Overreacting, The Left Needs To Wake Up To Reality

Tuesday, September 8, AD 2009

GOP overreaction to Obama speechLiberals and Democrats have accused many Americans of overreacting to the speech that President Obama will be delivering to school children today (at 11:00 am Central Daylight Time).

On the surface this would seem a fair evaluation but if you dig a little deeper, those on the Left may well be making another crucial misdiagnosis of the source and cause of this reaction.

First lets examine the prism that those on the Left have viewed this reaction.

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33 Responses to Overreacting, The Left Needs To Wake Up To Reality

  • You, and so many others, are conflating legitimate opposition to policy with lunacy. Just because you’re on the same side of the aisle doesn’t mean you have to defend all of them. The Birthers and now the Uneducators cannot be reasoned with and trying will only be politically counterproductive. Obama and the Democrats gain by keeping alive this perception that Republicans are crazy.

  • Well I am opposed to Obama’s nationwide speech to school kids and I am not an “Uneducator”. I have a teacher’s BA in social studies which I obtained before I ran off to Law School. My wife has an MA in Library Science and an MA in Spanish, and has taught Spanish in a public high school, and she opposes this use of the students of America as a political prop for this floundering administration. All three of our kids attend our local public high school. The superintendant of our school system has decided to burn the speech onto some DVDs and make them available to kids who want to watch it, but not to turn over instruction time to this Presidential nationwide photo-op.

  • I don’t oppose the president’s speech at all, but I do think the teacher’s lesson plan put out by the White House smacked of the cult of personality.

  • The text of the speech is here. On a quick perusal, it appears to be an “eat your vegetables” speech, no different from those given by prior presidents. Not sure what the fuss is about.

  • Blackadder-
    Given that it doesn’t match up with the topics listed even in the re-done study guide, it would be reasonable to assume the speech was significantly re-written. This guess is bolstered by the fact that they didn’t release the speech days ago, instead of the morning prior to the scheduled talk.

  • Lesson plans asking students to write about “Is he challenging you to do anything?” Easily can be lead down the partisan route by a partisan teacher (and plenty of those in public schools.) Doesn’t help that is was written in part by the White House with the Dept. of Education. The faux pas was clear even to the White House and DOE resulting in changes to the lesson plans. Should have also released the content of the speech prior to today. Who’s to say the opposition didn’t change the wording of the speech.

    Some potential problems with the lesson plans:


  • Foxfier anticipated part of what I am saying.

  • Foxfire,

    I’m not sure what study materials you are referring to. The study materials I’ve seen (and that would include the materials referenced in the article Phillip cites to) seems to match up pretty well with what’s actually in the speech.

    My understanding is that the study materials for the Obama speech track pretty closely the materials for Bush’s speech to school children back in the early 1990s. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if whatever Dept of Ed underlying was assigned to prepare the materials just ripped off the prior version.

  • Actually no. The Dept. of Ed admits the lesson plans were written in collaboration with the White House – and not the Bush White House.

  • The topics mentioned were “citizenship, personal responsibility, and civic duty”– only two of those three can sort of be found in the speech.

    Do you have a link to said materials? I’ve heard that statement morphing from “maybe Bush the Elder did it” to “these are exactly what Bush the Elder had” over the course of the weekend.

    Also, we do know who wrote the lesson plans– they were in large part provided by the White House.

  • Folks like MM love to make the hypocrisy point, claiming that everyone was fine when Reagan and Bush made similar speeches. Not so fast: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/When-Bush-spoke-to-students-Democrats-investigated-held-hearings-57694347.html

  • I’m sure this point will be brought up on NPR this afternoon. Waiting…Waiting…Waiting.

  • SB, you simply don’t understand. The problem is the difference between devils (R) and gods (D).

    Either way though, it’s just one more reason to homeschool.

  • Here’s the lesson plans. Also the Dept of Ed site notes that the plans were written in collaboration with the White House:


  • Folks like MM love to make the hypocrisy point, claiming that everyone was fine when Reagan and Bush made similar speeches.

    Okay, so liberals are hypocrites for objecting then and not now, and conservatives are hypocrites for objecting now but not then. The question is whether there’s anything objectionable about what the President said. If there is, I’m not seeing it.

  • Is there anything objectionable about the lesson plans as originally formulated – Yes. Is there anything objectionable about what he was going to say before the fuss began – maybe. The protest may have done its job in more ways then one.

  • What was objectionable about the lesson plans as originally written?

  • What *isn’t* creepy about telling kids to write letters on how they can help the president, to be collected and passed out later to see how they’re living up to the goal?

    What if you’re not inspired by Obama, for that matter?

    (For that matter, the idea of a speech being interesting and challenging for pre-schoolers through seniors is kinda bloody weird, too, especially for someone that has kids.)

  • If I want my kids to listen to a politician I’ll take them to see said politician, without the assistance of the school or the White House, thank you very much. (In regard to my kids, however, if Obama wanted to address a classroom in person I would love for the class to contain my three kids. Two of them would ask follow-up questions that would leave a mark! My autistic son would probably be wondering how one of Dad’s boring political shows followed him to school!)
    A factor overlooked in all of this of course is that the National Education Association, the teacher’s union, has been a dominant power in the Democrat party for decades. The idea that a fair share of their membership will not be attempting to make partisan hay out of this is risible.

    The link below is to their story on the Obama address at the NEA website. As the first comment notes the NEA protested Bush addressing four classrooms in 1991.


  • One of the suggested activities in the original was to write about “how to help the president.” It was changed to “how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.” IMO the criticism was fair and it was rectified. Still doesn’t explain why so many are opposed to children even hearing the speech.

  • Restrained Radical,

    I noted your points in my posting. And I explained why there was an overreaction.

    The reaction is to President Obama’s policies itself that manifested since the mainstream media refused to air any of the legitimate news concerning this growing grassroots movement. Add to this that President Obama and his proxies continue to slur and belittle any news that percolates to the surface and you have what happened with President Obama’s video to kids.

    It’s all in my posting.

  • Another problem is that the lesson plans ask older students to look at past Obama speeches on education and post quotes around the classroom. Of course past education speeches of Obama are riddled with errors. This from teh Washington Post:

    “Studies show that children in early childhood education programs are more likely to score higher in reading and math, more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, more likely to hold a job and more likely to earn more in that job. For every dollar we invest in these programs, we get nearly $10 back in reduced welfare rolls, fewer health-care costs and less crime. That’s why [the stimulus law] invests $5 billion in growing Early Head Start and Head Start.”

    Early education is a contentious issue, with many types of programs serving various goals.

    There is research to show lasting benefits for some kids who later move into good schools. There is research to show that such benefits fade if they do not move into strong schools. There is research to show that some programs help kids from low-income families become academically prepared for school. And there is research to show some programs don’t do more than babysit.

    Head Start, the country’s largest publicly funded preschool program, is praised by supporters for providing comprehensive education, health care and other support to low-income families. Critics say some programs are uneven and have little or no impact on academic performance. Finally, there are many estimates about how much money preschool saves in the long run. Obama’s is not the final word.


    “Our high school dropout rate has tripled in the past 30 years.”

    For this statistic, the Education Department says that the president drew on a report from the National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston College that was cited by the College Board in December. It said: “The rate at which students disappear from schools between grades 9 and 12 has tripled in the last 30 years.”

    How such rates are calculated is highly controversial. Dropouts are hard to track in part because kids move around. Graduation rates are often cited, but analysts say they have been fudged in some places. According to University of Chicago professor Melissa Roderick, it all depends on how and whom you count. One way is to calculate the people who wind up getting some kind of high school diploma or equivalency degree by their mid-20s. About 87 percent of people ages 25 to 29 are getting such degrees.

    If you look at kids who are getting diplomas on time, after four years of high school, that overall rate is about 75 percent, she said, although it is much lower for black and Hispanic students. States, pushed by the federal government, are moving to standardize the use of this on-time graduation rate.

  • What *isn’t* creepy about telling kids to write letters on how they can help the president, to be collected and passed out later to see how they’re living up to the goal?

    One of my co-workers told me the other day that he remembers watching Ronald Reagan speak when he was a kid in school and was assigned to write about how he could help the President (the co-worker is a conservative Republican, btw, and no fan of Obama).

    It’s only creepy if you want it to be.

  • On graduation rates– don’t forget private or homeschooling might “look” like a kid dropped out, or those folks who join the military early and get their GED in bootcamp.

  • True. My point is that included in the lesson plans was quoting past Obama speeches on education. Even one’s that are quite flawed in their data. So a student might decide to write his legislator about increasing funding for Headstart. Even though there’s no evidence that that works. Except from a partisan perspective. And there’s the problem.

  • Blackadder-
    Was that from the nation-wide, White House provided lesson plan, or did his teacher do it on his own?
    Was this after he directly contacted principals to get them to show his speech?
    Come to think of it, how old was your co-worker? How well does he remember this? (I’ve seen false memories show up for stuff that’s less than a year old, let alonenearly twenty-one years old.)

    November 14th of 88, Reagan did a Q&A for school kids that was carried on C-SPAN. He was nearing the end of his term, had no big irons in the fire, wasn’t hugely controversial, didn’t try to subvert usual channels, hadn’t just chosen a ton of highly controversial advisors and wasn’t accusing the opposition of manufacturing (violent) protests while doing so himself.
    With just one or two of these, the Obama thing might not be a big deal. With all of these things, it’s a big deal.

  • Yes. It would be good to see the lesson plans developed by the DOE and the White House for both the Reagan and Bush speechs. I just can find them on Google.

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  • So after all of this fuss and fuming and hyperbole, and after the speech has been described as good, topical and non-partisan by a great number of independent and moderate Republican leaders nation-wide, the anti-Obama posters here still think there was a great conspiracy to indoctrinate kids – wow, what a shock. I guess it is better to accuse the president of an unproven, unlikely theoretical malfeasance based upon one’s political orientation than to judge what actually happened.


    First, yes the Dept. of Education wrote a series of suggested activities and topics – that is what the Dept. of Education does.

    Second, yes White House staff – not a giant uber-being called the White House, but some White House staffers helped. Why? Because they being in the White House, actually might have known some of the topics of the speech. If the WH had sent no staff to the Dept. of Ed., that would have been really stupid and the Dept. of Ed. would have not known what to activities to suggest. Is this logic difficult to follow?

    Third, all speeches go through a series of revisions (as do ALL lesson plans) up until they are published. Now, maybe Obama originally had the words, “Look into my eyes and join the Democratic party,” or “Hey kids lets all chant, ‘public option, public option, yea public option,” or maybe even “When I was your age, I enjoyed reading such books as Mein Kampf and histories of the Bolshevik revolutionaries,” until right-wingers complained and then he removed them … or maybe he actually wanted kids to stay in school and be responsible for their own education … and then maybe someone said, “Make sure you add something about being careful about coming down with the flu,” and so things like that were added? As Tito demonstrated in the article, it is easy to overlook the simple answer when you are passionately looking for a more sinister one.

    Phillip: So you say that statistics can be difficult to interpret and the methodology of creating them differs from organization to organization and state to state. Yeah, I think we probably already know that. That may be one of the bad effects of local control. When you want to compare things across the nation, it is often useful to use national standards … oops, that darn federal government getting in our business again! There is actually a valid way, though of looking at data that comes from different sources and that is to study it longitudinally. That is, as long as the different statistics consistently use the same techniques from year to year (this is the reason we have state statisticians) then you can look for trends. If these trend show increases and there are what are called “internal or external threats to validity,” then those statistics can give you some insight. It is limited and it is conditional, but I’m sure you as a teacher and a lawyer, you must use some statistics in your work.

    Foxfier, they already know which students are homeschooled and even private schools have to give their data for these studies. The most difficult thing that I came across when I worked for a few years in an urban school, was with the students who changed schools mid-year if their family moved. This is a surprisingly large number of kids (5-10%) and a real problem with their education.

    Foxfier, I think you are a bit disingenuous when you say that Reagan’s talk to students (carried on a network that was broadcast to many schools) was somehow so innocent and apolitical and as if you was just a kindly old man talking to some kids. Well, yes democrats largely kept it apolitical because liberals realized that it was a great thing for the most powerful man in the world to take time out of his day to talk to kids and I guess that was a time of greater respect for the office. However, Reagan was NOT uncontroversial – he had the Iran-Contra scandal that still is reverberating, he had the most advisors of any president ever (until Bush 2) under indictment, he had . He WAS accusing his opposition of a great many things, it was just that his opponents were mostly protesting issues, like moving nuclear waste and clear-cutting redwoods, they weren’t attacking him or arriving to his speeches holding semi-automatic weapons.

    Aside: After the attempted assassination on Reagan, how restrained do you think Reagan’s secret service would have been compared to the way restraint that Obama’s secret service detail has been even as people have waved signs describing how blood should be spilled and that he is the moral equivalent to Hitler? Given that the last few years have shown that it is mostly radical white conservatives how have killed the most people for cultural and political reasons, the authorities have shown remarkable skill and restraint.

    So Obama is really no more controversial than Reagan was, they both inherited problems, though Obama inherited worse ones according to Bush, and they both took principled stands that have made them targets for dissent, but there is a difference. Just like Tito and Foxfier some conservatives are already so convinced of a pattern of behavior, so prejudiced to a perception about Obama that ANYTHING he does is colored. And of course to my mind, the problem is that this perception is false.

    Obama has not belittled his opponents, has never dismissed the tea partiers as unAmerican (find the video!!) or even lashed out at those who whine about his citizenship. He is actually almost to “no drama Obama” about almost everything, except when he jumped the gun on the Gates arrest. If you can’t see that he is the most restrained president in a long, long time than you are mightily biased and you’ve forgotten when Reagan said this:

    I realize that for some, as long as an older, moderately conservative white president tells someone to shut up, that it is a “manly, American” moment, yet if a younger, moderately liberal black president would say the same thing, it would be the act of an arrogant elitist cult figure. I’m not accusing anyone here of this, but I can’t help think of what the “birthers” would say. It is prejudice, it is about culture war politics and it is a symptom of people who have lost or never had a way to be self-reflective and intellectually honest.

    The liberal hecklers who shouted at President Reagan and the two Presidents Bush, were generally young and though vocal were not a large segment of the population – those who actually formed the loyal, liberal opposition were usually respectful. Those who over-reacted to Obama’s speech and attended some of the town halls and tea parties are parents and people who should either know better or be better role models. Not to stop voicing their opinions or to stop articulating their opposition – for that is the messy reality of democracy – but they should at least act like adults.

    To me the thesis of this entire thread seems to be false as I read it.

    1. President Obama was not elected because people were merely protesting a bad economy. That is flat out unsupportable. Both McCain and Obama were BOTH running against the Bush economy and the people actually had a choice of philosophies and a choice of candidates and Obama fit what the people wanted.

    2. The voters did not vote for a greatly expanded bureaucracy, yes, but they did vote for a candidate who was refreshing in several ways, first he actually didn’t blame the federal government for everything. He talked about government in an adult manner, not trying to call it evil while at the same time trying to get the job to run it, and not pretending to cut the expanse of government while actually increasing it. Case in point, the federal government expanded under every president and the single biggest increase in federal jobs occurred under George W. Bush with Homeland Security.

    3. The voters voted for someone who would stop lying to them about Iraq, not break international treatise, end torture of prisoners (which he has done mostly), end intrusion into people’s live by wiretaps and other means as implemented by the “small government” of GW Bush (which he really hasn’t done), improve the diplomatic corps that was decimated by Bush, opened dialogue with our allies without bribing them into helping us … etc., too many things. I hope you get it. He was voted in on a broad agenda of changes that now have been conveniently forgotten about.

    4. The original post is also wrong in stating that he failed “to recognize genuine American concern to deficit spending…” Actually he didn’t. He unlike Bush put the Iraq War back into the budget so people could actually see and congress could be more responsible for its affects on the budget, which Bush liked to hide. He also staunchly would veto any health care reform that would create deficit spending and is the first president in a while to advocate for “pay as you go.” Some here may not know what that means, but it means “don’t add to the deficit.” So that means cut programs or raise taxes. You may agree with his tax plans, but you can not call him unconcerned for deficit spending – two different things.

    5. The article says that Obama failed to recognize how much Americans don’t want “the nationalization of the motor industry.” No one wants the nationalization of the motor industry, Obama has said repeatedly that he doesn’t want to run GM or have the government nationalize any corporation. You may not agree with the tactics but bailing out GM just means having a 60% non-voting investment in it. It is one company, not an industry. It is temporary and GM is already planning to pay it back because they don’t want the government strings that are attached. And why are they attached, because the government (the Fed Reserve and Treasury) by law CAN NOT just give money away without protecting the taxpayer. It is too much to get into hear, but even the financial news pundits who hate government intrusion have come to realize that GM still went out under bankruptcy, but that it did so in a far quicker time frame and it saved all of the thousands of smaller companies and many dealerships (which of course IS the majority of the motor industry) from having to go bankrupt and thus not become nationalized. This was not perfect and I think the unions got a better deal than they deserved and some of it was political (wow, McCain would never have been political!?), but to call that nationalization of the motor industry is so far from reality that it is laughable. Ford is doing just fine and if Chrysler fails or GM has any more problems, it will be gone. The bailout was only deemed necessary because it happened to coincide with the failure of Wall Street and even though I believe in the principle of moral hazard in capitalism, I also feel that once a century the rules of the game need to be bent to prevent needless pain as long as it is temporary – and that is from Thomas Jefferson’s (a great small government guy) views.

    6. The article says, “Then came the town hall meetings where Americans began to voice their displeasure. Again, President Obama and his proxies dismissed them as “astro-turf”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi derided them as Nazi’s.” This is a particularly biased statement in my opinion. First Obama, again, did not dismiss the town hall protesters … ever!!! Some did of course, because some protesters were way over the top, but there is no cabal of Obama proxies soing anything. There are some pundits and some politicians who think that many of the tea parties and town halls had some outside influences – and they did, but no one said that all or even most of the people there genuinely expressing opinions were that way. As a matter of fact the administration has mostly said that it was only the most vocal that got on TV, but that most town halls went well with plenty of genuine and passionate viewpoints.

    Also I find it interesting that Pelosi (of whom I am not a fan) says the term “Nazi” once in relation to, not protesters, but to the people who yell to the point that no one can speak, she gets blamed for that hyperbole even as hundreds of right-wingers and dozens of conservative talk show hosts actually call Obama a Nazi on a daily basis. Just think use some perspective hear, the Speaker of the House can use it once about one particular instance and every extreme conservative makes a huge deal out, yet when conservatives say the same thing on a daily basis, they are somehow patriotic Americans. I guess some people just don’t get irony.

    There is more that I could write, but this is way too long already. I just think that the premise of the thread is so much ado about nothing. The Obama admin. hasn’t over-reacted or demonized conservatives. It was dealt a bad hand in the way that President Bush 43 was dealt a bad hand with 9/11 and both administrations had political operatives whose job it is to look for ways of dealing with emergencies and even using them as opportunities for change. Bush and Cheney used 9/11 as a reason to invade Iraq and to greatly increase the power of the presidency. It is unclear how Raum E. expects to use the current crises, but Obama has chosen to look at how Reagan era deregulation substantially led to the Wall Street credit problem and the recession is a good time to reform the system. That is actually a responsible position to take. We’ll see if it works. Health care will bankrupt the country if it is left to grow at the existing rate, and in an economic down turn, this may also be the time to reform it as well. Finally, wars and security issues are good drivers for reforming the countries energy policy.

    My point is that you can disagree with Obama’s philosophies and argue his policies and even dislike his personality, but to say he is that much different from most other administrations, both Republican and Democrat, is quite the overstatement. And yes, if he does over-react (which he hasn’t yet) or he takes on too many issues to change (which he probably did), then elections will be his report card. Let’s just keep the hyperbole and biases to the pros, like Beck.

    BTW, his approval rating has fallen from 70% to 50%. A big drop, but 50% is pretty high for any president during a once in a century economic crisis and in the midst of two wars and as a target of plenty of prejudice even as he has maintained by and large his dignity and not simply fallen into the tactics of most other presidents of wrapping himself in the flag and causing people to be scared.

    BTW, the whole point of the cartoon at the top has obviously been missed.

  • You have a lot of time on your hands. Your ignore the bottom line. The lesson plans were changed. The White House itself by its actions admitted they were wrong by doing so. They may very well have changed the speech due to the democratic efforts of Republicans. Can’t deny the truth of this.

  • Would you like a match for your strawman? Maybe a thresher?

    I haven’t seen such a load of hooey since my little sister tried to use “nothing happened” to prove “nothing will ever happen” when she stayed out too late in high school.

  • I do think that the fuss about the school address has been excessive — at the same time, however, I think MacGregor’s extensive comment above falls into the basic pattern (all too easy to fall into) of looking at things through a tribal lens and thinking, “Sure there are some crazies on my side, but there aren’t many and they’re harmless. Now the other guys! They’re bad!”

    Yes, there have certainly been over-the-top reactions to Clinton and Obama, but there were incredibly extreme amounts of hate directed at Reagan and Bush2, and both of them dealt with it in a calm and statesmanlike fashion. Attempts to portray Obama’s critiques as more deranged or dangerous than the sufferers from Bush Derangement Syndrome over the last eight years suggest a certain lack of perspective.

    This is not to say that people are right to behave irresponsibly in response to Obama, but perspective is always necessary.

Health Care Bites

Saturday, September 5, AD 2009

The limits of civic discourse and modern medical science were tested in Los Angeles on Wednesday when a MoveOn.org protester whose feelings became inflamed over the issue of providing health care to all was moved to bite off part of the finger of a by-standard during the course of an altercation which broke out at a protest. Since the victim was 65, government health care was able to step in (in the form of Medicare) to provide care, but failed to succeed in reattaching the finger, which was severed at the first joint.

One man bit off part of another man’s finger when a health care reform demonstration turned violent.

William Rice said doctors did not reattach the bitten-off part of his left pinky after he got in the middle of a Southern California rally Wednesday night that he said was ”very scary.”

”I didn’t go out to demonstrate my beliefs, I happened to be driving by and I stopped to ask people what their purpose was,” Rice, 65, said in a telephone interview Thursday. ”I had no signs, I was not part of the demonstration.”

About 100 demonstrators in favor of health care reform had gathered on a Thousand Oaks street corner for an event organized by MoveOn.org. About 25 counterdemonstrators gathered across the street.

Rice declined to say Thursday which side of the debate he falls on.

Ventura County sheriff’s spokesman Eric Buschow said a confrontation erupted after the biter crossed from the MoveOn.org side of the street to the counterprotest, where Rice was standing.

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12 Responses to Health Care Bites

  • Yeah, I can really feel the love from that comment. Kum Ba Yah and all that.

    This is just one of those crazy events that happens. Opposing a government takeover of health care didn’t make the victim particularly obnoxious or even hypocritical. Not anymore than supporting it made the biter a cannibal or violent sociopath. Perhaps the former position draws the obnoxious to the battle and the later invites the cannibalistic. Heh, I was joking there, but when I think of how support for ObamaCare generally goes hand in hand with support for abortion, ESCR, and various immoral notions of end-of-life issues, maybe I’m on to something.

  • Oh, you deleted the spiteful troll comment. Now I look dumber than I am. 😉

  • Yeah, I’m on a “not suffering fools gladly” kick today — comes with cleaning up for a birthday party full of six-year-olds.

  • Oh joy! Is today her birthday or is it later in the week?

  • Anyway, tell her “Mr. Rick – you know, the one without a horse – says Happy Birthday!” 🙂

  • The level of behavior of the MoveOnite would have shamed a six year old.

  • The MoveOn’er was obviously over the top and fanatical and now, if he/she doesn’t come forward is obviously dishonest and a coward. I don’t agree with MoveOn and their tactics. Too bad the fanatics on both sides keep making the headlines and driving the debate. Maybe we need to put all of the MoveOn folks and the “birthers” that carry guns to presidential town halls in a room somewhere while the rest of the country actually participates in democracy.

  • By the way, Rick, a public option is not necessarily a “government takeover of health care.” It could be, if done badly, but it does not have to be. Its good to stay skeptical. Just trying to keep it real.

  • MacGregor, if it’s “good to stay skeptical”, then I think we ought to remain skeptical of the government which has forced its way into private businesses (and has adopted the power to fire private employees, as at Ford). And what is the general trend, as evidenced yet again with the Van Jones fiasco and the snub to Poland? This government tends to do things badly. I think it is naive at best to assume that the government’s umbrella expansure over health care is really the best way to care for the poor and downtrodden.

  • I think it is naive at best to assume that the government’s umbrella expansure over health care is really the best way to care for the poor and downtrodden.

    I’d suggest it’s naive to assume the poor and downtrodden will be cared for absent some form of government assistance also. While it’s true that the government does some things badly – and I wouldn’t want a complete takeover of the health care system – I think expanded coverage for the ten million or so who are chronically underinsured would be a significant positive change.

  • We are all adults here, and as adults we know there are consequences for are actions, so if you do not agree with his views on healthcare, you can a) do nothing, b) vote for him, c) not vote for him, d) protest and picket, its your choice, live the dream!

    It all comes down to what you believe, either you are your brother’s keeper or are not. The healthcare system is broken, even when you play by the rules, because even when you are working and come down with something serious the insurance company can deny your claim and you are stuck using you own funds and filing for bankruptcy when these same insurance companies are paying out bonuses to those employees that deny claims and on top of that the same companies show record profits. We are already paying for emergency room care anyway for those without healthcare, it makes sense to me to cover everyone and not pay 10-20 times more for emergency room care.

  • The healthcare system is broken, even when you play by the rules, because even when you are working and come down with something serious the insurance company can deny your claim and you are stuck using you own funds and filing for bankruptcy when these same insurance companies are paying out bonuses to those employees that deny claims and on top of that the same companies show record profits.

    Is any of this based in reality? There’s almost nothing which could be considered standard care of a serious illness, condition or injury which will be denied by a normal employer based insurance policy. Not only have I never had it happen to me, but I don’t know anyone who has had it happen to them, despite knowing people with diabetes, cancer, chronic heart disease, pregnancy complications, etc. (When people run into problems is when they want a treatment their doctor doesn’t think they need, want an experimental treatment, or have to pay a significant percentage of all outlays and simply run up to much in co-insurance payments to be able to afford it.)

    Not only are most insurance companies not reporting “record profits” at the moment (indeed, profits are down for many all insurers in the last couple quarters), but in the vast, vast majority of cases there is no single employee out there reviewing your claim and trying to deny it. Indeed, there are generally standard payment schedules and so long as you are trying to get care which your doctor thinks you need, you won’t have any problems.

    There are plenty of things that are silly or unfair about the health care status quo, but simply making stuff up about it is unproductive. And acting as if health care is identical to the nightmare insurance company in The Incredibles is pointless.

Obama Drops Public Option, Showdown With Pelosi Looms

Wednesday, September 2, AD 2009

Obama Pelosi

President Obama will be dropping the socialistic Public Option from his government-run health care plan.  This will certainly anger the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and make for some interesting showdowns with both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (emphasis mine).

“…Obama’s willingness to forgo the public option is sure to anger his party’s liberal base. But some administration officials welcome a showdown with liberal lawmakers… …The confrontation would allow Obama to show he is willing to stare down his own party to get things done.”

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15 Responses to Obama Drops Public Option, Showdown With Pelosi Looms

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  • You do realize that:

    (i) the proposed public option is strictly limited to those without employer-based coverage, and is designed to compete with private options, and that it’s sole point is to keep costs down (it would be very easy just to subsidize people to purchase very expensive coverage)?

    (ii) about 40 percent (this is off the top of my head, but I think it’s right) of healthcare spending in the United States now originates with the government. Medicare, covering all seniors, is basically a Canada-style single payer system. The VHA, covering military veterans, goes even further and is basically a UK-style single-provider system. Overall, this means a larger public role than the systems in countries like Germany and France. Do you propose to abolish medicare?

  • Do you propose to abolish medicare?

    Git ‘r done.

  • (i) without employer based coverage

    Meaning what exactly – if your employer pays your coverage, or if it is offered, but you have to pay? E.g., employer covers the cost for the employee, but the employee has to pay out of pocket for spouse/dependent. Would the spouse/dependents qualify for the public option? If not, then they are really getting screwed.

  • MM — it’s wonderful that you finally, after so long, admit to the level of government spending in America, but you fail to follow the logic where it leads: if a single-payer system established in America would magically give us the cheapness and results of France (as you so commonly claim), then we should ALREADY see that Medicare covers everybody in America (not just the elderly), while spending less money to boot. The fact that Medicare does not even remotely do so betrays the vacuousness of your habitual refusal to consider all of the many reasons that American health is different from European countries, and why an American government program will with 100% certainty be incomparably more expensive than what is seen in France.

  • C Matt – if you have employer-based coverage, nothing changes. This was an issue during early negotation and it was decided to restrict to public option only to those out on their own and in small busineses.

    SB– I have never made such a magical claim, and you know it. But we do have a very good comparison — Medicare and private insurance. And we know that while costs are rising unsustainably in both, the rise is actually smaller in medicare. Of course, everybody focuses on the explicit cost on the public balance sheet (taxes), but not the implicit cost on household balance sheets (rising premia preventing wages from increasing).

    On why the cost per capita is twice as high in the United States, there is no simple answer. Part of it is insurance company profit-seeking and administrative– single payer is able to keep costs in check by simply efficiency gains — spreading risk over the greatest number of people and having a single administrative system. That’s an important part of it, but it’s not all of it. Like everyone else who follows this issue seriously, I was impressed by Atul Gawande’s little cost experiment. And here is the paradox — on one hand we have so many people left behind (47 million with no insurance, 25 million with insufficient insurance, widespread rationing by cost) and yet on the other hand we clearly have a lot of treatment that is not needed. And this happens in places where the income of a doctor or healthcare provider is tied directly to the quantity of treatments ordered. This is a classic market imperfection, as the healthcare provider is exploiting an information asymmetry in a way that maximizes his revenue. In places where doctors are paid a salary, or where income is pooled, you do not see these problems with ineffiency (the Mayo clinic is a good example here).

    So, there are really 2 issues — access and cost. Access is actually not that hard — dish dish out a lot of money to subsidy coverage at whatever cost demanded by private insurance companies. I think everybody would agree that this is unsustainable. We must also trim costs. The public option is a small step in that direction — though it is not neutered that I doubt it will do much good at this point. The big cost issues remain outstanding.

  • SB– I have never made such a magical claim, and you know it.

    No, I don’t know it. I can’t even count how many times you’ve made the claim that European countries with single-payer get better healthcare for less money. It’s clear that you’re trying to suggest that the US could replicate the same. If you’re not trying to suggest that, you should write more clearly.

    Anyway, if you read Gawande’s article, he points out that the incentives in the fee-for-service model are so overwhelming that the method of payment (government vs. private insurance) is pretty much irrelevant. That point seems right on to me.

  • MM,

    C Matt – if you have employer-based coverage, nothing changes. This was an issue during early negotation and it was decided to restrict to public option only to those out on their own and in small busineses.

    This is simply not true. Under all of the public option proposals, ANYONE (including illegal immigrants) can chose any plan in the HIE including the public option. Even if such a restriction were added nothing stops the employer from opting to drop it’s employees into the public option.

  • SB: ” can’t even count how many times you’ve made the claim that European countries with single-payer get better healthcare for less money.”

    Yes, I’ve made it a zillion times because it is A FACT. I have no doubt that a single-apyer system in the US would reduce costs and increase coverage, and be better aligned to the requirements of Catholic social teaching. Will it magically reduce costs from 15 percent of GDP to 8 percent of GDP? Of course not. Any anyway, this is all irrelevant, since clearly the great free market liberal masses would rather suffer and die from lack of care than flirt with “socialism”.

    Matt: You are flat out wrong on this one. Restricting the public option to those outside employer-based insurance is central to the proposals (I think that is silly, but anything stronger would clearly not pass muster with the ideological liberals that oppose healthcare reform). See a flow chart that makes this point succinctly: http://vox-nova.com/2009/08/19/9222/. And as for employers dropping coverage, there would be a big penalty for doing something like that.

  • Matt: No public option covers illegal immigrants. The congress and the president have already said they will not agree to any legislation that says this. The only way they get treatment is by going into emergency rooms where hospitals are morally obligated to give them care if the injury or sickness is serious.

    The part of this article that shows the lack of intellectual honesty with many conservative pundits, is that when President Obama proves that he is not a liberal ideologue, when he shows that he believes in bipartisan, pragmatic governance – no one commends him on it. They only talk about “show downs” and his political problems as if he failed. What hypocrisy!

    And Art Deco, what part of your post is in any way Catholic? I challenge you to get in front of any congregation in the country as say that.

    “Do you propose to abolish medicare?

    Git ‘r done.”

  • And Art Deco, what part of your post is in any way Catholic? I challenge you to get in front of any congregation in the country as say that.

    The parishs I attend congregate for the Divine Liturgy, not to listen to my opinions on anything. Minion can ask a rhetorical question. If he gets a serious answer, that’s a gift. Me stingy today.

    I have already bored the assembled with my suggestion of what a revised mode of financing medical care might look like, as a component of a reconstituted tax and welfare system. Of course, there were a mess of holes in the idea, but I am not in the insurance business and I was only ever the smallest fry in the world of hospital administration, so I cannot draw on any fund of knowledge to fill the holes. If you are interested, it is here somewhere.

  • I’d have far less problem with the public option if there was some mechanism to guarantee that the government would remain one competitor among several and not a slow-growing monopolist of the system. The government is no mere private competitor–it has pricing and contracting advantages unique to its role as the trustee of the public fisc. I am unaware of any such mechanisms in the plan(s) before Congress.

    And, in one of the plans before Congress, there is a penalty of up to 8% of payroll for employers who want to dump their coverage. I also believe it caps out the size of the employer which can take advantage of the option, but I’m much less clear on that.

    As I said in a previous thread, 8% of payroll may or may not be an incentive to drop coverage. Without knowing how health costs compare on average to payroll, I have no meaningful frame of reference.

  • Yes, I’ve made it a zillion times because it is A FACT. I have no doubt that a single-apyer system in the US would reduce costs and increase coverage, and be better aligned to the requirements of Catholic social teaching.

    A little more epistemic modesty might be in order, wouldn’t you think? In discussing any policy issue of any magnitude, 100% certainty amounts to overconfidence and bias. Has it never crossed your mind that the same forces that have caused Americans to spend so much more on health care — including via government spending, which isn’t subject to your canards about administrative costs or insurance company profits — may well continue to be in place? That this will cause Americans to overuse medicine in a single payer system to an even greater degree, thus causing overall costs to rise?

  • The real issue is liberal agenda. Get the liberals out of absolute power and see how many problems disappear. The american ppublic is already sending that message at the polls and it’s about time!
    Also; someone with the guts needs to take Obama into custody by citizen’s arrest for failure to prove he qualifies under the U.S. Constitution to hold office; since the justice system in this country is failing to do it’s duty. Every executive order Obama has signed is worthless and must not be recognized officially. Those he has placed in office are there illegally and must be removed. Those of you who are supporting Obama must realize you are supporting a usurper and probably illegal alien. Someone with authority must investigate fully all the hidden personal information which cannot be released to the public under court order. This has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with treason; which when prosecuted rightfully carries the death sentence during this time of war we currently are fighting.

Res et Explicatio for AD 8-25-2009

Tuesday, August 25, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!Ketef Hinnom Silver Amulet

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in Catholicism:

1. An interesting find of Biblical proportions has been announced.  Silver amulets predating the Dead Sea Scrolls by 400 years was found with Biblical inscriptions, the Book of Numbers 6:24-26:

24 The LORD bless you and keep you:
The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Written in Hebrew script, the pure silver amulets were discovered in the ancient tomb complex of Jerusalem’s Ketef Hinnom.  Archaeologist Gabriel Barkay wrote the discovery in the Biblical Archeology Review.

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6 Responses to Res et Explicatio for AD 8-25-2009

  • Just by way of interest, your no. 1, the two tiny silver amulets were discovered by Dr Barkay way back in 1979 (in Chamber 25 of Cave 24 at Ketef Hinnomin). They are inscribed with portions of the apotropaic Priestly Blessing which is found in the Book of Numbers (6:24-26). They are the earliest known citations of texts that are also found within the Hebrew Bible.

  • Stephen,

    I haven’t done any research on this, but I’ll take your word for it.

    It could be that they verified the age and the inscription on the silver amulets only now, but that is just a stab in the dark on my part.

    Nonetheless, I do find this fascinating and intriguing since this is another piece of the puzzle that continues to provide evidence and verification of the validity of the Holy Bible.

  • Yes, ‘fascinating and intriguing’ indeed. That is why I have such a passion for Biblical Archaeology. The amulets were fully re-examined in 2004. The latest news is that BAR in its 200th copy (this month) reviewed it as one of the most significant finds in Biblical archaeology thus far… and it truly is! I am constantly examining archaeological finds, and that, in light of the Scriptures… If you like, you can visit my blog and have a look…

    Many blessings to you and your readers,


  • Oops, I almost forgot, I blog at http://biblicalpaths.wordpress.com/

  • Looking forward to parousing your blog when I have time, good stuff!

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A Public Option: the Left's Waterloo?

Wednesday, August 19, AD 2009

Blackadder has had a couple very interesting posts lately arguing that a public health insurance program wouldn’t sound the death-knell to private insurance companies (and hence competition for the consumer) which many have been arguing it would.

What I find interesting is the vehemence of the left regarding a public option… consider this quote from a WaPo story today:

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12 Responses to A Public Option: the Left's Waterloo?

  • One wonders how many of the people now loudly insisting that a public option is essential to health care reform had even heard of the idea a year ago.

  • Chris,

    At the same time, we find in the same article indications that the GOP’s strategy is yet again merely to try to take down ObamaCare without proposing a real alternative… Sen. Kyl from Arizona and Rep. Price from Georgia both offer comments critical of the co-op proposal, but offer nothing as an alternative strategy. Perhaps this is just the WaPo reporter leaving them out, but I have my doubts.

    You’re simply repeating the left’s talking point that the Republican’s don’t offer alternative reforms. The Republicans have offered numerous times reforms which have been defeated by Democrats at every turn.

    – tort reform!
    – allowing individuals to deduct their private health care premiums
    – allowing small businesses to pool across state lines to purchase health insurance for their employees

    John McCain’s health care proposal included eliminating the employer deduction in favor of an individual tax credit, this would eliminate the majority of “previous condition” issues because people would not lose their coverage if they lose their job.

    At the current time, due to Democrat majorities in both houses the Republicans can not bring any of these proposals to the floor, and the media is not cooperating in getting them out to the public.

  • Fair enough, Matt. I guess I’d like to see a more coordinated communications strategy on the part of the GOP, then, to get their word out. If the media isn’t cooperating… go around them. It’s not impossible.

  • Chris,

    Fair enough, Matt. I guess I’d like to see a more coordinated communications strategy on the part of the GOP, then, to get their word out. If the media isn’t cooperating… go around them. It’s not impossible.

    I agree, if we don’t figure out how to do this, we will fail, regardless of unfairness.

  • Obama appears to be stuck. He wants to jettison the public option portion of his health care plan out of (legitimate) concern that it could bring down the entire bill. It appears, however, that the more left-wing Democrats won’t vote for a bill without a public option.

    I’m not really in the business of helping Obama out. However, it might be interesting to see what sort of concessions he would be willing to make in order to garner Republican support for a public plan. Suppose, for example, that the health care bill kept a public option but was altered to include some or all of the reform items Matt mentioned above. Wouldn’t such a bill be preferable to the status quo?

  • BA,

    Wouldn’t such a bill be preferable to the status quo?

    I’d still be concerned by a lot of the other interventions in the existing bill. Also, it seems like the trade-off from a “public” option would be a “co-op” option, which is funded by the government and controlled by the government as a sort of trojan horse government option.

  • As a tangent. The “Death Panels” were supposed to be a figment of the right’s imagination. I wonder how that plays given this:


  • It’s certainly interesting to see how firmly the left has latched on to the fairly anemic public option in the current plan.

    I wonder if some of this is that the second half of the 20th century wasn’t exactly kind to collectivist-minded idealogues. The ideas of Smith turned out to be a lot better at creating liveable societies than those of Marx. But health care has, to many, remained the one area in which people can convince themselves “market bad, centralized planning good”. As such, having the government provide health care has an appeal to partisan Democrats out of proportion to the amount of good that a particular program is likely to do.

  • One thing that bothers me is that all the fuss over the public option has allowed the abortion provision in the bill to go unchallenged. As Catholics are we really more concerned about the economic implications of the bill vs its deadly intent to fund infanticide?

  • Fr. Charlie,

    I thunk you’re mistaken, the outrage over the government No private or blocked number calls please takeover is multifaceted and it include opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion, and coercive euthanasia. I don’t think there’s a shortage of vocal opposition to any of these aspects.

    All of these elements are a natural extension of the government takeover. Even if hey weren’t mentioned in the law they would become enshrined in practice. That’s part of the reason Catholics should oppose any government takeover.

  • er.. think.

  • I would like to think you are right Matt, but I don’t know. While the Ins. companies need some serious regulation, I am totally opposed to a govt. run health care system. But at the end of the day, I can live with almost anything except publically-funded abortion and euthanasia. The “death-panel” campaign may have protected us on the latter, but besides the US Bishops Conf, I hear almost nothing in the public debate about abortion. What I am saying is that some of the energy needs to go into exposing what this bill will do to the unborn.

We Are Americans, Not Europeans

Friday, August 14, AD 2009

Isn’t it obvious that most of our American ancestors came over from Europe because they wanted life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  They fled totalitarian regimes, socialist governments, and anti-Christian repression for the freedom that is afforded all Americans.

We have the best health care in the world precisely because it is not operated by the government.  Private industry drives innovation, government regulation or government-run health care eliminates innovation, awards bureaucrats, and ultimately leads to marginal health care in the long run.

We are Americans, not Europeans.  Yet President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and well-meaning liberals and progressives want to emulate European health care programs.  What Europeans have is not necessarily right nor good.

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42 Responses to We Are Americans, Not Europeans

  • My ancestors from Norway came here because they wanted to farm, and the soil where they lived was rocky, and the seasons short. My ancestors from Germany came, we think, because they were younger sons who were cut out from owning the family farm in the Rhineland. My Quaker ancestors from England and Wales were indeed escaping religious persecution, although if they had landed in the wrong colony in America (anywhere but Pennsylvania or Rhode Island), they would have encountered it again.

    None were escaping government-run healthcare. Most were not escaping any form of statism. It could be argued they were pursuing prosperity in the freedom of America, but it should be noted that most immigrants to the U.S. supported the state-led reforms of the progressives and Democrats in the first half of the twentieth century (although that was less true of the Scandinavian and German farmers of the Great Plains, who tended not to care about urban issues like that, although they did support populist initiatives like North Dakota’s central bank). In other words, your narrative of American history is certainly uncomplicated, and not unrelatedly, quite inaccurate.

    Why does it matter whether public health spending increases as a percentage of GDP if overall spending as a percentage of GDP is decreased? Why consolidate vastly different government healthcare programs – what does Medicare have to do with NIH?

    When you win an election for economic reasons, generally it’s because people think your policies will help address the economic situation. When part of that economic situation is healthcare (concerns about its costs, and about losing your coverage), presumably it’s not absurd to think there’s a connection. For years a greater percentage of people have trusted Democrats more than Republicans on healthcare. That suggests that maybe the “We’re Americans, so don’t try to learn from other countries” argument doesn’t hold as much sway as you think.

  • Zak,

    Excellent points.

    But if I were to jump into the details for every European ethnic group that moved to the US it would have ended up being a novel.

  • Ha! In and out of moderation. Hope you are having fun, policeman!

  • Not *all* of us come from European stock. 😉

  • Tito – Interesting that you deleted all of my comments here EXCEPT for that one. What is the point of that?

  • Michael,

    Your less than charitable comments are being deleted. And not only by me.

    Unlike Vox Nova, where I have been banned due to my comment that I am an American first and Mexican second thus destroying the myth of the American left that minorities need to be self-empowered by adding a “hyphenated” prefix attached to “American”, we have charity at this website, so many of your comments do get approved.

  • You know you were not banned for that comment.

  • My comments were moderated before, but that was the first one that got deleted, while the others were in moderation and then approved.

    So apparently that was the final straw that destroyed the delicate liberal world view that all minorities need to be pampered and told how to talk, think, and vote.

  • We have the best health care in the world if you are at a certain income bracket…

  • Proud to be an A-mer-i-can…

  • Eric,

    When I ‘had’ health care insurance, I got the cheapest plan available and ended up having the best orthopedic surgeon in the country repair my damaged knee.

    And I made less than 6 figures.

    Mark D.,

    Me to brother.

  • “Nationalized” and “socialized” health care programs (they are the same thing, which anyone opposed to the “nation-state” should recognize) “work” much better in small, homogeneous places with high average healthy behaviors and human capital – like say, the Scandinavian places many (rightfully, often) praise.

    Will it work here? Not according to the CBO, and that is just on the estimations of financial side.

    Why don’t we do this instead?

    PROMOTE HEALTH. Cut carbs – go against the destructive status quo (which the government has done a lot of damage on – remember that food pyramid?) Do something like this

    TORT REFORM. Add high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts. Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. PORTABILITY. Let people view plans across state lines. Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. Enact Medicare reform…NOW. And REVISE tax laws to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or SCHIP.

  • Tito – Believe what you want. Make things up if it turns you on.

  • “We are Americans, not Europeans. Yet President Obama, Congressional Democrats, and well-meaning liberals and progressives want to emulate European health care programs.”

    I’ve seen it suggested that “blue state” America, especially college campuses, looks so much like Europe because American academics helped rebuild the continent after the war and made themselves and the like-minded into the uncontested establishment. Is there anything to this?

  • Tito,

    Would you forego governmental assistance in the form of medical care and martyr yourself, if need be, for the principles of your America?

  • Nationalized” and “socialized” health care programs (they are the same thing, which anyone opposed to the “nation-state” should recognize) “work” much better in small, homogeneous places with high average healthy behaviors and human capital – like say, the Scandinavian places many (rightfully, often) praise.

    Will it work here? Not according to the CBO, and that is just on the estimations of financial side.

    Why don’t we do this instead?

    PROMOTE HEALTH. Cut carbs – go against the destructive status quo (which the government has done a lot of damage on – remember that food pyramid?) Do something like this

    TORT REFORM. Add high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts. Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. PORTABILITY. Let people view plans across state lines. Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. Enact Medicare reform…NOW. And REVISE tax laws to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or SCHIP.

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  • Kevin,

    It happens sadly in red states as well.

    Mark D.,

    There is the emergency clinic.

  • Touche

  • Nationalized” and “socialized” health care programs (they are the same thing, which anyone opposed to the “nation-state” should recognize)…

    They’re not the same thing if there are no nation-states. Socialized health care could also operate on the state (in the u.s.) or provincial level (as in Canada) as well.

    …“work” much better in small, homogeneous places with high average healthy behaviors and human capital – like say, the Scandinavian places many (rightfully, often) praise.

    There you go with your “homogeneous places” stuff again. “If only we could keep all the races separate, everything would work great!”

  • Mark D.,

    I just want to be clear that I want Health Care reform as well. Just not as drastic in some portions of the bills that are floating around in the House with possibly an addition to including tort reform.

    We need health care reform, but together as Americans, not as a strictly Democratic bill.

  • To all you people who care so much about the uninsured, I have two words for you: PROVE IT! Spend your own money, not someone else’s. Last time I checked, when the Good Samaritan helped the man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, he did not spend another person’s money. He spent his own.

  • Just because an idea or system is not American, does not make it automatically bad (or good). After all, most of us on this blog really like the social and moral ideas promulgated in the last 100 years or so by certain Italian, Polish, and German guys who wear funny hats 😉

  • To all you people who care so much about the uninsured, I have two words for you: PROVE IT! Spend your own money, not someone else’s. Last time I checked, when the Good Samaritan helped the man on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, he did not spend another person’s money. He spent his own.

    Presumably those who are in favor of universal health care are willing to have their taxes raised in order to pay for it. So, um, they would be spending “their own money.”

    Your me, mine, all mine attitude is sub-Christian.

  • When does society begin to look at itself to curb the healthcare problems? Obesity, smoking, drinking, STD’s, unwanted pregnancy, abortions, elicit drug use all put demand on the system in overdrive. Seems easy to say let the government take care of it so all share in the cost, but we are not eager to curb our own appetite for vices. There can be no true social justice that is not rooted in virtue and our Government does not respect the dignity of life so it is really a farce to think they care about the quality of life. If we as a country do not respect God as our creator, no government program is going to save us.

  • Ray – Sadly, not all health problems are connected to “virtue.” Aside from the fact that accidents happen in real life, your comment is the same old blame the victim nonsense.

  • Michael,

    While forcing the rest of us to pay for something we already do through charity.


  • While forcing the rest of us to pay for something we already do through charity.

    This doesn’t make any sense.

  • Tito, you had a good health insurance plan. That does not mean the entire system is not deeply flawed.

  • Mikael,

    Cost is a product of demand; the demand is greatly increased by health care administered to people who made a choice to engage in risky behavior. US Policy Makers have done nothing to slow the erosion of this immoral behavior, but now have a plan to reduce cost. All hollow without morals in the driver’s seat. You will not contain a fire by putting a fire hose in the front door and a gasoline hose in the back.

    And don’t take this to mean I am not compassionate. I am not in favor of a GOVERNMENT run plan. Private and faith based working together with the government will provide greater success. What is the purpose of keeping their body alive if you are not trying to save the soul?

  • Michael, a portion of health care costs are the result of affluenza, the indulgence of appetites in ways that previous generations could ill-afford. That is just a social fact.

  • Today’s reading and Gospel summed up my thoughts better then I did.

    “But when the judge died,
    they would relapse and do worse than their ancestors,
    following other gods in service and worship,
    relinquishing none of their evil practices or stubborn conduct.”

    We are quick as a nation to anoint blame and seek fixes for our problems and concerns, but we are slow to admit there is a divine plan at work here. This country does have a lot of Greed, Does have a lot of Lust, Does Kill it’s unborn, and we are trashing the Mother/Father family structure. Now as you listen to our elected policy makers we “must” do something about the broken health care system; Some what being sold as a moral obligation to the poor and a “must have” to prove we “love your neighbor”. Poppycock if we do not relinquish our evil and stubborn conduct.

    The way we are asked to help the poor is Charity given from the heart, not policy given by our babbling law makers.

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • Hey thanks for reminding the Sloth in our country has too.

  • Another difference with Europenas is their lifestyle – they tend to be healthier in diet and exercise (lots more walking). Of course that has an impact on health care costs. Not to mention their defense budgets are a heck of a lot less than ours.

    But we are Americans, dang it. If we want that custard filled donut with bacon and eggs for breakfast to help us sit at our cubicle for the next nine hours before we go home and plop down in front of the tube for 3 hours while we wait for the pizza delivery guy, then by golly, we’re gonna get it.

    On the other hand, why the rush to pass this particular bill? Why so hurried – if health care reform is worth doing, isn’t it worth doing right?

  • “Presumably those who are in favor of universal health care are willing to have their taxes raised in order to pay for it. So, um, they would be spending ‘their own money.'”

    Actually, the Administration proposes that very few people pay for it.

  • C Matt,

    It’s our choice to eat what we want.

    Granted it is excessive, but God gave us free will.

    (For the record, I agree with you that Americans don’t eat very well).

    As far as defense budgets are concerned, the US pretty much is NATO. If they were ever to be attacked by Russian or the Arab states, you can be well assured that the Americans will rush quickly to their defense.

    It’s how NATO works.

  • Michael,

    To your reference to “dufus”, I apologize about that.

    I should have been more careful.

    In my defense, I thought it was a silly word appropriate for you, but when I looked it up in the dictionary, it went to far where you didn’t deserve to be called that.

  • 1960 Flemming v. Nestor the Supreme Court ruled “The noncontractual interest of an employee covered by the Act cannot be soundly analogized to that of the holder of an annuity, whose right to benefits are based on his contractual premium payments”. The decision means that since no one has any legal right to Social Security benefits, Congress can cut or eliminate benefits at any time.

    Keep this in mind as Baby Boomers retire. Early on SS was a trust fund that was eventually raided in 1965 to offset the deficit. When the retirees payments exceeds the collections taxes will skyrocket, benefits will get cut, or they print money and inflation runs rampant.

    Flemming v. Nestor will have the same impact on a public option healthcare, it is not a contractual right and they can cut or eliminate benefits at any time. With a private option you have a contract and legal rights. Private payments that are deductible for the poor is a much better solution.

    As far as who is paying? It does not pass the squint test that this can be paid for with only a handful of wealthy people footing the bill. Hence the panic that the “end of life” counseling session will turn into nothing more then trying to talk the elderly into NOT accepting advanced and costly treatment. So why reinvent the Living Will? Promote everyone to write a Living Will; don’t replace it with another system which will open decades of new legal questions already established by Living Wills.

  • Michael,

    That’s between you and Donald.

    While we’re on the subject, look up the word charity and read the Holy Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 5, verse 39.

Sleeping Giant Awakes and Democrats Blink

Thursday, August 13, AD 2009

Today Senator Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said that senators are excluding a provision on end-of-life care from the House bill.  This is a major victory for ordinary Americans.

As senior citizens voice their displeasure with “death-panels” and other provisions in the House bill, the Democrat leaders are grudgingly realizing that maybe, just maybe, some provisions in their House bill will not pass with the American public.

The most recent polls show that the demonizing tactics of President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have failed to cover the growing grassroots activism that is rising among ordinary Americans.

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28 Responses to Sleeping Giant Awakes and Democrats Blink

  • Taco Man,

    Kindly correct “Nazi’s” as “Nazis”.

    I’m not entirely sure why you happen to have employed the possessive in this context.

  • Ill see your 2010 and raise ya a 2012.
    Nice echo in here. Im Catholic, Im an Obama supporter.
    Again, tell me why the vocal majority here wants to penalize the sick?

  • Master C,

    What penalty?

    You mean why are Americans tired of being over taxed and regulated? Why having to pay for such great government-run success stories like “Cash for Clunkers” and “FEMA” have inspired lack of confidence?

    Geeee, I don’t know what you mean?

  • I guess you have never been sick.denied coverage, or been out of a job and had to pay like crazy for COBRA.
    This country, the richest in the world, cant seem
    to help the least of us [THAT penalty]

  • I have been deathly ill, been denied coverage, and I am out of a job as I type this. And I refuse to pay COBRA (kind of helps when you have no money to pay for it).

    So I guess I will be demonized as well since I’m not being payed nor have I been contacted by any Vast Right Wing Conspiracy™ machine.

  • Demonized?
    I asked why the vocal majority here wants to penalize the sick.
    ….and I still havent heard the reason.

  • I asked why the vocal majority here wants to penalize the sick.

    See, this is what’s known as a strawman argument. The reason no one has answered your question is because your premise is logistically flawed. Please prove you’re not some 17-year old troll and actually attempt to argue in good faith, otherwise the rest of us will continue to ignore your moronic assertions.

    Hope that clears that up.

  • Since you have a taste for demagoguery, mc, why do you support government-funded abortion?


    [For the record, I support universal health coverage. But not this monstrosity.]

  • Nobody here wants to “penalize the sick.” However, we would like to find a way of helping the sick that DOESN’T involve running up vast amounts of debt for future generations to pay with crushing taxation, or the government paying to kill unborn children, or a gigantic bureaucracy deciding what kind of treatment we can and cannot have.


  • So interesting,
    I am asking why we would penalize the sick, and if that is moronic, so be it. I have had 12 years of Catholic school education and have attended church all my life and consider myself well versed in what Jesus chose to spend his time talking about. The status quo protects INSURANCE companies not people. I am asking why you all would want to keep that in place. I know change is scary, but I believe that taking care of our people is important.

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  • master c has decided to don troll garb. Do not feed the energy creature.

  • psst.. The ‘evil’ insurance companies are made up of people. Like me. And my Mom. Evil healthcare companies are made up of people, too. Like my Dad and many of my cousins.

    Personally, I always viewed insurance as a sort of capitalist socialism..

  • master c:

    I find it curious that even with a seemingly extensive education, you still suffer from what apparently are cognitive deficiencies you are unable to remedy in spite of your professed years at academia.

    To make the remarkably bold, outright assertion that anybody opposed to the Obamacare death squads as actually the ones penalizing the sick; I take it when such a hideous plan as in its original conception were actually implemented, you would have been amongst the first to dance for joy when the lives of your loved ones are truncated simply to promote system efficiency and cost savings.

    So, if anybody is doing any sort of penalizing, it is your much favored fiercely Pro-Abort administration seeking to extend the tentacles of its Culture of Death principles upon the general populace.

    Extra credit points, though, for your (albeit futile) attempts at making the proponents of evil as actually the advocates of good.

  • Master C: Read chapters 2 and 3 of B16’s Jesus of Nazareth and then come back for some big boy discussion of social justice issues.

  • How about reading the Caritas in Veritate encyclical?
    Does that qualify as big boy enough for you?

    I’m Catholic, Im American, yet Im a troll.

  • “I’m Catholic, I’m American, yet Im a troll.”

    So, you mean to argue that since you’re Catholic, you’re American; therefore, you cannot be a troll?

    Don’t get it. at all.

    “How about reading the Caritas in Veritate encyclical? Does that qualify as big boy enough for you?”

    It only qualifies as “big boy” enough if you read it thoroughly and with sufficient comprehension so as to discern exactly that what the fiercely Pro-Abort administration seeks to advance in such policies stands completely opposite to the very Christian principles essentially enshrined in such encyclicals.

  • what about the fiercely pro social justice part?


    a little something for all us!

  • So since it contains a pro-social justice part; therefore, adopting and, even further, implementing policies that would most certainly advance the Culture of Death must somehow be alright then.

    After all your comments, I seem to have gleaned an insight into just what you’re master of.

  • OK gentlemen,

    Enough with the “troll” comments.

    Just argue the substance, not the person.

  • Can we argue the source of master c’s understanding of the Church’s teaching:

    The pope’s social encyclical
    by Richard McBrien on Aug. 10, 2009

  • A guy who repeatedly asks “why the vocal majority here wants to penalize the sick” and dodges questions about his support for abortion doesn’t offer much substance to address.

    But, OK:

    mc–Caritas in Veritate condemns abortion three times. How does the Obama “health care” plan that pays for abortions [see the link to the Associated Press analysis I provided above] square with Catholic social teaching as set forth in the encyclical?

    I await your next change of subject.

  • Respectfully, here is the link from the lead post:


    That list of what conservatives seek or support doesnt entirely square with my Catholic beliefs, that’s all. That’s what Im here to say, not dodge, demagogue or demonize. I know your one issue that trumps all is abortion. I know lots of Catholics who let that determine how they vote.

    Dont know if it matters, but I am a woman.

  • “I know your one issue that trumps all is abortion.”

    I’m sorry–have we met? I have no idea who you are, so I doubt I’ve informed you as to my political beliefs. If it’s one thing people here will gladly testify to, it’s that I resent to high Heaven people who label me and assign opinions to me that I do not hold.

    So, speaking of demonizing, you’ve done it and not apologized for it, stating authoritatively that I (and others) want “to penalize the sick.” That was uncalled for, and still unapologized for, and now you make more assumptions. For the record, I have voted for pro-choice candidates in the past (regretfully, but there was no other options). Thus, your second assumption about me is false. I respectfully request that you cease and desist.

    And, yes, you’re dodging and changing the subject again, pointing to the Wikipedia link this time.

    Back to the question: how can a Catholic square support health care that funds elective (i.e., not for medical reasons) with authentic (as opposed to purely secular) social justice principles?

    The basic problem is this: we don’t help the hungry by knowingly giving them loaves of spoiled bread that won’t kill most of them outright (even though we know some will die from food poisoning). “But they’re hungry and we have a duty to feed the hungry” doesn’t cut it. Likewise, we don’t help the sick by giving them “health” care we know–KNOW–will result in the deliberate killing of human life. It is really as simple as that.

  • The link was from the original post [see the top], and prompted me to reply in the first place. Im not sure if you actually read it, it is not from wikipedia. It was provided as support that this is a conservatively plural nation. As it was a set forth as a basis for this discussion, Im not sure how it is “dodging and changing the discussion” I apologize for all the demonizing. I respectfully cease and desist.
    Not sure what qualifies as on topic around here.

  • Since “conservipedia,” like Wikipedia, can be freely edited by anybody who logs in, it’s a Wikipedia for conservatives, mc. It even rips off the template. Nice try.

    At least it was better than your canned apology for slandering everyone here as a “penalizer of the sick.” And much, much better than your third evasion of the abortion/health care question.

    I have no interest in talking with you further.

  • Dude, the link came from THIS post by the author of THIS BLOG!
    get a clue.
    I am glad ypu wont be talking to me anymore

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Whole Foods Health Care

Thursday, August 13, AD 2009

Whole Foods is headquartered here in Austin, TX, and I know a fair number of people who’ve worked there. The general consensus seems to be that it’s a good company to work for (so long as you’re comfortable with the “crunchy” culture) with especially good benefits for a food retail chain. So I was interested to see a piece in yesterday’s WSJ by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey advocating an approach to health care reform more similar to the benefits Whole Foods provides its employees. Although Whole Foods is seen as a progressive employer, Mackey’s suggestions are more along the lines of what innovative libertarians and conservatives have suggested for health care reform. (If the GOP scores a tactical victory in staving off the many bad ideas in the current health care reform proposal, one hopes they will exert themselves to actually bring something to the table this time, perhaps along these lines.) Extracting his main proposals:

Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

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11 Responses to Whole Foods Health Care

  • My thinking is as follows:

    1. Obama needs politically to pass some sort of major health care bill. However, it doesn’t much matter what’s in the bill so long as they pass something.

    2. Despite having majorities in both houses, it appears that Obama can’t pass a bill without significant Republican support.

    3. I therefore conclude that Obama’s should abandon his current plan, and adopt something like what’s laid out in the Mackey article (he’s a good PR guy, and so should be able to spin it as a liberal victory).

    Not that I think he will do this, mind you.

  • “If the GOP scores a tactical victory in staving off the many bad ideas in the current health care reform proposal, one hopes they will exert themselves to actually bring something to the table this time…”

    It is my hope too that the GOP would then bring something serious to the table. Unfortunately, at this point I have my doubts that that is their intention.

  • I never understood the point of the use-it-or-lose-it requirement of HSAs (at least ours is that way).

    Most of those seem like decent proposals. I take issue with the lawsuit observation. It seems to me that’s more of a PR gimmick than reflection of reality. Everyone loves bashing lawyers.

    We have had medical malpractice tort reform in Texas for going on 30 years now, and it has not had an appreciable effect on malpractice premiums that I am aware of.

    For some reason, unlike consumer technology, medical technology gets more expensive rather than less, which is the real driver of medical costs. Part of it can be a smaller pool of buyers over whom to spread development costs than more general technology (like pc’s, cell phones, etc.). Part of it is the high regulatory costs in getting technology approved for use (mostly drugs, but also other forms of technology – implants, prosthetics, etc.). And part of it is a protectionist attitude on the part of the medical industry (restrictive licensing and limited med school enrollment, Certificate of Need requirements for hospital construction/expansion).

  • I went to a Town Hall meeting last night put together by my Rep (Rick Larsen, Democrat, WA-2). About 2400 folks in attendance, roughly a 50-50 split ideologically.

    Lots of good questions. I bring up the meeting, because one gentleman brought up this article, and asked Mr. Larsen to look at it. He said he would, and I hope he does. The proposals laid out by Mr. Mackey seem like they can make a lot of headway in addressing the concerns voiced by many people out there.

    I too hope that GOP leaders bring something like this to the table.

  • There’s a whole class of medical expenses that is problematic for the high deductible plan. Somewhere between the routine office visit and the catastrophic emergency lies a middle ground of expenses. With a big enough family, no FSA is going to make up for these kinds of expenses. These are the things that aren’t “mortgage-the-house” procedures that are nonetheless very damaging to a family on limited income. What happens if someone in your family requires two crowns at $1000 a pop, you’re having a baby that year, and your kid requires relatively minor surgery for an accident? (All real life examples from our own family this year.) It’s not obvious how the combination of FSAs (or similar benefits) plus a high deductible plan would help.

  • What happens if someone in your family requires two crowns at $1000 a pop, you’re having a baby that year, and your kid requires relatively minor surgery for an accident?

    Presumably you would make the deductible and whatever co-payments required by the plan, and insurance would cover the rest. How would this be any worse than under a normal plan?

  • c matt,

    I never understood the point of the use-it-or-lose-it requirement of HSAs (at least ours is that way).

    That’s the HSA’s through employers, the standalone plans do not cause you to lose your balance each year.

    We have had medical malpractice tort reform in Texas for going on 30 years now, and it has not had an appreciable effect on malpractice premiums that I am aware of.

    I think it has had a big impact on the growth of the medical system here, I don’t know exactly how it has affected the malpractice premiums specifically.

    For some reason, unlike consumer technology, medical technology gets more expensive rather than less, which is the real driver of medical costs. Part of it can be a smaller pool of buyers over whom to spread development costs than more general technology (like pc’s, cell phones, etc.). Part of it is the high regulatory costs in getting technology approved for use (mostly drugs, but also other forms of technology – implants, prosthetics, etc.). And part of it is a protectionist attitude on the part of the medical industry (restrictive licensing and limited med school enrollment, Certificate of Need requirements for hospital construction/expansion).

    It’s due to an inneficient market, the payers and the consumers are separated.

    j. christian,

    There’s a whole class of medical expenses that is problematic for the high deductible plan. Somewhere between the routine office visit and the catastrophic emergency lies a middle ground of expenses. With a big enough family, no FSA is going to make up for these kinds of expenses. These are the things that aren’t “mortgage-the-house” procedures that are nonetheless very damaging to a family on limited income. What happens if someone in your family requires two crowns at $1000 a pop, you’re having a baby that year, and your kid requires relatively minor surgery for an accident? (All real life examples from our own family this year.) It’s not obvious how the combination of FSAs (or similar benefits) plus a high deductible plan would help.

    What you aren’t getting is that over time, the cost of medical care for routine procedures = the cost of medical insurance. Instead of depositing that money with the insurance companies, under the HSA you deposit in your own account so that it’s their when you need it.

    Under the McCain plan you would have started with $5000/year tax credit as an individual (don’t know how it works for families) to fund HSA/Insurance in whatever proportion you see fit.

    There will be times though, when bad fortune puts people in dire straits. There ought to be, and generally is, payment plans, and other aids to get people over the rough spots.

    ps. there are lower cost alternatives to $1000/crown, these may even be temporary until the funds are available.

  • j. christian,

    I think the confusion here has to do with what is meant by “high deductible”. The high deductible plans I’ve seen associated with HSAs are based on an annual deductible, so as soon as you’ve paid (with a 2500 deductible) $2500 total in medical expenses for the year, the insurance policy pays the rest.

    There may well also be plans that work more like auto insurance, with a deductible per incident, but I haven’t run into them. I’d assumed, based on my limitted experience of places I’ve worked, that Whole Foods was doing an annual deductible, but I could be wrong.

  • If Whole Foods’ health insurance plan is so good, that explains why certain hardcore supporters of Obamacare such as (you guessed it) SEIU have started calling it “Whole Paycheck Foods” and suggesting a boycott of the company!

    Having a Medical Savings Account has been helpful to me — the State of Illinois offers them to employees; you choose how much you want to put into it every payday, and you have 15 months — the “plan year” plus a 3-month “grace period” — to use up those funds. I would prefer that it not be “use it or lose it” either, but in its present form, it works well for covering things like co-pays on routine checkups, dental work, etc.

    However, I can see where people with large families and/or lots of expensive injuries, prescriptions, or medical problems would never be able to save enough to cover their medical costs with an HSA.

    Also, most doctors and hospitals will work out payment plans with you if you are uninsured or your insurance coverage is inadequate. This happened to me when my husband had an operation, and the insurance he had (as a student) covered only about 1/3 of the cost. The hospital had a charity care program that forgave their ENTIRE portion of the bill, and the surgeon (who charged a separate bill) has been taking monthly payments from us for the past two years… we’re finally down to the last $100 or so 😉

  • Okay then, lets all start savings accounts and pull out of our insurance plans.
    It would be interesting to see how the insurance companies would respond to such a movement.

  • Biggest problem I can see with a Knights of Columbus plan is morality protections on what’s required to be insured.

I Really Hate This Part…

Tuesday, August 11, AD 2009

If I’ve seemed a bit reclusive on all the recent fuss over the health care bill, town hall meetings, etc., it’s because the debate over the current reform package has now entered the phase of American politics that I really don’t like. There’s an early stage in which ideas are discussed and bills are drafted. People try to put coallitions together, compromises are discussed, and various groups push their policy recommendations. That’s the realm I find interesting, and in my small corner of the blogsphere, I enjoy participating, in a strictly informal fashion, in the debate.

But then there’s a point when an actual bill (or bills) are on the table, and the democratic melee is let loose. Over the last week I’ve been reading Alessandro Barbero’s The Battle: A New History of Waterloo, and in light of that it strikes me that there’s a certain Napoleonic-battle aspect to all this. A month or two ago we were staring at maps and discussing the merits of different formations, but now everything is shrouded in smoke while innumerable combatants in this democratic struggle (most of whom, on both sides, honestly have a fairly rudimentary understanding of the overall debate) slug it out until we find out which side will hold the field and which will break and run.

In a democratic republic, this is a necessary part of our political process.

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8 Responses to I Really Hate This Part…

  • A few points, which may actually be significant in the current situation:

    Obama won just under 53% of the popular vote, not a vast majority of those who voted.

    Voter turnout was just over 131 million or approximately 63% of the eligible voters in the US.

    So Obama was elected by approximately 33% of the eligible voters in America.

  • I think unfortunately that your prediction of a watered down bill passing that satisfies no one may be a sage one. I am here to speak out as a Catholic Obama supporter. There are more of us than non-supporters. Taking care of our fellow Americans in terms of health is very much in line with my vision of peace, love and justice.

  • I hope your prediction pans out, but I’m not going to count Obamacare out for some time. Regardless, I agree with various commentators who have argued that one reason this is even an issue is because the GOP merely *defeated* Hillarycare rather than doing so *and* proposing a more sound alternative. While healthcare costs are certainly more of an issue today than they were in ’93, it wouldn’t have taken a Nostradamus to see that it would be a larger issue down the road. So this time around, we have to make sure we don’t just beat the bad plan but that we vigorously propose alternatives (which some are doing, of course).

  • The Obama Administration nneds to hit the whole rest button on this.

    I was thinking about the immigration reform debate saga and controversy. (I supported Bush and McCain on this) Both issues were controversal and envoked fierce opposition.

    One of the things that “worked” for us that supported the immigration bill was to get poll data on what was actually in the bill. If you asked the generic question are you for the “Immigration Bill” negatives were high. But if you went through the individual provisions Public support went way up on the whole.

    If anyone is noticing that is not occuring with the Health Care bill. No one seems to want to talk about the individual provisions because well they are mostly all unpopular. That is telling

    Opponents of the health care bill should not get too optimistic. This weekend I had a chance at a party to talks to two Staffers of two different GOP Senators. They are not at all optimistic that this can be stopped and think this will be rammed through the reconcilation committee and under “deficit” reduction will not have to deal with a filibuster.

    I think for any Bill too pass

    1- Abortion has to be excluded. I think the reason Obama is so stiff necked on this is he knows that in the end private insurance is going to wiped out. I would also say we need an Euthanasia exclusion. Thought that issue is not hot now I predict it will become a bigger issue in the next 5 years. We need to get that in now and start a precedent similar to the Hyde Amendment

    2-A lot more attention has to be given to how this bill or future bills could devastate rural health care. Something that the media(that lives in the Cities) see to be clueless about and that Catholic Social Justice Advocates seem not ot have considered.

    3- This Federal Reerve like Medicare Panel has got to be scaled back. THe American people are going to be very distrusting of anything that even Congress will have a hard time overturning.

  • I am bewildered that Catholics would oppose healthcare reform. I understand concerns about abortion and euthanasia, but this reform does not change the current practices.


    arent we here to care of the least of our brothers?

  • Master C

    I am not sure it is a right observation that people oppose Helath Care reform or want medical care available to those in needs

    I think the concern is that this bill is going to be a disaster for the poor, middle Class and rich alike.

    According to Gallup there has been a 21 point drop in just 4 weeks in support of the Health care bill. That is a heck of a drop. No doubt many of those were Obama supporters and no doubt many of those were Catholic Obama supporters that want Health Care reform.

    That is perhaps one reason I have on the average found the Catholic defense of this bill much more muted than I expected

  • master c,

    I think a reflexive Catholic response says the Obama plan must pass. I think a reflective Catholic response can find many failures in social justice with the plan.

  • Actually, as currently drafted, the public option does indeed cover abortions, as this Associated Press analysis noted:


    It’s a simple bookkeeping trick to make an end-around of the Hyde Amendment. I’m in favor of universal health coverage, but any plan that funds abortion isn’t consistent with Catholic social justice principles. Period. The most telling action is the refusal to re-incorporate a straight ban on the use of any funds inconsistent with Hyde.

    Finally, given her role in administering the public option as the bill(s) are currently drafted, I don’t trust that radical pro-abort Kathleen Sebellius any further than I can toss her.

AARP Vice-President Denies Problems With Members

Tuesday, August 11, AD 2009

The American Association of Retired Persons, A.A.R.P., Vice-President Drew Nannis refused to apologize for how his organization treated their members in a recent town hall meeting.  In that town hall meeting, the A.A.R.P. representative refused to listen to the members and abruptly ended the meeting after what seemed to me as frustration on her part.

Drew Nannis referred to those A.A.R.P. members that voiced their disagreement with A.A.R.P.’s support of ObamaCare as “a bunch of people yelling.”

If you take Mr. Nannis’ word, he did say that they recently had another town hall meeting, which he refers to as a listening tour, in Dallas where the same moderator and many of the same members did meet and have a much more cordial exchange of views and ideas.

Philip Klein of The American Spectator noted A.A.R.P.’s cozy relationship with President Obama:

Its CEO, Barry Rand, who was a major Obama donor, has gotten cozy with the administration, and along with the rest of the top brass at the Washington headquarters, has decided to support liberal policies.

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Res et Explicatio for AD 8-7-2009

Friday, August 7, AD 2009

Salvete AC readers!

Buckle Up! Because here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:

1. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York commended President Obama and the Democratic Party efforts inArchbishopDolan reforming Health Care.  He said this during the Knights of Columbus Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.  But his Grace gave this caveat that if reform…

“…leads to the destruction of life, then we say it’s no longer health care at all – it’s unhealthy care and we can’t be part of that.”

To accentuate this sentiment and as a warning to well meaning Catholics, Cardinal Levada explained that those that want to reform health care at any cost:

“[W]e do not build heaven on earth, we simply prepare the site to welcome the new Jerusalem which comes from God.”

2. Catholic convert Joe Eszterhas of Hollywood screenwriting fame, will be writing the screenplay for a movie aboutVirgen of Guadelupethe Virgin of Guadalupe.  Though no director nor a green light has been given on the go ahead of this movie project, the fact that Joe Eszterhas is writing the screenplay is newsworthy in itself because of the author himself is enough to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

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One Response to Res et Explicatio for AD 8-7-2009

So….What About the Other 10 Million?

Monday, August 3, AD 2009

By this stage in the health care debates, most people are aware that roughly 47 million individuals in America do not have health insurance. And many people are further aware that the 47 million statistic is misleading, because roughly 14 million of these individuals are already eligible for (but have not enrolled in) existing government programs, 9 million have incomes over $75,000 and choose not to purchase private insurance, 3-5 million are only temporarily uninsured between jobs, and roughly 10 million do not have the legal right to reside in the country. In the end, this means roughly 10 million U.S. citizens lack meaningful access to health insurance.  It has been noted elsewhere that insuring these individuals would cost a lot less than the $1 trillion proposal currently under consideration in Congress, and further that it would not require a dramatic (and costly) restructuring of the U.S. health care system.

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11 Responses to So….What About the Other 10 Million?

  • If you could come up with some alternative to ObamaCare that would really stay limited to that ten million or so people in question then I would support it. Even within that ten million, however, there are a lot of people who could afford health care without undergoing serious hardship but who don’t do so because they would rather spend the money on something else (i.e. people who are young and healthy). As to that group my thoughts are similar to those of Megan McArdle: “If you could reasonably afford health insurance by dropping down to a lower-priced cell phone plan and cutting back on your bar tab, you are not a national emergency.”

  • If we’re talking something fairly heavily means-tested, I have nothing in particular against putting something out there to cover that “other ten million”.

    If that could be packaged with means-testing medicare and social security, I’d become downright enthusiastic.

    For me, at least, the big objection is when you start trying to use the predicament of a small number of people to justify putting _everyone_ into some big program.

  • I would suggest a subsidy of some sort, probably tagged on to the earned income tax credit, to allow people who simply can’t afford health insurance to purchase it. I, like Blackadder, do agree with Ms. McArdle however. In my bankruptcy practice I do find quite a few debtors, most without much in the way of medical bills, who have run up high tabs on self phones and drive far more expensive vehicles than I drive, and who could easily afford health insurance but simply prefer to spend their funds in other ways.

  • Health care is a basic human right? Health care is something I’m owed simply by virtue of being a human being? Who’s responsibility is it to see that this “basic” right is not denied to me? Where is that person’s obligation in the natural law? What kind of health care am I owed? What is it’s extent? What does the term even mean?

  • Please delete my brief rant if you think it’s not sufficiently related to, or will only distract from, the point of the post.

    FWIW, if universal coverage is really the goal, then I think the best way to achieve that is to make it affordable for everyone. Because of the way our economy works, the only way this is really possible is through competition and deregulation. This is obviously a very general prescription, but it’s all I’m really capable of:)

  • Well, there seems to be general agreement (Zach excepted) that an expansion of government-provided health care is desirable here (even if not the best of all possible solutions). Apologies for the caricature in the post if that’s how it came across. I have a few more thoughts I’ll throw out just to be contrary:

    BA – Since we agree on the larger point here, I suppose it’s just quibbling, but I think Ms. McArdle’s ‘unsympathetic recipient’ illustration is somewhat beside the point, both because a hypothetical (or actual) ‘sympathetic recipient’ could just as easily be produced, and because over and under-inclusiveness are a necessary consequence of every expansion or reduction in government services. The relevant question to my mind is: “what is the best way to serve the common good here?” A substantial over-inclusiveness problem obviously harms the common good because it is a wasteful use of resources, but we don’t have evidence of substantially over-inclusive public health care benefits with regard to these individuals. If anything, the data suggests we have the opposite problem.

    DC – I think we’re in basic agreement. It still amazes me that Social security and Medicaid aren’t means-tested. Everyone seems to agree it should be done, but politicians in both parties seem to be terrified of the political consequences. At some point, hopefully, sanity will prevail, but I’m not holding my breath. As they say in finance, the market (and politicians) can stay irrational longer than you (or the government) can stay solvent.

    Zach – I left your comments undisturbed (although you are certainly free as a contributor to modify or delete them if you would like). I think your underlying concern about the ambiguities of rights language has some validity, particularly when the ‘right’ involved is, more properly speaking, a duty imposed on other citizens that evolves and takes different forms as a society becomes more prosperous. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that the underlying concept of the preferential option for the poor is soundly rooted in the teachings of the Church throughout the centuries and the Gospels.

  • I think it would be best to forego this until the banking system is arighted and the public sector deficit extinguished. For flusher times, i’ll offer the following suggestions; those of you more sophisticated about the technics of tax collection and accounting and who have consulted some academic literature on insurance and medical economics can tell me where I have gone astray:

    1. Equalitarian tax reform:

    a. Abolition of property taxes and general sales taxes.

    b. Generous use of tolls and fees on public services.

    c. Conversion of corporate taxes to a flat rate on net profits, without deductions exemptions allowances, &c.

    d. Abolition of the current portfolio of payroll taxes

    e. Replacement of estate taxes with a tax on gifts and bequests received over and above a lifetime deductable. The deductable should be calculated such that these sort of taxes are limited to about 4% of the population with serious assets.

    f. Establishment of a policy that imposts and excises are to be used as instruments of trade negotiations and to change relative prices and induce ‘substitution effects’, not raise revenue. This can be done by distributing the receivables on a roughly per capita basis as a credit against one’s income tax liability.

    g. Define ‘capital gains’ as any increase over and above the increase in the GNP deflator since the base year.

    h. Rely on completely unadorned income taxes for about nine-tenths of public revenue. Calculate them as follows:

    (r x income in cash and kind from ALL sources) – (sum of credits)
    [a dollar value credit for yourself and each dependant]

    Fix the rate and the dollar value of the various credits such that revenues meet expenditures and that about 20% or 25% of the public pays no taxes but receives a net rebate. The net rebate for each head of household would, however, be constrained by a ceiling calculated as a percentage of his earned income; the ceiling could be relaxed for the elderly and disabled.

    2. Scrap public subsidies and provision for commodities for which household expenditures are regular, predictable, and subject to adjustment for amenity (food, rent, mortgage payments, utilities, etc). Turn interstitial social services (the Office for the Aging, the midnight basketball, &c. over to philanthropies).

    3. Incorporate philanthropic foundations to assume ownership and management of all public hospitals, clinics, and homes. Members of the foundation would include those on the attending lists of the hospitals, donors, members of the local chapters of the American Legion and the VFW, those on tribal rolls, &c.

    4. Gradually discontinue state funding of medical research, bar that in the realm of public health.

    5. Consider removing the adjudication of malpractice claims to administrative tribunals who issue awards from a stereotyped compensation schedule, derived from a state fund collected from an annual assessment on practitioners.

    6. Systematize extant schemes in place for extending services to undesirable loci by creating an ROTC-like program for medical students and residents at the end of which they would put in five years with the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service, accepting deployments to Indian reservations, &c.

    7. Enforced savings: each family would have two bequeathable savings accounts, one devoted to medical care and the other devoted to custodial care. The state would make a flat monthly assessment of one’s income with a portion destined for each account. One would be permitted to draw on one or the other to pay for care, and would be permitted each quarter to withdraw for use at one’s discretion any amount over legislated minimum balances. (These minimum balances I would think be fairly high).

    8. Public insurance:

    a. Each state government defines by legislation a standard insurance contract. The contract would provide for the re-imbursement of providers once the individual has exhausted the contents of his savings account (or exhausted the legislated minimum balance, whichever is lesser). The state government would divide the territory of the state into catchments on which demographic information would be available and with regard to which insurers could do their own research. The state would then assemble qualified insurers every few years to submit sealed bids to be the insurer for the catchment. Low bid wins, and the state government acts as the bag man for the insurance company in question, collecting the community premium by assessing a surcharge of a certain percentage on the state income tax bill of each family in the catchment.

    b. The state government would do the same for the provision of insurance for custodial care.

    c. The federal government would enact a parallel plans much like the above to cover medical benefits and custodial care of certain clientele (e.g. military families and others in itinerant occupations) and those who have moved into a state in the last three years.

    9. Grandfather clauses:

    The federal government would add balances to the medical and custodial savings of the elderly, the disabled, and in-theater war veterans for some decades to hold harmless people whose financial planning was dependent on a certain benefits configuration.

    10. Private insurance could be purchased at the discretion of the head of household to supplement or supplant benefits in the state’s standard contract. He still has to pay his surcharges, though.

    11. State insurance funds derived from assessments on private insurers, to compensate hospitals for emergency care delivered to patients who use insurers with which that particular hospital does not do business.

    12. Philanthropy of the formal and informal sort.

  • On McArdle’s unsympathetic recipient — if one was willing to come up with some reasonable means-testing and stick to it, I think that could mostly alleviate that problem. Assign a subsidy or possibly public coverage ala Medicare to those in that ten million, but only to those who meet a certain threshold of need.

    If people don’t have the stomach to leave those who can cover themselves but refuse to out in the cold, one could allow them use of the same program as those who meet the means test, but then dun them for payment via the IRS.

    Now, I’ll say, I’m not crazy about public subsidies (for people or enterprise) in general, but I think given the society we find ourselves in at this time we’re probably stuck with using that as a way out of certain problem. I admire groups like the Amish who accept neither social security nor medicare nor insurance because they believe in relying on one another — but we clearly don’t have that kind of community cohesion so there’s no point in cutting our legs out from under us based on the ideal.

  • I do not care for subsidies for private goods, either. What is (among other things) characteristic of medical care, custodial care, and legal counsel is that over the course of your life you suffer somewhat unpredictable spikes in your demand for these services. If we are being admonished to place the interests of the poor front-and-center it ought be acknowledged that the information deficits in the purchase of these sorts of services tend to be more acute the more impecunious the recipient and that trouble with time horizons is inversely correllated with income. Legal counsel and common schooling are also a facility for taking your place as a citizen and common schooling and mass transit are a facility for entering the workforce. Ergo, there is a case to be made for redistribution taking the form of common provision of a modest selection of purchasable services. What is mad about our current welfare system is that policy is generally to subsidize the purchase of frequently replenished goods of which consumption varies according to consideration of amenity. We can ‘pay’ for the collective consumption of certain services in part by erasing the unnecessary subsidies as well as certain baleful income transfer programs (TANF, for example), as well as targeting the role of public agencies in heath to public health measures and the provision of care, not to academic pork barrel. Concern about ‘cost control’ is somewhat misplaced. What should concern us is that public expenditure not be put on autopilot, which we can accomplish by adjusting a deductable upward every few years in order to maintain the committment of the state in the realm of medical and custodial care somewhere in the neighborhood of 8% of GDP.

  • John,

    Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that the underlying concept of the preferential option for the poor is soundly rooted in the teachings of the Church throughout the centuries and the Gospels.

    Does the preferential option for the poor entail a right to health care? What does the option entail? I don’t believe this has ever been spelled out in any specifics in terms of policies. I think it means political leaders and leaders of communities should consider the poor in all that they do.

  • Based on Darwin’s estimate of $4-6K for 1yr of insurance, I’d think that we could just buy ordinary insurance for those folks at a cost of $50B/yr. (And I assume that merely adding those people to medicaid would be less expensive than $5K/yr.)

    According to this story,


    the reform plan will cost $90-100B/yr over the next ten years. According to the same story, we could make up that amount either by raising taxes for individuals making over $280,000 and families with income over $350,000 or by taxing employer provided health insurance as income. I think that either of these would be fair ways to pay the tab for the extra 10M uninsured.

    QUESTION: What is the source of the 10M figure? I’ve seen George Will’s column…


    but that gives 9.7M illegals and 9.1 over $75K income, for a total of 18.8M not to include so far.
    Then he says that there are AS MANY AS 14M who are already eligible (which implies that there are likely <14M) and that there are many who are uninsured for 6 months or less (but states no figure). He ends up suggesting that there may be 20M remaining, not 10M. In other words he is sure that at least 25.7M can be excluded. That would mean that the figure for the already eligible plus the 6 monthers may add up to as little as 6.9M Moreover, his starting figure was 45.7M and not 47M, which would mean adding a possible 1.3M

    To me, that implies that there may be as many as 21.3M chronically uninsured, unless there is another source for the 14M which does not use it as an upper limit and another source for the 3-5M figure. (Daylightsmark gives no sources, and the 3-5M seems to come from there.)

    The two sources of funding I mentioned above, when combined, would still accommodate the larger estimate of uninsured.

Canada Has Its Own Health Care Debate

Monday, August 3, AD 2009

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. John Stossel is an anomaly:  he is a libertarian in a profession, journalism, dominated by liberal democrats.  Here is a column he wrote which summarizes the video, which spent quite a bit of time discussing the shortcomings of Canadian health care.

The experience of Canada under national health care is intriguing.  A battle is raging over the net with opponents of ObamaCare pointing out its shortcomings and proponents rallying to the defense of  the Canadian system.  One often overlooked feature is the role of private medical clinics in Canada.   Recently such clinics have been made legal based upon a Canadian Supreme Court decision and are becoming increasingly popular.  A good article on the subject is here Here is another article on the clinics.

I found this quote from the last article linked to curious.

“It’s obviously extra billing and queue jumping,” says David Eggen, executive director of Friends of Medicare. “If this goes on unregulated, it’ll spread like wildfire and we can see it, even in a recession, starting to expand here in Alberta.”

Now why would these clinics spread like wildfire if the Canadians are as enamored of their national health care system as the proponents of ObamaCare say they are?  Here is a story from 2006 on the subject which appeared in that notorious right-wing rag The New York Times.   As we debate changing our health care system to something approaching that of the Canadian system, we should also understand that there is a debate in Canada about broadening the availability of private pay health care.

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5 Responses to Canada Has Its Own Health Care Debate

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  • But..but..you’re just pointing out the inefficiencies and poor care because you’re already against government control of health care. Just like when you railed against GovMed because it will cover abortion and most likely euthanasia. These are small things, the important thing is that we have the honorable and intelligent people in congress give everyone free health care. Where’s the hope, people?!?

  • I also found this interesting. I wonder why this is happening?

    “While proponents of private clinics say they will shorten waiting lists and quicken service at public institutions, critics warn that they will drain the public system of doctors and nurses. Canada has a national doctor shortage already, with 1.4 million people in the province of Ontario alone without the services of a family doctor.

    “If anesthetists go to work in a private clinic,” Manitoba’s health minister, Tim Sale, argued recently, “the work that they were doing in the public sector is spread among fewer and fewer people.”

    But most Canadians agree that current wait times are not acceptable.

    The median wait time between a referral by a family doctor and an appointment with a specialist has increased to 8.3 weeks last year from 3.7 weeks in 1993, according to a recent study by The Fraser Institute, a conservative research group. Meanwhile the median wait between an appointment with a specialist and treatment has increased to 9.4 weeks from 5.6 weeks over the same period.

    Average wait times between referral by a family doctor and treatment range from 5.5 weeks for oncology to 40 weeks for orthopedic surgery, according to the study.”

  • Rick,
    You invoke the virtue of Hope in the same paragraph you call Abortion and Euthanasia “small things”. In our creators eyes abortion is the modern day Holocaust. Hope is the virtue that makes the Christian Crave for the Kingdom of God and to place his trust in the promises of Jesus to get us there. Your insensitivity, to the point of trivialization, of the dignity of life clearly reflects your lack of Hope. Whenever a virtue whether Hope, Charity, Justice, etc are invoked without regard for it’s origin in divinity you have Nothing.

  • Sorry, Ray. I was being sarcastic and mocking a type of argument that is offered by some in these parts. The really sad thing about it is that I didn’t need to take much creative license to do it. Nevertheless, I should have written something at the end to indicate that I was being snarky.

How to Get There from Here

Tuesday, July 28, AD 2009

There’s been much discussion of late about what other country’s health care apparatus the US should consider emulating, and in such discussions France is often mentioned. Now, all cheerful ribbing against the French aside, their health care system is not nearly as “socialized” or nearly as afflicted by treatment denials and waiting lists as those of the UK or Canada. It is also rather more like the system that the US already has, in that it is a hybrid public/private system, though in their case there is a guaranteed base level of coverage everyone has through the government (funded via a hefty payroll tax — not unlike Medicare) which most people supplement with private coverage. Most doctors are in private practice, and 25% do not even accept the public plan, just as some practices in the US do not accept Medicare. However, everyone does have that minimum level of coverage, and the French spend a lower percentage of their GDP on health care than the US (11% versus 16%) which when you take into account that France’s GDP per capita is a good deal smaller than that of the US (which is the polite, economist way of saying it’s a poorer country) works out to the US spending about twice as many dollars per person on health care, while still not having universal coverage.

So what are we waiting for? Why don’t we go enact the French system here right now? Why doesn’t Obama put on a jaunty beret, dangle a cigarette coolly from the corner of his mouth, hoist a glass of wine, and just say, “Oui, nous pouvons.”

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9 Responses to How to Get There from Here

  • Well done Darwin,

    Many factors in health care. One is physician salaries as pointed out in other posts. Many factors in physican salaries as you point out including the high cost of medical school and indirect malpractice costs. If those aren’t addressed while cutting physician salaries, problems will most certainly follow.

  • Dear God… someone finally stopped talking about British and Canadian health care and realized that are quite a number of schemes to reach universal coverage and single-payer systems aside (I don’t feel like having that go-round), France is a pretty good model.

    Moreover, I think if we attacked education (costs) and provided greater assistance to medical students (not just with public funds), we could slightly lessen doctor salaries — as health care costs go down and depending on their specialty.

  • And by ‘lessen’ I don’t mean put caps on it via legislation.

  • Related to this but in a more general sense: I think that dealing with a situation like this (in which it becomes necessary to drive a group of people’s income down for the common good) the impersonal nature of markets is generally more socially acceptable than government action. I don’t think anyone would tolerate reducing doctor pay 30-40% by fiat, even when they generally make a lot of money. But creating the conditions for it to gradually reduce due to market pressure doesn’t have the same antagonistic edge.

    Just had to get the market plug in. 🙂

  • 30 – 40% again seems not to take into account malpractice costs let alone medical school. Maybe your figures take into account malpractice costs. But if not, using your figures, a specialist in the US averages 230k vs 149k in France. Subtract the average 55k for malpractice and you get a difference of 175 vs 149. Excluding medical school costs you’re now talking about a 14% difference, not 30 – 40.

    What’s the average malpractic attorney’s pay?

  • Actually just Googled it. In 2006 it was 100k.

  • I guess, I’m not sure how stuff like malpractice insurance is usually accounted for. Do doctors always have to pay it out of pocket (thus out of their personal pay) or is it often payed by their practice as a business expense?

    Either way, significantly reducing the malpractice lottery would have a salient effect on health care prices — not just in allowing for health care providers to charge less, but also reducing the number of extra procedures which are done for tail covering purposes rather than medical effect.

  • Depends on the practice. Those that are stand alone pay out of their own pocket. Those in large practices or hospital based practices get it paid for. But that will be considered part of compensation and usually salaries are lower to reflect that. Either way, there is a cost to income from malpractice premiums.

  • The cost of malpractice insurance is inflated by insurance companies, just as insurance companies inflate the cost of medical insurance. But the big issue is that usa doctors and hospitals do not like to be held accountable for their bad medical practices and poor outcomes. Their private for profit medicine ranks 37th in outcomes compared to other countries, which rank muych better using national health programs. Malpractice costs would clearly go down if usa outcome rankings improved. The fact that france ranks number one, having the best outcomes, while paying their doctors much less, is all just a further indictment of our private medical system in the usa.

Government Funded Health Care Open Thread

Friday, July 24, AD 2009

In light of Zach’s stellar posting which generated over 240 comments ranging from anarchism to Oscar Romero and which inspired a posting by Michael Denton.  These comments, although informative to a certain extent, may have detracted from the original intent of the posting.  Henceforth in regards to said activities being done on Zach’s posting concerning Representative Chris Smith, I am starting a new tradition here at American Catholic, the open thread.

So feel free to comment to your hearts delight that isn’t related to any other postings on this website.

The comments policy is still in place so don’t forget to treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.


Marxist Health Care

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12 Responses to Government Funded Health Care Open Thread

  • I do not oppose a health care bill that extends coverage beyond the narrow concerns protected under Medicaid, Medicare, and SSI. I object to bloated bills that have not been read. I object to rushing to publish a bill, any bill, for purely political reasons. I object to “stealth” measures to hide within larger bills truly controversial legislation like FOCA. I object to the blackmail that this process creates, diminishing debate and deliberation to little more than key points, without the detail necessary to analyze the effects. Most of all, I object to a President, ANY President, telling the legislature what kind of legislation to pass, what it should do and say, and when it shall be completed. This is bullying and strikes as the core of the Separation of Powers.

    In the instant debate, I am THRILLED to see this rush to cobble together a bill delayed. Now, maybe, we can come up with something that specifically addresses the issues as hand without delving into issues that should be addressed as separate bills.

  • G-Veg,

    I agree to most of your points except the need for government run health care. Which both violates subsidiarity and distributism.

  • I forget who pointed out. Appropos of your cartoon, it appears the right has an unhealthy obsession with anal penetration, specifically anal rape.

  • M.Z.,

    What gnostic class can I take to follow your line of thinking?

  • Tito,

    I love you, man, but you are better than a post with that cartoon as its header.

  • Frankly, the cartoon was a lot more innocuous than M.Z.’s rather inflammatory response to it.

  • Why does it violate subsidiarity?

  • The principle of subsidiarity is that matters should be handled at the most local level as possible and if it cannot adequately at that level be taken care of, it can move up to the next point. The problem is, I think most Democrats will argue, is that the states do not have the resources to address the matter sufficiently because it is fixing a regional problem within a intricately more complicated problem. So, I don’t think one can simply say it violates subsidiarity as if that is some obvious objective fact that cannot, rightly or wrongly, be disputed.

    All Democratic proposals aside. I have read criticism after criticism, but I have read very little by way of solutions to the problem. I have seen what I think are credible starting-points amending parts of the system, but nothing comprehensively to address the whole of health care in America, while restraining the government. If this were really a serious problem, I’d almost expect a solution. The closest thing I’ve seen is the Patients Choice Act which has earned about every stripe of Republican criticism and has incorporated by and large waves of Democratic ideas.

    I think the *structure* of the health care markets is deeply flawed and I don’t see them re-structuring unless it is via the legislative process. I’m sure we won’t agree on details. But it seems opposition to Democratic health care proposals almost always opposition (indirectly) to reform, which ends up not happening — to the total chagrin of the people who need it the most.

  • Eric,

    Were the Federal Government to provide a straightforward and unrestricted subsidy to state, county, and municipal government determined according to a formula taking into account population and per capita income, the principal structural impediment to state authorities acting as medical insurers would be removed. Why not leave general income redistribution, macroeconomic stabilization (e.g. unemployment compensation), and public works implicated in moving people and goods across state lines to the center and other services to the periphery?

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  • Eric,
    I have read very little by way of solutions to the problem.

    have you checked out the Republican proposals? John McCain’s policy is a great starting point. I believe it’s the brainchild of an actual physician.

    Here’s the key points without getting into the nitty gritty:

    1. Tort Reform – liability insurance and payouts for exorbitant claims account for 20% of healthcare costs.

    2. Equal Access – eliminate preferential tax treatment of employer sponsored plans vs. private plans. Accomplished by eliminating the employer’s deduction, and giving a tax credit to all Americans with which to purchase health care as they see fit.

    3. Open Market – allow individuals and employers to purchase any plan authorized by any state.

    4. Encourage Health savings and catastrophic INSURANCE coverage instead of pre-paid health care.

    These actions will drive down the cost of health care while maintaining the motivators for continued advancement and excellence.

    Now, you can never again say haven’t heard any alternatives.

Non-Binary Thinking on Healthcare Please

Thursday, July 23, AD 2009

There’s a conversational dynamic which I’m already getting tired of, though I’m sure that we’ll see a lot more of it in the coming weeks and months, and it goes basically like this:

A: “I see the following problems with Obama’s health care proposal…”
B: “Don’t you understand the Church teaches health care is a right? Do you want there to be 47 million uninsured? How can you stand in the way of the one chance to do this? Do you think the current system is just fine?”

Clearly, just because the Democrats in Congress are patching together a 1000+ page bill which has specific characteristic and goes under the title of “healthcare reform” do not mean that this is the only way in which one might seek to reform healthcare. And although this may be the primary alternative to the status quo available at this moment in time, even someone who considers the status quo to be far from perfect might well consider the proposal currently coming together to be worse than the status quo.

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30 Responses to Non-Binary Thinking on Healthcare Please


    Somebody who understands the “Either/Or” fallacy!

    Of course, it just happened to be DarwinCatholic.

    This guy truly has the makings of a barrister!

    DC should consider a career in law with such a keen eye for fallacies as flagrant as the one currently featured at Washington!

  • Darwin’s too smart to waste his life on the Law!

  • Donald et al.,

    This is off tangent, but while I was checking into WordPress your most recent comment is the American Catholic’s 14,000 comment!


    I present you with the White Elephant Award.

  • I will use it wisely Tito!

  • I’ve heard that Obama voted against the 2 Republican health-care reform proposals which were presented during his tenure. One was to allow individuals who aren’t provided health insurance by employers to deduct the cost on their taxes (an evil idea, good thing it was shot down!!!), and the other was a bill to allow small businesses to pool together to buy health insurance for their workers (nasty business, must oppress them).

    Bottom line is there are much better ideas out there that will make it possible for more people to secure coverage at a lower cost and less disruption.

    Note also that we are talking about INSURANCE. Americans are not typically denied health care even if they are not insured. The converse is not always true of countries with government health insurance, I assure you.

  • I think half those comments came in the “Kudos to Rep Smith” thread.

  • e.

    Just to finish hijacking my own thread…

    Whenever I hear the word “barrister” I recall the Dorothy Parker quip when she heard that a prominent divorcee had broken her leg, “How terrible. She must have done it sliding down a barrister.”

    Still, I like to think that we also serve who gather data and tell the more fluffy marketers that their schemes won’t work.

  • Donald,

    Mighty glad to know though that, at the very least, there remains those Catholics in that now abominable profession (which is why I can’t really fault Erasmus for himself having such a low opinion thereof), such as your own distinguished person, who ever strive still to practice in accordance to the Faith, after the image of the illustrious Sir Thomas More himself!

    (BTW, what the heck is a “white elephant award”???)

  • DarwinCatholic,

    Apologies for both the seeming hijack and, admittedly, the unnecessary emote.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled program…

  • Michael Denton,

    That’s not far from the truth.

    But I need some evidence before I can agree with you on that.

  • e.,


    Hopefully that’ll satisfy your thirst for meaningless knowledge.

    Michael Denton,

    Is that an example of evidence?

  • e.,

    Just curious, are you a guy or a girl?

  • Tito:

    Look, I trust the word of my Salvadorean friends. If I could transport them with a translator into your living room, I would.


  • Tito:

    No. My Salvadorean friends tell me that the white elephants were Marxists and hid guns in their trunks, so I don’t think that the process of making them into an award will go anywhere


  • Michael Denton,

    Naus hasn’t told me anything resembling that Karlsonian tome.

  • “(BTW, what the heck is a “white elephant award”???)”

    I’m not quite sure, but right now my albino squirrel assassins are playing with it!

  • I take it walnut rations had been restored.

  • The squirrels are “playing?” How dare they, the little slackers, when the enemies of the Church abound! Why, right next door to me live two vile heretic cats and there’s a bulldog down the block I suspect has been exposed to Jack Chick tracts. He used to like me but today he growled when he saw me. Hence my desperate need for albino squirrel assasins. Traducers of the faith are everywhere up here – and down in Illinois, the squirrels play! Grrrr,…,

  • Er, since they are Illinois squirrels, maybe offering a little something extra on the side, like a couple of bags of cashews, may induce them to come north and take care of business. Nobody has to know, I’ll just leave the cashews in a P.O. box in Chicago. Call it a gift, boys.:-)

  • I am sure Donna that they would walk through Gehenna itself for cashews!

  • Having played a major role in hijacking this thread, I now declare the hijack over! All future comments should be directed towards Darwin’s post please.

  • Re the healthcare being a “right” talk, I wonder if some of these folks have ever given this any thought beyond the most superficial and simplistic kneejerk reactions. As one blogger put it:

    The constant improvement in health care gives another good example of why the “right” to health care makes little sense. Did you have a right to chemotherapy in 1600 AD? You could have protested to Parliament all you wanted, but chemo just didn’t exist. Then, did you have a right to it the moment some genius invented it? You did not pay for the research. You did not make the breakthrough. Where do you get the right? How did it come into existence for you the moment somebody else created these things? I’m pretty sure you cannot have rights to material goods that don’t exist, and I am pretty certain that the moment some genius (or business, or even government) brings them into the world your “rights” do not improve. But strangely, many disagree.

    Conundrums are easy to create. If a cure for all disease is discovered but it costs the GDP of Europe for each treatment, do we all have a right to it? Of course not. We can say we do, but it does not matter. We cannot have it.

  • Jabez,

    that’s an interesting point. To my mind, rights are not “entitlements” so much as that they are things that ought not be unjustly denied. You don’t have a right to do nothing and then have food put in your mouth. You should be able to work and secure food for yourself, and your family, your rights are denied if someone prevents you from doing that. The same would go to health care. Of course one has to consider that while access to food may be a right, access to steak is not, the same must be the case for health care.

    If we consider rights to be “entitlements”, then the question is who is violating your rights by not providing for you, and then should the government punish these transgressors and coerce them into providing for those needs? Or should just be able to sue in civil courts? Will damages be involved? Wow, another great opportunity for the lawyers to make a 30% commission.

  • I apologize for my levity: I find it hard to resist the squirrel jokes.

    On to the topic of this thread, the bottom line is that in order to provide coverage for all, many will have to be denied testing and treatments they would get under private plans. (Not our Congresscritters, I know, but after all they are superior beings exempt from the rules that guide mere mortals.)

    Now, I work in a hospital and I know full well that often people do demand unnecessary tests. They come into the ER with a scratch and write angry letters to the admin rep later on wanting to know why Dr. Z did not send them to get a MRI. And sometimes Dr. Z does, just to cover his butt because he fears a malpractice suit. (And, while everyone loves to hate the insurance companies, I don’t see much coverage of what part huge malpractice settlements have played in raising medical costs. 10 years ago, the OB’s at my hospital – a Catholic institution with an excellent Labor and Delivery unit – took pride in the fact that our C-section rate was below the national average. Not any more, it isn’t, thanks to John Edwards and other ambulance chasers. Now OB’s are so afraid that something will go awry that they perform C-sections as soon as the mother starts having any difficulties.)

    The problem with offering a nationalized system is that it will seize the bull by the horns and turn it very sharply in the opposite direction. Care will be rationed.There will be waiting lists. There will be no way to provide the level of care Americans are accustomed to now. And, as the boomers age, the crunch will only get worse.

    The thing I fear most is that when you combine nationalized (and rationed) health care with a culture that is already on shaky grounds re: life issues, you are going to end up with the same situation you have in the Netherlands. Old people actually fear going into the hospitals there because they get pressured (subtly and not so subtly) to opt for a “final exit.” After all, you’re elderly, you’ve lived your life, you’re using up precious resources that younger, healthier people should be getting – time for you to go gramps, and if you say “no” you’re being “selfish.” (Just as people who choose to have more than 2.1 children are deemed “selfish” by the pro-death enthusaists among us.)

    I have no good answers to this. I talk to people who are smarter and better informed than I am about this issue all the time and they have no good answers either. But I feel pretty sure that turning the whole shebang over to the government is not the way to go.

  • No apologies needed Donna. This is one blog where good natured levity is always welcome!

  • Tito:

    Are you a guy, a girl or simply ambiguous?

    Also, thanks for the info; however, it’s not so much to satisfy my supposed thirst for meaningless knowledge, but that it seems you yourself seem rather to not only glory in it but, indeed, even enjoy flaunting it, my friend.

    Better to reserve your needless wont to reward your fellow man with your meaningless white elephant trophies and dedicate such ardor to more weighty issues, such as the one DarwinCatholic addresses in his above post.

  • This coming from the man who feels harangued at even the slightest suggestion of calumny made by certain interlocutors (from both amicable & hostile sections in the audience) in previous threads?

    You need a vacation.

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Will Health Care Reform Create (More) Health Care Shortages?

Wednesday, June 24, AD 2009

MSNBC recently did an interesting piece on the shortage of primary care practitioners, which has become particularly acute in rural and low-income areas. As a result, many older doctors feel that they cannot retire because there is no one to take their place:

There are not enough general care doctors to meet current needs, let alone the demands of some 46 million uninsured, who threaten to swamp the system.

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4 Responses to Will Health Care Reform Create (More) Health Care Shortages?

  • Will it reduce specialists. Yes. Will it reduce general practicioners. I suspect so also. It costs about 40 K a year for a medical school degree. Add to that cost of living and a med student comes out with a huge bill at the end of four years. Now add to that three to five years of residency at very low pay. If someone wants to specialize that may take another 2 – 4 years. That’s in a residency and fellowship that they may be working 80 – 100 hours per week. Many doctors are in the mid 30’s before they start to make that big paycheck. They now have to pay that back in the form of loans and interest on those loans. Cut their pay, it won’t make sense to do that work.

  • Does government run healthcare work?
    Do people in countries like Canada and Britian dislike their government run healthcare systems. Do they wish they were more like the US?

    In 2008 Harris conducted a poll of 10 industrialized countries to see what their people thought of their healthcare system

    Here are the results


  • Just one other thought for tonight. The average orthopedist works 34 days to cover his malpractice insurance costs. A OB/GYN may work up to 70 days. Part of the high cost of practice.

  • To norris hal:
    Note that the Harris survey (for the USA) was an online poll of 1,000 persons; meaning it’s a very unscientific poll. This recent CNN poll (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/19/health.care.poll/index.html) claims that 80% of Americans are satisfied with the quality of the healthcare they receive. So putting the two polls together we conclude that Americans are satisfied but want a more, bigger and better. That would seem a cultural trait more than a real argument for changing the system.

    Polls should always be taken with a lot of caution -remember the election eve poll fiascos- because their results can be easily manipulated to reflect the biases of the pollsters. There are more scientific ways to measure the quality of healthcare with indicators such as patient wait time for surgery or patient cancer survival rates by most scientific measures the US comes on top (see http://www.freemarketcure.com/whynotgovhc.php).

    The big problem with our system is cost not quality. The tried and true way to lower cost is by increasing competition (even President Obama has made this argument). In our current system the Big Insurance cartel negotiates with the Big Medicine/Pharma cartel and the Big Government cartel (Medicaid/Medicare). To lower cost all that is required is to return the power of choice to the consumer. Have you noticed how Cosmetic Surgery cost have gone down (a recent radio ad in this market announces free lipo with the purchase of breast enhancement). The reason is that Cosmetic surgery is outside the cartel since it’s “not covered”. Government makes everything more expensive (ever heard of NASA); competition reduces prices.