O’Leary or Chapman) don’t understand it and are incapable of identifyng the flaws in the reasoning.
    I mean look at this discussion here, it’s quite formidable, since the very begining we’ve repeated the same thing, shown him evdence that UHC is more cost efficient because these are per capita calculations, and this Chapman fellow just doesn’t get it, he keeps repeating the same error over and over again, a basic logical error. He probably doesn’t understand basic arithmetics, so what can you do ?

  158. #158 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 21, 2008

    The socialists never ask WHY health-care is so expensive.

    Nobody needs to ask, because the answer is plain obvious.

    1) The US healthcare system is for profit. This profit comes in addition to the cost of healthcare itself.
    2) Being for profit, it encourages treatment over prevention. By reducing the necessity of treatment, prevention reduces the cost of healthcare itself — and the profit!
    3) Over here, the governments negotiate lower prices with the pharma companies. The US government doesn’t, because the pharma companies can and do blackmail senators by threatening to move jobs to another state.
    4) With prevention being discouraged and treatment being expensive, people don’t go to the doctor right away when they’re ill. Instead, they try to stay at work as long as possible, and then go to the doctor when their condition has progressed so far as to require expensive treatment. And when they can’t pay that, they go to an emergency room, which is even more expensive for you (the taxpayer) and has the neat side-effect of blocking the ER from people who really need it. That’s a vicious circle.

    They are interested in establishing only that health-care is a right to which they are entitled. How can you be rightfully entitled to something that imposes financial obligations others?

    I see you lack any shred of empathy. (That’s a pathological condition and should be treated.) So (not being a psychiatrist), I can’t make arguments from empathy if I want to convince you; instead, I must make utilitarian arguments that show UHC is in your very own best interest.

    Guess what: I can.

    All your talk sounds like “what should we, the rich and healthy, do with them, the poor and sick”. This dichotomy is false. Will you never get sick? Will you never get old? Are you absolutely safe from going bankrupt?

    Will you never own a business and have a vested interest in your workers being healthy and therefore productive?

    I bet you didn’t even know that several European countries have higher productivity than the USA. Yes, higher. France, for example. Go look it up!

    Probably you didn’t even know that several large US companies have come out publicly and stated they want universal healthcare. That’s because they currently pay through their teeth for their employees. See the beginning of this comment.

    Any so-called “right” to do this would undermine rights by definition. The socialist is unconcerned because he is busy conflating rights with wishes under false pretense.

    If health-care is a right then you can easily test that assertion. Remove the government middle-man from the equation so that you are no longer insulated from the consequences of your own actions. Tell your neighbors that you have a right to health-care and threaten them with violence if they decline to pay. See if they agree with your definition of rights.

    Huh? Do you believe rights are laws of physics or something? ~:-|

    Tell Louis XVI that you have a right to bread and freedom and threaten him with violence if he declines to comply. Tell George III that, as long as you pay taxes, you have a right to representation and threaten him with violence if he declines to comply.

    Rights are conventions. They are not laws of physics. It is not in the least inconsistent to say “I think X should be a right”.

    One more thing:

    Remove the government middle-man from the equation so that you are no longer insulated from the consequences of your own actions.

    Aha, “actions”. And what about the consequences of your own bad luck?

    (Or do you believe in karma, the loony idea that bad luck doesn’t exist and justice is a law of physics?)

    —————————

    And I wouldn’t even call myself a socialist, though from your perspective that clearly doesn’t matter.

  159. #159 David Marjanovi?, OM
    September 21, 2008

    He probably doesn’t understand basic arithmetics, so what can you do ?

    Addressing his other “points”, like I just did, ought to help. We’ll see.

  160. #160 amphiox
    September 21, 2008

    David M #158: I would point out also that many of the resources used in health care, such as medications, surgical equipment, etc, and the research underlying them, are produced and generated within the context of a for-profit system, a majority to this point in time being produced by the USA.

    This means that even public systems in other countries are beholden to this private system. Their costs are driven by the for-profit aspects.

    But what I do not know, for all the obvious ills of private health systems, is whether or not the generation of medical resources/advancements is dependent on the for-profit aspects. That is without the prospect of massive profits afforded by the private model, would there be drug and equipment companies willing to invest the significant sums necessary for the development and production of drugs, equipment, etc that allows medical science to advance?

    If there were no private health systems in the whole world, and all of it was completely public, would there be any medications to give to our public health patients, instruments for doing surgery on them, scans and diagnostic tests to diagnose them with?

    If private companies could not make profit providing these services, would they be willing to do so at all? And would any government be willing or able to shoulder 100% of the cost involved instead?

  161. #161 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    amphiox,

    Having a public health system does not imply having a publicly owned medical supplies or pharmaceutical industry, so I don’t see your point. That said, there are certainly serious problems with the private pharmaceutical industry, which (of course) concentrates on the drugs that are predicted to be most profitable, not those predicted to improve health. This often means looking for alternatives to existing profitable under-patent drugs just different enough to evade the patent. Pharmaceutical companies actually spend more on advertising and freebies for doctors than on R&D:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080105140107.htm.

  162. #162 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    predicted to improve health -> predicted to improve health most @161

  163. #163 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    Another great advantage of a market-based healthcare system – medical costs bankruptcies! According to a Harvard Law School study, there were over 1.4m of these in 2001:

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/bankruptcy_study.html.
    Must really help, when you’re seriously ill, to have the excitement of wondering whether you’ll have to go bankrupt! Quite a tonic.

  164. #164 Pixelation
    September 21, 2008

    Hey PZ, have you caught this post? This guy wants to have a “Spot the Logical Fallacy” Party for the presidential debate this Friday.

  165. #165 Dahan
    September 21, 2008

    Perhaps slightly OT, but check out Sam Harris tearing into Sarah Palin in Newsweek here:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/160080

  166. #166 Nick Gotts
    September 21, 2008

    Back on topic (well, more or less):
    In June 2006, Obama and Jim Bunning of Kentucky, introduced a bill to offer loan guarantees and tax incentives for U.S. coal-to-liquid plants. Does anyone know if he still supports this insane technology (it produces getting on for twice as much CO2)? No mention of it either way in his policy document:

    http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/factsheet_energy_speech_080308.pdf.

  167. #167 Jadehawk
    September 21, 2008

    to those who have scoffed at the list of regulations earlier:

    1)the reason everyone threw a fit ofer the lead in toys is because everyone knew what lead does, and that it shouldn’t be in toys.
    2)a fairer comparison is to the emerging desire for “green” products. does the market provide some green products? yes. but it provides FAR more “greenwashed” products. until the “green” equivalent of “USDA organic” comes around, all truly environmentally friendly products will be the needle in a haystack full of pseudo-green products. Most consumers will have their conscience soothed by those, but the environment will continue being destroyed.
    3) I’ve already explained why the U.S. government sucks at following through with its laws: the Republicans suck the lifeblood out of it, declare it defunct and try to abolish it; when the Dems then get back into office and (sometimes) try to put the program back on its feet, they usually do too little. and STILL, water and air quality have improved over pre-Clean Water/Clean Air acts.
    4)If enough voters had the guts to insist that the government keep important agencies (FEMA, EPA, etc.) well funded and well organized, instead of whining over taxes, everybody would be much better off. Just look at levees all along the Mississippi and compare them to the dikes in the Netherlands (the Mississippi levee system is also a good example of how some things should NOT be left to local government. the whole thing is a messy patchwork and proved again to be almost completely ineffective earlier this year)

  168. #168 itwasntme
    September 21, 2008

    You guys don’t unnerstand! He wasn’t talking about innovation in the administration of health care, he was talking about the care itself! He would allow innovations such as aura healing, medical prayer, asafetida bags, etc, to be covered. That stuff’s bound to be much cheaper than chemo! Get with the program, guys!

  169. #169 Matt Penfold
    September 21, 2008

    If Americans are fat and do not take enough exercise, is that not evidence of a failing healthcare system ? There is more to healthcare that simply fixing people when they become ill. The fact that Americans are overweight is not the reason the US healthcare system is failing, it is a failure of the system.

  170. #170 Jadehawk
    September 21, 2008

    Americans being fat is a combination of a failing Health-Care system, a car obsessed culture lacking most basic non-car infrastructure (very little public transport in cities, and suburbs with no sidewalks and nothing withing walking/bicycling distance), and the fact that fattening, nutrition-free food is much cheaper than healthy food like fruits and vegetables and whole grain products (I’ve tried making healthy meals on a McDonald’s budget. It’s more difficult than it sounds). And a public school system so underfunded they need sponsoring from Coca-Cola and Friends, so that kids get used to crappy food from the very beginning.(As opposed to a recent French program that helps parents teach their children healthy eating habits. I’ve seen toddlers who eat broccoli! Voluntarily!!)

    I’m telling you, drive-thru’s are the real enemy :-p

  171. #171 amphiox
    September 21, 2008

    Nick Gotts #161: I agree with all you said. My point was exactly as you said. Most public health systems do not include public pharmaceuticals and supply industries. This is one of the major problems with regards to costs for these public systems. Being public they do not generate their own revenue (profits), but their costs are determined by a private system. One that doesn’t work particularly well (if the metric you use for “well” has anything to do with affordable and effective care for the most people most of the time).

    My second point was that the reality of the current situation is that the pharmaceutical and medical supply industries are dominated by companies either based in, or primarily catering to, the US private system. So all the public systems the world over are dependent at least to some degree, and beholden to, the US system. The net result being that public systems are stuck with a situation where their costs are pretty much guaranteed to be inflated. One of the arguments against public health systems is that the cost is unsustainable, the claim being that demand for healthcare is limitless, continually growing, and costs continually rising, and therefore only a system that can continually generate increased revenue (ie profit) can cope in the long term. My point is that if this argument is valid, and I do not know this, if is valid only because public systems are not fully public. They depend on a private system for their resources.

    My third point is also based on an observation of current reality. The majority of medically related research is funded by pharmaceutical companies with a primary aim of subserving the US private system. These investments are enormous and done with the expectation of equally enormous profit in return, which is provided through a private healthcare system. If you want to be cynical you can say that this method basically is designed optimally to generate profit, with the occasional useful medical breakthrough falling out as a random side-effect. There is validity to this argument, but this is the way that the majority of medical research is currently being conducted. I simply do not know if any other hypothetical arrangement would fare better because as far as I know, no others have ever been tried, so we have no evidence available to measure their relative effectiveness.

    It may be that public health systems can only work if somewhere out there, there is at least one primarily private system that generates the drugs and supplies that everyone else uses through the free market. It may be that the current system with all its gross inequality and ethical sleaziness, is actually the only one that can work. I certainly hope not, but this is the current reality as I observe it.

  172. #172 Jadehawk
    September 21, 2008

    amphiox, that’s like saying that there will be no more music if the recording industries disappear.

    The current system is geared towards the American market because that’s the most profitable market, but if the U.S. switched to UHC, it would simply mean that research and distribution would have to change. as was pointed out, most of the money is spend on advertising and freebies. in UHC there’s a LOT less need for ads, and none for freebies. And maybe the focus would be less on conditions curable with better lifestyle and habits than a ridiculous amount of meds (I didn’t know what heartburn was until I moved to the U.S., and I still can’t say I’ve ever experienced this. And I’d also like to know why American women are so much more susceptible to yeast infections than the rest of womankind…?)

    i’m sure the focus in a world with UHC-only would shift away from medicating with expensive drugs, but I’m thinking that in some cases, that’s no necessarily a bad thing. It’s adaptation and evolution. progress and development are less often stalled by socialization than by marginalizing the primary purpose (health) and prioritizing the secondary (profit)

  173. #173 amphiox
    September 21, 2008

    Jadehawk 172: I agree with the logic of your argument. However, it still remains a hypothesis contrary to fact, until we get a chance to try it out and see if it works. A development for which I would be wholly in favor. In practice, though, I fear it would probably be very difficult to achieve. The interests involved are very entrenched. Sadly, because most people are mostly healthy most of the time, many simply do not seem to care enough, or have the foresight make the effort to care, to constitute a popular movement powerful enough to dislodge these interests.

  174. #174 Brian X
    September 21, 2008

    The thing that bothers me most about libertarian ignoramuses like SfO, Miko, and others is just how much I am like a lot of you (maybe not you guys in particular, but a lot of you) — male, too old to be living at home, depressed, and generally bitter. And yet, though I have every reason to be as superficial and greedy as the lot of you, I’ve worked hard to try not to be, and in fact am probably one of the most detestable sorts of statists by your standards, a hardcore social democrat.

    Like it or not, we are six, almost seven, billion people on this planet. Many of these people — well over half, if I recall the numbers correctly — live in abject poverty because of either their own leaders’ corruption, someone else’s colonialism, or (far too often) both. In a world where we ought to be breaking down borders and creating safety nets, we’re retreating to the plutocratic economics of the late 19th century and forcing economic “shock therapy” on poor countries, using theories that have already been shown to benefit only the rich and powerful. And along come apologists for the powerful, many of them people with little pull of their own but an obsession with the juvenile fantasies of Ayn Rand and the unreconstructed elitism of Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard, still convinced that human nature is such that what’s good for Gates, Buffett, and the Rockefeller family is good for the world, and that in an unregulated economy human decency would pick up the slack for the victims of an unregulated market.

    Hey, guess what: if human decency was so easily relied upon, Marxist communism would have worked, and we’d all (willingly) be learning Russian.

    This, when you come right down to it, is the most disturbing thing about politics and faith: when it comes to ideology, the highest virtue always seems to be knee-jerk conformance. No wonder science is held in such low esteem in the US — its only dogmas are inquiry and willingess to change one’s mind. Political ideologues consider the latter wishy-washy and the former outright traitorous.

  175. #175 Nick Gotts
    September 22, 2008

    Brian X@174,
    Well said, but I think you’re giving the “libertarians” too much credit. The suggestion that charity will look after the unfortunate is just a bit of cynical rhetoric, intended to acquit them of the charge of selfishness. They know damn well it wouldn’t work.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.