The Scientific Activist

More on Health Care Reform

Clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks that the most obvious solution for health care reform is for the House to pass the Senate bill: The New York Times just published an editorial arguing the same point:

The most promising path forward would be for House Democrats to pass the Senate bill as is and send it to the president for his signature. That would allow the administration and Congress to pivot immediately to job creation and other economic issues. The Senate bill is not perfect, but it would expand coverage to 94 percent of all citizens and legal residents by 2019, reduce the deficit for decades to come, and create pilot programs to move the medical system toward better care at lower costs.

The Times’ editorial also notes the hypocrisy in the Massachusetts Senate election:

What makes this all the more frustrating is that Massachusetts, which adopted its own very similar health care reform in 2006, is a compelling example of both the benefits and popularity of the effort.

A poll taken in Massachusetts after the election by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that a surprising 68 percent of those who had voted said that they supported their own state’s plan, including slightly more than half of those who had voted for Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown, who promised to block reform in Washington, voted for his state’s program in 2006 and did not campaign against it this year. Instead, he argued that since Massachusetts’ citizens already have coverage, why should they help pay to expand coverage elsewhere.

That cynical I’ve-got-mine argument doesn’t make a lot of sense — even in Massachusetts. The Senate bill would funnel additional money into the Massachusetts program and federal efforts to rein in costs should ultimately benefit all of the states.

Comments

  1. #1 Kylie Couric
    January 26, 2010

    Thank you for posting this blog. i am getting more concerned abt our healthcare policies now that i am nearing the real world after graduation. tnx! :)

  2. #2 razib
    January 26, 2010

    as a non-liberal/non-democrat, i gotta say elected libreals/democrats make me laugh. you got the numbers, but you live in terror of being voted out? lol. that’s why the republicans turned against bush before the fall 2006 elections on the iraq war, because they were afraid of getting voting out…oh, oops.

    courage of convictions. agree or disagree, but the right has it.

  3. #3 romunov
    January 26, 2010

    I haven’t read the bill, but is it true that you will be fined or sent (ok, taken) to jail if you don’t buy the insurance?

  4. #4 JasonTD
    January 26, 2010

    romunov,

    I haven’t heard anything about going to jail for not buying insurance, but being required to purchase insurance or facing a fine is part of the plan. That requirement is there because the bill also bans denying coverage due to preexisting conditions. Without a requirement to buy insurance, people that are young and healthy and not covered through their employer have little incentive to join the risk pool. What little they would routinely use of health care services (going to a walk-in clinic when they get a sore throat or the flu) is going to cost considerably less than what they would pay in premiums. They would only need coverage if they got diagnosed with serious illness that required extensive treatment. Although, they would also being taking something of a risk in terms of accidents or sudden acute illness that puts them in a hospital before they can go buy insurance. But people don’t always evaluate those kinds of risks properly. I personally knew someone while I was in grad school that would have paid several thousand dollars out of pocket had he not purchased the school insurance plan when he broke his arm, so I won’t ever go without coverage if I can help it.

    All of that said, I have seen some commentary about that requirement being beyond the constitutional authority of Congress. That is, the requirement of a person to buy something from a private party. Not being a lawyer, I’m not going to try and evaluate that in detail myself, but it does seem likely that it would be an issue that would end up in the courts if it passes.

  5. #5 Russell
    January 26, 2010

    The new law does not require you to buy insurance. It does increase your income tax, if you fail to do so. The right-wing likes to frame this as a fine, but there are some substantive differences between crimes for which you are fined and a simple increase in tax, e.g., fines for a crime typically entail a concomitant history of transgressions, and escalate to greater degree of criminality. A tax decision you may repeat year after year.

    The argument for increased tax on those who don’t carry health insurance is pretty straightforward: they increase the burden on the rest of us by gambling with the probability that they won’t need insurance, and the rest of us will be subsidizing the ones who suffer injury or disease, and then acquire insurance, now guaranteed despite pre-existing conditions. And yes, simply paying the extra tax may be the financially prudent thing for the young and healthy. No doubt tax accountants will help people make that decision.

    Income tax already is adjusted up and down for a variety of transactions carried out with private parties, from taking out a home mortgage to making charitable donations. If it’s Constitutional to lower the income tax of someone who donates to their church or who takes out a mortgage, surely it’s equally so to lower the tax of someone who purchases qualified health insurance.

  6. #6 Charlie Tall
    January 26, 2010

    But it’s unConstitutional.

    Doesn’t that matter to anybody?

    It’s counter-intuitive.

    Government has never done anything better than private enterprise.

    It’s insane.

    Government caused the healthcare crisis to begin with. Now it’s gong to get out of the hole by digging deeper?

    It violates the laws of economics.

    By increasing the demand for healthcare, the price will go up, not down. The deficit will increase, not decrease. Medicine will get worse, not better.

  7. #7 David
    January 26, 2010

    I have no doubts that the Senate Health Care bill contains some good things. But it has been sold to us as “health care reform”. The simple truth is that there is nothing in the bill which addresses health care or it’s costs. In actuality, this bill is about health insurance. But health insurance doesn’t dictate the cost of health care, it reflects it. If the real problem is health care costs, then why is our government so focused on demonizing and criminalizing the health insurance industry? There are serious underlying objectives and those who can’t or won’t see this are contributing to the economic and political crises we are facing and which are only going to get worse if we don’t get our collective heads out of the sand. Tell me, how many of us could afford health care if we didn’t have insurance? Insurance has been beneficial to countless Americans and yet all we hear about these days is how evil the insurance companies are. And this from politicians. Kinda like the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it?
    http://www.80-percent.com/in-defense-of-health-insurance/

  8. #8 Nomen Nescio
    January 26, 2010

    Charlie, you’re wrong, and an idiot. i can say this, because i grew up in northern Europe and have seen your premises demonstrated utterly wrong, in actual practice. that you have not noticed something so obvious is what makes you an idiot.

    unconstitutional? no, taxing people is certainly within the constitutional limits on congressional power.

    counterintuitive? what — the idea of insurance, or the notion that larger risk pools benefit insurers and insured both? you’d have to be an idiot to— oh. never mind.

    government never doing anything well? government won WW2. European governments provide healthcare a hell of a lot better than American private enterprise.

    i could continue, but the matter is pretty well settled with these, i think.

  9. #9 Charlie Tall
    January 26, 2010

    Nomen Nescio,

    Thank you for your courteous reply.

    The law of demand states simply that price is directly proportional to demand. When the demand for a commodity or service increases, the price also increases.

    That is an immutable law. There is no way to avoid its consequences.

    After Medicare was enacted in 1965, the cost of healthcare began increasing at a rate higher than inflation or price increases in other sectors. It continues to increase at a higher than normal rate to this day.

    If Obamacare is enacted the demand for healthcare will increase; the price of healthcare will increase.

    More demand will result in higher prices. Finis.

    The government did not win WWII. The war was won by the American people, their military, and private American industry. When the government found the country at war, they turned to industry to save the day, and called on the American people to fill the ranks.

    The government did not build airplanes, Boeing, North American, Locheed and other private companies did.

    The government did not build rifles and machine guns. Winchester, Remington, Savage, and General Motors did. Even the government arsenals and ship yards were staffed and operated by civilians.

    The government did not go to Europe to save your parents. It sent American citizens there so that you could grow up speaking something besides German. But it was American citizens who fought and died so that you could display your ignorance of the Constitution.

    It is curious that you had to reach all the way back to WWII to find something that you mistakenly think the government has done well.

    Since that time, by the way, the government has done just about everything it can to destroy American industry.

    Taxation, as you note, is Constitutional, but only to support those particular powers and responsibilities delegated to the government by the people. Healthcare is not one of those powers.

    In the end, about all you’ve settled is the question of whether someone must have knowledge and intelligence to post here. From your post it is obvious that neither is a requirement.

    It is also obvious that courtesy, punctuation, and grammar are not requirements.

    Here is one final fact for you to consider: socialism does not work.

    It never has; it never will.

    The best it can do is to function temporarily until it kills the economy it feeds upon.

    Socialism has no place in the real world; it is an illusion, a trick, a super Ponzi scheme that eventually runs out of victims.

  10. #10 Nomen Nescio
    January 26, 2010

    The law of demand states simply that price is directly proportional to demand. When the demand for a commodity or service increases, the price also increases.

    That is an immutable law. There is no way to avoid its consequences.

    you’ve never actually studied economics, have you? otherwise you would have noticed that one of the few things that dismal science has in abundance is caveats and exceptions. “immutable laws” it has not.

    specifically with regards to healthcare, the manyfold reasons that field does not strictly follow simplistic supply-and-demand curves have been expounded on at great length in the online healthcare debate, several examples of which you would have had to be an idiot to overl— oh. never mind. but we can demonstrate the matter in practice; many countries provide healthcare to their entire populace, as much as they might want, at very little immediate cost to them. demand for it is nevertheless quite manageable.

    It is curious that you had to reach all the way back to WWII to find something that you mistakenly think the government has done well.

    i was giving you the benefit of the doubt, by assuming that the most significant period of the 20th century might be one you knew something about. i do apologize for that now-obvious mistake.

    FWIW, the particular country i’m from was technically on the axis side of that fracas. but no matter, neither of us were born back then. still, the governments of both our countries resorted to rationing, conscription, price controls, and quite strictly controlled which private companies would be building what manner of war materiel, to which specifications; the economics of total war are not laissez-faire. nowhere were they so.

    the economics of national healthcare ought not be laissez-faire either, as numerous countries have demonstrated in practice. we know what socialized healthcare looks like; it works quite well. we also know what deregulated, private, for-profit healthcare looks like; it allows countless people to die for no good reason every year, here in the USA alone.

    for that matter, we know that socialism (by which i mean social democracy — same thing, from an American perspective) works; it’s worked fine for decades, all over Europe. trying to deny such obvious, plain facts is idiotic. you might as well deny the sunrise.

    odd that you should bring up Ponzi schemes, though. in such frauds, a very few exploit a great many in order to get extremely rich, while the many get to lose their money in exchange for promises that invariably prove empty. that could sum up the last few decades of American socioeconomic developments, i might say. effected by laissez-faire, unregulated capitalism, needless to mention.

  11. #11 Charlie Tall
    January 26, 2010

    You seem addicted to insults. Is that typical of northern European Nazis?

    Would you be kind enough to cite an example of a situation in which the law of supply does not work?

    Your argument is woefully short of hard facts, so here are a few:

    Socialized medicine appears to work in Denmark where the population is tiny – 5.5 million; homogeneous – 95% Lutheran; small – about twice the size of Massachusetts; has virtually no immigration – 0.2% per year; virtually no minorities: Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, Somali amounting to less than 2%.

    However, even though Denmark has a positive balance of payments, and Danes pay annual taxes of about 70% of their earnings, Denmark is still going more and more into debt. The Danish economy is shrinking: -3.6% in 2009.

    Danes pay the highest taxes in the world: marginal income tax of 63% and a combined marginal tax of 70.9%
    There are virtually no military expenditures to speak of: around 1.3% of GDP. The brave Danes are protected for free by the US and NATO.
    For what it’s worth, Denmark dedicates all of 0.6% of their GDP to foreign aid.
    There are virtually no immigration problems to speak of: 2 per 1000 annually.
    There are virtually no unemployed Danes: 3.6% in 2009
    There are virtually no Danes on welfare, but the largest group of workers are government: 30% of the workforce.

    Yet Denmark is still going into debt (increasing at about 5% per year), their economy is still shrinking, and their annual budget is about 60% of their GDP ($170.7 / $300 billion).

    So, Nomen Nescio, tell us again how northern European socialized medicine is so wonderful, and how well socialism works, but spare the insults and emotion. Facts are preferred, and the fact is that Denmark’s economy is going into the crapper because of socialism…It’s failing

    Another fact is that their failing socialist system would only fail faster in a real country with real problems like the US.

  12. #12 Rebecca
    January 26, 2010

    I pulled this info from a NYTimes article about the C.B.O report:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/health/policy/01health.html

    “Unsubsidized premiums in the individual insurance market, less than a fifth of those with health insurance, would rise an average of 10 percent to 13 percent. …most people in this market — 18 million of the 32 million people buying insurance on their own — would qualify for federal subsidies, which would reduce their costs well below what they would have to pay under current law.

    As for employer-based coverage:
    “groups with 50 or fewer employees, it said, unsubsidized premiums in 2016 would average $7,800 a year for individuals and $19,200 for families — scarcely any different from the amounts expected under current law. Of the 25 million people receiving coverage from small businesses, it said, 3 million would qualify for subsidies, which would reduce their premiums by an average of 8 percent to 11 percent.

    Large employers would generally not be eligible for such assistance. Their premiums in 2016 under the bill would average $7,300 for individual coverage and $20,100 for family coverage, the report said. Under current law, the comparable figures would be $7,400 for individual coverage and $20,300 for family coverage.”

    Looking at the numbers, I don’t understand the hysteria surrounding this legislation. The C.B.O. says either bill will reduce the deficit… and hopefully it will reduce the number of preventable deaths in this country.

    Disclaimer: I work for the healthcare website, icyou.com (drop us a line). My views do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

  13. #13 Nomen Nescio
    January 26, 2010

    y’know, i don’t mind insults (as should be obvious), but you’d make yourself look smarter if you could at least find the correct ones. i’m a pinko commie socialist, not a nazi, and yes, there is a difference. imagine that!

    the “law of supply” doesn’t apply when there isn’t a neutral, level marketplace, just for one instance. people do not go shopping for healthcare as they would for doilies; when you need healthcare, you oftentimes need it right away, and you seldom have enough competence to judge good from bad services in any event — even if you had the time and opportunity to shop around, which you often don’t.

    besides, for most people, healthcare is usually not something you really want to purchase. it’s something you get because you have to. there’s a great incentive to putting off maintenance care and check-ups, as well as to economizing on its quality, that is inherently irrational (because it’ll cost you money in the long run). irrational buyer behavior will interfere with the basic assumptions of free-market economics, and screw up the supply/demand price relationship in ways you should understand, but won’t. prove me wrong about that last. please.

    the idea that risk pools somehow work better when made smaller (or less diverse, come to that) is idiotic. as idiotic as imagining that the Scandinavian countries are truly 90+% lutheran; they’re not, that’s the aftereffect of having lutheran state churches for centuries. the vast majority of Danes (and Swedes, and Finns, and Norwegians) are apatheists if they’re anything at all. you’d know that if you spent any time at all reading up about the rest of the planet, but then you’d also have learned that socialism works.

    and are you seriously trying to measure a nation’s greatness by how much it spends on its military? pray tell, whom would the Danes arm up to fight, exactly? the Russians aren’t coming — they can’t afford to — and the Germans are fellow EU members. more than one percent of GDP is probably too much to spend on defence, for most European countries. whereas healthcare does matter to your average Dane, and also matters for keeping that GDP up through keeping people healthy enough to work.

    another hint: “immigration problems” are not measured by number (or percentage) of immigrants annually. that’s assuming every immigrant will automatically be a problem, which is xenophobic and bigoted— oh. never mind.

    one final hint: assuming that other countries aren’t “real” ones is the sort of behavior that’s made U.S. foreign policy quite detested in many parts of the world, to the considerable detriment of U.S. interests geopolitically. as a U.S. citizen, i would ask you to shove that attitude back up where you got it from and put a plug in after it; this country i now call mine will do better the sooner we stop pretending we’re more “real” than others are.

  14. #14 Charlie Tall
    January 26, 2010

    I am not surprised that you missed the significance of nearly everything in my last post, even my final remark about a real country.

    Hint: The Axis was the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis: Germany, Italy, and Japan. Germany, the country bordering Denmark on the south, was controlled by the NSDAP, a.k.a. the Nazis. If you were an German ally, you were a Nazi.

    Hint: Most of the facts about Denmark were offered to contrast Denmark to the US. I.e., maybe Denmark isn’t the best standard against which to compare the US simply because it is so different.

    Hint: No immigrants mean no immigration problems; many immigrants implies many immigration problems. It’s probability.

    Hint: No military expenditures implies that money can be spent elsewhere; high military expenditures mean the money is not available.

    Hint: Homogeneous population means insignificant racial issues; a higly diverse population means many racial issues. For example, the higher infant mortality rate in the US is almost totally attibutable to the presence of one race (which by the way is almost completely absent from Denmark).

    Your windy nonsense about the law of demand and healthcare proved the law of demand. Basically what you said (because you don’t realize it) is that when you need healthcare, you need it now. Hence demand is unmoderated by the ability to shop for lower costs. Hence demand drives prices even more in directly in healthcare than other sectors of the economy.

    Whatever the details, the overall result is that the law of demand works all the time, every time, without exception.

    I have some advice for you and your self-deceiving socialist friends: there ain’t no free lunch.

    Socialism doesn’t work. It never has and it never will. It failed for the Soviets. It failed for the North Koreans. It failed for the Nazis. It failed for the Cubans. It is currently failing in China.

    Have I missed any?

  15. #15 Anonymous
    January 27, 2010

    “Government has never done anything better than private enterprise.”

    This is a stupid statement. You completely fail to acknowledge government funding of science in state universities which has done more in terms of advancing healthcare, food production, defense development etc than any privatly funded mechanism ever achieved.

    “The government did not win WWII. The war was won by the American people, their military, and private American industry.”

    Again it was technologies developed through government programs which were decisive in ending the War. Millions more would have died without these advances. The nuclear program, development of radar and breaking of German codes are all examples of government funded projects which proved to be critical to victory over the Germans.

    If anyone ‘won’ the war it was the Russians whose counter offensive begining with their victory at Stalingrad was the turning point, rather than the establishment of a Western front.

    The “be thankful for the US for your freedom” attitude is also a little hard to take given the above and given the US was not willing to argue with soviet occupation of most of Europe following the war.

    “Is that typical of northern European Nazis?”

    Nazism is an example of far right politics closer to the ideology of the Republican party than to idealogies expoused by most European governments and the Democrats. It has no relation to the liberal ‘Socialism’ which Charlie Tall likes to accuse European contries like Denmark of.

    “real country with real problems like the US.”

    A truly obnoxious comment.

  16. #16 maxh
    January 27, 2010

    Charlie Tall:

    You do know the difference between socialism and communism, don’t you?

    Cos it reads like you don’t.

    Just sayin’.

  17. #17 Charlie Tall
    January 27, 2010

    So Anonymous weighs in: another worshipper at the porcelain altar of socialism.

    Anonymous, I read your post early this morning, but was so overcome with mirth and contempt that it has taken me until now to reply.

    What’s with you guys? Can’t you discuss a subject without insults? Nomen Nescio starts by calling me an idiot several times; you start with telling me I made a stupid statement. And then to highlight your bad behavior, you take umbrage at one of my better remarks.

    Anonymous, compared to the problems we have in the US, Denmark is Ned-in-the-Primer simple. Face it. Denmark is a tiny country where all politics are local. Danes pay 70% tax and their economy is shrinking while their debt grows. Does anyone really want to follow their example?

    Nomen Nescio wrote about expanding the risk pool: “…larger risk pools benefit insurers and insured both…” But he flat ignores the fact that the federal government is responsible for barring healthcare insurers from operating across state lines.

    If larger risk pools work so much better, why not let private insurers expand their risk pools? Or is Nomen Nescio (and all you other self-styled geniuses) only for it after he was against it?

    Let’s talk about government funding of research. What or who accomplished scientific research before the government got into the game around 1930? All of your examples – radar, nuclear physics, code breaking – were started and developed originally by civilians and civilian institutions without government sponsorship.

    It was not until WWII that the government got into research in a big way, and it was forced to do so by the realities of war. Government’s sole achievment was to accelerate development of civilian technologies that were already in existence and reasonably mature.

    This was because there was no economic requirement for atomic bombs, radar, and many other weapons until Hitler and Japan misbehaved. However, all of the aircraft used in WWII by the US were designed, developed, and brought to fruition by private industry, as were all of the rifles, merchant ships, trucks, tanks, and other equipment. Government was nothing but a customer.

    Government degrades everything it touches. Are you really happy with the Federal Reserve System? Do you think the Federal law enforcement does a good job? The FBI, DEA, ICE? How about Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration? How do you like FEMA?

    Government interference in healthcare has been responsible for what? What exactly has it provided? The procedures and technologies that work are the products of private enterprise. What exactly has government done for healthcare except totally upset the economic balance?

    Do you believe that healthcare in the US was only for the rich prior to 1965 and Johnson’s Great Society? That is not true. In the early 1960s (and before), full-coverage medical insurance was almost unheard of; major medical was the rule. Prior to Medicare nearly everyone had access to good, basic medicine. Some didn’t: Indians on reservations (government put them there), some Appalachian and Southern locales (government depressed those areas for a century), and a few hobos and other migrants. But the great majority could walk into any hospital and get treatment, and doctors were local and affordable.

    Before government interference, the cost of medicine was in line with everything else. Households with above average income, the top third in the nation, did not need medical insurance; they could afford to pay their own way. Single people rarely bought anything but major medical.

    Your concept of Naziism had me holding my sides laughing. Fascism is a socialist system nearly identical to Communism. There are far more similarities than differences.

    Liberal socialism is still socialism; it shares its roots with Communism and fascism. Socialism, like Communism and Fascism, is based on coercion: the citizen is forced to both support and use the system. If the citizen does not want to cooperate with the system, the government uses physical force to make him obey.

    That is not an American concept; it is derived from feudalism, monarchy, and Marxism, but not the US Constitution.

    Socialism has as one of its basic tenets the belief that because it is providing everything, the government can tell the citizens how to behave. Carried to the logical extreme, systems such as the Soviet Union develop wherein every facet of private life is controlled by the government.

    This simple fact, coupled with the physical force applied by the government, yields tyranny.

    By the way, what are “idealogies”? Did you mean ideologies?

    Socialism dates from when? Around 1917? How has it done since then?

    It has failed. Everywhere. In every country where it was adopted.

    Any place where it has not failed, it is in the process of failing. Everywhere.

    And while it was failing, socialism enslaved, terrorized, and destroyed millions of human lives, all in the name of humanity.

  18. #18 Charlie Tall
    January 27, 2010

    Charlie Tall:
    You do know the difference between socialism and communism, don’t you?
    Cos it reads like you don’t.
    Just sayin’.
    Posted by: maxh | January 27, 2010 10:20 AM

    To answer your question, socialism and communism differ about as much as dogs and poodles do.

    But the obvious difference is that socialism claims to be an economic system while Communism is both an economic system and system of government.

    However, in practice, the two are virtually identical.

  19. #19 Nomen Nescio
    January 27, 2010

    if i had been an ally of Nazi Germany, you might try to slime me as being a Nazi, yes. i was not born then, however, so i neither am nor ever have been any such thing. (nor was my home country at the time, i would argue. it’s just that the nazis were the only ones willing to help us fight off the red army.) although confusing a person for their country (of origin, or of residence? charlie’s not too clear, as usual) does leave intriguing hints about the person doing it.

    If larger risk pools work so much better, why not let private insurers expand their risk pools?

    why should we believe they’re interested in doing any such thing? the very existence of the terms “rescission” and “preexisting condition” in their vocabularies is evidence they wish to reduce their risks by excluding the sick. allowing them to do that on a national, as opposed to a statewide, basis, would merely allow them to profit more obscenely (and thus gain economic and political power) while still refusing to adequately fund healthcare.

    now, if the health insurance industry were barred by law (effectively enforced law, mind) from refusing to cover people’s bills or unilaterally terminating coverage, then it would be a great idea to let them compete with one another on a nationwide basis. then, the economies of scale they could accrue might benefit somebody other than the insurance companies’ CEO’s.

    (of course, capitalism being what it is, eventually there’d likely be just one health insurance company remaining in the country, covering everybody — at which point, why not just socialize it and call it done?)

    but so long as the health insurers continue to demonstrate their bad faith by cutting people off and refusing payment, trusting them with greater power and influence would be manifestly foolish.

    as for why i call you an idiot — quit talking idiocy, and you might not have to suffer that slight.

    socialism and communism differ about as much as dogs and poodles do.

    idiot.

  20. #20 Charlie Tall
    January 27, 2010

    Nomen Nescio,

    I have tried to be civil with you, but to no avail. Frankly, I don’t care which insignificant little northern European country you are from.

    You are in the United States now; observe the Constitution. You are not in America because things are better in Finland.

    Since you don’t like what I said about socialism and Communism, instead of name calling, tell us what you think.

    You still have not replied to my facts about the failure of socialism in Denmark.

  21. #21 NJ
    January 27, 2010

    I have tried to be civil with you, but to no avail

    An objectively false statement, as easily found by reading your comments.

    You still have not replied to my facts about the failure of socialism in Denmark.

    You have provided no facts or references. All you have provided is assertions.

    I think I hear your Mom calling you for dinner; wipe off the Cheeto dust and go upstairs.

  22. #22 Nomen Nescio
    January 27, 2010

    I have tried to be civil with you

    insulting people intellectually is something of an art.

    calling people Nazis might, perhaps, work as a statement within that art form, although it’s really a bit too lowbrow to count as an intellectual insult. too over the top, too trite and worn, too kitsch as insults go.

    calling people Nazis, and then baldfacedly pretending to have attempted to be civil is pure, 100%, undiluted fail with fail sauce. not only are you an idiot, you lack taste, and worst of all, you lack the intellectual acuity to comprehend your own shortcomings.

    i have engaged in a battle of wits with an unarmed man. fortunately, i have no scruples against doing so.

  23. #23 Charlie Tall
    January 28, 2010

    NJ,

    See: Posted by: Charlie Tall | January 26, 2010 7:12 PM

    It is full of facts.

    Do you want references? Google any one of those facts.

    Duh! (Not trying to be civil)

  24. #24 Charlie Tall
    January 28, 2010

    Nomen Nescio,

    You wrote:

    “i [sic] grew up in northern Europe”

    and

    “FWIW, the particular country i’m [sic] from was technically on the axis side of that fracas.”

    Ergo “northern European Nazi”

    I did not call you a Nazi; you labelled yourself as such. I merely put you words together into a readily-understandable whole. Talk about a lack of intellectual acuity!

    How stupid can one get? If you do not want to be perceived as a Nazi, quit bragging about being from an axis country. Quit trying to blame your stupidity on me.

    I see now that we should talk about intellectual integrity, which is something else you appear to lack.

    You wrote:
    …capitalism being what it is, eventually there’d likely be just one health insurance company remaining in the country…

    Like there is only one automobile insurance company writing policies nation wide? Your nonsensical remarks prove that you have no idea what capitalism is; you can neither see nor admit how it functions. You choose to invent nonsense like “there’d be…one health insurance company.”

    You wrote:
    “the very existence of the terms ‘rescission’ and ‘preexisting condition’ in their vocabularies is evidence they wish to reduce their risks by excluding the sick.”

    My first year law text states, “Recission is an equitable remedy.” and, “Recission is discretionary.” So what is your problem with an equitable remedy that is not forced on the parties to the contract?

    Wait! I know! You’re a socialist, so you believe in forcing your solutions on others. Now your objection to recission makes sense. It’s discretionary; can’t have that!

    Preexisting condition in health insurance is synonymous with a poor driving record in the automobile insurance industry. How does capitalism handle that? There is something called the “assigned risk.” The same method would work nicely for preexisting medical conditions.

    End of problem without government interference.

    It is obvious that you have no idea how insurance works. You totally misunderstand the basic concept of “risk.”

    See: actuarial science, probability, return on investment, and annuity. They are all common subjects that you are not familiar with as yet.

    Insurance companies do not insure bad drivers. They do not write life insurance on terminal patients. Policies will not be issued by Lloyd’s for vessels sailing into a war zone. Why then should they be forced to write health insurance on the chronically ill?

    Be honest for a change. You are not espousing health insurance, fair or otherwise. You are promoting blatant socialization of the healthcare industry for the purpose of inflating your own ego at the expense of others.

    Thatcher was right when she said, “The only trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

    I did not engage in this debate to convince you of the error of your ways. You are an unreasoning zealot, and you will not be convinced.

    I did it in the hope that just one open-minded person would read the exchange, realize that socialism is absolute nonsense, and conclude that our nation, our Ship of State, is on the wrong course.

    While Obama and the Democratic Congress are like the crew of the ship sailing blindly ahead at full speed, you and fools like you are the sirens calling that ship onto the rocks.

    By the way, I am no longer trying to be civil. That effort was wasted on you: pearl’s before swine.

  25. #25 Bilfred
    January 28, 2010

    Charlie in case you’re interested, here is quote from Mussolini:
    “The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and useful instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production.”

    That doesn’t exactly sound like socialism to me, how about you?

    Regarding ‘the law of supply and demand’: In 1981, when there wasn’t great demand for computers IBM introduced the PC, priced at $3005 with 16K RAM, monitor, and one floppy drive. Now, when the demand is much greater you can buy a PC with 100,000 times the RAM, more than ten million times the space on its hard drive, and a far better monitor for one fifth of that price, using dollars worth less than half what they were then. Tell me again about that ‘law of supply and demand’.

  26. #26 Nomen Nescio
    January 28, 2010

    in fairness to Charlie, healthcare — being a service — isn’t subject to the same economies of scale that mass production and technological advances brought to the computer industry. but then again, the “law” of supply and demand pretty much rests on assumptions that don’t fit the supply side of the healthcare industry very well, either, even before we get to the ways in which the demand side of it violates those assumptions also.

    well, okay, those assumptions fit the supply side of your average service industry better than they do the demand side of the healthcare industry in particular, what with service providers’ time and effort being the scarce and finite resource. but service providers still aren’t fungible enough to make the fit entirely comfortable there, training levels and general skill can have an impact on prices separate from that of supply and demand, etcetera.

    and that’s all still disregarding the ethical aspect of the debate, naturally. that alone is enough to throw a wrench in any purely economical discussion of healthcare, unless we decide to be utterly sociopathic as a matter of policy.

  27. #27 Charlie Tall
    January 29, 2010

    Bilfred, There are two economic laws: the Law of Supply and the Law of Demand.

    The Law of Supply states that price is inversely proportional to supply; the Law of Demand states that price is directly proportional to demand.

    When IBM first produced their PC, they set the price at an arbitrary point determined by cost of production, cost of sales, and desired profit margin.

    As other manufacturers got into the market, the supply of PCs increased faster than the demand, and the price decreased.

    Today, PCs are manufactured by hundreds of facilities across the globe. Even though the demand is much greater, the supply is easily sufficient to meet the demand.

    PCs have become a commodity.

    The reason that PCs are so cheap is due to the fact that they are so available. I.e., the supply increased to the point where it is the dominant factor and outweighs demand; price decreased as a result.

    There are many correlaries to the laws of supply and demand. For example, if the price is decreased, assuming all other factors are equal, the demand will increase.

    This is commonly called a sale.

    Another example is, if the price is decreased, assuming all other factors are unchanged, the supply will decrease.

    This is what happens at on Black Friday after Thanksgiving when the stores run out of sale items.

    Now let’s get a little more sophisticated. What happens when the price is artificially held constant while the demand is changed? This is called “price fixing.”

    If the demand is increasing, the supply will likely decrease, unless the price was allowed to get high enough before being fixed.

    But generally, when price is held constant, the supply will become constant while the demand will likely continue to increase. This will sometimes lead to the development of a black market.

    Which leads to another correlary of the laws: if external forces are applied to economics, crime will be encouraged.

    Let’s look at healthcare.

    There exists in the United States a finite number of hospital beds, a finite number of doctors, a finite number of nurses, and a finite supply of money.

    So if the demand for hospital beds, doctors, and nurses is increased suddenly – say by the passing of legislation – the price of beds, doctors’ visits, and nurses’ care will increase in direct proportion to the increase in demand.

    Unless price fixing is employed. See above.

    If you take the time to review Medicare legislation – rules and regulations – you will discover that the federal government has placed limits on how much the cost of medicine is allowed to increase year by year. It is more than coincidence that the cost of healthcare has increased at exactly the legal maximum every year since 1968.

    The government claims that many millions of people are without both healthcare and health insurance. Obviously, if these millions suddenly get healthcare, the demand will increase and the price will follow.

    If the government artificially limits price increase – say by a healthcare price freeze – the supply of beds, doctors, and nurses will also be frozen – more or less – because the incentive for increasing the supply will not be there.

    Admittedly, there will be a delay before these changes take effect. There is always hysteresis in every measurement. But the results will be the same and they are predictable:

    -The demand for medicine will increase.
    -The price of medicine – both overall and in detail – will increase.
    -The supply will increase.
    -The portion of the economy represented by healthcare will increase.
    -Something else in the economy will have to decrease.

    Prior to 1965, before the federal government got into healthcare, medicine was pretty much just another business: a little nobler, but still profit oriented. The cost of medicine rose and fell with the economy. Hospitals were simple affairs with concrete block walls, tile floors, and plain glass windows. Doctors mostly lived and practiced in the same neighborhood, saw every patient, and even recognized their patients when they met them on the street. Support personnel in medicine were found in a ratio of three care-givers to one administration/clerical worker.

    Today, hospitals are monumental constructions of marble, terrazzo, carpeting, mirrored windows, and panelling. They feature atrium interiors, hanging plants, gourmet cafeterias, and designer gift shops. Where does the money come from to buy luxuries?

    Doctors typically work in specialized medical centers now, and live in secluded, upper-class neighborhoods. Doctors are among the highest paid professionals where once they were on a par with lawyers, engineers, and accountants.

    Many doctors see only a fraction of their patients. Nurse practioners and other paramedical personnel take up the slack. Yet the patient still pays the same amount.

    This is yet another manifestation of the law of demand: demand is up, price for a nurse now equals price of a doctor.

    Administration and clerical workers are more numerous than care-givers, but that’s another matter having more to do with bureaucracy than economics.

    How about competition in the medical industry? It is huge!

    Hospitals advertise. Doctors advertise. Drug companies advertise. Medical malpractice lawyers advertise. Where does the money come from to pay for this advertising?

    The same place the marble walls, terrazzo floors, and mahogany panelling comes from: the government.

    By the way, this advertising is, in my opinion, the first indication of an emerging medical black market.

    Unfortunately, it is ignorance of conditions – real conditions – prior to the beginning of government interference in healthcare that leads many to believe that government has benefited healthcare.

    If one does not have accurate knowledge of conditions before it impossible to judge how well the current system is performing now.

    Take heed. The laws of economics are not to be treated with contempt. Like gravity, they work everytime, often to our detriment, particularly if they are disregarded.

    Caveat: I have not tried to include references or citations. I’ve been caught in that trap before on these blogs. If you have a question on any particular point or assertion I have made, feel free to ask. However, I do not have the time or inclination to provice a full bibliography. Thank you.

  28. #28 Charlie Tall
    January 29, 2010

    Bilfred,
    Marvelous quotation from Mussolini. I believe I have seen that before, but admit having forgotten it.

    Back in my younger days, I was fortunate to be able to correspond with both Karl Doenitz and Albert Speer. They were both honest and sincere and the information they provided permitted me a glimpse into a Hell fueled by good intentions.

    Communism, a form of socialism, believes the means of production should be owned by the state and directed by the state. Under Communism, the workers are seen as part of the state, but not as directors of the state.

    Fascism, recognizes private ownership, but believes that priorities should be directed by the state. In a manner similar to Communism, the workers are not recognized as directing the actions of the state.

    Some socialists believe in public ownership of the means of production. Others believe in worker ownership. They all believe that the means of production and wealth should subject to state determination as should the distribution of benefits (profits).

    In every case, socialist systems are characterized by state intervention and control.

    In practice, the government, the state, is a super trump card. Government is the 400-pound gorilla in the kindergarten. So whenever possible people attempt to control the government so that they can control everything else.

    Let me stop here and make this one point: total disregard of the healthcare needs of the disadvantaged is morally unacceptable. However, that condition has never existed in this country, despite what some people might claim.

    Anyhow, I consider the primary common denominator of all socialist systems to be state (government) control of private resources.

    Another socialist characteristic, in my opinion, is a total disregard for human nature.

    For example, while most human beings have a desire to “get ahead,” almost all will take the path of least resistance to get there.

    People set their goals by what they know, what they are familiar with, and what they see as being attainable.

    Which is why I see the government’s position as being that of an encourager of both individual and collective effort, but not an enabler. “Promote the general welfare” is not the same thing as “provide the general welfare.”

    Thanks for your post.

  29. #29 catgirl
    January 29, 2010

    You seem addicted to insults. Is that typical of northern European Nazis?

    Gah, my irony meter! It completely exploded at that.

  30. #30 Charlie Tall
    January 29, 2010

    Gah, my irony meter! It completely exploded at that.

    Did you find it ironic that I finally defended myself against his shouts of “idiot,” or that I used his description of himself to do so?

    Which was it?

    You know what I find ironic? The fact that from all of the acrimony on this subject, the rudeness, the insults, you pick that one remark to take exception with.

    You simply must read Ann Colter’s “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).”

  31. #31 HCukeito
    February 21, 2010

    [bloackquote]To answer your question, socialism and communism differ about as much as dogs and poodles do.

    But the obvious difference is that socialism claims to be an economic system while Communism is both an economic system and system of government.

    However, in practice, the two are virtually identical.[/blockquote]

    Which is why the socialist regimes of France, Germany, and the Netherlands collapsed when the Communist bloc fell in 1989.

  32. #32 Paragraf
    February 25, 2010

    All of that said, I have seen some commentary about that requirement being beyond the constitutional authority of Congress. That is, the requirement of a person to buy something from a private party. Not being a lawyer, I’m not going to try and evaluate that in detail myself, but it does seem likely that it would be an issue that would end up in the courts if it passes.

  33. #33 stella
    December 21, 2010

    Really this blog helpful to me i bookmarked this blog refer my friends also.If one does not have accurate knowledge of conditions before it impossible to judge how well the current system is performing now.European governments provide healthcare a hell of a lot better than American private enterprise.

  34. #34 altın çilek
    April 2, 2011

    The argument for increased tax on those who don’t carry health insurance is pretty straightforward: they increase the burden on the rest of us by gambling with the probability that they won’t need insurance, and the rest of us will be subsidizing the ones who suffer injury or disease, and then acquire insurance, now guaranteed despite pre-existing conditions. And yes, simply paying the extra tax may be the financially prudent thing for the young and healthy. No doubt tax accountants will help people make that decision.

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