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It’s Alive! Obamacare: the Frankenstein Monster with a Heart

June 29, 2012

Chief Justice John Roberts, the genial archconservative who flubbed President Obama’s Oath of Office and declared that corporations are “people,” surprised nearly everyone yesterday by tipping the scales in favor of Obamacare. His deciding vote saved the Affordable Care Act from a premature burial by the Supreme Court. In the long run, his decision could save millions of Americans from the same fate.

Roberts deserves our respect and sympathy for voting like a human being instead of a partisan. It takes a brave and almost foolhardy conservative to break ranks with the faithful and face the inevitable wrath of the Tea Party.  Already the hardcore GOP politicians, pundits and henchpersons have lit their torches and roused the village mob; eminent voices on the right have declared him a traitor and a coward. Some even suggested that his epilepsy medication has impaired his judgment.

At least Roberts can sleep with an undisturbed conscience, even as the bellowing of the mob drifts through his bedroom window. But what kind of creature has he saved from destruction? Does anyone really understand the strange, ungainly beast known as Obamacare?

To any objective observer (me included), the Affordable Care Act would appear to be a raging bundle of contradictions, a Frankenstein monster cobbled together from a disjointed assortment of body parts. Let me explain…

Obamacare takes the drastic step of forcing Americans to be insured or pay a penalty. Note that it doesn’t force us to buy insurance; the vast majority of Americans will continue to be insured by their employers. But the act would compel everyone to participate — even Rush Limbaugh, who boasts that he pays his own medical expenses without the aid of insurance (easy enough when your annual income is north of $30 million).

Conservatives regard this individual mandate as a violation of personal freedom. But so is the draft. So, for that matter, is the government ban on the slave trade. Anyone who agrees to participate in a society governed by laws naturally forfeits some degree of liberty.

Obamacare forces us to patronize private insurance companies. Conservatives who defame Obama as a socialist should take a closer look at this provision: the president is mandating that we acquire our insurance from the private sector. No state-run single-payer system… no government boards determining who qualifies for medical treatment and who doesn’t… no death panels telling Grandma she’s lived long enough.

No, the Affordable Care Act steers us directly into the open arms of corporate America, automatically ensuring that insurers do a brisk business collecting premiums from individuals and businesses alike. For a free-market capitalist, what’s not to like? Maybe this…

Obamacare forces insurers to cover everyone. That includes the obese, the drug-addled, the cancer-riddled, the unfit and the atherosclerotic. People with pre-existing conditions can no longer be turned away as bad risks. Obamacare essentially orders the insurance companies to embrace those risks, which strikes even an anti-corporatist curmudgeon like me as a little coercive.

At the same time, it always struck me as a wanton injustice that the people who need health insurance most desperately can’t get it… that they have to live in fear of catastrophic illnesses (and their subsequent treatments) that nobody of ordinary means can afford… that they face financial ruin if their health starts to implode (and, in fact, two-thirds of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. are currently caused by medical issues).

Should health insurance even be in the hands of the private sector? Should it be controlled by companies that need to make a profit, when the people most inclined to use it would wreck their beautiful bottom line? The current system makes almost no sense, but it’s so deeply entrenched — and the opposition to government-administered healthcare is so obstinate in the U.S. — that any radical realignment would probably spark a Tea Party insurrection or worse.

Obamacare, that much-maligned creature of unappealing and seemingly mismatched parts, somehow manages to tread this landscape with surprising delicacy. It preserves the private-sector control of health insurance while it strings a broad safety net across the chasm to save lives and personal finances. Yes, it’s strange and awkward and will take some getting used to, but this Frankenstein monster clearly has a heart. And for now at least, thanks to the wisdom of Chief Justice Roberts, it’s alive.

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71 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2012 8:20 pm

    I have some thoughts about this, but I’m not one of the favored five that get answered, so typing words out into a great vacuum seems pointless.

    • June 30, 2012 12:24 am

      i will be happy to respond to anything you might want to post.

    • June 30, 2012 8:21 am

      Me too!

    • June 30, 2012 12:04 pm

      RP: I’ve responded to your posts (see previous article’s comments section)… it’s just that I don’t always reply immediately, and once the comments proliferate beyond a certain point, I just jump in occasionally to fire off a random comment or two of my own.

      Anyway, by all means give us your thoughts on Obamacare…

  2. lovetheocean permalink
    June 29, 2012 10:20 pm

    Rick, before you bemoan that health insurers are being “coerced,” remember all the additional premium monies they’ll be getting. Seems to me that they must be OK with Obamacare or you’d be hearing some serious squealing from them.

    Can you imagine if the High Court shot down the mandate…there would be libertarians everywhere refusing to pay Social Security and Medicare deductions, based on the same rationale.

    Now, all of us who like this trajectory, with respect to reaffirmed Obamacare and other things of social conscience, must get ourselves out there and push for a Democratic WH and Congress in November.

    • June 29, 2012 11:05 pm

      Those pesky libertarians.
      They would most certainly refuse to pay $100,000 in return for $300,000 n benefits.
      And without that the system would just go bankrupt.

      http://www.npr.org/2011/04/30/135844222/medicares-math-problem-taxes-benefits-trouble

      Whether social security and medicare are good ideas or bad ideas, They are implemented radically differently.
      Of course if they were such a wonderful idea – why wouldn’t they work voluntarily ?

      • lovetheocean permalink
        June 30, 2012 12:53 am

        I read the NPR article and also what you said, below (the first entry….I see you’ve now written more), in reaction to Rick. In general, you’ve made some points that have merit and also points that are just too pat…like producing to get what we want. That probably irritated me most…it completely ignores the fact that not everyone is up to producing what is a decent life for themselves (and, by that, I mean a roof over their head, food on the table, and medical care). If you sincerely believe that everyone can provide for themselves…or that the government provides for those who truly can’t “produce”…then there’s no point discussing this. I can tell you that, in my county in California (and, no doubt, the rest of California, and probably the rest of the country), one can have the requirements for government help, but unless one is literally ready to land in the street, it’s virtually impossible to get a helping hand, even if you meet the income and asset requirements to receive aid. A kind of triage goes on, where the severely disabled and parents with dependent children get aid…the rest are left to survive on their own. Add to that the fact that there are virtually no jobs to be had, and the fact is many cannot “produce to get what they want.”

        As far as the fiscal wisdom of the SS, Medicare, or Obamacare system…or any governmental system… it’s all broken. That shouldn’t be surprising when one half of the country is reviled by the other half. But, if the government is going to allow unconscionable income/wealth disparities as now exist in this country, and if the contentious political polarity continues to exist, I’m going to be in there fighting for whatever systems can get through the Congress that will help get, for ALL Americans, what I believe is their right, in a country of abundance that professes to be civilized–that is, a roof, food, medical care. When the acrimony stops (if ever) in service to constructive progress, I’ll be happy to listen to alternative ideas that will lead to that same end (roof, food, medical care).

        You also talked about the effectiveness of health insurance on medical outcomes, saying it’s more a matter of emotional security. Ask some of your well-heeled friends, and they will likely tell you, if they’re honest, that protecting their wealth ranks right up there with staying well. I actually think you are right that most people would do fine without the continual evaluation of their health that they get. In fact, there’s evidence that a lot of that evaluation leads to further diagnostic procedures that can do harm…and do do harm. But, Americans like to feel in control…and they do believe that more is better…so they are not going to give up their perception that the more you go to a doctor, the healthier you will be. Given that, it is my concern that there’s a more even playing field with respect to health care. Every American should have fundamental health care. And, don’t tell me that they can walk into a hospital if they’re sick enough and get it if they need it, even if they are not insured. Ain’t true.

        Half of my family is in the US and half is in Denmark. My cousins there feel bad for their American cousins…they just can’t believe how our government neglects its people. And, I must say, their lives are pretty wonderful…a number have their own small businesses, while others are teachers and engineers. They all know their children will never see poverty around them…or BE poor themselves. Their kids will never be without education or medical care. They are very content, not like their American cousins, some of whom feel they’ve been cheated in one way or another, here in America, and who feel a certain amount of animosity.

        Well, I think I’ve gone on enough. I think I’ve made my point.

    • June 30, 2012 12:15 pm

      LTO: I don’t know if the additional premiums collected by the insurance companies will offset the cost of insuring folks with pre-existing conditions. I suppose it’s the fair solution if we stay within the boundaries of the private sector. But I think the ideal solution would have been to offer governmentp-sponsored insurance to uninsurable citizens rather than forcing insurance companies to lose money on them. It wouldn’t be a welfare program, because the uninsurable individuals would have to pay into it (assuming they’re able… if not, they’d be on Medicaid anyway).

      Of course, conservatives and libertarians would cry that we’re expanding the role of government… but would they rather force private companies to lose money insuring sick people? What a dilemma for them!

      I wonder why Denmark doesn’t have factions of pro-business conservatives and libertarians decrying their cradle-to-grave support system. Maybe they actually like it!

      • lovetheocean permalink
        July 1, 2012 2:29 pm

        Rick, I hope you don’t think I neglected your comment. 🙂 Most Danes, by far, do like their system…healthcare and otherwise. As far as Obamacare, it’s somewhat of a melange because it’s been created in a country that just can’t get together on the same page. I guess that’s inevitable in a country with diverse socio-economic statuses…and pretty much diverse everything…but I think that the inability to agree on a common mission statement and a way of doing things will be the thing that leads the U.S. down from being a world leader in a number of ways to being a mediocre country.

  3. June 29, 2012 11:34 pm

    Rick; your all over the place.

    Roberts is evil, maybe he’s good.

    There is even a hint of an argument that there really is no such thing as constitutional, whatever nine men in washington decide for whatever reason that’s fine.
    Plus more of that why can’t we just get along pablum.

    Except on the medicare portion this was a devisive politcal 5-4 decision – no matter what the outcome. Roberts split the baby and offended pretty much everyone.
    and created a constitutional mess while he was at it.

    Actually probably not, because this decision will likely have zero precidential value.
    The tax logic flies in the face of more than 100 years of constitutional precedent on the distinction between taxes and penalties. Robert practically telegraphed this is a one off decision. Please do not attach any significance beyond leave me out of this fight to it.

    PPACA is evil, but then it is good ?

    And then that wierd tirade about should healthcare be in the private sector at all ?

    First PPACA is not about healthcare it is about health insurance.
    Even with a single payer system your healthcare would be in the hands of private for profit companies. Despite the interference of government it is this system that has raised your life span from 60 in 1950 to 78 today.
    Beyond that there is actually some excellent studies demonstrating that health insurance – beyond catastrophic coverage, has little or no relationship to healthcare outcomes. We live as long, we are over all as healthy, whether routine doctor visits medicine, etc are covered or not. The only difference is that we fell more secure. We are paying an enormous amount of money for emotional security.
    But far be it for me to tell someone how they should voluntarily spend their money.
    But we are not talking about voluntary. Mandate – means NOT voluntary.

    Your question about healthcare can be asked of many things. If for profit companies can not be trusted to provide health insurance, then what about food ? Energy ? Banks ?
    in the end why is healthcare special. It isn’t. We all live. We all die. Things happen in the middle, some bad. Some of those bad things may be health related, some natural disaster, there are myriads of bad things that could happen, and will happen to someone. These bad things will manifest themselves in just about every facet of out lives private and public.

    We will seek protection – security from them all. It is not possible for any of us – not even the wealthy to get the perfect security we crave – at any cost.
    So we will have to make choices. Each of us will have to decide which of our fears and concerns trouble us most. Which we wish to expend effort – and money to reduce.

    We will not all chose the same. I may exercise more than you, but less than someone else. Or drink, or buy a gun, or drive fast, or slow, or ….
    Lots of choices all of which imply differences in values. Differences in what I want and what I fear.

    Government can not give each of us precisely what we want.
    Even the market place which does that far better than anything else, can not do that perfectly. It is not possible for any of us, much less all of us to get everything we want.

    when government takes over each of our individual preferences must become meaningless. Government healthcare can not be what is best for me, it must be some approximation of what is best for all.

    Like it or not to get the most of what you want in life, you have to be able to put a price on it. that price is what drives you to produce in order to get what you want. It is also what allows each of us to best acquire that subset of what we want that we value most.
    Government can not do that, because your values and mine are not the same, and because even you do not accurately express you real values until you decide what you are willing to pay for – or not.

  4. June 29, 2012 11:56 pm

    This Frankenstien is heartless.

    Morality, empathy, “heart” are the willingness to freely make personal sacrifices for some perceived greater good.

    There is no merit to what is compelled.
    If the government places a gin in your hands and drags you over to your child and places the gun against their head, and forces your finger against the trigger – the only way in which you did something wrong was in allowing government to gain that power.
    It is exactly the same with good as evil.
    If government steals your money and uses it to save others, that makes you no better a person. Nor does it make the world a better place.

    Worse still, it is all a lie. It has taken us 45 years to fail medicare – but that failure is clearly coming. It has taken almost 75 years to fail Social Security, but that failure is not far behind. I expect PPACA will fail far more quickly.

    Like all government programs it makes promises it can not keep.
    Why is it moral ? Why is it empathetic to lie to people ?

    There is not enough money anywhere to solve the problems with social security and medicare. Medicare part D has been in effect less than 10 years and it has cost an order of magnitude more than projected. Why do you keep believing ?

    Private industry succeeds in providing your what you want successfully thousands of times a day. Once in a blue moon there is a serious screw up – and you completely lose faith in it. Yet government never delivers on its promises and yet you beleive ?

    This is what you call heart ? Lying to people ?

    PPACA was supposed to be fiscally neutral – even save money over the long run.
    CBO now tells us, no it will cost atleast $1T over the next ten years.
    I know nothing about it intricacies, little about the big picture. but I will predict that the lowest number for direct costs will be $3T. That will not include the employers who do not hire,

    But then you think that the minimum wage which is nothing more than a guarantee that poor black males will never be able to get a job, that has heart.

    If lying to people, if stealing from them. If making promises that will never be delivered is your idea of heart – then I want no part of it.

    We are already very near the point of being forced to tell seniors you can not have all the healthcare you want or need, or that we promised you. but with each following generation the lie is bigger.

    PPACA is part of the fix for that. congress and the president have delegated some nameless faceless bureaucrat to tell our parents, only this much no more.
    I will avoid the rhetoric about death panels except to note that as you age increasingly small things are the difference between another day, or week or month.

    This is your idea of heart ?

  5. June 30, 2012 12:11 am

    Repeatedly you talk about “forced capitolism.”

    There is no such thing. it is “Free” markets.
    Socialism does not require ownership only control.
    When government dictates where and what you must buy, that is socialism.

    Separately though less inclined to excesses of government force than progressives, conservatism and freedom are not intrinsically related.

    Nor are they even the lead proponents of corporatism. That enormous bloated agriculture bill slash corporate welfare program Received only 16 republican votes in the senate. but it still passed easily. The highway porker that is borrowing from our future required both parties to pass

    Congress and the president are perfectly capable of bipartisan cooperation, when slathering out the corporate welfare.

  6. June 30, 2012 12:22 am

    Corprate bottom lines are not “beautiful”, they are wealth for those who work in those busniesses, they are wealth for the businesses and their employees that depend on those businesses – aren’t these the very arguments that the president gave us for Bailing out GM and chrysler ?
    Those profits are your stocks and bonds, your IRA or pension.

    That insurance agent deciding whether someone else gets an experimental cancer treatment that cost $1M and 10% of the time prolongs live by 5 years, and 90% of the time shortens it by a year, rahter than conventional therapy, that cost 1/10 as much and lengthens life by a year or two 90% of the time.

    Well he is also deciding whether he, and his fellow employees get to keep his job, whether your insurance rates go up, whether you will have the money to retire.

    corporations are made of people owned by people, managed by people. The benefits and losses of anything they do are to people.

    You can think of a corporation as a voluntary government that you can join or leave as you wish.

    Many posts ago we lamented the failure of Kodak. A business that makes no profit does not continue. it does not employee, and everyone invested in it loses.

  7. June 30, 2012 8:42 am

    Poor ol’ Anthony Kennedy….For years and years, he has issued centrist opinions and voted with the liberal justices at least as often as the conservatives, despite being a Reagan appointee….and now, because he read the very strong dissent against the Obamacare holding? What do you know…..John Roberts becomes the darling of the left for upholding the precious ACA. Honestly, to call any of the justices “partisan” is, I think, very unfair, Rick. Certainly, there are those with a strong ideological bent – none more so than the extreme leftist Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But I would not even call Ginsburg a partisan.

    I was disappointed in the decision, but I agree with those who say that there are some silver linings in the cloud that has upheld this awful mess of a law. (Just so that you don’t think I always agree with the conservative wing of the court, I did agree with the Stolen Valor Law being struck down – Kennedy joined the liberals on that one, btw). The fact that it was upheld as a tax (despite Obama’s frequent and forceful denials that it was such) did put the brakes on the continuing effort to utilize the commerce clause of the Constitution as a justification for general police power. And, although it did not strike down the Medicaid expansion, sure to bankrupt several states, it was very federalist in its ruling that states CAN opt out without losing their current funding.

    I also believe – although I am not certain about this – that it will energize the vote to elect Republicans in November, similarly to the way Obamacare brought out the tea party vote in 2010. So many people will be worse off if this law is not repealed – seniors who will lose Medicare Advantage, thousands of employees who get dropped from their employers’ plans, middle-class families who will see their premiums increase, businesses that will have to endure the employer mandate,likely forcing them to drop insurance or lay off workers, the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for the whole thing – that it is likely to encourage a coalition of, not only traditional Republicans, but former Obama voters who fear the economic impact on their lives.

    So much of the good in Obamacare could have been accomplished with smaller pieces of legislation that were not huge power grabs by the government to expand its power, as this law is.

  8. Rob Anderson permalink
    June 30, 2012 11:35 am

    This is a reply to lovetheocean.

    Bravo! Congratulations on a forceful articulation of the issues at hand. You will notice that asmith has not responded to you, nor have any of our other resident libertarian douchebags. They cannot argue with your logic, because it is irrefutable. For years now, the success of the Scandinavian system of social democracy was largely ignored by the right in this country, because they knew it worked and frankly didn’t want it opened as a topic of our national conversation. But as things have grown ever worse over the last ten years, more and more people have been asking the important question: “If they can do it, why not us?”

    The right, once bestirred, came up with the sort of answer you would expect if you had studied their rhetoric over the decades. They have claimed that the United States is too “special” to implement such a system, and that the Scandinavian countries succeed only because they are racially and culturally homogenous. Our national heterogeneity has little or nothing to do with whether social democracy could be implemented here, just how many hurdles would have to jumped on the way to ultimate success of the project.

    My cousin Chris married a Dane in the 90s, and moved with her to the U.S. She was absolutely appalled by our culture and the ignorance and coarseness of our culture. But most of all, she was horrified by the violence. So when she became pregnant, she told Chris “I’m not raising my children in this country.” Being a rock-ribbed conservative Republican, Chris at first refused. Lena gave him an ultimatum, and so he agreed. When first he arrived in Denmark, he was very dismissive of their system. He came to see that their system worked, and did so in spectacular fashion. It’s not perfect, of course, nothing designed by people ever will be, but it is very close. The Danes have every right to be proud of their society. It is MUCH better than our’s, whatever the right would like us to believe.

    • June 30, 2012 3:03 pm

      Rob;

      There was a long debate on the Scandinavian system a few topics ago.
      I would be happy to repost pages and pages of studies, data, etc. showing that the scandanavian systems did not work, and that they are slowly returning to something closer to ours. Further, what they had, or even still have is not as bad as what we are trying to do. Most of the northern european systems grasp the real free rider problem – the demand for free is nearly infinite, consumers must pay a sufficient portion of the real cost to self regulate their consumption. in the US Medicare and medicaid, PPACA, even private insurance as mandated by law, do not have that self regulation.

      I am glad your cousin is happy in Denmark.

      If you like the Danish system so much, make it work inside this country as an entirely voluntary system. If it can not work that way, then it does not really work.

      No libertarian has ever said you can not have for what you want for yourself.
      All they ask is that you not force your wants onto the rest of us.

      The US is fundamentally different from almost the entire rest of the world.
      I would wonder if your cousins spouses perceptions that our culture is course and ignorant – which sometimes we are, might also reflect the fact that we are also diverse.
      Most of Europe treats minorities far better than we do – so long as they are only a tiny part of their population. When a different race or culture threatens their national identity they seem far less tolerant and cultured. Europe particularly norther europe allows the illusion of tolerance and superiority without having to confront the reality of actually having to make a culture where no single race, creed or culture dominates. That can appear very coarse, violent, and ignorant. But unless you are planning genocide, in the US you are stuck with the most heterogeneous culture in existence

      But even accepting your argument that there are no meaningful differences, northern Europe, including Denmark has been slowly reducing exactly those things that you think are so great. They have been reducing corporate taxes, reducing taxes on capitol, reducing the scale of their welfare state, reducing benefits, reducing the size of government. Reducing their debt, and reducing their deficits. If they are so happy with what they have. If it has worked so well why are they head our way ?

      • lovetheocean permalink
        July 1, 2012 12:11 am

        Rob, you have great skill at getting to the heart of the matter and making a strong case! Thank you for the assist. asmith, you need not worry…Denmark is in no danger of becoming the USofA. A few Danes grouse about the tax rate, but few would give up their near-ideal society in return for lower taxes. Danes not only embrace their social commitment to take care of each other, but they are proud of it. As in any society, they have challenges. But, as Rob and I know from our personal eyewitnesses, Danes are happy and doing just fine.

  9. June 30, 2012 1:28 pm

    As usual, your comments about the ACA are stimulating. Now that it has been okayed by the Supremes (often referred to as nine men in black robes, ignoring the fact that three of those robes contain women, who vote in lockstep as a liberal block), the often misguided and ideologically absurd details of a 2500 page document, created by a wholly partisan group of Democratic staffers, in secret, will start to filter out. I cringe at the prospect. One small bone to pick, Rick. Comparing the Individual mandate, that all must pay, to the draft, as an example of the price we all must pay to be part of society: the draft was hardly universal–there were many exceptions and deferments, most notably, over fifty percent of the age-eligible population–females.

    • June 30, 2012 3:11 pm

      The sole legitimate role of government is the protection of its people. Threats of violence external or internal are legitimately inside the domain of government. While a purely voluntary defense would be preferred, the only legitimate obligation of citizenship – beyond not initiating violence against others, is the defense of the nation.
      Even libertarians can support a draft for national defense.

      There is a price we must pay to be part of society, but that price is not fungible.
      It is not initiating violence towards others, and protecting society as a whole from externally initiated violence. It is not anything that a majority can conceive.

    • June 30, 2012 10:50 pm

      RP, you bring up a good point about the liberals on the court voting in lockstep, which they do. Sandra Day O’Connor was the “swing” vote on the court, after being originally considered a conservative, and now Anthony Kennedy has assumed that role. We’ve seen John Roberts vote with the liberal bloc, and, if I am not mistaken, one of Samuel Alito’s first acts as a Supreme was to vote with the liberal bloc in blocking an execution.

      Has there ever been a liberal justice who was considered a moderate or swing vote on the court, at least in recent memory? I do recall John Paul Stevens breaking with the liberal faction once or twice…….

      • July 1, 2012 3:54 am

        The court does not actually divide easily on bipolar fault lines.
        There is more so called ideological unanimity on the left than the right.
        But each of the justices brings their own personal ideology and view of the law. there have been a number of very unusual splits this term. Fairly effectively demonstrating that binary labels do not fit.

        I would not be especially hard on the “liberal” justices, because the “conservatives” have as many problems. Thomas by far the most libertarian on the court, voted to uphold “stolen valor”. Thomas the justice least inclined to value precedent – still routinely sides with government against the individual on myriads of issues.

        I think in this particular instance Roberts did something uncharacteristic.
        I think if this were not the signature legislation of Pres. Obama, Roberts would have voted with the remainder of the “conservatives”. i also think that he will abandon the tax argument he rested this decision on at the first opportunity. Nor do I think there is a lower court in the country that will treat this decision as having presidential value with respect to taxation.
        Roberts did not argue that he was overturning established precedent. He pretended he could shoehorn this through without breaking anything. But this decision conflicts with almost 100 years of decisions on taxes.

  10. June 30, 2012 4:01 pm

    Lovetheocean;

    You do not have to like that we get what we want by producing what others want, but it is the way the world works. Other ways have been tried. They do not work. If you can conceive of one that has not been tried i will be happy to consider it.

    Regardless, for everyone to have what they want someone must produce it.
    There has never been a successful system where production was compelled.
    Put differently, slavery has proved to be a horribly inefficient economic system.

    Again unless you can conceive of a different way to inspire people to produce, you are stuck with their doing so because of what they will get out of it. And you are stuck with the fact that the less they get out of it the less they will produce.

    The so called compassionate progressive systems fail. They particularly fail those they intend to help. If you actually look at the real world that is obvious. There is all kinds of data demonstrating that the aide of affluent nations to poor nations further impoverishes them. Even inside a country, our government efforts to help the less well off have tended to make things worse.

    Nor is any of this an accident. Human nature, government, central planning reach these ends naturally.

    We are all equal only in the eyes of government. Most of us grasp this. It is not fair. Life is not fair. It is not fair that Bill Gates has so much more than I or that most young black mals have so much less than I. It is not fair that most from China or India have so much less than that young black male. It is not fare that most indians and chinese are so much better off than much of sub-sahara africa. It is not fair that we are not all equally intellegent. That some of us are nearsighted, that some are skilled athletes and others disabled.

    Life is just not fair. You are personally free to try to fix as much of that as you wish, as am I, and I do. What you are not free to do, is to force me to advance your choices.
    When you compel me to do something you think is a moral good. Then neither you nor I are actually engaged in anything moral. I have no claim to morality for doing something I was compelled to. And you have no claim for what was accomplished by others through force. If you are intent on improving the world – how do you expect that to happen when you start with an immoral act ?

    No I do not believe the world is fair. I also do not believe that the use of force will make it any better. The sole distinction between government and private action is that government can use force to compel. That is all.

    Rick makes a huge deal about corporations. But a corporation is just a group of people acting toward a common goal. Government differs from private corporations in only one fundimental way – government has the right to force you to follow its dictates whatever they are.

    If you wish to improve the world join forces with others sharing the same objectives and do so. So long as you are acting to make the world better – rather than acting to compel someone else to accomplish your view of a better world, then I fully support you.

    Various government programs do not fail because we can not all get along.
    We may not agree about the solutions to the medicare and social security problems, but a grasp that there is a problem is nearly universal. Nor did that problem come about specifically because of divergences in our views. Though the NPR piece is loaded with progressive spin, and myriads of actual inaccuracies. It gets some things right.
    Medicare just does not work

    I can not seem to find it at the moment, but I just recently read a study that correlated income inequality strong to government debt and deficits.

    I

    • lovetheocean permalink
      July 1, 2012 12:50 am

      asmith, you have covered a lot of ground. Let me just say a few things. First, where did I talk at all about people not being willing to work/produce? I talked about people being unable to work…and unable to find a job. I’m very big on work ethic, probably more than most. But, I also recognize that the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps attitude is often a convenient way to ignore that, for any of a myriad of reasons, some people just can’t do what society requires to have a decent life.

      About us all not being equal: of course we are not. Not physically, mentally, socially, economically, you name it. And, that’s not fair. But to accept the unfairness of it without trying to even the playing field to the point that everyone has a basically decent life is to accept that we are animals operating under the survival of the fittest. You certainly are entitled to embrace that. I don’t. But, I wouldn’t judge you for embracing it. I don’t have a telephone line to the truth or God or whatever. I’ve chosen to believe in compassion and equality. It really doesn’t matter what you or I believe. In America, the majority rules. There’s nothing you or I can do, individually, to change things. I speak out occasionally (like now) and write emails and letters to politicians occasionally. I do these things more as a demonstration of my beliefs than as acts that I believe have any real power. There’s one other thing, not completely on point but related…I believe in a society’s potential. I often come up against people who take me to task for criticizing America. But, I criticize because I judge America for what it could be…those taking me to task compare America to other countries (usually those deep in Africa) and say, we’re so much better than that.

      One last point, about this statement of yours: “You are personally free to try to fix as much of that as you wish, as am I, and I do. What you are not free to do, is to force me to advance your choices.”

      I’m not sure if, by “you,” you mean the society or an individual. If the latter, how can anyone force you to do anything? And, as for the society, yes, it can force you to do things…majority rule and all that.

      • July 1, 2012 3:43 am

        It is not leveling the playing field that produces a decent life for the less able. It is everyone’s increased productivity.
        This is actually more than an opinion. i have cited several studies in the past – particularly a major one done by the world bank.
        Increased freedom corresponds directly to a 1% increase in GDP/year. A broader social safety net, corresponds to a 1/3% decrease in GDP per year. A 1% increase in GDP doubles the standard of living with each successive generation.

        We are seeing 2% growth right now – think how abysmal no growth would be. From 1980 through 2008 we averaged a bit over 3% growth. Who who not be extremely happy with the economic conditions of the past 30 years rather than those of the past 4 ?

        How can you get an additional 1% in growth ? Cut the total cost of government by 10% of GDP. In 2009 the federal government jumped by almost 5% of GDP that alone probably costs us 1/2% growth in GDP.

        Total US Government (fed. state local) is between 43 and 53% of GDP depending on where you live (guess which states have the greatest growth)
        Get that to 33-43 and your get a to 3% growth and you will know that your children are likely to be twice as well off as you are.

        It is not about survival of the fittest, it is that we all do best, when we are all free to try and achieve whatever we wish, and free to keep what we produce.

        What percent of people do you think are unable to take care of themselves at any point during their lives ? I would be surprised if it was even 1%.
        That is not a justification for government consuming half of what we produce.

        you can not believe in equality We are equal. wishing will not make that true. We can expect government to treat each of us equally – but that is not actually what you want. You explicitly what government to treat us unequally to compensate for the fact that we are not equal.

        Compassion is what you personally do for others. I will be happy to support you in that. I think I am extremely compassionate.

        But when you convert compassion into force – and anything government does is force, then it is no longer compassion. It is actually evil. And you will not get the outcome you hope for, because bad means do not bring about good ends.

        i do not talk about society doing things, about government do things, because there is little that government or society can do that is not immoral. Because government is force.

        When i speak of “you” – I mean you, the person. I may mean in the sense of any individual. i will even give groups of people acting voluntarily. But I do not mean society or government.

        Democracy is an abysmal form of government, and it is not ours. Democracy demanded Socrates drink Hemlock. Democracies fail – badly. The majority has the right to take only one freedom from us – the freedom to agress against others. Any other decision by the majority is tyranny. it is immoral. The fact that our country and most countries infringe further on freedom does not make it either right or moral.

      • lovetheocean permalink
        July 1, 2012 11:37 am

        Again, it’s so pat to equate standard of living with happiness. Yes, people do need a minimum standard of living without which it is not possible to be happy. And, in fact, if the wealth/income in America were divvied up far more equitably, we’d probably all have that basic standard of living right now. Beyond that minimum standard of living, it is the intangible things that make for happiness, at least for the majority. Really, the majority does not covet the level of spoils that require greater and greater and greater productivity. What most want is more time with their family…their children,,,themselves. And, the fact is that time relates closely to productivity. Ironically, I am, by nature, someone for whom work ethic has always been a part of my makeup…and of my happiness…but I recognize that that’s not how most people are…and, there’s no reason to feel that my attitude has more value than theirs. One of the things that makes the Danes happy is that they DO have time for family, friends, and activities and are not chasing riches (particularly not by putting in 12-hour work days as some Americans are so willing to do).

        Another thing, when you say things like, “…it is that we all do best, when we are all free to try and achieve whatever we wish, and free to keep what we produce,” you’re speaking of something that CAN’T and WON’T happen in America (I’m not, btw, commenting here on the merit or lack of merit of your case). What happens in America has little, if anything, to do with what should or could happen…what happens in America has ALL to do with trajectory of power. I’m not sure what good it does to advocate for beliefs or ideals that can’t rise against that trajectory. And, this is how I believe the trajectory is going in America…and won’t be stopped no matter who gets into the WH and Congress in November (although, the Dems would probably postpone it for a while): I believe that greed will continue to erode the strength of America’s economy and aggregate wealth because it will continue to take from the ever-increasing poor and ever-decreasing middle class and give to the rich (by off-shoring jobs, allowing undocumented workers to stay in this country in numbers that hamper job accessibility for Americans, etc.). Even if the Dems get in, I do not believe the trajectory will be changed, just postponed. Americans may grouse about where the country is headed, but only the well-heeled among us have what it takes to make/change policy. The rest of us are powerless because we can’t get on the same page…because we don’t have one overriding mission statement like Danes do (in their case, the shared mission of taking care of everyone in the society and in a fairly equal way).

  11. June 30, 2012 4:09 pm

    I do not personally care about income inequality. I care about the overall quality of life for most people.

    The US absorbs more than 1 million legal immigrants a year, and about an equal number of illegal ones. The overwhelming majority of these are poor – really poor. Most arrive with nothing. Yet our standard of living rises. Over three decades that has amounted to more than 10% of our population.

    What northern european social democracy has absorbed 10% of its population in poor outsiders of different races and cultures, in the past century ?

    The US has myriads of flaws, but we both import and export prosperity.
    We have grown from 25% of the world economy in 1980 to almost 35% today.
    Yet our growth has not only made us wealthier, but it has made the entire world wealthier. It has taken more than 30 million immigrants legal an illegal that have arrived with nothing, incorporated them into our society and done so while increasing our standard of living. Do the math. That is not possible without a radical improvement in prosperity for everyone.

    One of the great fallacies of all the income inequality statistics are that they falsely reflect time. The average american advances through two qunitiles during their life. That means any measure of income inequality that does not show and average gain of two economic classes over time, is flawed. Put differently, Almost none of those in bottom quintile in 1980, are still in the bottom quintile in 2010. Where in your measures of income inequality does that show up ?

    There are myriads of other fallacies – there is no accounting for immigration, for family formation. For the most part properly read those charts of increasing income inequality tell us that:

    We still tend to all start out just as poor as ever, but as we get older we are all becoming more wealthy that we did in the past.

    Is that something you want to work hard to end ?

    • lovetheocean permalink
      July 1, 2012 12:53 am

      I didn’t see these other posts of yours…let me see what else I can digest…

      • lovetheocean permalink
        July 1, 2012 12:43 pm

        This is meaningless to me because it describes the past, when our country was not on the trajectory it is now on. This is not a normal contraction/recession in the economic cycle. There has been, for decades, a stealth erosion of our jobs structure. In the ’70s, facing rampant inflation, women went into the workforce to shore up the American standard of living…and in fact “improved” it, at least on paper, because now you had two whole people working for a family theretofore supported by one person. Forget about all the benefits, especially to children, of having a stay-at-home parent. America couldn’t keep up its standard of living even with women in the workplace, so we turned to cheap labor, off-shoring jobs and turning a blind eye to undocumented workers in this country. Again, on paper, our standard of living looked rosy. Then, we ran out of excess/cheap labor. Add to that the national debt incurred by having to bail out the greed-driven financial industry (for the second time, no less…remember the savings and loans in the late ’80s/early ’90s). Also add to it our off-shoring of historically higher-paying manufacturing jobs (a ladder out of poverty for many), as well as other assaults on our middle class. Looking at our past is useless…this is an entirely different structure. And, along with it has come a level of political polarity and contentiousness never before seen. At a time when our only real hope is to agree on a mission statement and act in unison, this country is more polarized than ever. So, in this case, nothing about the past can predict the future.

  12. June 30, 2012 4:45 pm

    lovetheocean;

    The data on health outcomes I refered to (resulting from studies that have been repeated numerous times over the decades) was not about quality amount of care. It was specifically about health insurance.

    This debate constantly confuses healthcare with health insurance as if they are the same.
    With only a few exceptions PPACA is about health insurance not healthcare.

    The studies I cited demonstrate that beyond certain minimums – basically catastrophic coverage, the amount of insurance that an individual has has little effect on health outcomes. It might make them more secure. It might mean they are treated better by doctors and hospitials. But it does not alter their overall health.

    Even excepting the progressive belief that nations have an obligation to convert a want of healthcare into a right, wouldn’t the rational conclusion be that the state should provide the minimum necessary to achieve an acceptable outcome. If there is no difference in health outcomes between the minimally insured and the maximally insured – but there is a great deal of difference in cost, why is the state mandating any more than the minimum ?

    This is not about the poor. It is not about pre-exiting conditions. It is not about the horror stories that progressive like to tell.

    It is about creating a fiction that we are getting something for free because instead of paying for it directly, we are paying the government, and then letting them bestow it on us.

    PPACA is a mammoth program. Yet even if it accomplishes everything it promises, it accomplishes very little.

    Will people who do not receive care now receive care under PPACA ?
    No, no one is denied healthcare in this country.

    It is probable that a small percentage of young and middle class people who today chose not to have insurance, and ended up bankrupt because they lost that bet (the overwhelming majority actually win) will not. I would strong suggest carefully reading Elizabeth Warren’s studies on Health insurance and bankruptcy. but the gist is Health issues are a factor in 30% of all bankruptcies, and the average healthcare debt at bankruptcy is $2000.

    Is that a national crisis that requires spending $1T ?

    There are numerous other minor purported benefits of PPACA.

    Lets presume they are all desirable. Lets presume that SMBs are not going to opt out and drop coverage – as has happened in Massachusetts.
    Lets presume having the government decide what every health insurance plan must cover is a good thing. That forcing various churches to violate their principles is not an issue, that …. is all good.

    What in this is worth $1T ? Much will have changed. But in terms of healthcare outcomes nothing will have changed.

    So why are we doing this ?

    Finally, PPACA was initially supposed to save $1T over a decade. We are past that fiction. CBO now says it will cost $1T.

    What prior government program actually cost what we were told it would cost ?
    My low guestimate is that the direct cost to tax payers will be more like $3T/decade.
    For that you get massive structural change in health insurance, but no change in outcome

    The indirect costs probably dwarf the direct costs.

    So why are we doing this ?

    No one will receive healthcare that does not currently receive health care.

    So arguing this is about the unfortunate.

    • lovetheocean permalink
      July 1, 2012 12:18 pm

      Do you really believe, “No one will receive healthcare that does not currently receive health care”? That’s just patently wrong. I know a number of people who will have healthcare under Obamacare who would not otherwise have it. Btw, we have Obamacare because it’s a grand compromise…because we as a society couldn’t get on the same page. I, myself, have optimistic hopes for it. Btw, I don’t see how health insurance and quality of healthcare don’t relate, unless you are talking about completely different levels of health insurance for various people. But, without going down that road, let me just say this: I believe that the society does not “owe” its people over-indulgent healthcare, just adequate healthcare, though my standard for “adequate” would probably be somewhat higher than yours…yes, catastrophic care, but I would like also to be able to go to the ER for some relief from a kidney stone, even though that’s not a catastrophic situation (at least rarely). Another problem I see is that quality of healthcare really varies…and I don’t know how the society begins to solve this. In an urban hospital in L.A., there was the case of a woman with an intestinal obstruction who writhed on the emergency-room floor for hours, even as a janitor mopped around her, and despite all the pleas of her family for treatment, she eventually died (this was not a health-insurance issue but rather a failure to triage correctly and a failure of human decency). Meanwhile, well-healed people in San Diego routinely get to go to Scripps in La Jolla, where the treatment is top-drawer. Accepting an “adequate” level of care across the society doesn’t address the urban-L.A./La Jolla kind of disparity.

      • Priscilla permalink
        July 1, 2012 2:50 pm

        I’m typing on a phone, so this will be short. But, other than “children” under the age of 26 now able to be covered under their parents’ plan, who has new coverage under O-care? With the exception of selected aspects of the law that were seen as politically popular, it is largely unimplemented, until Jan 2014 when all of the mandates and penalties will kick in.

      • lovetheocean permalink
        July 1, 2012 6:02 pm

        I think that’s accurate. Here in California, the state has gone ahead and implemented some of Obamacare ahead of time. If you’ve been uninsured and uninsurable for six months, you can get low-cost insurance. It has been a blessing for an acquaintance of mine who lost her health insurance and developed cancer. After she was without insurance for six months, she automatically got this coverage for just a few hundred dollars a month (unlike my insurance that costs me $800+ per month). She has been treated for her cancer, and the insurance likely saved her life.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 1, 2012 10:08 pm

        O-care requires that all insurance policies contain “minimum
        essential coverage.” That means individuals will no longer decide what level
        of coverage is right for them. Instead, the government will decide. As a result,
        most people will have to purchase policies that cover treatments they don’t want or need—and it will cost them a lot more. That $800 you are paying may soon look like a bargain….
        New restrictions about insurance pricing will force everyone to subsidize other policy holders. These mandates also mean insurance companies will compete less, and face less market pressure to control costs. “Free” contraception, abortion and sex-change surgery will drive up costs
        enormously. I am not against these things, I just don’t want to pay for them ( unless they are for me!).
        I have a 24 year old daughter who is a cancer survivor. During her treatment (she was diagnosed at age 4) I met many families with inadequate or no insurance, but they were all getting the treatment they needed. The docs had to fight harder for some because the insurance companies are could be truly heartless….but under O-care, doctors will be essentially stripped of any ability to influence the course of treatment. Government bureaucrats will make the calls. I am not ok with that.
        To quote one of my favorite writers, Mark Steyn: “The U.S. Supreme Court is starting to look like Britain’s National Health Service — you wait two years to get in, and then they tell you there’s nothing wrong. And you can’t get a second opinion.”

        Maybe Denmark has it right for Denmark. Although I how many Danes come to America for special surgery…….

      • July 1, 2012 10:13 pm

        ^^ me ^^

  13. June 30, 2012 5:06 pm

    lovetheocean;

    89% of danes are evangelical lutherns.
    96% are ethnically danes. 1% are Faeroese and Inuit. 3% are turks or other scandanavians.

    How well do you think Danes would compare to Americans of Scandinavian descent ?

    I will be happy to concede that poor danes fair better than poor americans.
    But the median Dane has a standard of living (GDP/PPP) that is about 3/4 of the median american. considering the far greater cultural and ethic diversity in the US.
    That is absolutely abysmal.

    The median american is doing as much better than the median dane, as the median dane is compared to US poor.

    The median income of Americans of Scandanavian descent is significantly higher than the median income of Americans as a whole.

    It is better to be a Dane in the US than a Dane in Denmark, by nearly a factor of two.
    The downside is that you have to live in a country with all those blacks, hispanics, irish, italians, jews, …….

    • lovetheocean permalink
      July 1, 2012 1:16 am

      asmith,
      I’ll react to your other posts tomorrow. But, for tonight, I’ll leave you with a little something for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

      • July 1, 2012 3:13 am

        Your video reminded me of the song used to open episodes of the first Season of “Weeds” – Little Boxes, Little Boxes, …..

        I do not actually believe the Danes are the happiest in the world,
        because I do not believe social scientists know how to measure happiness.
        When social sciences attempt to use mathematical and statistical methods to quantify the quantifiable – it has a name, “the pretense of knowledge”. This is also a problem in economics – which is far closer to a hard science than sociology or psychology. But economics does have a highly accurate method of measuring “Gross National Happiness” – or atleast Gross National Satisfaction (they are not quite the same).
        It is called GDP/PPP or standard of living.

        I am constantly harping that the proper definition wealth is “what we need and what we want”. Wealth is subjective. standard of living is the best objective measure that we have for the extent to which a country or people meet their needs and desires.

        You are free to argue that what we want and what makes us happy are not the same. That americans insanely pursue things that do not make them happy. But those same social scientists I just maligned seem to think so

        It is also true that the US does not have the highest standard of living in the world. Qatar, Luxemborg, Singapore, Norway, Brunei, and Hong Kong.

        Recently Eduardo Saverin surrendered his US Citizenship to move to Singapore.

        If Denmark is such a wonderful place to live – become Danish.
        I am not being facetious. We live in a world where that is increasingly more reasonable. On the other hand a country where only 4% of the residents are not ethnically danish, probably is in no hurry to let you in. There are days I want to find 10.000 acres as far from government as I can get. I do not think that can be found in Denmark. Even the two acres in the woods that I have probably can not be found in Denmark.

        Even if we accept the premise that the Danes are the happiest in the world. We are back to that monoculture thing. Maybe we are all just happier when we are surrounded by others exactly like us. By others who share our values – regardless of what those values might be.

        I suspect you will find it is not the cradle to grave social safety net that makes them happy. But rather the almost perfectly homogeneous society with little diversity and identical values that makes it possible to have that social safety net.

        So how are you planning or transforming this country into that perfectly homogenous Danish style society.

        Rob keeps arguing that my claim that the scandanavians are a monoculture is bogus and not really relevant anyway.
        Sure seemed like a mono culture to me. Did not see a single non-white in the entire video. If the GOP produced that video we would be screaming racists. I guess you are not intolerant, or rascist if you have universal healthcare.

        One last though – admire Denmark if you wish. Even work hard to persuade whoever you can that their values their system is better than hours. But leave me and anyone else who disagrees free. Not obligated to support or benefit from this system you think is so wonderful.

        Once again I will point out that the difference between a government and a corporation, is that the latter is fully voluntary, while the former relies on force. Form Denmark USA, Inc. allow anyone to join. Members can be obligated to pay steep taxes to remain members – in return they get the benefits of whatever scheme you concoct.

        If you can not make what you want to work voluntarily, why should it work when forced ?

      • lovetheocean permalink
        July 1, 2012 2:03 pm

        Wow, where to begin? You seem almost obsessed with standard of living…but most people aren’t. As I said earlier, after an adequate standard of living has been achieved, most people find greater happiness in intangible things. Regarding “objective” measures of happiness, I say this: if people think they are happy, they are. Take a look at America right now. Does anything suggest that most Americans are happy? If you think so, you haven’t been listening. On the other hand, everything I know about the Danes says they are essentially quite happy, though every society has its issues of concern from time to time.

        I know you’re not being facetious about suggesting I move to Denmark. The fact is, the thing that matters most to me, beyond my family, is living in warmth and sunshine. This is mostly a matter of health and well-being for me. I live in Southern California for those reasons. If Denmark still owned the Virgin Islands and had a Danish society there, I probably would have found a way to re-settle there. If I were a lot younger, I would look into Aruba. America works for me because of the Southern California sun…that’s my personal definition of happiness, beyond the well-being of my family.

        Re: Is Denmark a monoculture? I would say, yes and no. Yes, if you look at the numbers of ethnic Danes and Protestants, and the shared Scandinavian culture. No, if you look at the willingness of Danes to accept people who are ethnically different. In fact, if you look closely at how open they have been to an influx of Muslims (even now, though they have tightened immigration requirement as of late, probably in reaction to somewhat of a clash between the Muslim and Danish cultures…not the least of which was the Muslim reaction to the cartoons), they are also open to people of different religions.

        Another point…I don’t believe that a median standard of living is a valuable measure of a society. Standard of living (beyond an adequate minimum) does not equate with happiness…a lot of people, especially Danes, will agree. As I’ve said, they want TIME…time with their families, their friends, their activities. To me, the true measure of a society is how it treats the poorest and most disadvantaged of its people…not how high-on-the-hog the average person lives.

        A last point: Does homogeneity contribute (notice, I said “contribute”) to the happiness of Danes? That’s a valid question. The answer is probably “yes.” And, if the answer is “yes,” is that OK? I honestly don’t know. Certainly, people of other cultures are not precluded from living in Denmark and are afforded all the equality and goodwill there that ethnic Danes are. But, just by virtue of the fact there are so many ethnic, Protestant Danes, the country is very homogeneous. But, is it wrong that I happen to live–or am I lesser of a person because I live–in a very predominantly white, virtually all Christian community? I didn’t move here for that reason. I moved here because of low crime, relatively low housing costs, a sense of peacefulness, “big sky,” and convenient stores. Is it “wrong” that I didn’t choose a more ethnically diverse community? I don’t know the answer to that.

  14. July 1, 2012 4:03 am

    In Denmark you can be born a Prince and grow up to be a carpenters apprentice.
    In the United States you can be born the child of an illegal immigrant and grow up to be a billionaire, or nobel prize winner or Corporate CEO or President,

    Denmark is not hell – though I have to admit the more I find out about it the more hellish it seems. Maybe little boxes isn’t quite right, how about the Stepford wives ?

    This is your idea of utopia ? Really ? I though progressives liked diversity. Denmark appears less diverse than the KKK.

    Regardless, I am sure it is not that bad a place to be. But i will stay here – even with obamacare and all the new deal and great society programs that are bankrupting us and punishing the poor.

    • July 1, 2012 4:06 am

      Darn, i missed a better line. I the US you can be born poor and grow up to be Prince.

      • lovetheocean permalink
        July 1, 2012 2:11 pm

        Oh, please…though I did enjoy your line about growing up to be Prince. 🙂

    • lovetheocean permalink
      July 1, 2012 2:20 pm

      I’ve read that article before. Thank heaven that people of that attitude are leaving Denmark.

  15. July 2, 2012 1:21 pm

    “But, is it wrong that I happen to live–or am I lesser of a person because I live–in a very predominantly white, virtually all Christian community? I didn’t move here for that reason. I moved here because of low crime, relatively low housing costs, a sense of peacefulness, “big sky,” and convenient stores. Is it “wrong” that I didn’t choose a more ethnically diverse community? I don’t know the answer to that.”

    lto, you really do bring a fresh, openly liberal but tolerant POV to this discussion. When I first read the question you posed, quoted above, I thought, this is exactly what a moderate conservative/libertarian would say – but wihout the implied guilt that somehow living in a homogeneous, even Christian -gasp!- community somehow taints one as a….a what? a racist? a religious intolerant? It seems to be a question that only white liberals seem to struggle with, and it is largely only whites who are ever ‘tainted’ by by their free choices, if those choices happen to bring them, as they did you, to a wonderful, but, perhaps, “politically incorrect” neighborhood.

    Free choice is a big part- probably the biggest part of being American, and I think (to cycle this back to Riock’s post) the main objection that many people have to O-care is that it removes free choice from healthcare…many people have no need for anything but catastrophic insurance. They can handle their routine health needs without purchasing expensive comprehensive plans. But, under this system of mandated coverage, they will no longer be able to make that choice.

    • July 2, 2012 7:38 pm

      What is it that we expect PPACA to solve ?

      If the problem is healthcare for the uninsured
      They are already receiving healthcare. Nearly all medical facilities in this country are obligated – and most would treat patients whether they are insured or not.

      If the problem is that a serious medical problem can wipe out the middle class uninsured, then even those believing in the mandate should have limited it to requiring catastrophic coverage. To anyone who has looked at health insurance cost low or no deductable cover everything insurance will add more to the cost of the insurance than the amount of the deductable. If we had to pay for it ourselves it would never make sense to buy anything but catastrophic insurance. It should require little thought to understand that not only is that how it is, but it is how it must be. It is always more expensive to pay someone else to buy something for you.

      If the problem is the cost of insurance or medical care, government has NEVER successfully brought down the price of anything for more than a brief time without creating shortages. The french revolution was brought about partly by the shortages created by government trying to force the price of bread down.
      The solution is not price controls, or even exchanges. It free markets. Nothing else worked to bring down the costs of auto insurance, that worked well. The so called government run exchanges are a fake substitute.

      But none of these are the problems or means that PPACA uses to address them, which begs the question of what PPACA is actually for.

      The answer like all government programs and regulation is to make someone rich and enhance the power of government.

      • valdobiade permalink
        July 3, 2012 7:31 pm

        asmite wrote: “What is it that we expect PPACA to solve ?
        If the problem is healthcare for the uninsured
        They are already receiving healthcare. Nearly all medical facilities in this country are obligated – and most would treat patients whether they are insured or not. ”
        =====

        By your mentality there is no difference between insured and not insured, everybody gets medical attention. Why do we need medical insurance anyway?
        I thought you were smarter than a 5th degree grader.

      • July 3, 2012 8:41 pm

        In response to V–you need to calm down. I find asmith’s comments routinely illuminating. I once delivered care in a tertiary care hospital, where the vast majority of patients were poor, and uninsured. They showed up, and we took care of them. The medical care delivered to them was world class, and the cost was born by everybody else (the insured, their insurance companies, uninsured paying customers, and the taxpayer). For progressives to get histrionic about the 35 million uninsured, as if hundreds of thousands will die on the streets, without OCARE is absurd. Once the uninsured get free coverage, they will swamp the system, demanding their entitlement (human nature). Good luck getting your next medical appointment.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 4, 2012 12:17 am

        So true, RP.

        valdo, the need for medical insurance was traditionally to protect people from the high costs of catastrophic illnesses or accidents that landed them in the hospital. Not for routine medical checkups and elective procedures. People used to buy their own health insurance and pay for their routine care. Out of their own pockets!….and it was, for the most part, an affordable expense (Aaah, that was a simpler time….. )

        But, today employers (you know, those dastardly corporations, like Halliburton ;)) pay the majority of health insurance premiums ( I think it’s about 90%) and people have grown used to “free” healthcare. Except that the free healthcare isn’t really free, it’s, in fact, exorbitantly expensive. And a lot of corporations aren’t willing or able to pay for it anymore. And most individuals can barely afford it on their own….

        But, almost everyone can get medical attention. Or, at least they can if they seek it….and, these days, with the help of organizations like Planned Parenthood, even the uninsured can get “free” contraception and “free” abortions.

        Don’t make the mistake of conflating health insurance with good medical care.

  16. July 3, 2012 2:38 am

    Nice to see you on WP, Rick! Didn’t know this is where your blog lives. Two of mine live here, too. 🙂

    • July 3, 2012 9:59 am

      Nice to see you here, too, Ellie. I love WordPress… so easy to set up a blog and manage it. In fact, I’m thinking of moving my old Cynic’s Sanctuary site here so I can update it more easily.

  17. July 4, 2012 1:14 am

    valdobiade;
    I did not make an argument, I questioned what was the benefit to this.

    We will be spending an enormous amount of money. Aside from re-arranging the chairs what is going to change ?

    The only changes are going to be in the amount of money government takes from each of us, and the extent to which government can reward a new class of chrony capitalists.

    I would have thought you would be up in arms that someone was going to profit off of this mess.

    I have little doubt that if we get too much further implementing that like myriads of other government programs that bribe us badly with our own money we will be stuck with it until we bankrupt – an event this will bring about more quickly.

    As to the purpose of insurance.

    We purchase insurance against the cost of improbable or unpredictable events.

    The greater the probability, and/predictability the worse an idea insurance is.
    If it is 100% certain that you will visit the doctor this year. Insurance to pay for your doctors visit will cost you more than the doctors visit.

    It is irrelevant whether the insurance is medical or some other form. Insurance against anything that is very likely will cost more than just paying the cost.

    Group insurance is just a way of spreading risks. It does not alter the fact that insurance against a likely occurring – like a doctors visit, will cost more than paying for the event.

    You can even check this out. High deductible or catastrophic Health insurance costs an order of magnitude less than low or zero deductible insurance. In fact the difference in cost is usually greater than the deductible. Pretty much everyone would be better off making a 5000 contribution to some kind of medical savings plan where they could keep the unspent money and getting a plan with a 5,000 deductible. If you kept you medical costs down – not only would you benefit, but the entire country would. And if you did not you would be no worse off.

    But we are not looking at solutions like that.

    I believe Tennessee discovered they could over something like 6 times as many people under medicaid for the same cost if they limited coverage to catastrophic coverage.
    But existing medicare recipients raised a stink because they would have less coverage and the plan died

    Our social safety net is supposed to allow those unable to take care of themselves to get by. It is not supposed to let them live like the rich. It is also not supposed to cover the rich (86% of public school students today receive federally subsidized lunchs – that is far past the poor. We are bribing ourselves with our own money – and that ends badly.

    Of course most of us fool ourselves into believing that our employer pays for our insurance – I will guarantee you any employer that is not a complete idiot knows exactly what you cost per year (or hour) including all benefits, taxes etc. Employers care about what you cost, and what you produce. Your pay is just a part of your cost. So like it or not every penny you receive in benefits, is coming from your pocket.

    I personally believe “government charity” is not only an oxymoron, not only immoral, but actually evil – and I believe there is lots of data to back that up

    But even if I somehow accepted public charity as good, charity is for those actually in need. If the “safety net” is deeper than the bottom few percent of us, we are past those who can not take care of themselves. We are just bribing ourselves – at great cost.

    I can not understand why liberals would defend that. Why would “moderates”.

    Federal spending in 2012 was almost 13,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US. Total government spending was 21,000 for each of us. Are you getting that in benefits from government ? If you were to value the benefits you receive from government you would find those with the most direct benefit to you – police, fire, courts, roads, and the like cost next to nothing compared to the rest. For half this counties history there was no income tax at all

  18. July 4, 2012 1:26 am

    lovetheocean;

    You can say good ridance to Mr. Sorrenson and those like him – but Denmark is not too happy about it. That incredible system you celebrate cant be paid for by a nation of garbage collectors.

    Denmark is actively trying to seduce high skilled foreigners into working in Denmark, by offering them 2/3 off on their taxes for 5 years.

    Nor is Mr. Sorrenson the worst thing that can (and is) happening in Denmark.
    Rather than leave, the highly productive can and are just not working as hard.
    That has a very small impact on them, but a huge impact on everyone else.

    As I wrote previously Sweden started to bring down the cost of its government and the depth and breadth of its social safety net, when they did a study in the early eights and discovered that Swedes working outside Sweden were twice as productive as those in Sweden.

    You keep running from the fact that everything we need and want is provided by what we produce. But it is immutable. A less productive Denmark, or Sweden or Greece or US is a country whose people are worse off. Further the loss is felt most acutely at the bottom.
    The US is so productive that even our poor at the 1% for most of the rest of the world.
    That even our poor live nearly as well as the average european.

  19. July 4, 2012 10:02 am

    Here it is the definitive guide to relative happiness – the new installment of the Happy Planet Index. Lets rush off to Costa Rica or Vietnam #1, #2 Denmark interesting ranks below the US.

    http://www.happyplanetindex.org/data/

    This is bogus – but fun. But no less bogus than the claim that Denmark is paradise.

    Trying to quantify or apply scientific, mathematical and statistical methods to systems too complex and or too subjective to measure that way is called “The Pretense of Knowledge”.

  20. July 4, 2012 10:27 am

    This is a pro government video that I think is more effective than anything i can say.

    It is these kinds of corporatism, these kinds of policy, these kinds of decision makers you inevitably get when you involve government. Though I think much of PPACA is obviously ludicrous atleast some of it sounds good – if you believe that government actually has the power to changes the laws of nature and human behavior.

  21. July 4, 2012 10:33 am

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it

  22. July 4, 2012 10:47 am

    Some possible common ground on special interests.

  23. July 5, 2012 11:50 am

    I did read today that Congess has so far drafted over 13,000 pages of regulations for implementing the O-care taxes/penalties/mandates (choose your favorite term). Perhaps they listened to you RIck, and this is all just an elaborate Roosevelt-style jobs program for lawyers and accountants….. 😉

    • valdobiade permalink
      July 5, 2012 12:43 pm

      And when you think that these 13,000 pages of regulation are just to create flooding of medical facilities by forced insured people perfectly healhty but having nothing better to do than to boast their free healthcare… boy , you get stoned…

      • July 5, 2012 2:15 pm

        Valdo: Maybe you know the line from the old Bob Dylan song: “EVERYBODY must get stoned.” It’s mandatory.

  24. July 5, 2012 2:14 pm

    Good grief… and you did say 13,000 pages “so far.” I’m all for eschewing superfluous verbiage, you know. Lawyers and accountants probably don’t need the work, anyway.

    • July 5, 2012 10:22 pm

      I suspect that pearows means that HHS or something like that is drafting 13000 pages of regulation.

      I doubt congress is generating 13,000 pages of laws of anykind at the moment.

      Regardless, these along with the somewhat less than 100,000 new pages in the federal register each year, plus all those from every prior year, are the law of the land, and our ignorance of their contents does not allow us to violate them.

      Which brings us to an entirely new argument for less government – like it or not we can not grasp the government we have.

      You want more laws and regulation, yet no one really knows those that already exist.
      And this of course precludes the additional massive spin resulting from the courts interpretation of those laws and regulations.

      i am going to try resist the urge to expound at length and hope everyone can see the obvious points – 13,000 pages can not possibly be enough to adequately cover even a small facet of healthcare. At the same time 13,000 pages is too large to comprehend.

      • July 5, 2012 11:47 pm

        You’re right, Dave….it is HHS administrators and such that are drafting it. Members of Congress couldn’t even read the whole bill before passing it, given that it was 2000+ pages and virtually incomprehensible

        It’s both sad and infuriating, really, isn’t it? This is so far from government of the people and by the people. It is still unclear whether the members of Congress even have to participate in the healthcare exchanges- but it looks as if they “weasel-worded” it so that they do not…

        There is also a 3.8% real estate transaction tax as part of O-Care beginning in January 2013…It only affects those making over $250k…but, apparently, if the sale of your home nets you a profit that, combined with your income, adds up to $250K, you’re on the hook for that additional 3.8%. So if you earned $50K, and sold your house for a $200K profit, you are considered to have earned $250K that year, and are subject to a $7600 tax on the sale of your home. There are plenty of people who bought in the 1980’s at $150K and will sell for $350K, even in this poor market. These are middle class folks and they are going to get hammered.

        It sucks, and it has nothing to do with lowering the cost of healthcare. It’s about raising taxes and redistribution.

      • July 6, 2012 7:41 am

        Actually, now that I think of it, I don’t guess it matters what you paid for the house ; just the captial gain that is realized from the sale could push you into the 1% for the purposes of the tax.

  25. Anonymous permalink
    July 6, 2012 9:53 am

    Late commenting on the original post: My take is that ACA is like Marty Feldman playing Igor in Young Frankenstein. That is all hunched over with a short cane saying: “walk this way”.
    The joke is on us, a monster with an Abby Normal brain.

  26. July 7, 2012 2:04 pm

    I support the goals of the law. Whether the law will actually achieve those goals is another question. But I’m happy we get to roll the dice, still. The election may change that, however.

    • July 7, 2012 3:43 pm

      Who is opposed to healthcare reform ? PPACA proponents can rightly claim near super-majority support for healthcare reform. One wonders who is in that minority that opposes any reform.

      We all support the broad goals of better healthcare, cheaper healthcare, broader access.

      I have not heard anyone with any position on this debate claiming we deserve no better that what we have.

      The fundimental question is how to improve things.
      We are not even close to agreement on that. It does not matter whether the plan you propose is PPACA or The Ryan Plan or …. when you propose specifics the majority of us are opposed to whatever you have proposed, and we are opposed strongly enough that we will take things as they are rather than your plan – again no matter whose plan.

      But there are other issues too.

      PPACA is the last of a long line of government efforts that have failed abysmally.

      It is indisputably price control. There is no instance of successful sustained price control public or private in human history. Price controls have always caused misery and always failed. They have done so when imposed by the left and when imposed by the right.

      What government program has actually cost what it was projected to.
      Medicate was initially to cost millions, in its first year it cost 3Billion, Now it is running 200Billion in the red. PPACA was supposed to save 100B/year, now it is supposed to cost $100B/year, and if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you.

      • July 7, 2012 4:27 pm

        Exactly who is it you are speaking to here? I don’t think it’s me because I said nothing about anyone being opposed to reform.

        I also said that I had my doubts that the law would achieve its goals. Why you are telling me the law won’t work when I said I wasn’t sure the law won’t work is beyond me.

        I’m willing to give the law a shot. You think … well, I’m not sure I can tell what you think. That no government program ever worked? That you aren’t willing try Obamacare? That the public will reject plans from either side? Really, I’m not sure.

        The best I can guess, looking again, is that (1) no one agrees on what will work to reform health care but (2) Obama-care won’t.

        Point #1 is obvious. Point #2 may well be true … but it can’t say for sure. I don’t have a magic ball in which I can see the future. Maybe I can borrow yours?

  27. July 7, 2012 4:01 pm

    Heatlh Insurance advice from an Auto Expert
    http://ericpetersautos.com/2012/07/06/the-oil-change-co-pay/

  28. Anonymous permalink
    July 7, 2012 4:56 pm

    If it doesn’t get repealed (slim chance), “it will work” as Rube Godlberg would say.

  29. dduck12 permalink
    July 7, 2012 4:58 pm

    Gold, not God.

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