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Rethinking Universal Health Care, Part IV

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The rise of mass consciousness, a uniquely modern phenomenon, has resulted in the proliferation of an idealistic, moral view of the world. It has been the most singular achievement of modernity. Nowhere has its impact, its peculiar stamp, been more evident or more pronounced than in politics.

It's ironic that a totally secularized society, inaugurated by the Age of Reason and Nietzsche's fateful pronouncement that God is dead, should produce its own brand of religion – call it humanism, or progressivism, or simply a belief in the possibility of a better, more equitable world – but such has been the case; there's no other way to call it.

Just think. Practically every single advance in the area of human rights, every significant social gain in the past century or so, has been won with "universal morality" serving as its banner, its call to arms. Indeed, one could well argue that the theory of (human) rights, the centerpiece of modern political theory, is a descendant of this peculiarly moral, quasi-religious point of view, its more or less natural consequence.

Why rights? Because "rights," properly understood, represent an extension of the moral equivalence and worthiness of persons, the incarnation of that worthiness through its multifarious manifestations; they encapsulate and make concrete the morality of persons. Which is why progress in the area of human rights represents real progress, there being no other kind.

The topic at hand presented an anomaly of sorts because unlike other rights, universal healthcare is contingent in a very real sense on the material conditions of a given society: in a nutshell, a society must be prosperous enough to be able to afford it.  Since human rights, especially those pertaining to the moral equivalence and worthiness of persons, are unconditional, it follows that we can't speak of universal healthcare as a right.  

Hence the needed corrective, recasting universal healthcare in terms of benefits and social or societal obligation to provide such to each and every member – again with an all-important proviso that the society is prosperous enough to carry out the program.  Now we must show that the obligation in question is in essence a moral type of obligation, and that the cause of universal healthcare isn’t diminished from having been "demoted" thus from its ill-conceived status as a right.  Once done, we can still hold on to the idea of universal healthcare as a moral imperative, though contextualized this time to a particular society – namely, a society which presumably can afford it.

Once again, I’d like to refer the reader to the exchange which has virtually kicked off the entire series:

PRO: Health care should not be a choice. One should not have to choose between health care or rent or food on the table. Not in a civilized world.

CON: It does seem like such a moral truism in our current context, but the context obfuscates the central issues. In simpler terms, if the world consisted of you and me and I decided I didn't want to work in the garden or help with the food or exchange you anything of value for it, should you be forced to work twice as hard for the rest of your life to do it for me?   The answer might very well be yes, but there is a distinct trade-off. Food and health care don't just magically appear; someone is working their ass off to make it happen. Because our society is large and our services big and complex does not make that simple fact any less true.

Notice that the opponent as good as concedes the moral argument for he does speak of "moral truism" of sorts — namely, that in a civilized world "health care should not be a [matter of] choice" in that one shouldn't have to choose between health care or rent or food on the table. His objection is a practical one, having to do with who is going to pay for it, or more succinctly per-haps, who is going to have to work twice as hard to make it happen. Whether a "civilized world" entails a prosperous one as well is another matter; I'll assume that it does. I shall also assume that when push comes to shove, our society can afford it. But practical considerations aside – and that's a subject for another time and place – the moral point remains.

Again, I'm going to fall back on the notion of rights representing an extension of the moral equivalence and worthiness of persons (as members of a political community). And by that token, just as our fundamental human rights (to life, property, and so on), or the extended, citizens' rights (such as civil rights or universal suffrage), are but some of the expressions of that worthiness, it's no different with health care: they all espouse a system of values whereby humans and human well-being are central.

Consequently, it doesn't really matter whether health care is a right or a societal obligation, reflecting a mere possibility in the actual world and therefore contingent for the fact, because the relationship is the same – a relationship, that is, between human worthiness (and all that it entails), which is the highest value, and its different expressions. And since no material contingency can possibly upset a relationship that is essentially logical or concept-bound, it follows that every human society ought to aspire to promote the well-being of all its members, regardless of whether it can afford it or not; and this includes health care.

On this scheme of things, individuals and their well-being come before a political community or the state. It is for their benefit that the state is instituted, not vice versa. This explains why the only credible objection to universal health care is a practical one, having to do with affordability and redistribution of wealth, or the passion which infects all the proponents – a passion, I might add, that's clearly born out of moral conviction, there being no other source. (I think we can safely discount the few die-harts who still argue the case on moral grounds; they're dinosaurs.)

We've come full circle, endowing universal health care with the status of moral imperative. Its present status as moral obligation, dischargable only in some cases and not in others, ought to be viewed as a temporary condition. Which suggests an agenda for all right-thinking women and men: forging a more prosperous world, a world in which poverty and hunger are no longer, a world where all the usual amenities and dignities which are due to humans are available to all.

If a world government or the new world order is the answer, so be it. The important thing is – no one must be left out.

 

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    one shouldn’t have to choose between health care or rent or food on the table

    This argument makes no sense, because the logical conclusion of it is that rent and food must also be provided by the state, because they are just as necessary as healthcare and perhaps more essential.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    That’s not my argument, Dave. It’s Jordans. By the way, there’s an interesting opinion in WSJ today: Here’s the link.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The idea being that since they’re all essentials, there should be no lack in a prosperous society. Call it a safety net if you like. Like the Food Stamps program.

  • Jordan Richardson

    the logical conclusion of it is that rent and food must also be provided by the state, because they are just as necessary as healthcare and perhaps more essential.

    Erm, “rent” and food are provided by the state if people can’t afford it. Not only that, but you’re setting up a false dichotomy and reinforcing it with your own version of a “logical conclusion” that is, in fact, just your regurgitated politicking (surprise, surprise).

    The argument makes perfect sense and it’s an “argument” that numerous Americans live out every single day.

    But whatever, Dave. You know best.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right, Jordan. In addition to Food Stamps, we also have here what’s called “Section 8″ housing.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    What I was hoping to point out in my inept way is that healthcare is NOT on the same level of importance as food or shelter. There are differences between the necessity of these things and society has a right to draw a line somewhere and say no more. When providing healthcare for someone else takes food out of the mouths of my children or denies them a decent education then I have to object.

    A big problem here is that the priorities which the majorit might set are very different from the priorities which I or a minority of others who think like me might set, and forcing us to pay for soemthing which we think should be a lower priority for society is morally wrong. This is WHY it is always best to let individuals provide for themselves and make their own decisions on how to prioritize these quality of life issues.

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I would tend to agree insofar as the issue hinges on affordability. Besides, Thomas Szasz (see the link in #2) makes a compelling argument about other priorities – namely educational and economic betterment on the part of the citizens. Also, an interesting distinction between “unwanted happenings” (e.g., leukemia, prostrate cancer) and those which are the result of voluntary, goal-directed behavior (like obesity and smoking).

  • Bliffle

    Dave says:

    “When providing healthcare for someone else takes food out of the mouths of my children or denies them a decent education then I have to object.”

    Has public health actually taken food out of your childrens mouths?

    Has public health deprived them of a decent education?

    Or are those just phantom threats?

    Are you willing to withhold your objections until that happens?

    Then Dave says:

    “…forcing us to pay for soemthing which we think should be a lower priority for society is morally wrong.”

    Did that apply, during the W administration, to people who thought invading Iraq was a low priority?

  • Bliffle

    Roger says:

    “… there’s an interesting opinion in WSJ today: Here’s the link.”

    I don’t think the article is interesting at all. It starts with a strawman and then cites some bogus analogies involving automobiles.

    Plus, it’s written by a famous incendiary, Thomas Sasz, who 50 years ago wrote a book titled “The Myth of Mental Illness”, an idea that is an affront to anyone who’s had to deal with a psychotic in the family, although it was provocative enough to sell many copies and make it a best-seller.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It was a sociological perspective at the time, shared by many others, including Lang. Lots of what we commonly refer to as mental illness is our (society’s) propensity for labeling by calling the behavior “deviant” – from juvenile delinquency to other “social ills.” Ervin Goffman was another proponent of that school of thought – e.g. Asylums, and so was Foucault.

    Which doesn’t negate the fact that in a great many cases, the causes are “organic.” I’m certain, however, that none of those authors meant to contradict the obvious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Reading this thread has made me quite spittingly grumpy.

    healthcare is NOT on the same level of importance as food or shelter

    At least not when you have it right Dave? Dave calls health care a quality of life issue and talks about priorities.People live an average of 80 years Dave. What could possibly be more valuable to them than life?

    Thomas Szasz’ brain is so addled that he joins in with a cult (that murders and destroys people) and takes on the defense of Scientology just to make himself right because they both believe in abolishing psychiatry. Roger, You once asked me what I thought of Szasz and Laing. Stick with Laing, he was a brilliant human being, compassionate and large. Thomas Szasz is a fucking cunt and a tiny shriveled waste of human space.

    The idea that every life is infinitely precious and therefore everyone deserves the same kind of optimal medical care is a fine religious sentiment and moral ideal. As political and economic policy, it is vainglorious delusion. -Szasz

    The idea that every life is infinitely precious is the only perspective held by sane members of a society. Anything less becomes increasingly inhuman until quickly all human qualities disappear and this state of consciousness is normalized and replicated. (where we’re stuck)

    The idea that…everyone deserves the same kind of optimal medical care is not only doable, but is the only perspective that is not based on greed and is based on our highest best human thinking. Stop admiring human aspirations and start practicing them.

    The world is a mentally unwell place. May your cup of Prozac runneth over.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Laing was wrong about the biology of serious mental illness. However, he was nothing like Szasz. Laing was brilliant and had heart and love. People don’t always have to be right. Laing was right about a lot of other things.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Cindy. I haven’t followed much Szasz’s career, only to say that at the time he was one of the representative of a sociological trend to focus on a society’s propensity to label individuals as deviant and thereby relegate their behavior as subject to criminal law or other sanctions. And that was a much needed corrective. Other than that, I claim ignorance.

    As to equality of all life, I do make my own argument. But it’s a fact of life that the old folk are “valued less” – e.g., in the Eskimo society where they are just allowed to freeze to death. And then, you have the practice of triage. Try to dissuade the medical establishment from this practice. But there’s no question, as you say, as to how we ought to think about these matters, only a matter of what can be done. And then again, the problem is obscured by greed. I doubt, however, that Szasz would be defending the medical establishment given his history of being a maverick. He speaks with his own voice.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There’s another thing, Cindy. I refuse to believe that all voices, some of them more or less reasonable, like Nalle’s or Szasz’s, are necessarily motivated by some weird notion of self-interest, in short, that they’re voices of a corruption. I’d hate to think that. Perhaps that’s why I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, holding to my illusion that they’re speaking from the heart. Perhaps a mistake on my part.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Has public health actually taken food out of your childrens mouths?

    Has public health deprived them of a decent education?

    Or are those just phantom threats?

    Have you SEEN the figures for what this health plan is likely to do to our taxes? With the economy weak and business revenues down any increase in my tax burden could very literally imperil my childrens welfare.

    Are you willing to withhold your objections until that happens?

    Absolutely not. Once it happens and the foot of socialized medicine is in the door it will never be possible to reverse it.

    Did that apply, during the W administration, to people who thought invading Iraq was a low priority?

    Sure. And IMO it applies to the massive waste of money and effort currently underway in Afghanistan.

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    It’s the PRIVATE healthcare system that will gobble up all of our money and all of our liberties.

    Right now the system eats 18% of our GDP and will rise to 30% in a few years. What could stop it from going to 60% or 100%? Nothing.

    The private system will also eat our liberties, as even now they plan to MANDATE everyone to pay for PRIVATE insurance. At least taxes are levied only if you have income or assets, but this new MANDATE idea will apply even to the poorest church mouse. Thus, poverty will send you to jail.

    The private healthcare insurance monopoly/oligopoly is protected from Federal regulation by a 64 year old law that was a horrible mistake.

    Activist decisions by rightwing supreme courts have allowed corporations to openly and freely BRIBE politicians.

    It is PRIVATE insurance corporations with their unbreakable monopoly and iron grip on the government that will impoverish this nation and enslave it’s citizens. They will do EXACTLY what you have feared for so long from SOCIALISM. There is NO functional diffference between unbridled monopoly and soviet-style government.

    And if you don’t see it, you’re either blind or a co-conspirator.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    It’s heartening to see that Bliffle realizes how disastrous the current healthcare proposals will be for the nation.

    What we need here is some good old Teddy Roosevelt style trust busting followed by a rational combination of deregulation and regulation. Deregulate to open up competition in services and drug distribution. Regulate by putting serious penalties on gouging and price fixing. It’s worked before in other industries.

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    It’s discouraging to see that Dave hasn’t abandoned his habit of condescension and his patronizing attitude.

    It isn’t “current healthcare proposals ” that are dangerous, it’s the existing unbridled monopoly that has been operating for decades.

    Beware: when the healthcare monopoly has exhausted their current set of victims they will expand their efforts to fleece people who had the conceit to believe that they could remain above the problems suffered by the Lower Classes.

    In the last 5 years I’ve seen it happen as guys I knew who were rabid republicans thought that their pensions and retirement health plans were beyond reach lived to see them cut out from under them. Just as I told them would happen.

    Greed is insatiable.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Rarely do I hear any mention of the escalated medical costs of healthcare because the private insurance will pay. And so, the cost of one aspirin in the hospital runs upwards of $3.00 – and that’s just one example. So there’s a great potential for cost-cutting in this one area.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    But since Dave is talking about his taxes being impacted, then he’s indeed rather well to do, for the taxes, a/c to the present plan, won’t kick in unless you’re making close to two hundred grand a year, or some such ridiculous figure.

    Good for you, Dave. Didn’t know you were that well off.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Did anyone (besides Roger) read the article I posted about why WalMart likes Obama’s healthplan?

    Roger, I don’t call them corrupt. To me they are sick like we all are, only they’re more sick. Not that he is the first or last one to recognize this but just because I happen to have bought it to reread within the last week, read Laing, Politics of Experience.

    I agree something needed to be done about the way the mentally ill were treated then. Something still needs to be done. But hey, they’ve stopped drilling holes in peoples heads–mostly.

    Laing had some wonderful group home thing for schizophrenics, in England I think, very loving, nurturing atmosphere where people were treated with respect. I recall a film I saw a million years ago.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    I forgot to say how much I appreciated Prof. Bliffle’s comments.

    I’ll repeat this bit because it takes the prize in the thread. I bet it never gets a response either.

    “…forcing us to pay for soemthing which we think should be a lower priority for society is morally wrong.” (Dave)

    “Did that apply, during the W administration, to people who thought invading Iraq was a low priority?” (Bliffle)

  • mrdockellis

    “unless you’re making close to two hundred grand a year, or some such ridiculous figure.”

    Watch it, Rog your rhetorical mask just slipped to reveal your rapacious marxist face.
    You stick to the talking points about rich individuals taking the hit all you want, but small business making $250,000 (S corporations) will get slammed by this Commie thievery.

    You guys are always using well lets use the term “rhetorical flourish” to swipe from one group to create a new group of entitlement addicts.

    To each according to his need, eh comrade? But “needs” are relative to each and therefore endless with unlimited cost. And we’re doing this when Obama himself says we’re out of money. Total lunacy.

    Better tell Obama to hurry. The poll numbers are dropping. They onto him!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Wasn’t talking about small businesses, Mr. Ellis. That’s another story. But I wouldn’t view Dave’s extra one or two percent tax hit on 200,000 a year income as a highway robbery. Taxes have always been progressive, and they ought to be. Not just a Marxist proposition.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski
  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    A fairly comprehensive article on healthcare rationing

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    It’s discouraging to see that Dave hasn’t abandoned his habit of condescension and his patronizing attitude.

    Bliffle, I wasn’t being condescending. I was being serious. Based on your earlier comment and what you repeat below, we do actually seem to agree here that monopolies and the lack of competition and fair business practices seem to be the real problem in the healthcare industry — a problem which the current proposals seem to intend to institutionalize rather than end.

    It isn’t “current healthcare proposals ” that are dangerous, it’s the existing unbridled monopoly that has been operating for decades.

    Except that the current healthcare proposal in the congress basically accepts the status quo and if anything gives more power to the monopoly. I would think that might bother you.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Roger, here’s an article on what the result of healthcare rationing are likely to be.

    Dave

  • Doug Hunter

    “Wasn’t talking about small businesses, Mr. Ellis. That’s another story”

    Yes, indeed. Even after my prompting, which played a role in the development of this story there is still very little time devoted to the actual tradeoffs made in order to achieve your healthcare goal. What many hope (except perhaps Clavos) is that the resources used will come from the party money or perhaps a few foot off the yachts of the rich. Even those ‘wasteful’ expenditures affect someone, yacht builders, brokers, caterers, etc.

    If not for those making over $200K/year who would have the capital to introduce new players into the market and keep competition alive? Who would maintain the demand for fancy homes, expensive cars, and other luxuries that serve as the gainful employment of many in society? The rich inspire million $ bonuses, huge commissions, and purchase overpriced, handmade, and locally produced goods. The poor stimulate $7/hour Walmart jobs ,low level social service employees, and cheap Chinese shit. Anyway, that’s delving into another topic(suicidal class warfare) that those on the left seek to incite.

    In some cases the sacrifice will be luxuries, in others it will be college funds and business expansion, such is the nature of these things. At least you have considered the ability of society to pay for such programs. From what I can tell we cannot afford it, or anything else, at this time without making a serious (and politically unfeasible) sacrifice somewhere else. Politicians on both sides have no spine, and each gleefully responds to their pet half of the problem. Not every situation, in fact very few, can be a true win-win.

    I’m ready to go with some form of mandated or guaranteed healthcare for all (even though I realize in the end I will have diluted and decreased or rationed quality care for myself) if the government is willing to reprioritize and sacrifice as well. To that end I have seen no honest debate, no frank discussion of the tradeoffs, and no willingness to sacrifice anything but our children’s future through unstustainable debt. That is something I can’t in good faith support.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I am not qualified to address the present healthcare proposal, Doug. It’s another thousand-pager. I was only addressing the concepts.

    I’m surprised, however, there’s no mention of tort-reform – a very important element which keeps on escalating the overall cost of healthcare.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There’s a false assumption, Doug, in your #29 – namely, that all the rich are entrepreneurs. Lots of them are just stinking rich and their contribution to the economy is not through creation but consumption. So there’s no difference between these kinds of people and the majority of consumers except for their deep pocketbooks.

    Heard about the recent rash of bonuses approved by Goldman & Sachs? The average compensation runs close to 3/4 million a year. Now, these are truly productive members of the society – peddling their fucking derivatives and god knows what financial products. So you’re saying that taxing these people a bit is going to hurt the economy?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Dave, #28,

    There should be no reason, Dave, why the situation should become so dire – not if the compensation to the medical profession will be reasonable, which, then again, will insure against the professionals leaving the industry. (And where would they go?)

    I hope you’re not assuming that providing reasonable healthcare to those who are presently uninsured would overtax the system to the point you’re suggesting; I don’t believe it will; again, not if the compensation rates remain reasonable.

    The rationing has to do with a rather different idea: of how much money can or ought to be spend on a case by case basis, not necessarily with the things suggested in the linked article.

  • Doug Hunter

    I said – ‘In some cases the sacrifice will be luxuries, in others it will be college funds and business expansion’ – I think that’s pretty clear and accurate.

    As for Goldman, you’re conflating two different issues. I don’t understand the business model of Goldman-Sachs enough to comment intelligently on the company’s contribution to society although my gut feeling is that you’re on to something there. That is a seperate from employee compensation which, from my reading of recent news headlines, focuses on merit and rewards their employees handily for their productivity and abilities.. that is something I support.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    You’re correct though, Doug, insofar as the spending habits of the poor are concerned – they do encourage the Wall-Mart minimum-wages type of jobs and cheap imports (like Chinese-made, not Hong-Kong suits). So there is a difference besides the economies of scale.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What I definitely agree with you on – small business should be encouraged rather than discouraged; if anything, credits should be given to all small/medium-size businesses to help them pay the healthcare costs. Because the whole thing will fall flat on its face if we don’t grow the economy and jobs.

  • Doug Hunter

    We agree on more than we disagree. Healthcare needs to be a higher priority than it has been. Unfortunately, we’re at the point where we need to make some actual sacrifices to achieve it rather than simply putting it on the tab. The sacrifice can’t always be more redistribution from the private sector, sometimes it means reprioritizing how the government allocates those resources. For example, it’s not politically realistic, but you could likely pay for universal healthcare by accelerating the restrictions on social security (ie. middle class, those with resources and pensions, don’t get any and further increasing the age dependent on health). That’s a real sacrifice and tradeoff that doesn’t hurt the engine of our economy at all, doesn’t put anyone in poverty, and still achieves healthcare without taking any additional money.

  • Doug Hunter

    Also, I’m willing to sacrifice by getting rid of those silly homeland security color codes if that’ll help!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Resctrictions on social security for the middle class (those with separate pensions and IRA) is definitely a good idea. Of course you know that the response from the AARP is likely to be. There is only one pie and no matter how you’re going to slice it, it will go only so far. So I definitely agree that any well-conceived health plan must be accompanied by making strategic cuts elsewhere.

  • m a rk

    Here’s a discussion of Dave’s referenced article in #28.

  • Bliffle

    Roger is wrong again:

    “38 – roger nowosielski

    Resctrictions on social security for the middle class (those with separate pensions and IRA) is definitely a good idea”

    It’s a lousy idea, even if you could convince anyone that it’s legal to renege on an annuity that they’ve been paying into all their working life.

    For one thing, there’s no NEED to do it. SS turns a surplus of about $160billion a year and has a $2.5trillion standing deficit.

    Have you been fooled by all those claims that SS is broke? Are you falling victim to the rightwing echo chamber?

    Wise up.

    Not only are middle-class people legally (even morally) entitled to their SS proceeds, if you could find a way to gyp them out of it you would lose their support and the system would be doomed. Of course, that’s exactly what Wall Street speculators want because that would force the government to give them all those trillions to play with in their weird investments.

    Don’t be a sap(again) Roger.

    Research, think, investigate before you blurt.

  • Bliffle

    I read the two propaganda articles about public healthcare rationing.

    They’re anecdotal and unverifiable. What would you expect from publications notable as opinion sources?

    Any number can play THAT game.

    We ALREADY have healthcare rationing, right here in the USA with our celebrated private health insurance system. 20,000 people a year die from lack of medical care. Probably more. The private system simply has NO way of accommodating those people, so they will die.

    Under private health insurance, my doctor has been told that she must increase her patient load from 600 patients to 2000. Thats a diktat from Blue Cross/ Blue Shield. That’s why I have to wait to see her for 3 hours.

    The cited articles don’t even support the BC commentors POV:

    “It is hard to see how the nation as a whole can remain competitive if in 25 years we are spending nearly a third of what we earn on health care, while other industrialized nations are spending far less but achieving health outcomes as good as, or better than, ours.”

    And we aren’t spending that money on HEALTHCARE, we’re spending it on health insurance (which will probably fail most of us and ultimately kill us).

    The not-so-subtle stunt that the (malevolent) insurance companies have pulled on us is to always insert themselves in the front of the queue, so that we are talking about healthcare and health insurance as interchangeable.

    Health care is a LOT less expensive than health insurance, and a lot more efficacious , too.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s all a matter of greed. Everyone’s got to tighten their belt for the good of the whole. I don’t have any compunction about cutting benefits from those who can afford it anymore than limiting exorbitant renumerations given to Wall Street parasites. Greed is a property of any class of people. So even if your stinking benefits will be cut, Bliffle, given you’re already collecting on your fat pension, I wouldn’t loose a minute of sleep over it. You seem to think that our resources and ability to do things is inexhaustible.

    Keep on dreaming and being a sap.

  • Bliffle

    Oops! In number 40 that should be:

    “For one thing, there’s no NEED to do it. SS turns a surplus of about $160billion a year and has a $2.5trillion standing surplus.”

    The Wall Street noise machine is even affecting ME!!!!!

    This is horrible!

    (Too bad BC doesn’t have a PREVIEW option.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Anything that runs contrary to bliffle’s esteemed opinion is propaganda; everything that it’s in accord is gospel truth. But as usual, bliffle is a bean counter and a number cruncher. His comprehension of basic ideas and underlying concepts leaves a great deal to be desired.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Mark, #39:

    I agree. The article Dave cited raises the wrong kind of issues. I believe I raised my objections to it in #32. In short, it does not address the issue of rationing – which I believe is a sound idea considering our present circumstances – if not in principle.

    Do you care to address this?

  • Bliffle

    Dave makes a good point:

    “Bliffle, I wasn’t being condescending. I was being serious. Based on your earlier comment and what you repeat below, we do actually seem to agree here that monopolies and the lack of competition and fair business practices seem to be the real problem in the healthcare industry — a problem which the current proposals seem to intend to institutionalize rather than end.”

    True. But the current abuses are so longstanding and so well-bribed into the system, that it will be impossible to dislodge them. The only solution is to outflank them by going to a public system. I hate to say it (as a lifelong real conservative)
    but the insurance companies have blown it.

    there’s not a chance in h*ll we can revoke the privileges of wanton health insurance corporations.

    This illustrates a dangerous propensity that we have in our System: we are willing to endure an injustice for so long that it gets tremendously exploited until it is a Way Of Life and we no longer seem to have the will or the means to do away with it.

    Such is the case with insurance companies, and such is the case with (overprivileged) corporations.

    They will destroy the USA with their excesses and take down the good (usually small) businessmen with it.

    Small business guys have to wake up to the fact that Frankenstein corporations are not their friends (just because they are businesses, too) but the predator that will destroy them.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I hope you don’t get the impression, bliffle, that I’m condoning private insurance companies. They are taking us to the cleaners and it’s time to do away with them. So a government-run system is inevitable. But it’s got to be done responsibly. The element of scarcity and limited resources is ever-present. It can’t be ignored.

  • Doug Hunter

    “It’s a lousy idea, even if you could convince anyone that it’s legal to renege on an annuity”

    You’re too smart to actually believe this bullshit. SS has much more in common with a Ponzi scheme than an annuity and you damn well know it. (Ask Madoff if he enjoyed the ‘surplus’ from his Ponzi scheme) You’re being willfully ignorant and misleading. Congress already ‘reneged’ on the agreement by modifying it several times before and they will again. Idiots that want to live in a fantasy world where you can have everything for nothing are dooming our economy, our system, and our children to failure. Thanks for being a part of it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right, Doug. Notice, though, that the very same people had no compunction about cancelling the AIG bonuses – contractual or not. But now they all want to stand on the principle of the thing whenever it affects their own pocketbook. Talking about double standard.

  • Doug Hunter

    Roger, no one wants to sacrifice anything except someone else’s money or push the bill to a future generation. I think the basket of benefits we would get from healthcare assurances and limits on retirement funds to those who have adequate resources is preferable to a guaranteed payment to everyone with no safety net for middle income workers healthcare. We probably need to moderately raise taxes in addition to pay down a bit of the debt we’ve rang up recently as well. Again, it’s completely politically untenable but we need to do exactly the opposite of what we have been, namely we need to raise taxes and reprioritize and decrease government spending. Unfortunately, we can do neither we’re going to wait until the whole thing crashes and let the ensuing chaos change things for us.

  • Clavos

    Everyone’s got to tighten their belt for the good of the whole.

    Easy for the self-described poor man to say, it’s not your ox that will be gored; on the contrary, you’ll get the money they take from those who have saved.

    So says the Politburo.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I think you’re right. We’ve lost the sense that we all in this together and that only together we’ll be able to pull ourselves through – rich, poor, and the middle class. So yes, it does assume the dimensions of class warfare as long as everybody looks at number one and thinks it will just miraculously happen at the expense of everyone else but them. And Bliffle is the best example of this myopic type of attitude, thinking our resources are unlimited.

    It’s still amazing to me that they’re considering putting the plan into effect without proper cost-benefit analysis: where they can save to pay for it. But it’s like anything else in politics: everything is done out of sense of expediency, not out of forethought.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I will have nothing to gain from that. Already have Medicare and Medicaid. But if I were in the money, I’d still say the same thing. Unless of course every man for himself is the preferred attitude. And if the rich are asked to bear the burden, so should the middle class (whatever is left of it). Are we a society or are we not?

  • Bliffle

    Doug is wrong, as usual:

    “SS has much more in common with a Ponzi scheme than an annuity …”

    Actually, it was patterned after annuities.

    Don’t believe me, ask your life insurance agent how an annuity operates.

    Then, if makes the common complaint about “unfunded liabilities” (as private insurance companies are wont to do when complaining about a competitor that has a superior product) ask him what the “unfunded liabilities” of HIS insurance company are, and how they plan to cover them.

    That’s homework assignment #1 on the way to improving your knowledge in hopes that will improve your insight and opinions.

    Here’s assignment #2: did you know that congresscritters (and some other government employees) can buy/sell stocks using their Insider Knowledge? That’s something you and I and company CEOS and and everyone ELSE cannot do. Remember when some famous person went to JAIL for insider trading?

    Well congresscritters can do it. So finally there’s a bill:

    (H.R. 682, STOCK)

    to stop such insider trading.

    Read it and weep.

    Generally speaking, you people would be better off if you spent your time reading OpenCongress rather than trading misinformation and naive opinions here on BC. You might also want to take a look at H.R. 676 while you’re there.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    There should be no reason, Dave, why the situation should become so dire – not if the compensation to the medical profession will be reasonable, which, then again, will insure against the professionals leaving the industry. (And where would they go?)

    Except that the current bill has no provisions for cutting compensation or limiting costs. It was largely written by lobbyists for the medical and insurance industries.

    I hope you’re not assuming that providing reasonable healthcare to those who are presently uninsured would overtax the system to the point you’re suggesting; I don’t believe it will; again, not if the compensation rates remain reasonable.

    I wasn’t even considering that at all, actually. There seems to be no provision in this bill to provide reasonable healthcare to anyone. It just forces people to buy health insurance and if they can’t afford it it slaps them with a big fine.

    The rationing has to do with a rather different idea: of how much money can or ought to be spend on a case by case basis, not necessarily with the things suggested in the linked article.

    There’s much more to rationing than that. It also means limiting purchases of key hardware for hospitals, limiting the number of certain types of epcialists. The problem is that it’s not done on a case by case basis, but on a system wide basis. They look at how many patients a hospital serves and say that hospital only needs 1 MRI when it has 3 now. They look at how many neurosurgeons it has and trade a couple of them to the hospital down the road. They rule out certain medications entirely as too expensive. They give you beta blockers as the first treatment for a blocked artery instead of angioplasty or a bypass. It creates problems throughout the system and the result is more deaths.

    Dave

  • Doug Hunter

    Okay Bliffle, I’ll play your silly little game. If what you say it true then, like and annuity, why not make Social Security voluntary? If it can stand on it’s own like annuities do then there should be no need to compel people to join.

    As for my reading list, I’m compelled to choose on my own how to spend my time. Thanks for the condescension though.

  • Clavos

    The faith that those in favor of UHC have in the government bozos’ assurances that the administration bozos’ plan will save money is touching, especially if one has experience with Medicare.

  • pablo

    cindy 21

    is that the same walmart that hilary clinton was on the board of directors of?

    just checkin ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    pablo,

    Was she really? It’s like one big country club.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Oh and very nice to see your words, pablo. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    There are differences between the necessity of these things and society has a right to draw a line somewhere and say no more.

    I agree. I’m saying “no more Daves.” Maybe they will become extinct.

    Sometime in the future:

    Look kids see those people over the fence, they’re a rare kind of subhuman species called Daves. Yes, they do look much like the rest of us. Unfortunately, evolution took them in a different direction. They didn’t use their sense of compassion or love enough and now they are just soulless brutes with tiny shriveled hearts. We just try to make sure they stay on that side of the fence where they can beat each other senseless trying to ‘get the most’ out of their ugly lives.

    Don’t be a Dave.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Hi, Cindy. I see you’re somewhat out of circulation lately. Same here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    This illustrates a dangerous propensity that we have in our System: we are willing to endure an injustice for so long that it gets tremendously exploited until it is a Way Of Life and we no longer seem to have the will or the means to do away with it.

    “The responsibility for change, therefore, lies with us. We must begin with ourselves, teaching ourselves not to close our minds prematurely to the novel, the surprising, the seemingly radical. This means fighting off the idea assassins who rush forward to kill any new suggestion on grounds of its impracticality, while defending whatever now exists as practical, no matter how absurd, oppressive, or unworkable it may be.” – Alvin Toffler 1995

    “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    Hiya Roger,

    It has been so cold and rainy so far this year that it has been making headline news here. My neighbor, who usually starts swimming in May hasn’t been able to swim yet. We have to take every available opportunity in NJ, we will only get a little summer this year.

    Hope you are enjoying the summer! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    (I am cheating on a break from yard work, I am supposed to be cooking blueberry pancakes. shhh don’t tell.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Unlike where you’re at, it’s always hot and humid here. Swimming is good. Used to do it religiously every day – at least 40 lapses, Olympic size pool.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Cindy, you’re getting all our wet weather up there. We’re in a record drought in Texas with over a month now of temperatures over 100 degrees. Though I hear it might get down to 98 tomorrow. Yay!

    Dave

  • Bliffle

    It’s hot and dry here in the Gabilan Range. It’s about 90, but very low humidity, so just sitting out under a spreading Valley Oak (the Monarch of California trees) in the dappled shade is quite comfortable. especially since there is a persistent valley breeze of about 4mph that helps blow away insects and body heat. The climate is so perfect that it’s like no climate at all

    I’m watching the antics of a hen Turkey who is concerned that some of her chicks have flown up into the Coyote Brush about 4 feet off the ground. The Coyote brush is too flimsy to support her weight, so she jumps up and tugs at branches to tumble the chicks out onto the grass.

    It’s beautiful here. Now if only I can figure some way to kill an adult turkey without running afoul of the constabulary, I can get a nice turkey dinner. I already figured a way to hike into a remote old farm pond that’s brimming with Bluegills that are over an inch thick and bigger than a saucer. Apparently stocked many years ago and not fished since, the Bluegills come right up to you for crumbs of bread, so it’s easy to catch them with a dropline, though they’re hard to land because they are fierce fighters.

    Those turkey chicks grow fast. they’re bigger than pigeons now. The plentitude of turkey meat makes the cougars bolder, so I’ve seen tracks 100 yards from here.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The Can’t-Do Nation.

    Reminds one of Robert L. Heillbronner’s classic, An Inquiry into the Human Prospect,1974, when he questioned humanity’s ability to respond to the many crises and challenges of modernity. It’s almost prophetic.