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The "right" to health care?(125 posts)

The "right" to health care?Matno
Nov 11, 2002 8:50 AM
Where do people get the idea that health care is a right? Almost everyone seems to misunderstand the proper role of government in areas like this. Our government in the U.S.A. is self-proclaimed to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people," yet so many just don't understand what gov't really is, particularly in regard to "rights."

Let me start by saying that gov't does not create rights. Rights exist independent of and prior to any form of organized government. Our government was created to provide the most protection of rights possible. Most other governments try to do this to varying (but lesser) degrees. A government "of the people" cannot do that which individuals have no right to do. For example, an individual "A" cannot take money from individual "B" (against B's will) and give it to individual "C." Originally, our government understood this concept. Now it has all but been forgotten. (By republicans and democrats alike).

Now we are faced with a wave of citizens who seem to think it is their God-given "right" to have full access to the best health care. Even the most simple-minded ought to be able to understand that when the cost of something would exceed the GNP, it is not feasible. Yet proponents of health care "rights," patients' bill of rights, free insurance coverage for the poor, etc. continue to ignore the fact that somebody has to pay for everything. Money does not simply appear out of nowhere. Businesses cannot afford to provide that kind of tax revenue. "The wealthy" would be poor if such a handout were provided. (And we're already fast approaching that point). Amazingly, even some bright economists seem to (mistakenly) think that health care is the one area of the economy that cannot regulate itself via the free market. How wrong they are.

Of course, the root of the problem is a general lack of willingness to accept responsibility for anything anymore. Sometimes bad things happen, and that's just life. People who can't afford insurance, but have a big screen TV and a DVD player are, well, let's just say they're not the most wise. I know lots of very poor people living in the "projects" here in the Bronx, and every single one of them has nicer home entertainment equipment than I do. But I have health insurance, and thankfully so. (Within a year of marriage, my wife and I had nearly $20,000 in medical bills!) Case in point, I visited a friend in the emergency room last night (pain in his left arm - uh oh) who has no health insurance. He and his family live well and have two incomes, but I would argue their financial priorities are a little skewed. (Especially for someone who has smoked for 25 years). Now, regardless of the problem, he will not be able to afford the medical expenses, and most likely someone else will have to take up the slack (either his family, the hospital, or the gov't). Is that fair?

I could go on (I wrote a 35 page paper on this in law school), but I think I've made my point. However, I would like to hear whether or not you agree with me.
Yeah. Let's just let 'em die...but wait!retro
Nov 11, 2002 9:01 AM
I don't want to start right off by saying this is pompous elitist self-righteous crap (you write just like a lawyer, but thanks for letting us know that you went to law school just in case we missed it). But answer just one question for me. No, two. The second is unrelated, but it's been on my mind lately and you might have an opinion:
1. If we can provide a lawyer for every slimy rapist, child abuser, mugger and drug dealer who gets into the court system, why can't we provide a physician for everybody who's sick?
2. (unrelated, but take a shot) If we privatize Social Security, and people make bad decisions or (as seems increasingly likely given the level of corporate malfeasance) lose their money through no fault of their own, what do we do with them? Let them starve? Because it's apparent the administration isn't going to do anything to keep the CEOs from gutting them.
What is your point?Starliner
Nov 11, 2002 9:14 AM
Could you maybe be more precise as to what your point is before I can decide whether I agree with you or not? I agree that many people can't manage their financial affairs very well - the morning paper today had a story on a woman who racked up a $20K shopping debt who set up a website trolling for donations to help her get out of debt.

However, there are many people whose financial difficulties are not due to an irresponsible lifestyle. Some people lose their jobs, some families lose the primary breadwinner, some people just come up on the short end of the stick not for lack of trying. America is a free enterprise, competitive system, and there are always going to be people at the lower rungs of the ladder looking for their opportunity to move up. What do you suggest these honest sorts of people who may not be able to afford health insurance do?
Ladies and Gentlemen - the acceptable face of neo-Nazism - nmMJ
Nov 11, 2002 9:29 AM
you obviously don't understand Nazis/fasciststrekkie1
Nov 11, 2002 9:47 AM
Nazi's are/were totalitarian fascists/socialists, the complete opposite of laissez-faire capitalists, which this writer seems to be.

Fascism:

1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control

So, what the heck are you talking about? The writer may be a "rugged individualist", but that has absolutely nothing to do with Nazis, in fact, it is about the furthest from the concept you can get.
Actually. . .czardonic
Nov 13, 2002 11:08 AM
the writer is attempting to further his own ideological and personal interests by scapegoating already unpopular segments of the population. More specifically, he implies that certain people are a drag on society that must be cast off so that a true and morally righteous country can acheive its potential.

Specifically, he appeals to the working classes sense of "fairness" by insinuating that others live in luxury on the fruits of their toil. He informs them that should they refuse to act, their earnings will eventually be taken away from them altogether.

Substitute "Jew" for "poor" and what do you have? I'm not suggesting that the writer is in fact a Nazi. But damegogues are demagogues above any political philosophy.
All backwards...Matno
Nov 13, 2002 12:18 PM
The Nazis hated the Jews, not because they were poor, but because they were extremely successful and hard working. Many Nazi political leaders had massive debts wiped out by the extermination of the Jews, many of whom were involved in banking. It was easy for the general population to scapegoat the Jews and blame them for their recession because they were jealous of their success. Just like the Nazis of pre WWII Germany, you would equalize wealth among people who vary significantly in their contribution. No where did I suggest that anybody be "cast off." "Set free" would be a more accurate description, since the people most hurt by the current welfare state are those who are feeding off of it. Such "support" is like eating twinkies. As far as long term help goes, it's just empty calories.

You say I "inform [the working class] that should they refuse to act, their earnings will eventually be taken away from them altogether." On the contrary, I say that should they join the ranks of those who refuse to work, there will be nobody left to support them.

It amazes me that you persist in your Marxist theories. Our country has already shown that there is a far superior way. No other country has EVER enjoyed the freedoms that we have, and no other country has EVER enjoyed such a high standard of living. Period. Why do you want to make the best system in the world change to be like those that have failed over and over? In a recent post, I said I didn't think you were unintelligent, just strongly opinionated. I take that back. Insisting that something works, in direct conflict with ALL of the evidence of history, does not qualify as intelligent. The only explanation for it is pure selfishness.
Yet another "compassionate conservative".czardonic
Nov 13, 2002 1:09 PM
Scapegoating is scapegoating. That was my only point with regard to the Nazi comparison.

So you would have the poor "set free" (talk about Orwellian) of their Twinkie diet and send them to what? A church bake sale? You talk about systems that have been proven to be failures. The church/private sector had centuries to demostrate that it could effectively deal with the poor. If it were a viable option, we wouldn't have welfare.

You did in fact imply that people would have their money taken from them. Your words were, "The wealthy" would be poor if such a handout were provided. (And we're already fast approaching that point).

Your "far superior way" presides over rampant corruption, increasing poverty and wide-spread lack of services. You can write me off as a Marxist if you like, but it is fairly obvious who is the ideologue here. And if you can take an honest look at our society and claim that no other country compares, I'm not particularly concerned about your opinion anyway.
So why do you still live here?Matno
Nov 13, 2002 2:11 PM
There are plenty of places where you could fit right in. I'd recommend China, but their population is already unbalanced as it is.

I fully admit that "my way" is the "far superior way." You are just too blind to see it. Corruption and poverty are less of a problem here than just about anywhere I can think of, and services here are vastly superior to ANYWHERE else(unless the only services you count are "free" services).

I've seen how the other side lives. That's why I'm fighting to avoid the same things here. You would be wise to do the same.
Because it is my country too.czardonic
Nov 13, 2002 2:34 PM
And it was made great by progressive liberals. You are fighting to keep things the way that they never were, lapping up the free market fanatasies of those who made their fortunes thanks to goverment intervention.

Is poverty less of a problem here than in Japan, Australia or Western Europe? Are the city streets of any of these countries littered with those who for whatever reason can not feed or care for themseleves. More people are victims of gunshot wounds in America every week than in the average year in Western Europe. You call that a vastly superior standard of living? Poverty, health, violence, primary and seconday education; the list of areas in which this country has fallen behind the rest of the industrialized world goes on and is increasing. Who is blind?

Incidentally, I am still waiting to hear whether or not those student loans and grants were provided or sponsored by the government.
Because it is my country too.Matno
Nov 13, 2002 2:58 PM
It was made great by progressive liberals? It was made great by inspired men of God who unselfishly dedicated their lives to protecting basic freedoms. The system they established was good enough that it has lasted longer than any other free society ever has. However, I daresay that they were not liberal progressives, and I unequivocally say that, from the standpoint of individual protection of rights, it has slowly but steadily gone downhill since the beginning.

Are the city streets of America littered with those who for whatever reason can not feed or care for themseleves? No. I already cleared that fallacy up in an earlier post.

I like the crime numbers you pulled out of a hat (the week/year comparison). Not even close to the truth, and certainly not an accurate description of anything. Too many cultural differences for the numbers to be remotely comparable anyway. (How about comparing European crime stats to American crimes committed by Americans of European descent. I bet you'd see vastly different numbers there). If you want a good measure of standard of living, compare how many people in Europe vs. America live in houses (as opposed to apartments). Education? We suck in that department. Been going downhill ever since the Feds took over and started force feeding us secular humanism.

In your other post you mentioned:
1) if you "support for draconian federal law enforcement programs and desire for a Supreme Court that will dictate right-wing morality, you can't claim to oppose centralist government." No way, no how. I don't support ANY federal law enforcement, and my only desire for the Supreme Court is one that will uphold any morality. (As opposed to no morality, which I also mentioned before).

2) "when you throw in support for regressive tax laws and corporate welfare, you lose ground on the redistribution of wealth." Well, since you could mean just about anything by "regressive tax laws" I won't argue that. My idea of a fair tax would be a flat tax such as the one advocated by Steve Forbes when he was running for president. (Unfortunately, I didn't agree with a lot of other things he said). Perhaps a national sales tax would work as well. (But not on top of the existing income tax structure). Corporate welfare? The ONLY area of business the federal gov't should be involved in is that which is specifically ennumerated in the Constitution. Most business should be state regulated, not federally, and personally, I think that regulations should be implemented for the sole purpose of preventing fraud. (Protecting someone's retirement is one thing, subsidizing it or federally guaranteeing it is totally different).

3) "when you look at all the myriad ways in which the corruption of the democratic system is tolerated, you don't have much credibility on the democracy front." I'll keep this one simple: Show me a country that is less corrupt. Corruption is bad in any form. When it takes the form of gov't corruption, you have absolutely no recourse.
Made <i>great</i>.czardonic
Nov 13, 2002 3:52 PM
You are conveniently forgetting liberal causes such as abolition, female sufferage, civil rights, etc (or are these the things that you think are dragging us downhill?). You are also lumping true men of God from the past with the smug and narrow-minded ideologues that you see today.

Please point me to the post where you cleared up the fallacy of homelessness.

If my numbers aren't close to the truth, what is the truth? And what, for the purposes of this argument, is the difference between what I call societal differences and what you call cultural differences? (Your racist bona-fides are noted for the record).

Houses vs. apartments? This must be that insatiable thrist for "the best" that you were harping about. How about houses or apartements vs. the streets or a shelter. I say that our worst are more numerous and worse off than their worse (in realitive terms of course), and your reply is that our best is better off than their best. Gee-whiz!

My other post obviously wasn't directed at you.
Hey Matnomoneyman
Nov 13, 2002 4:20 PM
I am pretty sure you can take care of yourself, but I would advise against wasting your time on the local commie. Your breath/bandwidth is wasted on his corrupted brain. Remember the old saying: "Never wrestle with a pig; you both get dirty and the pig enjoys it."

He's not even entertainting - just a self-righteous know-it-all who is extraordinarily annoying.

$$
Thanks.Matno
Nov 13, 2002 5:35 PM
I totally agree. However, occasionally, I do like to hone my writing/debating skills by thinking through issues like this thoroughly. (Since sometimes I actually have to do this sort of thing on short notice in the real world). This forum can be great for that sort of practice. I'm calling it quits on this one though. I've already written enough to satisfy my quota for practice.
Matno, thank goodness someone still gets it...VertAddict
Nov 14, 2002 11:09 PM
I just wanted to chime in that I agree wholeheartedly with your points, and I enjoyed reading them, so your exercise in debating is not all for naught!

I'm all for providing a safety net for those who are in genuine need, but when you start penalizing the productive and rewarding laziness (as we seem to here in Canada), you're headed for a slow, painful economic death. You just have to look at the ever-widening Canadian/American average income gap to see the proof of that. You can imagine how badly it sucks being on the losing end of that arrangement.

It's perplexing that even after the collapse of socialist and communist systems in so many parts of the world, and the proven track record of your free-market system as the most economically successful in the world, that your system still has its detractors.

To quote Frankie, "It's enough to make you wonder if you're on the right planet".

PS. A really bizarre little factoid is that even the Nazis were smart enough to try to keep some twisted vestige of capitalism, by not socializing the means of production within Germany - those were left in the hands of the industrialists, as they knew they would be more productive that way.
America is not a "free market" system.czardonic
Nov 15, 2002 11:13 AM
America's market has always been controlled to some extent by the goverment. There is no track record to point to as evidence of its success. The "free market" is a theoretical construct that is incompatible with both human nature and American values. It is easily corrupted by influence pedaling and back-scratching, time honored human proclivities that are protected as free speech. As long as the degree to which a market is free is itself a market commodity, you can't have a truly free market.

In fact there is no track record of the failure of any true communist or socialist system either. There have been various totalitarian systems that adopted the mantle of socialism. But then again, Iraq is a "democracy".

Capitalism and socialism have little to do with the viability of a system. Socialist elements are incorporated into the systems of many Western European countries that continue to thrive. Rather, the deciding indicator seems to be the degree of self determination of the people within the system. One can find successful systems all over the capitalist/socialist spectrum. The common factor is usually democracy.

Speaking of self-determiniation, one can only wonder what communism's track record would be if the "free world" didn't have a track record of beseiging and ultimately bankrupting communist countries.
America is not a "free market" system.BikeViking
Nov 15, 2002 1:36 PM
The free market system is where innovation takes place because the individual is rewarded for his/her efforts. No other system can outproduce or out-innovate a free market. Is it entirely free? No, but ours is as close to free thatn any other in the world. All of that cooruptiuon in the free market system is equally rampant (if not more so)in Socialist/Communist societies as well, so reverting to those sytems will not end that.

The EUropean Socialist policies are finally coming home to roost. Europe is at a near zero-population growth, while the elderly population contiues to live longer due to modern medicine. The worker base that is needed to support the growing elderly population is shrinking. The elderly were promised all of the State benefits and paid the high taxes throughout their lifetimes. Their time has come to retire and they want their "stuff" (government benefits). The young workers are being taxed out the wazzoo to support these outlandish retirement benefits and they are quite resentful. This is resulting in a lot of turmoil between the promises made and the exorbitant cost of keeping those promises.

CHile has a remarkable retirement program and ALL of the money you and you employer put into your particular fund is YOURS!!!! There was some pain transitioning to it, but each individual needs to have their own retirement account to do with as they see fit

http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/articles/jp-01-17-96.html

I certainly hope you are engagin in intellectual exercise with your implied support for Socialism/Communism. If humans were automatons with no desire or ambition to be the best, those systems would be wonderful. We do like keeping up with the Joneses and giving all for the common (government-determined) "good" is not in human nature.
America is not a "free market" system.czardonic
Nov 15, 2002 2:55 PM
If you are pointing to the American system as a paragon of innovation, then it is further proof that the "free market" can be trumped. Much of America's innovation has been presided over by direct government sponsorship. It has also been fostered by protection from competition through tariffs, etc., which would seem to be the antithesis of the free market. The "free market" doesn't fight crime, save your property from fire or bring electricity and water to your home. The "free-market" didn't take us to the moon or liberate Europe from the Nazi's.

I don't support Socialism or Communism. (The suggestion that I do is an anti-intellectual excercise in red-baiting by my detractors.) I simply submit that Capitalist ideology is no more the absolute answer than Socialist ideology.

Capitalist ideologues gripe about goverment controlled social programs, yet they tend to be the biggest supporters of goverment controlled military and law enforcement programs. Whether this is plain hypocracy or covered by some stipulation that the goverment should retain control of national defense, the fact remains that in certain instances the "free-market" can not be trusted to provide the best product. (Just look at airport security for further proof).

I submit that healthcare is another area where life and death concerns can not be left to the tender merecies of market forces. Ill-health presents a much greater risk to the average American than civil unrest or foreign invasion. Why is defense a right, but health a luxury to be earned?
America is not a "free market" system.BikeViking
Nov 18, 2002 6:39 AM
But where does it end? Do we need to supply adequate housing for all? Do we need to provide adequate nutrition for all? At the end of all this we'll all be sending out money to the State to "equally" provide for us? No thanks...

At some point people need to take responsibility for themselves and their lives. Help should be there for those who NEED it, not those who want it.
Exactly.czardonic
Nov 18, 2002 10:36 AM
Where does it end? Why are conservatives (in general) so obsessed with this domino logic, as though one step to the left will lead to the downfall of everything that is American and good? Or, in real terms, as though feeding a few hundred thousand out of the gutter will land us all in the bread lines. Well, our federal, tax-payer supported military system hasn't turned us into a totalitarian police state. Obviously a line has to be (and can be) drawn somewhere with these programs.

I have found that people who believe in helping only those who "need" help inevitably conclude that no one truly needs it.
Exactly.BikeViking
Nov 19, 2002 6:35 AM
There is a Constitutional mandate for the military to protect and defend the nation. There is no such mandate to provide food/clothing/shelter for those who are capable of providing such things for themselves.

Scott
Is there?TJeanloz
Nov 19, 2002 8:55 AM
I'm not sure that there is a Constitutional mandate. There's the defense and general welfare clause, which is arguably a mandate for both the military and nationalized healthcare (is health "general welfare"?).

I believe the only mention of the military is in Article II, where the President is made "Commander in Chief" of the Army, Navy, and state militias.
moretrekkie1
Nov 19, 2002 9:50 AM
Art I Sect 8

...
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
moreBikeViking
Nov 19, 2002 10:55 AM
Note to self...be a little more thorough when posting! :o)

I knew it was there, but didn't take the time to post ALL of the info.

Scott
Interesting, but irrelevant.czardonic
Nov 19, 2002 11:00 AM
That the Constitution calls for a nationalized (a.k.a. socialist to certain people) military does not make it any less nationalized (a.k.a. socialist). The point here is that in certain areas, the goverment can do a better job than market forces. The Framers obviously knew this.
gimme a breaktrekkie1
Nov 13, 2002 1:51 PM
That's reeeealllly stretching an argument to attempt to equate Jews in Nazi Germany with the poor in the U.S. More acurately, YOU are scapegoating the wealthy in the U.S., blaming their greed on society's ills, and attempting to use government force to take their wealth and re-destribute it to your constituents. Isn't that far more analogous (even being a stupid analogy to begin with)?

You, Sir, are the Nazi. I know you'll never see that, but you truly are. Substitute "rich" for "Jew", and you truly are. Take a look at what fascism is really about. You'll see that most of the arguments you have made about centralist control and class envy smack of fascism.

Americans who oppose centralist government, redistribution of wealth, and are in favor of democratic government 180 degrees from fascism. You are about 5 degrees from it.
I think you meant to accuse me. . .czardonic
Nov 13, 2002 2:21 PM
of blaming society's ills on the greed of the rich (not vice versa, though it may be a discussion worth having).

Nonetheless, you miss the point. My comparison had nothing to do with the link between fascism and what passes for "conservatism" in America. My point was that the demagoguery of the writer was comparable to that of Hitler, not that the Jews are comparable to the poor. In fact, I explicitly said that I did not think that the writer was a Nazi. That, of course, is more decency that either he or you have afforded me.

Those Americans who oppose centralist government, redistribution of wealth, and are in favor of democratic government [are] 180 degrees from fascism. But when you throw in support for draconian federal law enforcement programs and desire for a Supreme Court that will dictate right-wing morality, you can't claim to oppose centralist government. And when you throw in support for regressive tax laws and corporate welfare, you lose ground on the redistribution of wealth. And when you look at all the myriad ways in which the corruption of the democratic system is tolerated, you don't have much credibility on the democracy front. Throw chest beating patriotism (a.k.a belligerent nationalism) onto the pile, you need a mighty precise protractor to meaure the degrees of difference between your garden variety American conservative and your garden variety National Socialist. All things considered, even your 5 degree designation isn't so unflatering.
The health care system is brokenColnagoFE
Nov 11, 2002 9:44 AM
When an aspirin costs $8 in a hospital and it takes a doctor to refer you to the other doctor that you knew you needed to see in the first place it isn't hard to see that something is not right. Even if you insist that everyone pay their own share it already doesn't work that way. Indigent people get treated and then put the cost back on the system and ultimately us. Socialized medicine seems to work OK in Canada and places like Switzerland. Sure they pay higher taxes, but after you add in all the money you spend for insurance and such isn't it about a wash? And EVERYONE gets health care. Do you think that a doctor should shuttle someone out the door when they find they don't have insurance? It isn't always about the bottom line. It's about human compassion and doing the right thing.
I thought you were referring to Canada when you said your system was broken...VertAddict
Nov 14, 2002 10:54 PM
Let me give you a view from a citizen of this socialist "paradise" called Canada. Our health care system is the one that is broken. It drives me crazy that people in our country raise the spectre of US medicare as the bogeyman whenever someone tries to suggest ways to improve our system (through privatization). And it really drives me nuts that people like yourself who have never lived here swallow the story you've been given that Canada some kind of medical utopia.

I have found that there is one simple, inviolable truth about any socialist system: it leads to lack of required services, because it doesn't allow free market forces to work. We're all familiar with the stories of people having to line up for shoes in Communist Russia. That happened because central planning could never properly estimate consumer demand or factory supply schedules. But hey, those who get there first, get them cheap. So it's all good, right? Yeah, unless you happen to be one of the poor slobs who didn't get any shoes at all, and therefore lost his toes to frostbite.

The Canadian medical system, like any "good" socialist system, works the same way - service is free, as long as you can get it. Right now you have a nation-wide average 12 week waiting period for a CAT scan. But hey, when you get it done it's free, so who could possibly complain, right?

How would you feel if your loved one collapsed one day in your living room, and you had no idea why. What if it was a brain tumor? How do you know? Of course, you need a CAT scan done ASAP. I don't have to tell you that time is of the essence with such a thing. In Canada, your loved one will wait twelve weeks to find out, just like everybody else, assuming he/she doesn't die first. How do you like socialized medicine now? This actually happened to the husband of a very good friend of mine, and in the end they chose to pay for a flight to the US and get a scan so that they could get the results back in under a week.

What good is free health care if you cannot obtain the health care in the first place? Think about it.

I worry so much when I see citizens of the USA longing for more socialism. If you will not stick true to the economic principles that made you the most wealthy and free country in the world, then who will? Truly we will all be left waiting for Atlas to shrug.
I thought you were referring to Canada when you said your system was broken...BikeViking
Nov 15, 2002 7:21 AM
I appreciate your inside from the "belly of the beast". I am SO amazed that the whole idea of Socialism didn't die when the wall went down. Everyone needs to realize the gov't (wherever you live) DOES NOT care about you!!! They care about keeping their jobs. Each of us want the best and capitalism (with its flaws) is the best way to get the best from people. The idea of improving your life through hard work is lost on quite a few people.
Why don't you vent on your "friend" instead of us?PdxMark
Nov 11, 2002 9:49 AM
Give him your petulant little rant.

You seem to be upset that a person (your friend) who is uninsured, or who can't pay cash, can get any medical care at all. Is that your point? It's hard to tell.

The problem with your so called thinking is that it ignores the fact that we are in a society. NOTHING you received from this society... access to roads, civil or military protection, even your law school education... is paid for entirely by you. (Even if you paid full tuition, either tax dollars or other's contributions covered part of your law school eductaion.) Other peple, members of this society, contribute to everything any of us enjoys.

In your self-centered, self-righteous universe, you seem to ignore what YOU get for free - or with subsidies from the rest of us. The fact that you make SOME payments seems to make you think you are entitled to deny others a bit of society's generosity. Of course, this doesn't even address the dark ugly world you seem to pine for, with the uninsured to be left in misery or to die on the streets. It must be awful to have such a brutal vicious life goal for the benefit of saving a couple percent of annual income.

So, in short, I disagree with you.
The company I work for is self-insuredcarnageasada
Nov 11, 2002 9:59 AM
and it's fairly ugly. Although we are required to pay relatively high premiums it is amazing how much the company tries to get out of paying out claims. Last year, my one year old was sick and hospitilized and the company just would not pay. It was one hoop after another. Phone call. After phone call. Email after Email. They flat just didn't pay, nothing, nada, nichts. My daughter was on the policy. They were supposed to pay something like eighty percent, they paid nothing. Apparently, I later found out, this is quite common because every claim represents a cut in the profits so they try and string you out as long as possible. Our bill, something like $1,400, was turned over to a collection agency. It took a letter, from the doctor, to none other than Jesse Helms, to get them to pay. I'm a Democrat by the way so I was rather speechless when the doc informed us that every time he had trouble with unpaid insurance claims, essentially from his own company, he wrote to Jesse's aids. Anyway, I don't need the best access but if I'm paying for it I at least like to think that the integrity of my children's health should not be abused for corporations looking at the bottom dollar. At the very least, I shouldn't have to bring Jesse Helms into it. By patient's Bill of Rights I always assumed that Lawmakers were talking about abuses of basic rights by corporations as opposed to an inalienable right to have health care.
How about an either or?Winona Rider
Nov 11, 2002 10:28 AM
Opt for healthcare free at the point of need, OR a ludicrus proportion of the national product spend on "defense" spending which is needless and pointless?

I'd like the healthcare please, just in case anyone gives a *$"* anymore....
First of all. . .czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 10:34 AM
. . .to say that the government does not create rights is ludicrous from enything other than a purely academic standpoint. To borrow from the old "tree falls in the forest" bit, if someone violates your rights and there is no body to go to for redresss, does that violation exist? There are no rights without laws and law enforcement. In fact the government can do (or try to do) anything that its citizens allow it to do.

Even the dullest economist should be able to figure out that a free market is actually a lousy allocator of resources. There are what, 40 million people in the US without health coverage? Is there some kind of bureaucratic red tape that is preventing this vast pool of potential revenue from being served? No. The Market has simply decided that it isn't cost effective to serve these people for some reason or another. What happens when an HMO figures out that they can make more money selling a medecine to a select few for $500, than selling it to everyone for $10? Markets do not require that every consumer be served, but healthcare is a universal requirement.

Anyway, whatever happened to compassion and human decency? That these issues even require debate is an indictment of this country.
I think people (not just you)...Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 10:59 AM
have gotten worked up, and missed the point of the original post. The question posed essentially is, are the 40 million people in the uninsured situation you speak of there because they can't afford medical insurance or because they choose to spend their money elsewhere?
Healthcare costs what it costs (for the most part). Technology has improved our medical care tremendously but it costs lots of money to develop drugs, etc., to upkeep the technology, to train the providers and to give everybody access to it everytime. So in the case above, you have a guy who apparently can afford healthcare but has chosen not to get it? What do you do about him? He thinks $400 a month to his company's insurance is ridiculous to insure his family so he says screw-it I've got my eye on a Chevy Tahoo truck that I can use that $400 for the monthly payment. What do you do about him? How do you prevent this from happening? What about in less clear cases than this? Do we not all agree that capable people should be paying for health insurance and that government programs should be there for the truly needy? The alternative is socialized medicine which those who are in those systems seem to be non too fond of.
good pointtrekkie1
Nov 11, 2002 11:12 AM
Often, the issue is allocation and priorities of one's own resources. We seem to think we have the *right* to drive new cars, VCRs, DVDs, automatic car washes, fast food, 3,000 foot houses, and expensive hobbies. I, too, would like to know how many are truly unable to obtain health insurance due to no money left over after true necessities, and how many simply choose to blow their money elsewhere.

What it seems is that we believe we have a right to keep up with the Jones, and if that costs too much, the government must pay for everything else.
Straw manColnagoFE
Nov 11, 2002 11:31 AM
You have not proven that the majority of people without health insurance are money wasters. You just suggest this might be the case with no facts or source to back it up. Sure those who choose not to participate in health plans and instead buy luxury goods are beyond contempt. Still I imagine a good number of people work at Wal Mart or part time jobs where getting a family health insurance policy is not possible given the amount of money they make and the rent they need to pay. I really doubt that there are many living the life of luxury just because they don't have insurance premiums.
How come they are not on...Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 11:45 AM
medicare or medicaid then? Isn't that the standard? If you aren't poor enough to qualify for one of these two programs then it is your responsibility to get healthcare. Aren't we talking about the uninsured but working or at least not eligiable for government coverage?
I guess I just don't see many of those people.czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 11:29 AM
I think everyone is incensed by the person who simply chooses to forgo insurance so that they can buy big screen TVs or new Cars. I just wonder what percentage of the people who don't have insurance fall into that demographic. It sounds an awful lot like a strawman, and it also doevtails nicely with the "people are poor because they are lazy" school of thought.

At any rate, an easy way to prevent this situation from happening would be to socialize healthcare. If healthcare were simply built into your taxes, you wouldn't have the option to spend the money at Circut City instead.
In principle...Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 10:35 AM
I agree with you. If capable, a person should have to pay for health insurance. The question is how do you make sure that happens? And who decides capable?
The simple fact is there is a portion of the US population who will buy a new surround sound system (usually on credit) before they will pay for insurance and/or they just gamble knowing that ultimately they will be taken care of anyway. How do you fix this? Let's face it, we are a compassionate society (which is a good thing) who for the most part will not turn people away from healthcare, even if they are 100% responsible for their situation. So lamenting about the irresponsiblity of some people won't do any good. We don't have the stomach for the alternative of forcing people to accept the consequences of their decisions nor do we have the ability to distinguish the leeches from those who are in a bad situation due to circumstances beyond their control (and therefore in an affluent society can get a break).
The libertarians (and conservatives) want to say screw 'em, while the liberals live in a dream world where leeches don't exist and nobody is responsible for themselves. Anybody think they have a solution (I certainly don't)? Socialized medicine won't fix anything, since the system is now de facto socialized anyway. The uninsured get treatment
and the hospitals/providers pass the cost on to the paying customer or go out of business in short order.
Profiteering industries need to be removed from the equation.czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 10:56 AM
Case in point. A friend of mine's fiance was shot through both feet (accidentally) in rural Mongolia. Cost for treatment: $12 US. How many thousands or tens of thousands would it cost in the States? Some of the disparity goes to the higher costs of advanced medicines. But a significant amount of it is siphoned off to shareholders, etc. The medical industry, as it stands, is designed to charge as much for care as the market will bear. Prices are completely divorced from costs in a privatized system. Take shareholders, Wall Street etc. out of the equation, and the money saved will server more people for less money.
are you a communist/socialist?trekkie1
Nov 11, 2002 11:16 AM
You seem to have no grasp for economic reality (or any other reality). If not for shareholders' investment and the potential for profit, many of the services and drugs you think should be cheaper or government provided might not exist at all. Get a clue: Communism failed. Capitalism works. It isn't perfect, just better than anything else.

Take shareholders, Wall Street, etc., out of the equation and you have no equation. You have nothing, or at least something far inferior to what we have now.
The problem isColnagoFE
Nov 11, 2002 11:42 AM
This is a human issue not just one of dollars and cents. When you mix the two you have problems and we are seeing them today in the number of people who can't or don't have proper health insurance. Back in the day it was possible to self-insure but today a major illness would bankrupt all but the richest segment of society no matter how much they saved up. Our system is broken. Do you have the answer to fixing it?
"Back in the day...Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 12:47 PM
it was possible to self-insure but today a major illness would bankrupt all but the richest segment of society." Yes, that is why it is paramount to get insurance if the government deems you are not eligible for medicare/caid. The leeches are the ones who figure nothing will happen to them or simply say I don't think it's worth it, when they know damn well the emergency room will save their life just like anybody else when they wrap their car around a telephone pole.
Unfortunately, most of the complaints with insurance companies are because they are trying to fix "it". Simply, everyone can't have the gold standard treatment everytime. There has to be a "triage" system and a minimum standard of care that is deemed acceptable even if it's not the absolute best.
You must hate the military!czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 11:50 AM
That vast, money wasting, socialist bureucracy. Imagine how much more efficient it could be run by private industry! And the Police and Fire Departments, for that matter.

Or maybe you aren't quite ready to trust your infallible capitalist theory to matters of life and death? Which brings us back to health care. . .
contractstao
Nov 11, 2002 12:02 PM
Doesn't the government contract out projects that involve high research and technology costs, like defense ones?

Interesting point though, maybe that's a better model to use for health care?
Perhaps...Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 11:27 AM
but my impression is that socialized medicine doesn't work so well. Everybody gets access to what turns out to be poorer care and you only get the good stuff if you buy into a private auxillary system which inevitably develops unless you outlaw it.
I have some knowledge of this stuff firsthand through my work as a PT. Lots of people are disgruntled because insurance companies now limit access to PT (de facto socialization) because their profit margins have been so reduced due to the increased cost of healthcare in general. Socialized medicine would have to work similarly to keep costs under control. It's not profit margins that are soring, it is the increased cost of providing the service. You couldn't treat a gunshot wound in the US for $12 if you just went to the local pharmacy and got the supplies! That emergency room she would probably go to here cost millions to build, equip, and staff. People like to paint insurance companies as monsters, remove them from the equation, and substitute some government beauracracy (talk about monster) and what has changed? I suspect only thing that will change is that we (at least those who act responsibly now and get insurance) will pay more in the long run and get inferior care.
Its all about who calls the shots.czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 11:43 AM
True, government bureaucracies have a history of miss-managing resources. So does private industry for that matter. Which is easier to regulate? Which can be mandated to operate in a manner that best serves its customers? Which (in theory, at least) is better equipped to reduce the marketing, packaging, and profit overhead that inflate the prices of materials? Insurance companies are middle men; parasites on commerce. Even if a goverment agencey serves the same purpose, it can do so without having to "maximize shareholder value". That alone allows it (again, in theory) to operate at a lower cost to consumers than a private entity.

The fact of the matter is that you are currently paying more than you should, and care is already inferior even for many who have insurance but are denied treatment by penny-pinching private bureaucracies.
That may be the most ridiculous economic argument ever,TJeanloz
Nov 11, 2002 12:06 PM
As an aside from the topic at hand, the idea that a government bureaucracy can operate at a lower cost than a private entity goes against every shred of empirical evidence that exists. Government, by its very nature, is rife with corruption, fraud, and mismanagement- precisely because their is no incentive to minimize costs in a public environment. If you can find one example of a government agency that is run without widespread waste, I'd like to see it. This isn't to say that everything should be privatized, including healthcare- sometimes it's worth paying more to ensure different service, as is the case with the Police or Fire Departments, which could be run more efficiently, but to do so would impair service to some people.

The problem, as I see it, with American healthcare, is that everybody wants the best care in the world. And the best care in the world is expensive. In most socialized settings, they don't save every life they might, and they don't give expensive procedures to just anybody. But in the United States, it is unacceptable to give anything but the best care, and we simply can't afford that for everybody.
I was speaking theoretically.czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 12:34 PM
I even said it, twice. All that the empirical evidence shows is that government hasn't been efficient. It doesn't prove that it can't be. Are you saying that waste and inefficiency are absent from the private sector? Both have lousy track records, and healthcare is all the empirical evidence you need to demonstrate this. From a patients perspective, I'd go for the bureaucracy that doesn't worry about costs to the bureaucracy who's mission is to give me the least care for the highest price I can pay.

You don't think that protection from injury or disease is at least as important as protection from fire or crime?

I think there are plenty of people (tens of millions, in fact) who would be thrilled to simply have adequate care.
Please define "adequate".Matno
Nov 11, 2002 12:40 PM
The problem with creating a right is that you simply CANNOT draw the line. Period.

And yes, I DO think that the fact that the gov't has NEVER been efficient proves that it can't be. Our gov't was DESIGNED to be inefficient for the very purpose of preventing (or at least slowing down) frivolous changes.
Fires vs. Healthcare,TJeanloz
Nov 11, 2002 12:54 PM
The difficulty that I have with healthcare costs, is that regardless of what we do, the end result is the same. I take it as a truism that I will die. It is one of few things in life that I am absolutely certain of. I would fully support socialized medicine that does preventive-maintenance sorts of things. If people lead more fulfulling lives as a result of good health, than it may be worth paying for. But I'm not inclined to pay to treat somebody's lung cancer or 4th bypass surgery (there comes a point where Dick Cheney should just give up). I think the morally required thing to do is to make people with cancer (or other terminal illness) comfortable, but spending millions of dollars so that they can live another day does not seem reasonable.

A fire department, or police department, exist for scenarios that I don't believe will ever happen. I'm thankful that the fire department and police departments exist for the few people who will need their services, but not everybody will. Healthcare, it seems, serves only to prolong the inevitable, while fire and police serve as a safety net for the improbable.
Interesting.czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 1:27 PM
It seems to me that a large part of the high cost of healthcare as it stands stems from the emphasis on treatment rather than prevention (or deterence). As they say, and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. How many diseases that we now consider inevitable could be banished to the realm of improbable if we spent our money on education and preventative care rather than ERs (where many of the uninsured end up)? Isn't it plenty likely that guarunteeing universal healthcare would save us money?
I think that attitude is more western vs eastern medicineColnagoFE
Nov 11, 2002 1:31 PM
western medicine seems to wait until something goes wrong and then treats it. eastern medicine seeks to keep the organism healthy so it won't get sick in the first place. both have their place. too bad they don't usually see eye to eye.
Not without an attitude shift,TJeanloz
Nov 11, 2002 1:32 PM
Preventive medicine only goes so far; and I'm willing to say that the government should consider supplying it. But when somebody reaches the slippery slope of terminal illness, I don't think we should pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep them alive for another few years. It isn't likely that preventive medicine alone will keep disease from happening- it will continue, but I don't think we should pay to treat serious, and unrecoverable, illnesses.
Agreed, but. . .czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 1:36 PM
the willingness to devote resources to such cases kind of stems from the "service to whomever can pay for it" aspect of privatized health. After all, the revenue is still coming in. Meanwhile, the resources spent to keep the few alive who can afford it could probably keep many from ending up in the same position in the first place.
Isn't it fairly obvious...Matno
Nov 11, 2002 5:37 PM
That certain behaviors lead to increased risk of certain diseases (I'm speaking specifically of STD's). While ignorance of such things is astounding in this day and age, there are certainly those who honestly don't know. On the other hand, MOST of the people who get them are fully aware of the risks, and choose to take them anyway. Why should we be forced to pay for their treatment? I dare say that disease will not be even close to fully eradicated in our lifetimes. As soon as you increase the overall lifespan, new diseases will be the target of funding/research, and people will expect the gov't to keep them alive until they are 105...
So you are a vegetarian?czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 5:48 PM
One who abstains from tobacco (including second hand smoke), alcohol (other than a glass of red wine a day) and junk food of all kinds? And certainly you don't engage in physical activity out doors, what with all that pollution floating around.

Or are you just a hypocrite who only recognizes the risks that other people take.
So you are a vegetarian?Matno
Nov 11, 2002 8:05 PM
Being a vegetarian is not as healthy as some people think it is. And yes, I do eat very healthy food, I don't smoke (or hang around anyone who does - hospitals generally don't allow it), I don't drink (not even a glass a day), and I keep junk food to a minimum (I prefer to have energy). Outdoor activities increase my health, not my chances of getting sick, in spite of the pollution. I have never been to a doctor except for required physicals and broken bones. I've never been in a car accident or even gotten a ticket. I think that qualifies me as one of the lowest risks in the population, especially in terms of long-term, high-cost disease.

Plus, let's not forget that I pay for my own health insurance. We can all do our part. Someday I will probably have a lot of money. If you really need help, I would prefer that you come to me directly before you complain to your Congressman that I have too much. If not for me, do it for your own children who will someday have the wonderful opportunity of having no social security because we will have wasted it.
Excellent.czardonic
Nov 12, 2002 10:13 AM
But the point is that while people make a point of scapegoating the relatively small number of people who contract HIV, they turn a blind eye to the millions willfully polluting their bodies and pratically guarunteeing that they will become a burden on society down the line. Kinda makes you wonder if they have some other agenda.
Yes, the idea...Wayne
Nov 12, 2002 5:18 AM
that disease can be eradicated is ridiculous. Western medicine has done remarkably well vs. contagious diseases and pathogens like viruses, etc.
But, if you live long enough almost everyone dies of either heart disease, cancer or a stroke, and the bugs are constantly evolving to survive the drug/vaccine interventions. Live long enough, and you will die (could be a Yogi Berra saying?). Preventative medicine would keep the cost down by removing those people who are in the system for 25 years with bad (heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.), but treatable (and preventable) conditions and then die!
The problem isn't so much education...Wayne
Nov 12, 2002 4:59 AM
I think everybody pretty much knows the big three for preventative medicine, right?
1) Regular, moderate aerobic exercise
2) Don't smoke, moderate alcohol comsumption
3) Eat only as much as you need to maintain your weight (or decrease it if overweight) and limit saturated fats and cholesterol.
IF you have a way of actually getting people to practice these, sell it, and make yourself rich! It's not a lack of knowledge that kills people or decreases their quality of life relatively young, it's no desire to implement these things or a lack of will-power if the desire is there.
The insurance companies solution is to charge higher premiums to those engaged in behaviors (such as smoking) that puts them at a higher risk of needing medical services. That seems about as fair as can be in a free society. If you want to play, you must pay.
Don't forget....rtyszko
Nov 13, 2002 12:36 PM
4)Red Meat based diet (highest rates of Cardio disease, cancer, MI,
5) Doctors (according to mercola.com, between doctors errors, nomoscomial infections, pharmacy/hospital errors all taken together add up to the third leading cause of death in the US behind stroke adn cancer.
Don't forget....Matno
Nov 13, 2002 2:36 PM
That's a somewhat skewed statistic. Sure, you can say that errors in the health care profession are higher than they should be, but I wouldn't exactly say that they are the "cause" of those deaths. If you break down the numbers, they are not very compelling.

Out of 225,000 deaths (the website says 250,000, but their numbers don't add up), 106,000 of them are "non-error, negative effect of drugs." Most of the time, those negative effects are either completely unpredicted, or a calculated risk taken by the patient after weighing the options (informed consent).

12,000 are "unnecessary surgery." I'm sure there are unscrupulous surgeons out there who do surgery when it's not absolutely necessary, but they are few. All the surgeons I know (I have worked in hospitals as a surgery research assistant) consider surgery to be a last resort. Also, keep in mind that there are always at least two physicians involved in a decision like that (the referring physician and the surgeon).

80,000 are infections in hospitals. That may be true, but there is no proof that those infections were contracted because of something someone in a hospital did. People go to hospitals because they are very sick. Any major insult to the human body can cause immunosuppression which leads to a higher susceptibility to infections that may or may not have already been in the patient's body. It's pretty much impossible to prove it in most cases.

Finally, consider the source. This is a highly politicized issue, and neither Dr. Mercola nor the AMA are even close to being unbiased sources (I'm not sure that such a source exists). I don't know a lot about Dr. Mercola, but I can confidently say that the AMA is incredibly left-wing, strongly supporting things like gun control (that's medical how?) and abortion (30 years ago, they condemned it harshly on moral grounds--now they sponsor abortion rallies).

Sorry about the rant, but as a future surgeon, I think it's important for people to think twice about what they read. I suppose the best solution (according to Dr. Mercola) would be to get rid of hospitals altogether... I like alternative medicine a lot (I was raised on it), but I think people like him (from what I see on the website) carry things a little too far. There is a place for all kinds of medicine in this world. (Of course, if the gov't took over health care, good luck getting licensed as anything but what the mainstream approves).
Bad Economic Theorytao
Nov 11, 2002 11:49 AM
True economic profits don't exist in competitive markets. While health care providers certainly have an obscured market place in a traditional sense, the sheer number of different providers and carriers makes the market competitive, by definition.

What, no profits you say? The cost of the treatment, cost of the coverage, cost of those who don't have coverage, cost of expected litigation and settlement, cost of research, cost of expansion, and yes even the (cost of the) return on investment all come out of the revenue stream (plus hundreds of other factors I've left out). If anything is left over that exceeds the interest rate + inflation then you're either dealing with a monopoly pricing scheme (think Microsoft) or a provider that's errantly set prices too high and is about to be run out of business.

I often hear "What the market will bear", but with the rare exception of monopolies and true collusion efforts, this is not only bad economic theory, it leads to revenues that are below the potential threshold. Revenues are maximized when, and only when, marginal revenue equal marginal cost, and thus no true economic profit. Anyone who charges above that price has decreased their revenue stream, and revenue my friends, is what it's all about.
how about some facts and not just your heresay?ColnagoFE
Nov 11, 2002 11:33 AM
Do you have a source for that "portion of the US population who will buy a new surround sound system (usually on credit) before they will pay for insurance and/or they just gamble knowing that ultimately they will be taken care of anyway." I don't buy that it's as high as you say it is.
How high did I say it was? (nm)Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 11:40 AM
You certainly imply that there is a significant number. (nm)czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 11:45 AM
Well there seem to be...Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 11:54 AM
40 million (not my number) uninsured people in the US. To me that means they don't qualify for medicare or medicaid yet they don't have insurance. I would assume the government has decided they should have the money to get insurance. This implies to me that they have chosen not to or at least decided that the cost doesn't justify the benefit.
Medicare and Medicaid aren't counted.czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 12:03 PM
Its the number not served by HMOs. Odd that those who condemn publicly funded healthcare as inherently inferior think that it is a fine alternative for the poor.
Beggers can't be choosers (nm)Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 12:24 PM
And, "It is easier for a camel. . .czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 12:40 PM
. . .to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)

Any wonder why?
Yes...Wayne
Nov 11, 2002 1:00 PM
because the early christian communities were in fact communes with collective property. Thus you must demonize wealth if you want people to give it up and/or this really was one of Christ's principles and I'm being a bit cynical. Actually I believe the latter, which makes me wonder why so many Christians are hypocrites?
Unfortunately, I ain't no Christian, so I don't buy it. Wealth is good. If you think otherwise compare the living conditions in Russia, Afganistan, Mozambique, etc. to the US.
Money doesn't neglect people. People do.czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 1:19 PM
The problem isn't wealth, it is the attitudes of the wealthy. There is much suffering in this world: should't the wealthy feel some responsibility to address it? Isn't that the decent thing to do? So, the rich must either live with guilt, or convince themselves that the poor are deserving of their plight.

As I see it the issue is not the demonization of the rich, it is the demonization of the poor by the rich. Thus, in the one country that surely has the resources to give all its citizens a basic level of care and sustinance (without cramping any wealthy citizen's style), poverty and lack of access to basic services are still tolerated.

(Fortunately, I ain't on Christian either. But even a broken clock is right twice a day.)
The tragedy is who is rich and who is poor,TJeanloz
Nov 11, 2002 1:28 PM
The 'rich' make up a very small percentage of the population, and, frankly, they can't afford to support the rest of the population. They already shoulder a disproportionate amount of the burden (granted, they have a disporportionate share of the wealth), but even if we expropriated every dime from the Forbes 400, we'd spend it in a hurry. If it were as easy as simply stealing from the rich to give to the poor, we'd do it. The problem is that to pay for services to the poor, we'd have to knock down the incomes of a much-larger group- the middle class, which we're trying to build. It's a case of socialism assuring common misery.
Sounds more like doomsday red-baiting.czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 1:32 PM
I submit that there is plenty of money in this country to provide the basics to everyone. That is, a roof, adequate nutrition, medical care, education. By adequate I mean enough to sustain a health and the potential to improve ones lot.
I agree, but American consumers can't settle for the basicsTJeanloz
Nov 11, 2002 3:48 PM
It is un-American to have basic nutrition, medical care, education and housing. Haven't you noticed that we have to have the best of everything? I'm all for providing basic housing and health care- but then it goes to who defines 'basic'. Is 'basic' dormitory style shelters? Or is 'basic' a nightly room at the Ritz-Carlton. The trouble is that Americans, by their nature, demand that whatever they have be better than everybody else, and until that changes, I don't think we can provide basic services- inherently, whatever we give will not be good enough.

This country has been built on the principle of keeping up with and beating the joneses, and that won't change.
Hah!czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 5:58 PM
Walk through Walmart, Target etc. and tell me that Americans demand the best.

Basic means basic. Enought to survive, or better yet, enough to thrive should someone take the opportunity to do so. You using the fact that you can't please all of the people all of the time as an excuse to avoid the real possibility of pleasing some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. If people want to complain, let them do so with adequate nutrition and housing, rather than starving in the gutter. America can do better. Among industrialized countries, our treatement of the poor is and embarassment.
The only thing...Matno
Nov 11, 2002 8:08 PM
embarrassing is how we treat them like dirt by giving them handouts. That does nothing for dignity and self-respect. Only hard work can make someone feel good about themself. Of course, we live in the era of "I'm special because I'm me." That's a load of crap. You're special when you earn it.
You should come to my neighborhood,TJeanloz
Nov 12, 2002 5:29 AM
I used to give money to the panhandlers who ply their trade between my office and my house (which is basically Boston Common), but I stopped when they started heckling me for giving too little. And it wasn't just a one-time deal; four or five times I was told that I could afford more, and should be giving away more. Now I give exclusively to the homeless shelter in the neighborhood (where, coincidentally, a lot of people won't go because there are 'rules' about drug use).

I will modify my statement to say that Americans demand the best when they are only paying for a small portion of it; when they carry the whole cost burden, Americans are generally bargain hunters.
Ever watch Fiddler on the Roof?Matno
Nov 12, 2002 7:29 PM
I love this scene:

Beggar: Alms for the poor! Alms for the poor!
Businessman: Here's a Kopec.
Beggar: One Kopec? Last week you gave me two Kopecs!
Businessman: So I had a bad week.
Beggar: So? If you had a bad week, why should I suffer?!

Touche!

A friend of mine actually watched a panhandler here in NYC (about 20 years ago) from an upstairs window one day to see how much he was making. (This was a guy who sat in front of his building every day). Based on the amount he made that one day, averaged out over the entire year, he figured the guy was pulling down about $70,000! (Tax free, no less). Curiosity got the better of him, so he and a buddy followed the guy at the end of the day. Went to Grand Central Station, and walked into the bathroom. Came out 5 minutes later with different clothes and a clean face. Then he got on a train to a nice town on Long Island. Hmmm. Maybe panhandlers ain't so dumb after all...
No way.Matno
Nov 11, 2002 5:30 PM
Not a chance. Once you start giving anything to anyone that they haven't earned "enough to sustain" grows. Kind of like credit card debt... There are two kinds of greed/pride. One is the rich looking down on the poor saying "I won't help them," and the other is the poor looking down on the rich saying "they don't deserve what they have." Both are equally bad. However, when I want my money to help someone (and I qualify that by saying that I've lived below the "poverty line" for over 10 years with no outside help other than loans and scholarships) I don't want to give it to the most inefficient "charity" in the world (i.e. the gov't). I'd rather give it to my church, where I know for a fact that 100% of what I give goes towards helping the needy get back on their feet. Not handouts (unless children are involved), but real programs to help people feel good about themselves and work towards a point where they can help others. Tax money that is wasted on gov't programs (where the dollar value of my contributions drops to well below 50%, if not closer to 0%) takes away my ability to contribute to meaningful charity.

Oh, and back to your original statement. Even at current levels of what is "adequate." There is not enough money in the world to sustain the health and improve the lot of everyone in this country. Not even if you only help the poor. (Unfortunately, it's a slippery slope. The more you give, the more people will jump on the bandwagon. When I lived in Germany, I often had poor people tell me "Why should I work? I get more money if I don't." The same thing is happening here).
Thats a false parity (or incredibly cruel).czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 6:26 PM
How can you equate the jealously of the poor, with the callousness of the rich. In one case, no one is hurt, other than perhaps those who blame others for their own short-comings. In the other, a sense of superiority and entitlement allows one group to hoard money while others starve. Equally bad? And we should leave those in need of charity to your tender mercies?

You say you lived for 10 years below the poverty line with no aid other than loans and scholarships. (Those weren't gov't sponsored or administered loans, a.k.a ineffiecient charity, were they?) Presumably you pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps and are on your way to joining the other half. Good for you. And now you are your own proof that the only reason people are poor is becase they are too lazy to do for themselves what you did. But what if they did? What if every poor person decided to join the other half? Either you are inherently superior to all of them, or you would be up to your ears in competition for jobs, scholarships, loans. As likely as not, for all your effort you'd not be much better off than when you started. We live in a world of scarce resources and scarce opportunities. Not everyone can have the best grades, go to the best schools and get the best jobs. To quote George Costanza, "We're living in a society here!" Unless you want to live in some kind of communist utopia, there are always going to be people at the bottom of the pecking order. Common decency dictates that those who make it to the top look after those at the bottom.

Where is your evidence that there is not enough to sustain the health and lot of every America to some modicum of humand decency?
I'm sorry.Matno
Nov 11, 2002 7:57 PM
But you're just plain wrong. It is absolutely 100% possible for EVERY healthy person to be successful enough to provide their family with at least the essentials. It is ridiculous to think that in order for some people to be wealthy, others have to be poor. That's absolutely false. Mr Smith's hoarding of money does not in any way affect my ability to earn money. In fact, since most wealthy people invest their money (who "hoards" their money?) in the economy, they are actually helping me to have a higher quality of life.

If competition were higher, people would diversify to areas where the need was higher. That's the way the world works. Problems come in when people with a little power think they know what is best for everyone and mess with the system. In trying to affect immediate results, they destroy long-term potential.

However, we're arguing two entirely different things. Nowhere have I said that those at the top shouldn't help those in need. What I am saying is that it is WRONG (and it is) for gov't to FORCE people who are successful to relenquish that which they have rightfully earned and give it to those who have not earned it. It is a violation of the basic right to property - one of the principles upon which our country was founded. You can say all you want about the heartless rich. That doesn't change the fact that virtually ALL jobs in America that aren't gov't jobs are provided by those who, through hard work or just plain luck have made a lot of money. They are not harming the poor in ANY way, and they are certainly doing a lot to help the poor. I read an interesting article that showed that one could relatively easily accumulate the same amount of wealth at retirement by a) starting as a construction worker making minimum wage at age 17 and investing in low risk stocks, or b) by going to med school and becoming a surgeon. Takes a little self control either way, but it's a sure way to avoid the bread lines.

Bottom line is, I DO think that nearly all people who claim they can't make it in life aren't trying very hard. Period. If someone can't get a job, it's because they aren't willing to start out low and work their way up. There is nothing shameful about any honest work, but people let pride get in the way of common sense. Look at all the emigrants from third world countries who come here illegally just so they can get a less than minimum wage job to support their families back home. Many of them work long hours and multiple jobs, but they get by. When my dad lost his job as an airline pilot temporarily back in the 80's, he immediately went out and got 4 jobs to makes ends meet. He never complained or expected the gov't to step in, even though arguably, it was "beneath" him to deliver newspapers by hand every morning. I feel sorry for those who have not been raised with that kind of work ethic. (Or any ethic at all, considering how little parents seem to care about the example they set any more).

Oh, and George Costanza is not a very convincing authority...
Who are these able-bodied slackers?czardonic
Nov 12, 2002 10:52 AM
The people I am referring to are the mentally ill or drug addicted that make up the majority of the homeless population (at least in my area and large cities in general). When you get done blaming the addicts for their own demise, they are still ill if not permanently disabled. How do you plan to deal with them?

In the case of the mentally ill, people like yourself were convinced that the goverment was doing them a disservice by housing and caring for them. So they kicked them into the streets, and that is where they have been ever since. Your army of charitable private citizens has had 20 years to prove itself, and all it has proven is that when it comes down to it, excuses are legion.

You are the poster child for he bankruptcy of your point of view. You claim that you are willing to help the truly needy, but considering your quibbling about the definition of "adequate", by the time you get around defining "truly" and "needy" I bet your list of responsibilities will be pretty short.

This is the reason why the government is needed to enforce charity. It shouldn't be, but human nature requires it.
Who are these able-bodied slackers?Matno
Nov 12, 2002 11:25 AM
The mentally ill population is not who I am referring to when I say "all healthy people." (and yes, I consider drug addiction to be an illness).

People are not "kicked into the streets." There's not a single homeless person in this entire country who doesn't have somewhere to go where they can find food and a place to sleep at night. The vast majority of "street people" (particularly here in NYC) are there because they prefer it to the shelters that are available. Drugs aren't available in most shelters. Step #1 in helping people is they have to let you help.
So basically. . .czardonic
Nov 12, 2002 11:54 AM
there are no truly needy people. How convienent for you.
Interesting view of the rich,TJeanloz
Nov 12, 2002 5:37 AM
I find it interesting that people view the rich as greedy hoarders of wealth, not interested in helping anybody but themselves. I juxtapose this with what I know to be true- over the course of the last month, I've been to half a dozen fundraisers that raised a total of several million dollars for a variety of charities. I'm pretty sure most of the people there were relatively rich. And historical evidence shows similar largesse- does your town have a Carnegie Library? Do you know who owns Hershey Candy? How much did Bill and Melinda Gates give away last year? In my experience, the rich aren't greedy, but the poor will never believe it.
Historical evidence?czardonic
Nov 12, 2002 10:55 AM
Are you really going to look to History to prove that the wealthy are paragons of human decency?
Are Bill and Melinda Gates historical?TJeanloz
Nov 12, 2002 11:39 AM
Was the dinner I was at last night historical? I used two historical, and relevant, examples of philanthropic gifts, accompanied by a contemporary one to show that philanthropy is alive and well.

But frankly, I still believe that it should be a moral but not legal obligation to help others. We should give money to help people in need- but not have it taken in the form of taxes.

In other news, did anybody catch the front page article on this (healthcare) exact topic in the Wall Street Journal this morning. It has the statistics and stories that we've all alluded to. Interestingly, a sizeable chunk (I think it was 16%) of the 41 million without health insurance had income over $75,000 (decidedly middle class); and only 35% of the group had incomes below $25,000.
Legality can be assured. Morality can not.czardonic
Nov 12, 2002 12:04 PM
Relatively speaking, that is.

I think its pretty funny that in the very same sentence you refer to 16% as a "sizeable chunk", while implying that ("only") 35% is a small portion. It also shows lengths that the majority of people will go to excuse themselves of fullfilling this moral imperative your think we should be relying on.
Well that's a valid point, but...Jomo Kenyatta
Nov 12, 2002 7:43 PM
It always strikes me as odd to hear YOU bringing up morality...in ANY context. From what I've seen of you're posts (I won't go into specifics, but I'm not just talking about this thread), you seem to believe in moral relativism, which is to say, morality depends on what you (or any other individuals) think it means. In other words, there really is no such thing as morality.

You think that your "moral imperitive" is to force others to do something they disagree with. In my "moral universe," that is an immoral violation of freedom of conscience. I think all freedom loving Americans would agree with me. Oh, silly me! You probably don't know what a conscience is...
16% vs. 35%TJeanloz
Nov 13, 2002 8:51 AM
16% is a 'sizable chunk' in reference to the common belief that very few of the uninsured made more than $75,000; if I had to guess before reading the article, I would have thought it was more like 0.5% or 1%.

35% is 'only' because we were working on the context that most of the uninsured were in such a state because they were too poor to afford it, and we would have anticiptated that most of the uninsured (80%+) would have been below $25,000 earners.

So, my editorialized sizings had to do with the expectations that we had been dealing with- not the actual numbers.
You say "editorialize", I say "spin".czardonic
Nov 13, 2002 11:21 AM
And unconvincingly at that.

To be stunned by the "sizable chunk" of people who live in the luxury of the $75000 income bracket, you would have to be ignorant of the fact that in several parts of this country, $75000 does not support a family. Being the adherent to statistical orthodoxy that I know you are, shouldn't you rely on statistics that account for income relative to the area in which the freeloader in question resides, instead of specious blanket numbers that take no account of what the salary in question actually buys?
Say whatever you want,TJeanloz
Nov 13, 2002 11:46 AM
What actually surprised me the most is that 6.5 million people make more than $75,000 (I think, but don't remember, that it was individual, not household income) and don't have health insurance. What surprises me about this is that I'm not familiar with many jobs that pay $75,000+ and doesn't have a full health insurance benefit.

Your basic premise though, that $75k in New York City is nothing compared to $75k in Iowa, runs in the face of the whole argument- if health care is SO important that we NEED to publically fund it, shouldn't it be the first thing that people pay for, after housing and food? And where is the sum of those three things greater than $75k? Again, I believe we're talking individual statistics, not household, so please don't come back with an example of somebody trying to feed his 15 kids.
The beauty of AmericaMatno
Nov 13, 2002 12:05 PM
that does not exist in many other countries, is the ability to move to someplace else. (That same concept includes the right to "vote with your citizenship," i.e. move to a state that has laws you support). If someone thinks their cost of living is too high in a certain area, there is no reason they can't move someplace cheaper. (I'm not even talking about moving out of state. You can ALWAYS find a cheaper place to live that's not too far away). I'm sorry czardonic, but there is no place in this country where an average sized family couldn't live comfortably on $75,000 a year. If you think otherwise, I'd hate to see what else you include in your "necessities" category. (Of course, if we had the socialized medicine that you want, NOBODY would be able to afford to live off of an income like that...at least not after taxes). I live in New York City, drive a decent car, have a family, and pay for my own insurance (w/maternity coverage). We do not lead a life of luxury, but we certainly live well enough to survive and even have a good time. We eat well, get good medical care, and even support a person with a bicycle addiction (me). Hard to believe that our annual budget is under $30,000, or is it? I have friends with a lot more kids than average (10+) whose family income has never been over $75,000. None of them live in poverty. In fact, you'd never even guess they were so "poor," as you put it.
$30,000!? Wow.czardonic
Nov 13, 2002 12:44 PM
If I take back everything I said, will you tell me how to live in comfort (in NYC, no less) on an annual budget of under $30,000!? (I notice that your comparing your "budget" to others "salary". Given your griping about taxes, you must know that these are very different measurements.)

I live in the SF Bay area. I don't own a car or have a family. Between my girlfriend and I our annual income is in the $75000 range, which translates to an after-tax "budget" of ~$48000, which is fine for the two of us.

Now, a typical family (lets say 2 kids) would spend $25000 - $30000 on housing alone. That leaves precious little for food, clothes, and insurance. Sure, they could forgo other necessities for insurance, but is that a wise choice? When it comes down to choosing between the basics, who woud choose one that you might need over those that you will need?

Incidentally, in these parts, choosing to live in a cheaper place generally means choosing to commute for long periods. Thus, the money saved is quickly spent on automobile and childcare expences.

If you can live comfortably on a budget of $30,000, the I agree others should be able to. If. But you never did say where those student loans and grants came from back when you were railing agains goverment charity, so I get the feeling that you aren't telling us the whole story.
Actually, it's $25,000.Matno
Nov 13, 2002 3:13 PM
Sorry, I meant to answer that question sooner. My law school loans were all private, unsubsidized loans. My law school scholarships came from private donors. My current med school loans come from Citibank. (And yes, they are probably subsidized somehow by the federal gov't, which is hardly necessary considering how low interest rates are anyway). My grants all come from private sources.

Your "average family" housing cost of 25-30,000 is a little high. For a $200,000 house (depending on where you live that could be much higher than average or a little lower - certainly not lower than average for anyone with a low income) with a standard 30 year mortgage at 8.25%, your cost would be 18,000 a year.

I spend less than $12,000 a year on rent (and I know a lot of people here who spend less. Most people don't live in NYC, so they can get by on a lot less. Members of my family have lower mortgage payments than that, and much larger houses). I'm sure you're familiar with other basic living expenses so I won't break it down for you. I am married with one child and another on the way. I don't know anything about childcare expenses because my wife (who is an attorney/stay-at-home-mom) can't stand the thought of leaving our daughter to be raised by someone else. The other part of my budget (the painful part) is the $35,000 a year I spend on tuition...
Location, location, location.czardonic
Nov 13, 2002 3:32 PM
The average 2 bedroom house in my area costs near $400,000, and I am talking about a modest house in a lower middle-class neighborhood. To buy a house that cost $200,000, you'd either spend the monthly difference on home security and car insurance premiums, or on commuting. So, you see that your experience is not always relevant to others. As hard as you work, there are always those who work just as hard or harder and yet they are not as fortunate.

And what if you had made a few mistakes along the way before you wised up? How much harder would it be to get where you are now if you already had two mouths to feed before you started to get your life together? You seem awfully sure that the vast majority of the poor are freeloading loafers, but you are pretty short of evidence to back up these accusations.
$30,000!? Wow.BikeViking
Nov 14, 2002 7:53 AM
If I read your post correctly, I figured 36 percent of your income goes to taxes. Add on top of that the myriad of other taxes you pay (sales, property, restaurant, gas, etc) and you COULD start approaching 45 - 50 percent of your check(s) that the gov'ts (local/state/Federal) are taking from you. Then you want to add socialized medicine and its astronomical costs (paid for by tax money taken from us)on top of your existing tax burden.

I like deciding how to spend the money I earn...
Taxes suck.czardonic
Nov 14, 2002 10:13 AM
But I happen to like paved streets, police & fire depts., libraries, public schools & universities, etc.

Health insurance is already a cost for me, the deduction would just appear on a different line on my paycheck.
$75Ktrekkie1
Nov 13, 2002 1:57 PM
A statement that a family can't be supported on $75k just shows how out of touch with reality this czardonic character is. That's just plain stupid. I think someone is a little short on life experience and/or living in some adolescent ivory tower. Someone have a daddy's trust fund, never paid taxes, and a little ashamed of it? HMMM?
actually for the bay area 75k is not that muchColnagoFE
Nov 14, 2002 9:57 AM
if you lived in des moines iowa you would be doing pretty well with that amount. still...i'm sure if you look around san francisco you could find something that worked in that salary range. might not be in the best neighborhood, but it is definately doable.
Tough choices.czardonic
Nov 14, 2002 11:18 AM
Honestly, I think that the idea that a family should move into a worse neighborhood if they can't afford health insurance is a bit too pat. "Not the best neighborhood" almost invariably implies sub-standard schools and services, high crime, and increased exposure to environmental/industrial hazards.

People want the poor to make tough choices and set priorities, but it never occurs to them that they are already doing so. Should they be deprived of healthcare because they choose to put their childrens immediate safety and education first and take the chance that they won't need costly medical treatments?
Sounds more like doomsday red-baiting.BikeViking
Nov 12, 2002 6:38 AM
That would require you taking money from people who earned it and you "giving" it to someone who did not. People are always so generous with other people's money.

It's a Federal law that you cannot be refused emergency health care, so those who need emergency care will get it, period.

Secondly, having been in the boat of "refused medical treatments", I was stuck with a $2800 bill I could not pay. The hospital was quite willing to work out a payment plan with me. I paid my bill in full over time and it's not unreasonable to expect able-bodied people to do the same.

Help is for those who NEED it, not those who WANT it...
And in reality...Wayne
Nov 12, 2002 5:41 AM
I suspect (even as a percentage of their income) the rich give far more than the middle-class and especially the poor. Just makes sense that if you have more than you know what to do with, you'd be more inclined to give it away, no? Now if you are saying a rich person should forego a second home in favor of charity I think we have a problem. Fundamentally, people seem inclined to work for their own benefit and their kin. Remove that from the equation and you get the productivity of communism. In short, remove the fruits of one's labor, and you soon find the labor ain't so hot.
That's a heavy burden...Matno
Nov 11, 2002 1:04 PM
placed on each of us. But if you want to talk about salvation, it is an "individual thing." You can't save anyone else against their will, and nobody else can save you. Same goes for the heavy responsibility we have to love our neighbor as ourselves. We can love others, even if we can't save them. It's an individual choice that we all have to make. (And one which people seem willing to relegate to the gov't, which I daresay won't count for much in Heaven. "But I paid my taxes!" just ain't gonna cut it! Not that I advocate not paying taxes...) Hopefully each of us here will choose to do as much as we can to help others.
pie in the skyColnagoFE
Nov 11, 2002 1:14 PM
If you truly believe that people will help others out of the goodness of their hearts then I have some land in Florida to show you. You might as well try having people pay whatever share of taxes they think is fair for them to pay. The U.S. would be broke in no time. Ever read The Tragedy of the Commons? People will not act in their own collective best interests.
pie in the skyMatno
Nov 11, 2002 5:31 PM
Well, the sad truth is you are probably right. Not because I agree with the Tragedy of the Commons example but because the moral fiber of our country has eroded enough that I don't know if we can ever go back. Not that that justifies giving up the fight for what's right.
that doesn't mean what you implytrekkie1
Nov 12, 2002 7:48 AM
. .to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24)

The "eye of the needle" was a reference to the low, small doorways into cities or fortresses (kingdoms). Since camels are tall, and they were used to carry all sorts of things (wealth) on their backs, they had to remove all the things before getting through the doorway. The camels entered the kingdoms without the wealth. So, what it means is that all men enter the kingdom (heaven) the same, without wealth, not that rich people don't get into heaven. (In other words, "you can't take it with you.") This is a common misconception.
It's a common point of contention.czardonic
Nov 12, 2002 10:09 AM
There is scholarship on both sides of the issue, but it takes an especially large leap of faith to believe that the bible was simply making an architectural observation as opposed to a social statement.
It's not an architectural observation...Wayne
Nov 12, 2002 10:56 AM
nor a social statement. It's a principle of Christian philosophy that's at issue
1) Wealth (or doing what you must do to acquire it) is inherently corruptable and will stop you from getting into heaven.
2) There's nothing wrong with wealth itself, but don't expect it to matter when you come to heaven because you're leaving it at the door and we're all equals here.

From what I've seen, even if this particular passage means 2 and not 1 there still seems to be plenty of other statements from Jesus, et al. that condemn wealth and praise a communistic/charitable life as the true Christian philosophy. However, understandably that has been swept under the carpet in the modern world for obvious reasons.
love of money, etc.trekkie1
Nov 12, 2002 12:35 PM
I think your second option is close, but maybe too broad. I don't think it's a comment on whether there is anything "wrong with wealth itself." What it means is that we all enter heaven "stripped" to our bare souls -- that wealth means nothing to God.

I suppose that does imply that if wealth means nothing in heaven, then it means nothing on earth, too. Maybe that's true, but that's not quite the same as saying that wealth is *evil*.

The Bible says "For the love of money is the root of all evil..." not that "money is the root of all evil..." Timothy 6:10.
Wow! That was a lot of fast responses...Matno
Nov 11, 2002 12:38 PM
I guess I should have seen it coming. I'll try to hit on the key points (as I see them) from the responses so far.

First, thanks to Wayne for the logical responses.

Second, several of you have made comments regarding a lack of compassion, letting people starve/die, etc. I feel badly for people who are suffering, no matter what the reason behind their misery. However, I feel equally as strongly that it is not the government's role to step in and take care of people. You can argue that nobody else will step in, but I counter that with this: the gov't has created an environment where, because people EXPECT help from the gov't, they are not willing to help someone out themselves. It is much easier to say "the gov't should help Bob out" than to say "I will help Bob out." Before the gov't joined the welfare business, people DID help each other out. If someone's barn burned down, everyone got together to help build a new one. Now, someone's house is smashed up in a tornado and everyone cries "Federal Aid!" Am I the only one who sees the inherent unfairness in giving money from taxpayers to those in need? Even if you ignore my idea of "the proper role of gov't," you have to admit that there is no way to draw the line between someone who gets, for example, over a million dollars in federal money because their spouse happened to be working in the WTC on 9/11 and someone who gets nothing when their spouse was hit by a drunk driver. (Both cases could, arguably have been "prevented" by the gov't. At least people try to argue that). Incidentally, the federal money for 9/11 was ON TOP OF huge donations from private sources. Just the Red Cross donations alone would assure that every family member of every victim of 9/11 would never live in poverty. Private citizen's won't step in? I think you underestimate America!

Thirdly, Colnago said: "The health care system is broken...Socialized medicine seems to work OK in Canada," etc. I'm sorry, but...BALONEY. The American Health Care system is the best in the world. Period. The vast majority of Canadians now think their health care system is a "catastrophe." (That's from the same pollsters who showed that most of them liked the system...before it was implemented. I have a reference for that one that I'll look up when I get home). Ask anyone who has ever needed major medical health care in ANY other country if they like their system. I think you will find that overwhelmingly, socialized medicine works great for anything that's easy to fix and poorly, if at all, for anything that requires intense care. Not that I'm knocking foreign doctors. Europe certainly has many of the best (some of whom I've worked with and known well), but the system downright stinks. (Ask the doctors there if they feel like they are free to provide adequate health care).

Fourthly, carnageasada said "by patient's Bill of Rights I always assumed that Lawmakers were talking about abuses of basic rights by corporations as opposed to an inalienable right to have health care." That's partly true. It IS the problem lawmakers talk about. Unfortunately, that's not the problem that their bills of rights address. What people don't seem to realize is that all of the basic rights already ARE protected under our current system. It may not be perfect, but it's better than anywhere else. What lawmakers are attempting with bills of rights is to create a "right" to health care, that would have drastic consequences. It would not only astronomically increase the cost of health care, it would also open the door for gov't to take over entirely. (If you think HMO's are bad, wait until socialized medicine shows how much better they were... Incidentally, HMO's were able to take over such a dramatic market share, in large part because of governmental regulation/requirements. Fortunately for us, they have proven to be poor providers of health care, and the market is moving away from them. Like any change, it usually takes longer to ch
I thought you were looking for some discussionColnagoFE
Nov 11, 2002 1:06 PM
Sure it's easy to agree with those who agree with you and say they are logical, but this is not a strictly logical issue. It deals with human life and treatment for those in need. I don't doubt that the US medical system is the best in the world--to those that can afford it. And those that argue against socialized medicine--isn't Medicare, Medicaid pretty much socialized medicine? So how is this any different that Canada? If you want a higher standard of care than is present there you join private health insurance or go to another country like the US and pay for it. Most people don't entirely depend on Medicaid for insurance. Our system is far from perfect. Doctors in the US arguably spend more time today fighting lawsuits and filing insurance claims than practicing medicine. As far as giving tax money to people who need it that already happens whether you like it or not. The only way you're going to get around that is to buy your own island somewhere and start your own government.
Are you and example of this community spirit?czardonic
Nov 11, 2002 1:06 PM
First, the Government is a form of insurance. It operates on the same principle: what is an impossible expense to one, is a pitance to many. The more people you have contributing to the pot, the better able it is to provide support when it is needed. It needs to me mandatory becauyse there are always going to be the crumudgeons who count every penny they have to give up to the pot and discount the services that others help provide for them. Some people will never understand that everyone benefits from the system. Like it or not, as a society we are better off with a government to hold us to our high minded ideals.

Personally, I don't think that the dependants of WTC victims are any more deserving of support than any other vitim of a tragedy. But it was a public event, and grieving relatives are the least of my concern among those who are currently cashing in on it. Some people always make out better than others (and usually it is someone other than me), but so what? That's life.

Frankly, it sounds like sour grapes is the foundation of your point of view. Your world is full of undeserving philanderers who are living large off of money you could have spent on yourself. You claim that Americans are more compassionate than we give ourselves credit for, but you yourself seem awfully suspicious of your fellow Americans.
I don't think you're taking the nice routecarnageasada
Nov 11, 2002 3:26 PM
but your points seem relatively valid. They remind me of an interview with Bukowski I'll paraphrase.

Interviewer: "Do you have any philosophies of life?"
Bukowski: "Yes. To be kind."
Interviewer: "That's nice."
Bukowski: "No. Being nice has nothing to do with being kind."
Very obviousWinona Rider
Nov 13, 2002 1:47 AM
that you don't have a wide experience of other country's heath care systems.

Have a look at France for example, and re-write your critique.

"The" European system? What on earth are you talking about? There is no "the" system in Europe. All of the member nations have their own models.
Yup, very obviousMatno
Nov 13, 2002 5:06 AM
I suppose you do have wide experience? I've spent 1/3 of my life outside this country (I've lived in 5 different countries). If you can name one European country whose system is significantly different (i.e. not socialized medicine), I'd like to hear it. France certainly does not qualify as medically different. (It's different for a lot of other reasons, but don't get me started on France bashing. I could go on for years). Most of them do not even allow citizens the option of having their own private insurance because ALL medical care is part of the gov't. (Actually, I'd be surprised if there are any exceptions to this. Plans for socialized medicine here in the US, e.g. Hillary Clinton's grand scheme, specifically mandate that no other "unregulated" health care would be allowed. It just wouldn't be "fair" to the poor).
Yes I do, of France.Winona Rider
Nov 13, 2002 6:47 AM
You said:

"Ask anyone who has ever needed major medical health care in ANY other country if they like their system. I think you will find that overwhelmingly, socialized medicine works great for anything that's easy to fix and poorly, if at all, for anything that requires intense care."

In the case of France, you are wrong. It is an excellent system and it is EXTREMELY well regarded by its users.

You are also wrong about the private health care. For example, England, Scoltand and Wales.

They key word in your reply is "bashing". That's very easy to do - you just need ignorance and an ability to type lots of baseless assetions, using lots of "mosts" and "alls". However, it's not the same as presenting an informed, reasoned, argument.
If you want me to be more specific, I willMatno
Nov 13, 2002 8:49 AM
Here's an interesting article about America's health care proposals: http://www.cato.org/dailys/9-23-96.html

I'll just quote one part of it here: "For many years advocates of government-run health care pointed to Europe as an ideal, noting that America was the "only industrialized country without a national health care system." Now, however, the European welfare states are slashing benefits in the face of rising health care costs.
A recent front-page story in the New York Times detailed the European cutbacks. According to the article, Britain, France and Germany are all being forced to limit access to care. Rationing, already extensive, is increasing. The Europeans have run into a very simple economic rule. If something is perceived as free, people will consume more of it than they would if they had to pay for it."

France may be slightly ahead of other European countries like Britain because they spend more on health care (specifically, French total expenditure on health in 1999 was $109.5 billion. In Britain it was about $78.02 billion. Per capita, it was $1,800 in France and $1,312 in Britain. As a percentage of the gross domestic product, it was 8.5 percent in France and 5.9 percent in Britain), but as in any other such system, it is coming back to bite them.

I've got to run right now, but I'll be back with more info. In the meantime, here's an article that explains the basis for my aversion to socialized medicine (and should convince any true American that my feelings on this subject are correct).

http://www.fff.org/freedom/0294a.asp

Oh, and I never bash ANYTHING without good reason and plenty of evidence.
Well I have seen some poor journalism, butEager Beagle
Nov 14, 2002 1:24 AM
that's up there with it.

You couldn't get more of a generalisation.

Where the hell is this "Europe" you Americans keep banging on about? Funny , I live here, and all the countries have very differently run and funded systems.

Funny also, I am in England and I haven't noticed any "slashing" and "limiting of access to care". In fact, both my and my wife had receently had cause to be in hospital, and, guess what - you turn up and you get excellent free treatment. The capibilities of the National Health Service are expanding greatly both in terms of the treatments available, and of the capacity for patients. To address the comments of WR - that is correct, if you want private treatment, you can get it.

Of course there are problems in any system, but that article is, IMHO, highly misleading. Any health system is, by it's very nature and the form of the technologies involved, constantly going to be subject to demands for more to be done faster - that's human nature.

I think the bit about judging care levels by spending sums tells you what you need to know about the journalistic reserach and effort that went into that piece.

We have papers here that work in the same way - no one takes much of what they say with any seriousness. Seems to me like this ought to be taken with heavy salt doseage too - the real world just isn't like that.
the "right" to anything deemed "essential"?trekkie1
Nov 13, 2002 7:31 AM
The reasoning in favor to the right to health care is that all people need it; it would be immoral not to provide it; and we can afford it; right?

Applying the same reasoning, would it not also follow that many other things are equally as essential:

*food (analogously, not just peanut butter, but 5 star restaurant meals for everyone!)

*transportation (again, Lexus' and premium gas for everyone)

*shelter (minimum 3,000 square feet and 3 car garage)

*clothing (Armani suits)

All of these things are as "essential" as health care, and having a right to them at the same level of quality and quantity as the health care proposals possibly points out the idiocy, or at least unfeasibility, of granting everyone the right to unlimited health care.

Bleeding Hearts unite for universal health care!
re: the right to inheritance? Just to complicate matters...128
Nov 13, 2002 9:26 AM
"Inherited economic power is as inconsistent with the ideals of this generation as inherited political power was inconsistent with the ideals of the generation which established our Government."-T.Roosevelt

"The DuPonts might believe themselves perceptive in observing the debilitating effects of food stamps for the poor, but were themselves living off a boundless supply of privately funded food stamps. . . . The idea that you get a lifetime of food stamps based on coming out of the right womb strikes at my idea of fairness." -W.Buffet

The heart of the American experiment entails a rejection of inherited privilege.

The question is not a right to health care, most states now have guaranteed issue of policies by statute, the issue is affordable care...
There is no right to inheritence...TJeanloz
Nov 13, 2002 10:01 AM
Inheritence is not a right of the heir to receive money, but rather a right of the deceased to distribute their wealth as they see fit.

Shouldn't the person who made the money have a right to spend it (or give it away) however they want to? It is a societal issue that it is most often given to the next generation, but it doesn't have to be, and that generation has no 'right' to it.