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My country actually did something good for once (well, since Obama got elected).
Right-wing folk are going apeshit though, specifically this guy:
It's pretty disgusting that those 10 or so anti-abortion Democrats got their amendment just by being jerks.
My only hope with the compromised parts of the bill (such as that) is that they'll be amended in the near future when there's more of a chance of the issue being debated reasonably/when Democrats aren't so terrified of losing a mid-term election.
I look forward to the Death Panels. Maybe Channel Five will show them late at night.
Republicans going all kinds of batshit. Excellent viewing.
trollin' on the river
Why/how does healthcare reform erode core American ideals?
a) Since when do Americans have core values? That's always benn something I associated with Somalians and Mennonites.
b) Erosion with sledgehammers.
Come on, it's not really going to fuck up their country. It's going to make it a little better for the poor fucks who have to live off tips.
would be a little bit more credible if the previous administration hadn't pissed away billions on a retarded, pointless war and introduced the PATRIOT act.
You'd better not peak to early this week!
but srsly though, wanna actually offer some kind of counter argument?
For what it's worth, I'm pretty keen on consumer capitalism and I hate dreadlocks. So yeah.
I'll be sitting here with a communist flag tied around my neck like a cape all day in celebration
I'm going to enjoy the response from the American Right. Lets hope it's as incoherent and humerous as their opposition arguments were when the Bill was going through Congress—death panels, anyone?
It subsidises healthcare for middle- and low-income families across America.
Unless you're making a dry point about it saddling the nation with billions of dollars of debt?
It's saddling the nation with billions of dollars of debt.
[takes a sip of refreshing ice water]
They've managed to amass 3 trillion or so quite easily without this so another trillion won't make much difference.
Although that's what the American right would like everyone to believe.
It's entirely paid for - unlike anything that fiscal warrior W ever put his name to. In fact, over time it reduces the debt based on the savings it creates versus what would have been outlayed had the current system been left untouched.
This means that if they get injured or sick they won't be able to afford basic medicine to get themselves back on their feet quickly, like, say, a course of antibiotics to kill a chest complaint or prevent a small injury from festering.
The result of this will be to get them laid off from their job meaning they'll then be costing the state a lot more money in benefits.
Aren't you confusing healthcare and social security though?
The government will now pay a little bit of money for health care for people in such a position meaning they can keep their jobs.
Without this healthcare money from the government said people could lose their jobs and then the government will end up paying even more money out in social security.
All government spending is connected.
I would suggest it's not as simple as looking at the money spent on healthcare versus social security ratio—that is, the less money spent on healthcare the more spent on social security and vice versa.
It would make for an interesting study though, as they are inextricably linked and seemingly independent at the same time.
I pointed out a situation where such a bill would save money.
My response was to how it could create savings, sorry.
And there aren't really any mitigating factors. This sort of economic thinking has been at the forefront of all reasoning for improving the healthcare of workers over the last few hundred years.
Look at it this way: less money being spent on drugs means more money to spend as a consumer on your local economy, directly benefiting your local authority.
if you're paying out x amount of your GDP a year under the current system, and you restructure the system so that it would cost an amount that is less-than-x a year, then over time you've 'saved' money that would have been spent had the status quo remained in place. The (non-partisan) CBO estimate is that it will save something like $100 billion in the first 10 years, and $1.2 trillion in the second ten.
People still have to pay for their insurance - anyone currently happy with what they have keeps it. The government isn't paying for them. What IS happening, is that anyone who doesn't have it now will be required to pay for it - which is mainly either poor people, or fit and healthy young people. The government currently still pays for poor people to visit an A&E, which costs a fortune - it will save money to have them on a plan, even if they end up subsidizing all or part of it. And having young healthy people in the pool of purchasers drives down the costs for everyone because it's not just the sick or elderly, and hence more expensive, patients needing insurance.
They've also arranged for drug companies to reduce costs by hundreds of billions a decade, essentially in exchange for providing these 30 million extra consumers who have to buy the stuff, and have tweaked a few taxes. It's paid for.
pesky 'all men are created equal' thing.
In a pure sense of the idea I can see how you might be right, but really it’s not without countless precedents – people are already ‘forced’ to pay taxes or purchase motor insurance (probably the closest analogy).
Besides which, even for the people who woke up this morning thinking their country has irrevocably jumped the shark, the truth is they will benefit, in one form or another - most obviously in paying less for their current health insurance. Given it is compulsory, it is essentially a tax, and (assuming that 99.9% of the people protesting the reforms currently already buy health insurance), a tax which will be going down. They should be pleased with this, if being consistent in their idealogy allowed it
when someone chooses not to pay for insurance, the unexpected happens, and they find themselves unable to afford the care they need? I mean, I know it's the individual's choice and their own risk in theory, but would people in the US really rather they just go without treatment and die?
The fact of the matter is that, ultimately, that line of 'ultimate personal freedom above government intervention' SOMEtimes (not all of the time) leads people to being disadvantaged. American medical insurance is an example of that effect in action.
Sometimes a leader needs to shake up what a country holds dear, what ideological processes they "assume" are correct and, also, give collective individual pride a kick in the balls for the GREATER GOOD of the population as a whole. It may be engrained in the national consciousness that the government should keep their nose out but, y'know, that is essentially just national stubbornness and pride gone mad. Sometimes the government needs to step in and shake things up a bit. What's the worst thing that can happen? You start to feel more ideological responsibilty for people less fortunate than you? Wow - what an awful thing to happen...
I personally think that ultimate personal freedom is not something which any state should aspire to but, hey, that's just me... Freedom does funny things to people.
This is why I don't like Europe sometimes.
The tyranny around here is suffocating. Can't do anything without being oppressed by big government
Trying to debate the finer aspects of principle over pragmatism on a music board is never going to rise above anything other than jest and japes, but I still try. I still try.
You would get more than 'japes and jests' if you had a clue about this 'freedom' you're talking about.
I was arguing that 'ultimate personal freedom' is not a goal worth chasing in itself because the chasing of 'ultimate personal freedom' has many negative consequences for society as a whole.
So, therefore, the state needs to regulate this in order to stop the precession of 'ultimate personal freedom' over 'overall social welfare'.
My own individual philosophical views on freedom are irrelevant in this context, but the state DOES have a duty of regulation for the overall goodwill of its citizens. And this is EXACTLY what Obama's healthcare reform is attempting to do.
If you disagree with this, there's no point in having a rational debate about the principles and/or pragmatics because, um, there's no way we'll ever see eye to eye. Fair enough.
You are doing exactly what I said - arguing that the state is the one who decides where personal freedoms should end and the general welfare of other people begin. The difference here is that you think that states have the duty to do things like that, whereas I think that a state is never justified in doing something like that without an individual's consent.
Although, seeing as we're talking about America here, what are your thoughts on FDR's domestic economic policies 1933 - 1938? Also known as the period in American History where state intervention was at its most prevalent. Just wondering if you agree as to whether or not his government's interfering in the personal freedoms of the nation at that time was at all justified...
It was WWII which lifted America out of the Great Depression, finally, but FDR's policies WERE working before 1936.
However, in 1936, the Supreme Court declared them illegal based on the exact reason that proslo talks about so... the Great Depression was extended, mainly based on American
WWII was the single most important factor in getting America out of the Great Depression. However, FDR's attempts in the run up to it (The New Deal and the like) did a lot of social and economic good before they were declared illegal.
I know this might shock a lot of people but the Second World War DID NOT bring America out of the Great Depression. To quote an economist on this:
“If spending on munitions really makes a country wealthy, the United States and Japan should do the following: Each should seek to build the most spectacular naval fleet in history, an enormous armada of gigantic, powerful, technologically advanced ships. The two fleets should then meet in the Pacific. Naturally, since they would want to avoid loss of life that accompanies war, all naval personnel would be evacuated from the ships. At that point the US and Japan would sink each other’s fleets. Then they would celebrate how much richer they had made themselves by devoting labor, steel, and countless other inputs to the production of things that would wind up at the bottom of the ocean.”
The war didn't create any new wealth, it destroyed it - but thanks to mass conscription and government takeover of industries, what wealth there was ended up being spread around far more evenly than beforehand. When the war ended the US was in pretty good shape, but only because it had stripped its European allies of anything useful - Churchill would often complain about the way that pretty much everything profitable about the British Empire had been stripped down and sold across the Atlantic at a rate of around £1 billion per annum by 1941 - and that was at 1941 currency values! Europe took a lot longer to recover than the US, thanks to this. It was only when the Cold War really kicked off that you got things like the Marshall Plan and wealth started getting sent back across the Atlantic.
The idea that a massive amount of death and destruction was a net gain for the world's economies is just fucking stupid, frankly.
And as for FDR - well. There had been numerous booms and busts in the US for over a century before the 1929 Wall Street bubble burst, and every time the government had done pretty much nothing in response. There was a sharp contraction of the economy, but within 18 months to 2 years everything was back on track.
Hell, look at 1921 - the newly-founded Federal Reserve started printing money during WW1 to pay for the war effort, and by 1919 this had turned into an inflationary bubble. It burst in 1920 as the economy struggled to return to peacetime manufacturing, but the US government did nothing despite a leap in unemployment up to around 10% by the end of 1921 from around 1-2% in 1919. The deflation experienced in that one year was more severe than any single year of the Great Depression, and not far off the total deflation for the GD as a whole. Yet by 1923 unemployment, manufacturing, growth, all had returned to 1919 levels. No large work plans. No stimulus. The government let the economy work itself out.
However, FDR did something different. He tried to cushion the blow, and we've been living with the consequences of that policy ever since. The bubble that caused the Great Depression never really went away, and it led to the next one. And the next one. And the next one. As soon as you stop things failing that deserve to fail, then you end up with the 2008 nightmare scenario of banks having to be shored up with taxpayer money because they're just too big to be allowed to fail.
FDR's programs employed people, sure, but they were just being paid with money that was taken in tax from the productive parts of the economy. By definition those kinds of work programs and policies cannot be as profitable and efficient as private ones because they involve an extra layer of administration and bureaucracy between the work carried out and the money taken to pay for that work. The US still has New Deal policies in place like crop subsidies that have a damaging and distorting effect on world markets.
What happened in 2008, where world governments scrambled to save a system that was patently broken, was not a good thing. They've managed to patch the hole in the bubble and then managed to slightly reflate it. They cannot possibly maintain this system, it has to be allowed to fail. And - to get back to the healthcare aspect of this thread - passing bills like the one that passed a few days ago will not help. Anybody who thinks it's going to be a net gain to the US in economic terms is naive, frankly.
In more succinct fashion:
Those are the unemployment rates during the Great Depression. The New Deal just didn't work.
but it did stop an awful lot of people from starving.
You can argue that the New Deal was unwieldy, or doesn't fit with your worldview, or politics - although in all of these you'd be in a significant minority - but to say that people would have been better off without it is nonsense.
The same with people who claim the current stimulus is a failure. Leave aside any political claims, from either side, but when it comes to economists, and probably more tellingly, companies whose job it is to actually provide accurate financial information to their clients, there's as close to unanimity that it was a success as you can possibly get.
I really reckon that if the Great Depression had been left to it, so the economy was allowed to fix itself on its own, then you'd have had a massive shocker for a couple of years but then you'd be basically over it afterwards (and you can see that, in Europe, there's a strong pattern of the countries which intervened the least in their economies coming out of it fastest - eg Britain, where the Great Depression didn't have as long an effect, and indeed by the start of WWII the British economy was growing at a faster rate than either the US or Germany).
It all comes down to this interpretation, then - less harsh, but longer, or more harsh, but shorter. I reckon the latter's better in the long run because it avoids another bubble. I can see why you disagree. I'm really not sure how it would be possible to quantify all that suffering and make it something halfway objective that can be compared, but there we are.
And I've got to contest that the stimulus packages were as well received as you're saying. A lot of people are saying that they were a good idea not because it was the right thing to do economically, but because it was seen as the correct thing to do morally - the failure of all those banks would be a pretty shitty thing, to say the least.
The problem is you're talking in abstract terms about people essentially being left destitute and possibly dying.
Your economic point of view seems to ignore the fact that a depression is actually people being directly affected and moreover a particular part of society.
The middle-classes and the already rich are generally cushioned from the harsher effects of depression. While it's clearly true that we had booms and busts all over the shop in the past, it's also true that we had a far lower value on human life in the those days.
To look at the world socially at the same time would show that state intervention of the sort you distrust has naturally come about in line with our belief that people should be treated better.
The only way the state can address these issues is if it works to remove from the very rich to distribute amongst the poor. Clearly from your rhetoric above you don't agree with this sort of idea. You are probably someone who has money and may even believe you worked hard to get it and see no reason why someone who cleans houses every day until they're a physical wreck should benefit from that money. That's why the state needs to step in and tell you that actually there are people out there with an OBSCENE amount of money, and that money should go to helping the poor.
The issue we really have now is that there are so many more people in the middle-class who feel like they've dragged themselves up and now resent being squeezed. And yes they are being squeezed because the super-rich are still able to lobby and make sure they don't pay their fair share.
But rather than point up the ladder and try to make sure those richer do pay what they owe they point down and ask not to help out anyone else.
My objection is a moral and philosophical one based on the fact that nothing - *nothing* - supercedes an individual's right to personal freedom, and that includes freedom of property. And I don't want to sound like a heartless bastard but when people are down and out of luck that's what charities are for. A government should not be doing the job of a charity by taking someone else's money (even if they are an odious city exec) and deciding that somebody else is more worthy of it based on no real rationality. If you could opt in or out of such a program then fine, and I reckon most people would on balance, but as it is it's not justified on the most basic level.
You're trying to justify a problem that only exists because of the kinds of intervention that you advocate. Each bubble is bigger than the last, and the injustices and potential fallout grow each time because governments bought the middle class with stuff that they don't even feel like they're paying. It's a rotten system, and it's going to crash eventually - it literally cannot sustain itself.
"To look at the world socially at the same time would show that state intervention of the sort you distrust has naturally come about in line with our belief that people should be treated better."
The higher a country taxes its citizens, the less those people give on average to charity. People are encouraged, in systems with high taxes, to ignore other people as it becomes the state's problem, not theirs, to look after their neighbours in the community.
I find it interesting that on the one hand you say " deciding that somebody else is more worthy of it based on no real rationality" and yet on the other you suggest that we have lost the ability to look after neighbours in our community, that charity is in trouble.
I see that as a contradiction. Surely the rationality is that every person has the right to live a decent life? That's what we're talking about. That no one should starve.
To wash your hands and suggest charities do the work is setting the clock back hundreds of years and we only have to look back to those times to see how poorly the idea of charity worked for people.
There's a reason that welfare states get set up and not taken down and it's because we need them. Now you may be right in that we will need a dramatic shift soon but that shift will need to be MORE socialist, not less with the more even distribution of wealth.
Lord knows I wish I could agree with them. Or not, I'm not religious. But I totally agree that charities alone can't possibly cope with all the ills of society, which is why there's a welfare state. That's the rub.
The thing is (and I hate to bang on about this but it's the entire bloody reason I get into these messy discussions) I am sovereign over my body. It doesn't gel with me that my money gets randomly assigned to someone else who I might not choose to help in real life - and it's important, that. Do you think that you've got a moral obligation, that you would be doing something worthy of punishment, by not giving change to a beggar? Because that's what you're essentially saying, that morality demands you accept having the government take your money off you and send it to someone else regardless of why that person needs it. It's the same thing on a grander scale.
Now I reckon that if you gave people the choice, to opt in or out of having part of their tax pay for certain stuff (on the condition, of course, that they couldn't use it if they refused to pay - this applies to the NHS as well) then most people would overwhelmingly choose to support that system. There is the point, though, that I talked about further up the page, that by definition any government agency will be less efficient than another organisation doing the same job with the same amount of money, simply because of the extra levels of admin involved. Giving money to a charity which specialises in one sort of thing, instead of to the government, skips that, and you get more done with less funding.
But still. Rely on that and you don't get the same donations, even taking into account the fact that reduced taxation tends to incentivise charitable donations, because the thing with the welfare state is you don't really feel like you're paying for it. It doesn't feel like it costs you that much. That's why it's so popular - it feels like much better value for money than it actually is. Introduce a more direct cost relationship into things and people quickly realise if they're being ripped off - the classic example here would be that with the introduction of topup fees students have very quickly shifted in mindset from simply accepting their university education as given and instead are demanding better value for money. I imagine something similar would happen if you did the same with the welfare system. It's a tricky one, it really is.
And as for making society healthier and the quality of life better - nothing in human history has been as successful at raising people out of poverty as capitalism. Nothing at all comes close. Socialism just takes the wealth that capitalism creates and spreads it around more evenly, because the focus there is on the distribution, not creation, of that wealth. I don't have a problem with a society that has a high gap between rich and poor as long as the quality of life for the very poorest rises in the process, which is what usually happens - if it doesn't it's usually down to political and economic corruption, not capitalism in itself. Creaming off some of the riches from the top and spreading them to those below is only a minor salve by comparison, and does nothing to actually increase living standards in the long term.
I hope that makes more sense.
Oh, and find me some evidence that the trickle down effect actually works in that direction, rather than the reverse.
There's your evidence.
And charities don't always rely on volunteers. The point is that any organisation that is funded directly by a base and not indirectly through tax is more efficient by definition because there's a layer less of bureaucracy to get through in terms of allocating that money. It could be a private company, it could be a charity, the point is they're both preferable to the state taking over.
'Plebs' not living in mud huts these days is down to hard fought for workers rights and other legislation that prevent the rich from using their wealth to exploit the poor.
but just to be clear: I don't hate capitalism, I just think that perfect governance will require a combination of things.
The main issue we have are people with money spinning this stuff about how goverment stuff HAS to be less efficient.
You need to have socialism (small s) in so much of your life, though. A country is about people pooling resources to create a society that is richer as a result.
And if you think that it is SOLELY the preserve of the charity sector to care for the unfortunate, downtrodden, disabled and the socially wronged then... Well, in lieu of saying anything downright inflammatory I suggest you go away and think about that reeeeeeeally hard.
At best, that is a utopian ideal gone totally bonkers.
Never sits well with me either. But there's just no getting around it. It simply isn't morally right to rob the rich to feed the poor if the rich got their money legitimately.
full on libertarian! You don't get too many of those to the dollar.
I don't know; the problem with an opt-out system always seemed summed up by that old cartoon with the lazy grasshopper and the industrious ant (which was probably some sort of left-wing propaganda now I think about it). If someone has opted out of the health system, and they have a heart attack on the street, what do we do? Let them die? If we acted that way, wouldn't all of our collective consciences suffer a little more on a day-by-day basis? And then what if we helped them, just this once? Wouldn't everyone try the same trick?
...that old Swiss (I think) saying of "If we all just swept the dirt from the front of our own houses, then the entire street would be clean".
I'm not really up on the rest!); you're speaking as an economist where you should be thinking in terms of health economics.
As an aside, allowing America's health system to fail before trying to address its problems would have been an absolutely inexcusable action for a developed country: doing so would have carried a significant immediate death toll, and possibly have created a health crisis so great that any state intervention would have been considered economically inviable.
While the system proposed is something of a fudge, I still think it ticks most of the useful boxes. Although it's up in the air in terms of pure economic net or gain as far as I can see, a health economist is concerned with achieving maximum gains in benefit per pound (dollar, whatever).
Health economics does rely somewhat on regulation of health industry; my argument would be however that this is a case where a small increase in state control should lead to a massive public benefit in terms of quality of life. (Perhaps contrast this with terror-related regulations: increases in control that have little or no demonstrable efficacy.)
It's also worth mentioning that medical research under the current system in the US is pretty much an embarrassment; hopefully the proposed changes will bring the focus around to examining what works most often for the least money. I'm particularly hoping that this eventually reduces the effectiveness of direct-to-consumer marketing of drugs.
Can't disagree with that.
But what's been passed is totally not the way to fix it. *Forcing* people to buy insurance? Even when they're healthy and don't need it? That's insane. It's a bill that reads like it was written by the insurance industry, not people genuinely wanting the best for the people they represent.
That's like saying that I don't need contents insurance because my house isn't on fire.
some of the most effective health interventions implemented by the NHS focus on people who are healthy: screening programmes for example. And screening programmes have a very real cost that each of us pay for in taxes. The principle at work in both cases is that it attempts to apply an intervention across an entire population and the high-risk people balance out the low-risk ones: plus, in the insurance example, there are always those healthy people who get hit by buses and generate big A&E bills for the state.
If this is done right, I don't foresee the insurance companies leaping for joy over this: the regulation they face over payouts should make the trade much less lucrative.
I know it's difficult to comprehend but, sometimes, just... sometimes legislation is motivated by the desire to improve the lives of the people who it serves. Horrible thought, isn't it?
I'm not one of those rabid idiots running around screaming that the US is descending into fascism.
But it's a really bad bill. It's just a terrible idea. Just look at how it's done exactly the opposite of what it meant to do in Massachusetts - the bill there (Romney's bill, ironically enough, considering he's frontrunner for GOP nom for 2012) was passed in 2006, and has so far cost the state just under 10 times what was predicted (9.63x higher, to be precise, I believe). And far from lowering premiums by including younger, healthier people in the risk pools, it's actually raised prices by, on average 10%
It's the forced insurance that's the real stinker, I think. There are bits that are decent, but that one just strikes me as a bit of a dud.
...was that "WWII was the single most important factor in getting America out of The Great Depression". Your reply doesn't work to dispute this. I didn't claim that WWII was the only factor, which seems to be what your argument was based on...
But, yes, ultimately another well-reasoned assessment.
The way I see this healthcare lark is that the arguments AGAINST implementing it should be purely economic. There are no valid social, cultural or political arguments against it from where I'm sitting. If such a reform will ultimately prove to be economically destabilising then the people against have a very strong argument. What I do NOT buy is this notion that American policy should always be underpinned by a "The state should rack off and let me do EXACTLY as I please". Sometimes, just sometimes, the state knows what's good for you (see for instance the forcing through of Civil Rights legislation in the 1960's... sometimes the state needs to intervene and say "Look, it's not cool to oppress Black people, YA DIG???")
And on the Great Depression - Herbert Hoover adopted that exact tactic "The market will sort itself out". It didn't. It made things worse. And that's where FDR came in...
First - the Civil Rights bill of 1964 outlawed *state* discrimination against people on the basis of race. It didn't outlaw racism itself. That was a social ill that society had to sort out on its own.
Just because the government can and does do good things doesn't mean that it does those good things in the best possible way, nor that those good things couldn't be done by something else just as well. Jim Crow laws and whites-only schools and facilities were things that were only so entrenched because the state governments mandated them, after all.
Secondly - Hoover did loads of stuff, he definitely didn't just leave things to it. He instigated strict price controls and restrictions on lowering wages which, combined with the inability of companies to actually pay those wages, meant that the unemployment rate shot up quickly and stayed there. He also drastically increased taxes in the final year of his term. FDR actually campaigned against Hoover on the platform that he was spending too much, taxing too much, restricting trade and expanding the size of the state beyond what was necessary and just.
and it also happens to whack a great big hole your point that the best course of action was to do nothing - FDR was naturally fiscally conservative, and even he realized pretty quickly that doing nothing, or taking conventional measures, was not an option. This is the man whose job it was to sort out the country, he didn’t have the luxury of hewing to idealogy – he had to do what worked. And the New Deal was essentially an experiment at trying everything and keeping what worked. (Incidentally, you make it sound like reducing the unemployment rate from 25% when he came into office to the mid-teens was a ‘failure’ - 8, 9, 10% shaved off the US unemployment rate, even back then, is massive).
Basically, what you’ve been getting at this thread is a pure idealogy which doesn’t work in practice and is a rhetorical dead end. If we go back to the actual point of the topic – healthcare and the mandate – and the current situation to prove a point. At present, the government is ‘mandated’ to pay for anyone who arrives at an A&E centre, regardless of their ability to pay. That is, people who have chosen not to purchase health insurance, or your freedom fighters. That means everyone else is already paying for them if they get sick. (At a great cost – part of the rationale of getting those uninsured on a plan is the fact that even if it’s subsidised by the government, it’ll actually save them money in the long term). Skivving off the taxpayer or government is not libertarian. So, unless you are suggesting those people should be turned away from a hospital in the name of pure idealogy, then you’d have to admit that that is a currently existing government mandate, and one that is necessary.
I think if they'd gone with a public plan provided by the government, which is what most on the left were after (and would have saved even more money as it happens), you might have a point.
But this leaves intact an entirely private system, which will be required to compete to gain the custom of 30 million brand new consumers. Sounds like capitalism to me.
You can class the debts differently—and not crudely, like "good" and "bad" debt either. They're different, that's all.
well, that 940 billion over 10 years is really not that much money, if, as quick googling seems to tell me, they spend about 700 billion per year on military. Besides wouldn't a healthier population save money in the long run? and even if it was a lot of money, wouldn't the "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" and all that be a good reason for Obama and co to try and make sure poor people are not dying in the gutter because of illnesses that would be easily sorted out in any other developed country?
You of all people should know that if that's accurate, it would make a difference of 100%.
in the light of Gerogerigegege's assertion that "the great American ideal of inalienable freedom from government intrusion has been smashed."
And it hadn't been already? http://i.imgur.com/590Ev.png
thats just clutching at straws tho. the best they can achieve is an opt in/opt out thing for certain parts of the bill, and considering all those states receive more federal money than they pay out anyway...
reality has a well known liberal bias
I'll copy and paste it out:
This morning I was woken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US department of agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the food and drug administration.
At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.
After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the department of labor and the occupational safety and health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to ny house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it’s valuables thanks to the local police department.
I then log on to the internet which was developed by the defense advanced research projects administration and post on freerepublic.com and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.
did you hear various republicans are trying to get it called unconstitutional or some shite now?
Most of it has been shown to be wrong by quite a few folk along the way, but imma gonna add my comebacks.
I find it hard to see how this hardline version of personal freedom that keeps getting alluded to varies in any way from the dictionary definition of anarchy (i.e. absence of any form of political authority / absence of any cohesive set of principles, common standards or purpose).
>"The higher a country taxes its citizens, the less those people give on average to charity."
'Tax us less and we'll give more to the poor folk?' Is that what's being suggested? That's simply not true.
US aid, in terms of percentage of their GNP has almost always been lower than any other industrialized nation in the world.
Lets consider Net Overseas development aid as a percetnt of Gross National Income (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) figures):
New Zealand 0.3
"But that's just state aid!" I hear you cry. Well, let's look at one measure that adjusts aid numbers and factors in private contributions, and more...
Quality-adjusted aid and charitable giving as a percent of GDP (figures from the Center for Global Development):
United Kingdom 0.19
United States 0.07
New Zealand 0.03
Funny how countries with traditionally higher levels taxation can find it within themselves to give more of their money to the poorest. And that's before you consider the effectiveness of that aid. According to the OECD the countires nearer the top have a much better record of providing aid of real value whereas the US and some other countries found lower in those lists are known to provide alot of 'phantom aid'.
>"It doesn't gel with me that my money gets randomly assigned to someone else who I might not choose to help in real life - and it's important, that."
Suck it up. 'You can't please all of the people all of the time, but you can please most of the people most of the time'. That's how democracy works. In any case, money doesn't get "randomly assigned" - the intention (corruption etc aside) is that state spending goes toward the areas where it will be most effective, is most needed, or will provide the best return, according to past experience, expert advice, and/or (and this is the important bit) the will of the electorate and their representatives.
>"Now I reckon that if you gave people the choice, to opt in or out of having part of their tax pay for certain stuff (on the condition, of course, that they couldn't use it if they refused to pay - this applies to the NHS as well) then most people would overwhelmingly choose to support that system."
I /know/ you're wrong. NHS-style health services the world over provide excellent value compared to the US-style insurance-based scheme. Take a look at some figures - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8201711.stm
Underestimate the love the UK has for the NHS at your peril. The NHS is the beloved child of the UK. That and the BBC are two of the few things where the UK can credibly claim to do things extremely well. The recent 'I <3 the NHS' shows that however much the Conservatives would like to reconfigure UK healthcare, it'd be political suicide to go down that road.
>"By definition any government agency will be less efficient than another organisation doing the same job with the same amount of money, simply because of the extra levels of admin involved."
This is simply private sector propaganda. Yeah, it's sometimes true, but it's by no means a given. All too often, without adequate regulation of private sector organisations, things can easily end up being simply:
(cost of providing services by private sector) = (cost of providing services by public sector) + (private sector profit)
1) You're right that my standard of freedom is, in a way, indistinct from anarchism, but you're misunderstanding what anarchism is - and, indeed, what this freedom is (and for the record, I'm not an anarchist).
What is a human? Do you think that we have free will, or at the very least the ability to make our own decisions? Do you think that people should be held responsible for their own choices? That's all I'm saying. I believe that humans are the owners of their own bodies, that they are fundamentally allowed to refuse anyone do anything to their bodies (or property) without another person's permission (or, and this is important, if they violate another person's sovereignty). It's just this principle I have. Suck it, etc. I reckon most people agree with this kind of idea mostly, but then the problem comes when you realise that if you accept this then you have to accept that governments without consent of some form are illegitimate. That's my problem. If a society want to set up universal healthcare - great! That's what I want too. But it has to be BY CONSENT. Taxation is theft, no matter how you try to justify it. This is why it sucks to be me here - I agree wholeheartedly with all these things that you think are great about the welfare state. I just can't condone them as long as they are funded without consent. It's a question of fundamental philosophical principle here, and a multitude of wrongs do not make a right.
And it's wrong to characterise anarchists as nihilist ('without purpose', in your words) - that's a tired stereotype used by people who get scared shitless by autonomous association. And there is always a form of political authority in an anarchist society, which is the other people in the community. Democracy, true democracy, because it is entirely (to quote a phrase) of the people, by the people, for the people. Anarchists are always strong on law and enforcement of that law because that's how you keep a society from hurting itself. But the law does not entail the state. This is an important distinction.
2)You've focused on private charitable giving in terms of Americans giving to causes outside of the US. If you factor in domestic charitable donations then the US comes in waaaaaay ahead, with 1.67% of American GDP going to charities in some form. The UK is second with a mere 0.73%. There is a strong correlation between tax and charitable donation in OECD countries - it's undeniable. I'm absolutely not arguing that private donations will necessarily make up for the shortfall if government donations were eased up, because that's definitely true too. It all comes back to the fact that I have a simple moral objection to the taxation in the first place rather than some kind of weird, sick desire to see poor people worse off.
And if you think that foreign aid is helping the most needy, well - there's a whole debate to be had there over why that aid is even needed or whether it's the most necessary, and what criteria are being used to determine why that is. I'd contend it's due to centuries of exploitation of what are now former colonies and the forced imposition of unfair trade laws compounded by corrupt officials letting evil private organisations run rampant and ignore natural law. Aid is a band-aid over a massive gaping flesh wound in the grand scheme of things, and it's not aid that's been helping Africa reach the Millenium Development goals - it's relaxing trade laws and reducing corruption.
You raise a valid point with 'ghost aid', though. Again, I'd say that symptomatic of state-endorsed corruption in international trade systems and within the countries that are being targeted. And a lot of that state aid that America gives comes with dodgy political and economic strings attached, of course.
3) It is essentially randomly assigned, by my standards, and it's my money in the first place. If you and everyone on your street wants to convert an empty lot into a playground for local kids, except for Mr Jones at Number 14, would you be justified in stealing money from him if he refused to chip in to help fund it? No. But that's what taxation in our state's democracy does. It is morally unsound on the basic level. It is, to return to that trite phrase, theft.
4) I know how much everyone loves the NHS. I know how great value for money it is compared to the unwieldly and awful US insurance system. That's why I think everyone would opt-in to it if you made funding it optional, like road tax in a way. I don't know why you think people wouldn't if you're so sure they love it so much.
The BBC though... that's a totally different beast. You're talking about an organisation that demands a tax to fund itself in producing content that you're supposed to like if you know what's good for you. It's horribly elitist, and it's ridiculous that the private entertainment sector in this country has to compete with it on stuff that has no public interest role (most of the BBC's output, really). Subscription-based channels work fine across the world for producing the kind of high-quality programming the BBC is renowned for - HBO, etc. etc.
The BBC punches above its weight worldwide because it's got such an unfair subsidy advantage, specifically designed to spread British influence around the world. It's an echo of imperialism, and has no place in its current form in the world today.
5) To quote Bastiat here, you're ignoring the unseen and only focusing on the seen. State initiatives are funded by taxation. That's taking wealth that *could* have gone into some kind of private enterprise but instead has been used to a) fund the government department that allocated the money, and b) fund the government program. The 'seen' here is what you get out of that investment - a new bridge, a hospital, a bunch of school teachers. What the 'unseen' is is the extra cost inherent in such a system, that extra level of organisation involved in allocating everything. It doesn't create new wealth because it has to take more than the value of what it creates, by definition, in order to do stuff.
This isn't 'private sector propoganda', it's rational fact.
And I have no idea what your problem is with the private sector making a profit. Where does that profit go? Into new investment, into new wages, into growing the business and creating new jobs. And before you start banging on about trickle-down theory being a fallacy, it's not inequality that I'm worried about. Undeniably this will increase in an unregulated system. But the most basic quality of life increases at the same time - this is the essence of capitalist development. Everyone benefits from an increase in wealth in some form, as much as it might be hard to swallow when others are getting so outrageously rich by comparison.
I tried to be trite and cocky further up by pointing out that, because we're not all living in mud huts, that's evidence that trickle down works to an extent. And of course a lot of our modern facilities and our standards of living and our working rights and all that are the result of campaigns and pressure groups and so on. EXACTLY! THAT'S BRILLIANT! And it's completely compatible with what I'm advocating, which is government by those who have consented, and a natural law that respects human integrity and property rights (corrupt private sectors cannot do even half the things they do without using government influence to bend these rules in their favour and against the common man). The vast majority of the things that we enjoy today (and that post from /b/ up there is pretty flimsy at best, before anyone brings it up) are the result of innovation in the private sector, advances in technology that clever people left to their own devices came up with. That's the story of humanity. We've only had organised welfare states in the developed world for the past 150 years or so, and we certainly managed to build houses and factories and technologies and wealth before then without any trouble. This is reflected in the fact that our definitions of poverty have increased over the years as the general wealth of society has also increased.
I understand why the inequality thing sticks in the craw of a lot of people, but it's just not a huge problem as long as the system is fair and just as that eliminates most of the corruption and bias that lots of people point to as indicative of capitalism running out of control.
Hopefully that will help some of you understand where I'm coming from. Probably just going to incite more disbelief though, I imagine, but it's OK, I'm used to it... sigh...
really interesting. But I'd like to pick back up on the issue of an opt-out system from further up in the thread, because you're often setting that up as a viable alternative.
Earlier you said that your opposition to the introduction of state regulated healthcare was once of principles over pragmatism.
But I'm faced here with the choice between two moral principles:the first is that everyone should have absolute freedom and free will.
The second is that no man should be allowed to die in the street like a dog.
And if you run an opt-out system, you have to face up to the fact that you live in a society that prioritises checking a man's taxation status before it saves his life.
>"Taxation is theft, no matter how you try to justify it."
O RLY? I gladly pay my taxes. No-one's stealing it from me. I like the country I live in. I'm not that well-off but I'd like to pay more tax and live in an even better country - one where there's more equality and even better provision of free health and education at the point of use. I'd like us all to chip in more to fund a mega-railway infrastructure. I'd gladly pay up. No-one would be stealing that tax from me.
>"If a society want to set up universal healthcare - great! That's what I want too. But it has to be BY CONSENT."
Consent of everyone for everything is an impossibility. Consent of a population able to freely elected a government is a realistic aim (although I'd gladly welcome some voting reform for the Westminster elections).
>"Anarchists are always strong on law and enforcement of that law because that's how you keep a society from hurting itself."
On the one hand you're coming out with a Human Rights style 'humans are the owners of their own bodies' line. All well and good, but you're removing any obvious way to feasibly enforce it without "violat[ing] another person's sovereignty"?
>"That's why I think everyone would opt-in to it if you made funding it optional, like road tax in a way. I don't know why you think people wouldn't if you're so sure they love it so much."
As I've already said, we've opted in by voting for parties that support the NHS. If a party wanted to stand up and object to the NHS they're free to. But they won't cos such a policy would be their downfall. How is "road tax" optional? The upkeep of the roads themselves is funded through general taxation. As a collective, we want roads. So we pay up. The tax disc is compulsory, and it's debateable whether it's set up as best it could be, but at the end of the day the tax disc is a tax on vehicle use. Do you mean that if you don't want to pay for a tax disc, you choose not to own a vehicle? Cos that argument doesn't transfer to the healthcare thing. You don't always get the option of choosing to get a brain tumor and require surgery. Yes, this surgery could be entirely dependent on optional insurance, but the US shows us that it's not a very good system so, as a collective, we elect parties that support the NHS.
>"If you and everyone on your street wants to convert an empty lot into a playground for local kids, except for Mr Jones at Number 14, would you be justified in stealing money from him if he refused to chip in to help fund it? No. But that's what taxation in our state's democracy does. It is morally unsound on the basic level. It is, to return to that trite phrase, theft."
Nonsense. The scenario you describe would be theft. But it's not one that ever happens. Mr Jones has a choice in not paying for the playground because the ad-hoc organisation suggesting the playground is simply that: ad-hoc. If it were a body with the jurisdiction to apply a tax to Mr Jones, as governed by the law of the land overseen by the government we collectively vote for then things would be different. If the council were installing the playground then Mr Jones wouldn'nt really have a choice, but he'd have paid. But Mr Jones will probably be using some other council service that Mr Smith doesn't use. But neither Mr Smith or Mr Jones are really that fussed, because the decisions are being taken by elected representatives. Elected representatives that hey can both opt not to vote for when the next opportunity arises.
>"And I have no idea what your problem is with the private sector making a profit."
No problem at all with private sector profit as a concept, as long as it's not to the detriment of the general public (economically or otherwise - which realistically requires legislation).
>"Everyone benefits from an increase in wealth in some form, as much as it might be hard to swallow when others are getting so outrageously rich by comparison."
So wrong. It has been comprehensively shown that more equal societies fare better by just about every metric. It really is that simple.
>"Government by those who have consented, and a natural law that respects human integrity and property rights"
Look, we're where we are after years and years of fine tuning. No, things aren't perfect. But what you're arguing for seems to be some kind of wild west or medieval scenario where people magically fall into line and no-one steps out of line cos there's some kind of "natural law" threat hanging over them.
>"That's the story of humanity. We've only had organised welfare states in the developed world for the past 150 years or so, and we certainly managed to build houses and factories and technologies and wealth before then without any trouble. This is reflected in the fact that our definitions of poverty have increased over the years as the general wealth of society has also increased."
Life 150 years ago was crap across the board in oh-so-many ways. Yeah, maybe the top few percent lived it up. But for the bottom 95% of folk, life was godawful compared to how things are now.
>"This is reflected in the fact that our definitions of poverty have increased over the years as the general wealth of society has also increased."
Absolute poverty 150 years ago: pretty awful by any standards - atrocious infant morality rates and rife disease might have been the norm but they were never really accepted as desirable.
Absolute poverty now: negligible by the standards of 150 years ago.
Life is better than it was, but we want to progress even further. What's your point or problem with this?
>"I understand why the inequality thing sticks in the craw of a lot of people, but it's just not a huge problem as long as the system is fair and just as that eliminates most of the corruption and bias that lots of people point to as indicative of capitalism running out of control."
'Inequality isn't a problem as long as the system is fair and just'? What? Do you genuinely think that 'corruption and bias' wasn't a problem 150 years ago? 'Capitalism running out of control' is an issue that may or may not sort itself out in an agreeable way sometime soon. But this utopia of free will and cuddly anarchy that you espouse just ain't gonna bring it on at all.
See TFL vs Tube Lines vs Metronet.
The idea that the private sector will always do things better is a complete fallacy. The public sector can and sometimes is better placed to do certain things efficiently, particularly when proper accountability is put in place (as it has been for London Transport).
Achieving that efficiency is another matter, but you're wrong to say only the Private sector can do it.
...each time an American of Republican leanings gets their first bit of healthcare provision going forward from now, in an instance where they wouldn't have had it before when the insurance companies could sack them off if they looked like they might, erm, need to claim, will they still curse Obama and say that their country is going down the socialist drain? Just wondering.
when Medicare (subsidized healthcare for the elderly) came in, there was a similar furore. In fact President Reagan described it as communism and thought it would destroy American freedom.
But now pretty much everyone, conservatives included, supports Medicare. Indeed, one of the Republican's most resonant arguments against reform is that it would take money away from Medicare. And just to illustrate how confused many people are about the whole situation, you've had tea partiers gravely warning about a government takeover of Medicare!
I think that ten years down the line, when people start to really feel the benefit of the reforms and it's clear that Glenn Beck's wacky predictions haven't come to pass, the ideological opposition will have all but disappeared.