August 14, 2006

What happened to the "New Democrats"?

Noam Scheiber asks why there are so many more affluent people -- like Ned Lamont -- embracing "economic populism":
[T]he number ... has roughly doubled over the last six years... Can this bizarrely self-defeating brand of politics continue? Over the long-term, are liberal Democrats likely to keep denouncing corporate plutocrats as stridently as they denounce foreign policy hawks and religious scolds?
In the old days, poorer people voted Democratic and richer folks went for the Republicans. But, per Scheiber, the 60s shook up that stability, and plenty of poorer people shifted to the Republicans and a lot of upper income types became Democrats. But are they "Cesar Chavez-style liberals" or "New Democrats"?
A 1999 Pew study found that New Democrats accounted for about 10 percent of the voting public--and just under one-quarter of the Democratic coalition--making them equivalent in number to liberals. According to Pew, the New Democrats were sympathetic to business, somewhat skeptical of government assistance to the poor, and relatively supportive of trade liberalization, capital gains tax cuts, and Social Security privatization. On the other hand, they tended to have a favorable view of government in general and were open to some regulation. They were also pro-environment and tolerant of gays.

But an interesting thing happened between 1999 and 2005, when Pew conducted another detailed analysis of the electorate: The New Democrats had entirely disappeared as a group while the liberals had doubled in size.
Scheiber has a Bush-did-it theory that seems all garbled to me. He doesn't mention 9/11, which is clearly "an interesting thing" that "happened between 1999 and 2005." I think Pew would have counted me as a New Democrat in 1999, and I've certainly felt that the Democratic party has redefined itself in a way that has actively ousted me. We just saw them ousting Joe Lieberman. History has forefronted national security questions, and the Democrats are closing ranks and eliminating the "liberal hawk" category. It's no suprise that if you do that what remains is a high concentration of "economic populists." Call it what it is. It's the Left.

145 comments:

David said...

The kindest thing one may say about Liberal Democrats is that they are inconvenienced by history. Ousting Joe Lieberman is a brazen admission that the liberal Dems are embracing the appease and negotiate elements of Europe. The fact that this strategy has failed since the fall of the Bastille in France (Let them eat cake!" seems to bother the left bank group not in the least.

I think the "New Democrats" were affected by the excesses in moral turpitude of the Clinton Administration in a negative way. Most of them realize that most of the surplus to the National Budget during those years came from stripping the military of it's research and devlopment monies at the expense of the military/industrial complex and national security.

Jimmy Carter failed in his Presidency to do anything but prove appease/negotiate does not work when dealing with psychos/terrorists.

We may see a resurgence of the old 'new democrats' signalled by the reelection pf Joe Lieberman who will run as an independent. If the New Democrats don't take a robust stand on foreign policy in the next two years, including support for their hated military, they will fail as a party.

The days of rich blue-bloods patting the rest of us on the head as they pretend to know what is best for the 'fly-over' people is a tired cliche. They are out of touch with the heart of America.

Dave said...

I find the wealthy liberal a fascinating creature because, for the most part, it is via decidedly un-liberal things, such as capitalism and merit, that people have become wealthy.

Take, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, bete noires of cogent people everywhere. It is only by dint of luck and talent* that they have created for themselves big Hollywood careers which showered them with cash. And yet they don't seem to understand a link between capitalism and the size of their bank accounts. Only in a capitalist society can man act as his own agent, incorporate himself, and become a millionaire.

Most entrepreneurs (and actors are entrepreneurs by incorporated definition) are rather hostile to the idea that weatlh and/or capitalism are evil. And yet...

*You may not think either of them talented. (I'm agnostic on the issue.) But it is clear that someone, somewhere, thinks they are talented enough to have showered millions upon them, and that is what matters.

Editor Theorist said...

It depends how much the left want to get elected.

Making themselves an anti-war single-issue party might make activists feel good, but it won't get the Democratic party re-elected.

Politicans ought to want power! parties wanting to get elected is the basis of democracy. That's what makes them try to offer something that the public want to vote for.

Democracy knows better than the experts. The public don't vote against their own interests, or for them - they vote for the party/ person they prefer from the options on offer.

Activists would rather be pure than get elected - that's probably why they never miss an opportunity to criticize real-world democratic processes.

LetMeSpellItOutForYou said...

Scheiber's analysis seems overly centered around the Democratic Party. How many New Democrats headed Left, and how many became Republicans or non-voters?

Henry said...

Bill Clinton was the best free-trade president we've ever had. Paul Krugman spent the 1990s writing lucid missives to liberals (at Slate) patiently explaining to them why free trade was a good thing.

It's hard to believe how quickly that changed, but I think one thing that killed the "New Democrats" was loss of the executive outlook. In the most banal terms, legislatures legislate. Executives have to put laws into action. Presidents get tagged with the consequences of bad ideas.

How did the Democrats lose this outlook so quickly? I suspect because they never really aquired it. Clinton was an outsider and a fluke -- a Southern Democrat who came out of nowhere to win the 1992 election. Clinton was the bull moose to the Democrats' inner Taft and now it is as if he never existed.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that 9/11, the War on Terror, and, in particular, our invasion of Iraq, is what is really going on here. If you look at Lieberman's voting record, when you get outside of national defense, he is very liberal. Yet, he fails at the one litmus test issue in the Democratic Party today - national defense. He is for a strong one, and the rulers of the Democratic Party are not. As Ann said - he is a liberal hawk, as is apparently she.

But what has to be remembered is that probably as many who have moved towards the Republicans here because of national security concerns, just as many have moved the other way. Not the religious conservatives, but rather, the country club / Rockefeller Republicans. These are to some extent the mainstream Protestants who are relatively liberal on social issues (as evidenced by the liberal stands taken by the traditional mainstream Protestant Churches - for example, the more fundamental churches aren't fighting about whether to ordain gays, but the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, et al. are).

So, really, no surprise that the voting in Fairfield County, Conn., has shifted so dramatically - many of these were Country Club Republicans who now oppose the War in Iraq and find themselves happier with the Ted Kennedys now than the George Bushes.

My theory on why all these people have abandoned the Republican Party is that they are more cosmopolitan, more worldly, than the average American. As a result, I suspect that they put more store in internationalism, and less in American exceptionalism. And, as a result, come to the conclusion that the answer to terror is diplomacy, and not armed might.

Pogo said...

"Economic populists" are not infrequently poorly schooled on economic matters as a whole.

Their focus is entirely on the 'distribution' of wealth, and hence their policies favor efforts that redistribute money from rich to poor. And it's not at all 'against their interests' to support such policies. Such a notion exposes a narrow understanding of what one's interests are. Altruism, power, guilt, ignorance, fairness, paternalism, religion ...all are interests as vital to people as mere monetary gain, maybe moreso.

Regardless, such populists seem unaware of one major issue: distribution is one thing, but where does the wealth come from that they seek to redistribute? On the whole they seem remarkably agnostic or even militantly ignorant on the subject.

Freder Frederson said...

The fact that this strategy has failed since the fall of the Bastille in France (Let them eat cake!" seems to bother the left bank group not in the least.

Once again, a shocking ignorance of history and context takes an expression of disdain and lack of concern and refusal to recognize the power of the masses and turns it into a statement of appeasement.

When Marie Antoinette utterred her apocryphal phrase, she was not encouraging giving the poor goodies to placate them. Rather, she was so unconcerned about the plight of the poor and so sure of her place in society that she was willing to dismiss their hunger, lack of bread, and threat of revolution out of hand. The cake she was referring to is the hard crusty residues in the bread ovens that is normally thrown away (think of little pieces of bread "caking" on the side of the pan and the oven).

But lets get back to the topic at hand. I find it even more bizarre that the Republicans have convinced (mostly white) poor and middle class people to vote against their economic self interest and throw in their lot with Republicans. And all for what? Vague promises of a moral reawakening of the country and a return to family values that never existed. Freedom from unions that once provided jobs with decent wages and benefits in this country? Elimination of programs like Social Security and Medicare that benefit them the most? Promises of more regressive tax systems where earned income is taxed more heavily than unearned income and inherited wealth is not taxed at all (which will never effect them at all)? Wars for which their children will have to fight and die? Elimination of the right to a safe and legal abortion (which will always be available to those with the money and access to private, discrete doctors or the ability to get to Canada for the weekend)? Thinly disguised programs to destroy the public schools dressed up as policies to make every child succeed?

That is what really baffles me.

I can understand why many rich people are Democrats. Maybe they understand that we live in a society where there still isn't equality of opportunity. They still believe that government can serve a purpose to help those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouths to succeed and flourish. That even the richest and most powerful in this society didn't get that way all by themselves.

Freder Frederson said...

That of course should be "without" a silver spoon in their mouth.

Republicans obviously believe government should help those born with a silver spoon in their mouth ensure their children are born with a gold one in their mouths.

Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that the poplulism of these new converts is suspect. Not the movie stars, but the Fairfield County, Conn. "liberals" outlined in the article - because, deep down, they are still the Rockefeller Republicans they always were. And that is why I think that the title of the article has merit - their populism is only skin deep because, at heart, they are elitists.

I think that the Democratic Party has had this problem for quite awhile - it is run to a very great extent by very rich blue-bloods who (IMHO) pretend populism in order to get elected by the working class that has traditionally formed the bulk of the Democratic Party. Yet, they retain their elitist lifestyles - their private schools (while opposing school choice), country clubs, mansions, etc., while voting to tax the estates of the upper middle class upon death (while their own, much larger, fortunes are protected from this through elaborate, expensive, estate planning).

Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that the poplulism of these new converts is suspect. Not the movie stars, but the Fairfield County, Conn. "liberals" outlined in the article - because, deep down, they are still the Rockefeller Republicans they always were. And that is why I think that the title of the article has merit - their populism is only skin deep because, at heart, they are elitists.

I think that the Democratic Party has had this problem for quite awhile - it is run to a very great extent by very rich blue-bloods who (IMHO) pretend populism in order to get elected by the working class that has traditionally formed the bulk of the Democratic Party. Yet, they retain their elitist lifestyles - their private schools (while opposing school choice), country clubs, mansions, etc., while voting to tax the estates of the upper middle class upon death (while their own, much larger, fortunes are protected from this through elaborate, expensive, estate planning).

Bruce Hayden said...

Freder Frederson

I disagree with your suggestion that the average Republican / Conservative is in favor of big government to the extent that it helps him. Rather, most of us are in favor of much less government, for the very simple reason that government is a highly inefficient means of resource allocation. But when faced with the reality of big government, many are willing to get their own. Besides, there is a lot of "my program is good and essential, and yours is a waste" sort of thinking going on. Note farmers, many of whom oppose big government fervently - except for farm subsidies.

And, this, of course, is one of the problems of big government, that the marginal cost to A of B's program is minimal, since it is spread out across the country, and visa versa. So, A doesn't oppose B's program, if B doesn't oppose A's. But then we get C, D.. X, Y, and Z, each with their own program, all getting together to get their own. The result is a death of a thousand cuts, where each program alone doesn't affect the bottom line (or our individual taxes) much, but the cumulation of all these programs does.

Pogo said...

Freder says, "Republicans have convinced (mostly white) poor and middle class people to vote against their economic self interest..."

1. You make an egregious mistake in supposing that your sense of what the economic interests of 'poor and middle class ' should be actually correlate with their actual interests or how that might translate into policy. Marx attributed this to the non-existent idea of 'false consciousness' when in fact it suggests you, like Marx, have no idea what their interests are or how they might be met. You will remain 'baffled' as long as your view is thus limited.

2. Of course, no one gets wealthy "all by themselves". But then again, no one has really made that claim, either.

Steve Donohue said...

Isn't part of this the classic NY Times style disconnect? The Editorial page is filled with pity for the common man- "Something must be done to make our country more egalitarian!" Meanwhile, the Lifestyle page reads like a SEx and the City primer- What rising property values means for buying your dream home in the Hamptons" or "Why are wealthy women attracted to contractors?"

charlotte said...

Freder, Freder, Freder,

Republicans want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare?

Also, you should realize that, according to Joe, Marie Antoinette's apocryphal phrase was a deceptive reference to yellow cake from Niger. Try to keep up, OK?

Dave said...

Bruce--a couple of points:

1) Lots of movie stars live in Fairfield and Litchfield counties in Connecticut. (Not that this is a major point, just something to be aware of.

2) Regarding your point about wealthy Northeasterners being more "cosmopolitan" than Americans as a whole. Well, I know a lot of such northeasterners, and not a whole lot of them seem very "cosmopolitan" or "internationalist" in their outlook, unless by either term you mean "aware of the latest fashions in Paris and Milan."

Which is to say that the vast majority of wealthy Connecticut residents have little clue as to the sectarian differences between Shia and Sunni Muslims, economic development issues in Southeast Asia, or property rights in South Africa. (Not to say that I have any expertise in any of these areas.) But the assumption that wealth bestows on one international intrigue and renown seems far-fetched. Sure the wealthy may vacation in Paris and London but the Paris and London they see has little to do with terrorism and everything to do with Chanel and Harrod's.

RogerA said...

Freder sayeth: "Once again, a shocking ignorance of history and context takes an expression of disdain and lack of concern and refusal to recognize the power of the masses..." Gee--you mean a something like this? "I find it even more bizarre that the Republicans have convinced (mostly white) poor and middle class people to vote against their economic self interest and throw in their lot with Republicans."

Seems to me, Freder, your understanding of the mostly white poor and middle class in America in 2006 is even more clueless as that of Marie Antoinette's concerning the poor and middle classes in France in 1789.

tcd said...

"I think that the Democratic Party has had this problem for quite awhile - it is run to a very great extent by very rich blue-bloods who (IMHO) pretend populism in order to get elected by the working class that has traditionally formed the bulk of the Democratic Party. Yet, they retain their elitist lifestyles - their private schools (while opposing school choice), country clubs, mansions, etc., while voting to tax the estates of the upper middle class upon death (while their own, much larger, fortunes are protected from this through elaborate, expensive, estate planning)."

I think we have a winner. Bruce Hayden, you've hit the nail on the head!

freder, you haven't a clue.

Freder Frederson said...

You make an egregious mistake in supposing that your sense of what the economic interests of 'poor and middle class ' should be actually correlate with their actual interests or how that might translate into policy.

Well, as a proud member of the middle class who grew up barely middle class, I think I can safely say that most people want a job with decent wages, job security, health insurance, a chance to retire in some comfort, the ability to afford their own home, a decent education and affordable higher education for their children.

All these things are demonstrably weakened by the policies of the Republican party and have become less obtainable since the beginning of the "Reagan Revolution"--although the Republican party does a damn fine job of convincing people the exact opposite.

Just one concrete example is the tax on capital gains. Why on earth would any rational person who earns the vast majority of their income from salary or wages support a capital gains tax rate lower than that on earned income? It delivers the message that money earned from labor is somehow not as good as money earned from investment. Even the argument that captial gains profits help the economy grow is a false argument. They do no such thing. Only if the gains are spent wisely do they actually do any good and $100,000 of unearned income can be invested just as wisely or foolishly as $100,000 of earned income.

Slocum said...

I think Pew would have counted me as a New Democrat in 1999, and I've certainly felt that the Democratic party has redefined itself in a way that has actively ousted me.

Yes, and the redefining predated 9/11. I was really taken aback by Gore running in 2000 as a 'fight the power' populist. Where the hell did that come from? At the time, I held my nose a voted for him hoping that he didn't really mean it, but WTF?

Bruce Hayden said...

Dave,

I don't disagree with what you said. But I will suggest here that there is a basic difference between someone who is apparently somewhat liberal socially because they got very lucky, as is the case of the movie star, and someone who got there because they got a good start in life, worked hard, etc. The later is where I think the big shift has been - like I suggested, the Country Club Republicans. Many tend to be socially liberal, but not egalitarian. These are the Republicans (or their descendants) who freed the slaves, gave women the vote, and, yes, enacted the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The point about "cosmopolitan" is that it is a mind set, and not a reality. I suspect that there is at least some correlation between how often someone has traveled to foreign countries and how much they see other cultures having equal merit, and the effectiveness of international relations, and international travel to a very great extent equates to money - You just can't afford to pop over to Europe once or twice a year if you don't have the money for it.

So, I am not suggesting that wealth translates into any real knowledge of anything, but rather, may translate into the belief that you have such knowledge.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I have a theory which predicts that mostly white poor and middle-class people will only vote for Democrats. But in reality, large numbers of mostly white poor and middle-class people vote for Republicans. Obviously something is wrong with reality.

Dave said...

Well Bruce, I can't disagree that cosmopolitanism is a mindset instead of a reality.

I've traveled overseas quite a bit and don't see every culture as equal to American culture but then I've never been afraid of independent thought either (which probably explains why, despite living in Moscow on the Hudson I am nonetheless a free market adherent.)

Dave said...

I'd also argue that wealthy liberals should take advantage of their money and travel to various places in the United States.

Say Alpine, TX. That will wake them up to the disconnect between their lives and that of the rural poor.

RogerA said...

Freder--your capital gains example is interesting: first, taxation policy is not a zero sum game--in fact our fiscal policy is both mildly progressive AND encourage wealth creation (capital gains taxation): both of those are arguably worthy policy objectives for a government to pursue; second, the rise of mutual funds, 401s and IRAs have had the result of including many more Americans into capitalists. Believe it or not, the "poor and middle classes" actually have an economic interest in capital gains (including the work opportunities such investment makes). (that Marxian economic is SO outdated....)

Bruce Hayden said...

Freder Frederson

So, you seem to be suggesting that the primary purpose of tax policy is to send the coded message that passive income is better than income earned through work. Rather, the message being sent is that investing is better than spending. And that message is sent because it demonstrably is - it creates more and better paying jobs.

The person that the lower dividend rate is aimed at is not really the worker living off of his income, but rather, the person who has some extra money, and is faced with the decision of whether to spend it on a new car or on a financial investment, and the goal is to get him to invest the money and not spend it on consumption.

Because, remember, when tax policy is used for this sort of thing, it operates at the margins - which means it affects the guy who has disposable income who is trying to figure out what to do with it, and not the guy who doesn't.

Bruce Hayden said...

RogerA also makes an extremely good point about tax policy - contrary to liberal orthodoxy, it is not a zero sum game. Good tax policy increases the pie, whereas bad tax policy can even shrink it, if it is bad enough (such as, for example, such high marginal individual rates that not only is work discouraged, but the talented leave).

Dave said...

"Good tax policy increases the pie, whereas bad tax policy can even shrink it"

Which is why Estonia and Latvia's economies have been on a tear over the past 15 years and France and Germany's have been, at best, sclerotic.

Incidentally, if one wishes to read a good article about the deprivations wrought by liberals, read this article in today's Wall St. Journal about how France Telecom attempts to deal with a bloated payroll in light of rigid labor laws

Bruce Hayden said...

Dave,

The article is subscriber-only, but I am not the least bit surprised. I worked for a French company, that used to be owned by the French government until it was mostly privitized, and have seen some of the problems first hand. Even most of a decade ago, the company was doing almost all of its hiring outside of France, because of French labor laws, and, in particular, that it is almost impossible to fire anyone there. And this from a company that not that long before had been fully owned by the French government.

One thing that was always humorous was that about the first of August, everyone would wish everyone goodbye for the monty. I would point out that, no, I wasn't leaving for the month, because I had a much more limited amount of annual leave than they had. It never did any good - they continued to work under French rules and laws, and we worked under American rules and laws. They got a lot more time off, and shorter work weeks, but we got the new work.

Freder Frederson said...

the rise of mutual funds, 401s and IRAs have had the result of including many more Americans into capitalists. Believe it or not, the "poor and middle classes" actually have an economic interest in capital gains

Actually, the interest your average working stiff--even one that has a substantial retirement savings wrapped up in IRAs and 401Ks--has in capital gains, is still minimal. Such funds are not taxed when they are contributed to, and at withdrawl they are taxed as ordinary income, so capital gains just don't enter into it.

This is just the type of Republican sleight of hand that dupes the masses. "We have created a generation of stockholders, so of course you should be for capital gains cuts, it will benefit you personally because you own stocks through your IRAs and 401Ks." You know it is a lie, yet you go on repeating it.

The same goes for the inheritence tax. The Republicans trot out the same old stories about how it devastates family farms and mom and pop businesses when they know that is bullshit. But of course they can point to the very rich avoiding the estate tax through complicated loopholes put into the law by their friends in Congress. Gee, how about we just get rid of the loopholes and force the very rich to pay the tax instead of getting rid of the tax? That argument is kind of like a man who kills his parents and asks for the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.

but rather, the person who has some extra money, and is faced with the decision of whether to spend it on a new car or on a financial investment, and the goal is to get him to invest the money and not spend it on consumption.

This is a really silly argument, because even if the capital gains rate were 99.9% an investment is always going to result in a net profit (granted, I'm being extreme and obviously such a rate would discourage all but the most surefire investments) while consumption will always result the loss of your capital (or at least a significant portion of it). Certainly, there is very little or no evidence that capital gains rates that mirrored our current income tax rates (or even those rates that were in effect before the reckless cuts of the current president) would negatively effect the people's investment decisions.

David Walser said...

Why are so many wealthy people adopting economic populism? It's an interesting question and one that has puzzled me for several years. Professionally, I work with wealthy individuals on their tax and other personal wealth management issues. Many of my clients have been quite liberal, or “populist” as I guess is the current term of choice, on economic issues. Certainly not all have had this view, but a slight majority fell (or fall) into this category. Since redistributionist policies tend to work against the self-interest of my clients, I've often wondered how they can reconcile their policy preferences with their life style. I've come up with two explanations:

First, they don't understand that they are rich. In 1994, I delivered the personal income tax return for the prior year to one of my clients. The return showed a large amount of tax due and my client was very upset. I listened to him vent for several minutes. When he started to redirect his diatribe from the IRS and started to focus on my competence, I pointed to the picture on his wall of him with Bill Clinton -- taken at a fund raiser hosted by my client -- and said, "Don't blame me. You helped elect the guy. When Clinton said he'd raise taxes on the rich, who'd you think he had in mind?" My client was stunned into silence. After a few moments, he mumbled, "Not me.” This man, with a multi-million dollar AGI, did not think he was rich. He honestly thought of himself as upper middle class.

The second explanation is that they don’t think the policies they advocate will adversely affect them. A few years ago I had a client who had made his fortune in technology, starting a company while he was still in school. His personal household budget was over $3 million a year. He understood he was rich. He also understood he’d made his money ethically. He had not taken advantage of or ill-used anyone. This was in contrast to others whose business practices were not as beneficent. He was in favor of raising the minimum wage. (None of his employees were paid the minimum wage.) He was confident that his policy choices would simply require others to do what they should be doing (and what he was already doing). He wasn’t in favor of raising taxes – regulating wages and benefits was a better way of helping the poor. He would not tolerate anyone using government’s regulatory powers to interfere with the way he did business. He simply could not imagine such a thing. What he did was right and proper. Enlightened regulation would reinforce what he did, not interfere with his desires. Because he was smart enough to make so much money, he was sure he was smart enough to make the right policy choices. If only he, and like-minded people, were given enough power, all our problems could be solved.

altoids1306 said...

Wow, that was the clearest declaration of political alignment I've ever seen on this blog! Joining the dark side, are we?

More seriously, I hope anyone who takes Islamic terrorism as a real ideological threat comes to the same conclusion. I wrote this on Brendan Loy's blog (for non-Instapundit readers, he recently quit the Democratic party):

...But almost all Republicans agree on one thing [despite differences in domestic agenda] - the US must pursue an aggressive foreign policy to combat Islamic terrorism. There is nothing inherently wrong with US power, and there is no shame in strength. While we must be vigilant to avoid abuse of our power, we are completely justified in destroying those who seek to destroy us. There is no moral equivalance... One side seeks to protect the innocent from harm, the other uses the innocent to protect itself from harm.

We may disagree on tactics - the invasion of Iraq, and Afghanistan, diplomacy towards Iran, Lebanon, and Palestine - but it seems to me that you hold the same moral understanding of this war [GWOT] that most conservatives do, and if only on that fact alone, I think you will find "this side" quite hospitable.
Link

knoxgirl said...

FF: Republicans want to end social security???

No, no, no, no no! Republicans were in favor of privatising social security. See, there is a difference. I want the money the gov't takes out of our paychecks to actually be productive and accumulate wealth. I would never put my 401K in a mutual fund that earns 2%. Why should poor people, who need that wealth even more, be forced to put what is sometimes their only retirement fund in something with such pitiful returns???? The reality is, under the guise of protecting the poor's retirement, the democrats effectively crippled it!

Bruce Hayden said...

altoids1306

But that is the thing - a lot of life long Republicans don't agree with the WoT as it is being fought by the Administration. My suggestion is that a lot of the voting shift in that county in Conn. are a result of some of these people jumping ship. It makes a lot more sense that a lot of Republicans shifted to the Democratic Party than that so many Republicans moved out to be replaced by anti-war Democrats.

I say this from some personal experience - I know a number of life-long Republicans who do oppose the war, and are now much more accepting of the Democratic Party point of view than they ever were before. And this is showing up in their voting - being willing for the first time in their lives to vote for a Democrat. I should add that some of these now get a big chuckle out of Bush jokes, despite having voted for him the first time.

altoids1306 said...

With respect to the labor vs. capital dispute, the undeniable reality is that the balance of power is continuing to shift towards capital. Two billion people are joining the world economy, creating a huge supply of labor. The cost of capital is rising with each Fed Reserve meeting, showing the relative scarcity of capital.

It simply must be so - billions of dollars flow electronically from country to country daily, seeking higher returns and lower risk. The flesh-and-blood of labor is not nearly as mobile. Labor, just like everything else, will be packaged into tidy, interchangeable, standardized units. The efficency of the global market demands it.

How then, do we maintain the standard of living in the US? There is the standard Friedman line of more-skills, more-education. But also, perhaps more importantly, spreading capital to more people. Why should corporate profits only be enjoyed by the rich? Everyone should own stock, own a piece of land, own part of the US economy, however small.

Democrats can sneer all they want at the "ownership society", but the answer to the middle-class squeeze isn't more protections for labor, it is more participation in capital. US unions will suffer from Chinese factories, 401k's will not.

JorgXMcKie said...

Well, as one who came up from rank, rural property to the middle class rather late in life, I have to call bullshit on the Marxian crap being spouted by Freder. I can't tell if he got contaminated in college by the Marxist bullshit or if he's just jerking us around.

Of course, if nobody (well nobody but the high-up Marxits poobahs such as Castro or Kim) owns anything, then the govt has to 'take care' of them.

And the inheritance tax is flat immoral. If I earned it legitimately and paid the necessary taxes on it at the time, the govt should have no right to take a big bunch just because I died.

I'll start buying Freder's argument on this one as soon as I start seeing wealthy Dem and liberal families dodging the tax. (Are you listening Kennedys and Krocs et al??)

As for Northeasterners being more cosmopolitan, it *must* be true because they keep telling me it is. As they sneer at the people I grew up with it is obvious how much more accepting of other cultures they are.

Dave said...

"The cost of capital is rising with each Fed Reserve meeting, showing the relative scarcity of capital."

Capital is anything but "relatively scarce." Witness the billions being raised in various hedge funds and private equity funds.

It may be true that the cost of borrowing funds has gone up (via the Fed's interest rate hikes) but cash is not a commodity like oil or gold: it does not increase in price as its supply decreases and demand increases. The cost to borrow funds is independent of the supply of money.

altoids1306 said...

Bruce:

I see your point. I think we can all disagree about how the GWOT is being fought - should we have invaded Iraq, how many troops, withdrawal, etc ... It is possible to have a principled anti-Iraq-war stance.

If that were the only differences between Democrats and Republicans, I would be voting Democratic much more often than I do now.

But I think the differences between the Democrats and Republicans is far more fundamental. They question our moral imperative - not how to fight GWOT, but if it should be fought at all. Kerry lost me when he said terrorism is a law enforcement problem. It's a matter of worldview. Is US power trustworthy? Is a weaker US a good or bad thing? Do we have the right to kill terrorists? Does the US have the right to ignore the UN and act in self-preservation and self-interest?

These are fundamental questions of national sovereignty and the moral nature of this war.

I can understand the frustrations of traditional Republicans seeing Bush spend a trillion dollars on Iraq. Tax and spend is for Democrats. Tax-cut and spend is sheer idiocy. Social security and Medicare are are going to implode soon. China is running circles around the US in East Asia. But we have limited resources, and we can only solve so many problems at one time. If you believe, as I do, that Islamic terrorism is the greatest threat right now, then you should be voting Republican. I wish it were not the case, but it is.

There are lots of problems in the country and the world. But first, we must survive. There isn't a lot of room for error here. It doesn't take much imagination to see how jihadists could get nuclear weapons.

We won the Cold War by taking it seriously. We made mistakes, but we never, as a nation, questioned our moral right to prosecute that war. Similar effort is required now.

Mike said...

Freder said: "an investment is always going to result in a net profit".

You are painfully clueless.

David said...

The railroad retirement system recently removed their monies from the general fund. While in the general fund this money received no benefits from compound interest and smart investment. It was, however, available to every porkbarrel congressman who had a shiny penny project to send to the people back home.

Now the Railroad Retirement money is invested in our economy and supervised by investment managers. They treat it conservatively yet still manage to make 8-10% a year in appreciation.

Social Security money needs to follow this success story. Privately invested as a fund it would make market rates of return, compound interest, and free of the tyranny of our government who currently view it as a free supply of money that never increases in value.

That concept must horrify proponents of big government who think all money belongs to them. Privatized Social Security would support itself and guarantee increased benefits depending on a strong market and growth.

The Democrats want to tax wages and income, tax it again as interest on savings, then tax it again when it is passed on to heirs.

Most people put their money in trusts to spare it from the tax it until it is gone crowd. The point being that the Marxist/socialists among us think that our money does not belong to us. It belongs, instead to a 'benevolent patriarch' whose condescending attitude to our position in society is to keep us in catfood after retiring at the age of, oh let's say actuarily, about the same year we are scheduled to die!

If we live too long after retirement, we can get a job as a rent-a-guard at the entrance to their gated communities. That way we can earn extra money that will be subtracted from our social security benefits (Can't make too much, now can we) which will move us up to hamburger helper without hamburger instead of catfood.

But that is just my opinion after dealing with these people for my 87 year old mother-in-law! She thinks she is rich if she can afford designer depends!

RogerA said...

Freder says: "You know it is a lie, yet you go on repeating it." Perhaps, Freder, you are mistaking a difference in interpretation of data and differences over value judgments as "a lie." Please do not charactize people who do not accept your values, or see different interpretations of data as "liars:" it's one of the least attractive characteristics of modern liberalism.

Dave said...

All this talk of "democrats want to tax and spend" while implying that Republicans would blanche at the idea of taxing and spending is naive and silly.

Republicans are no less "fiscally conservative" than their Democratic counterparts. They're thieves, all.

David said...

I think I just describe "Trickle Down Economics" as the Democrats economic program.

ROTHLMAO!!

altoids1306 said...

Dave:

Capital is anything but "relatively scarce." Witness the billions being raised in various hedge funds and private equity funds.

So what? There are billions of barrels of oil sitting in the US strategic reserves, yet we are still short on oil. Giving an absolute quantity of a some commodity says nothing about it's scarcity.

It may be true that the cost of borrowing funds has gone up (via the Fed's interest rate hikes) but cash is not a commodity like oil or gold: it does not increase in price as its supply decreases and demand increases. The cost to borrow funds is independent of the supply of money.

I don't know where to begin. It's simply not true. Interest rates are the cost of capital. Cost goes up when something becomes more scarce. What is inflation? Too much capital competing for too few goods. How to deal with it? Raise interest rates, which makes capital more scarce. I can't make it any simpler. If you don't understand this, I give up.

charlotte said...

For Freder's "Republican sleight of hand that dupes the masses":

"We the masses of the United States, in order to form more labor unions, establish class-warfare justice, insure domestic isolationism, provide for the commoners' defense against getting duped by rich people, promote redistributive welfare, and secure the privileges of liberty to ourselves and our posteriors, do disdain and reinterpret this Constitution for the United States of America's oppressed classes."

Dave said...

Catherine, that's great.

Altoids: cash is not scarce by any measure. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

gj said...

Ann, you just wrote, "We just saw [the Democrats] ousting Joe Lieberman."

To quote your next post, you're "writing as if the election of a senator in Connecticut is a debate about the meaning of the Democratic Party. But the people of the state are choosing their senator." That's all that this was: the people of Connecticut deciding that Joe Lieberman wasn't a good representative of their values and opinions.

As for the question of economic populism: it may be that people are turning towards economic populism after six years in which median incomes lagged inflation while the incomes of the highest earners beat inflation handily.

Democrats --- and the population as a whole --- were very happy with free markets under the Clinton presidency. Clinton was also much more serious about promoting free markets than the current president has been.

Despite his Republican pedigree, we have not seen less regulation and freer markets under George W. Bush. We have instead seen craven moves designed to placate interest groups (e.g. steel tarrifs, farm subsidies), and restructuring of regulations and taxes to shift wealth towards the already wealthy. meanwhile, world trade talks --- which flourished under Clinton --- have collapsed from lack of attention under Bush.

altoids1306 said...

Dave:cash is not scarce by any measure. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

LOL. Ignore all arguments to the contrary, and simply state, arbitrarily and without evidence, that you are correct. Glad to know that it's business as usual for the Left.

ChrisO said...

There's a common tactic at play here, which is to state an opponent's position in the most distorted, caricatured way, then taking the opponent to task for not being consistent with these supposed "beliefs." Case in point: I see it repeated endlessly that liberals "hate" wealth, and therefore any liberal who is wealthy is a hypocrite. Liberals aren't the politburo, despite constant efforts to portray them that way. I'm willing to bet that Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon give generously to causes they support. Where is it written that liberals are required to shed themselves of all of their wealth in order to somehow be consistent with their political philosophy?

Another oft repeated charge is that a liberal's child attends a fancy private school, while the liberal opposes vouchers. This makes as much sense to me as the left's demand (which I do not endorse) that anyone who supports the war in Iraq should send their child to fight. If a parent can afford to send their child to a top school they are naturally going to do it. The assumption seems to be that if only we had vouchers, then everyone would be able to send their children to St. Alban's.

And attributing Robbins' and Sarandon's wealth to "luck" shows a woeful ignorance of the entertainment industry. Despite popular opinion, actors work very hard in an extremely unpredictable business. Yes, they make a lot of money, but they are being paid because they posess something very few people do: the ability to get the public to spend millions of dollars to see them in films. When they lose that ability, see how quickly their "luck" changes. They are no more lucky than many of the Republican millionaires walking around the Silicon Valley who earned their wealth because they got a bunch of options.

And Bruce, this statement bears scrutiny: "voting to tax the estates of the upper middle class upon death (while their own, much larger, fortunes are protected from this through elaborate, expensive, estate planning)." Since the first $2 million of an estate is exempt from the tax, we're automatically talking about individuals with estates in excess of $2 million. Where I come from, that's not upper middle class. Since the estate tax only applies to about 2% of the population, claiming that the Democrats want to tax the estates of the upper middle class is disingenuous, at best. As for the second part of the statement, are you really suggesting that individuals with estate worth more than $2 million are too poor to afford estate planning?

SippicanCottage said...
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altoids1306 said...

Chris0: There's a common tactic at play here, which is to state an opponent's position in the most distorted, caricatured way, then taking the opponent to task for not being consistent with these supposed "beliefs."

Agreed. I think the larger issue is one of "personal credentials." Al Gore can't talk about global warming because he travels on business jets, non-vets should shut about about the war, etc, etc. It's ridiculous. Should only vets set foreign policy? Should only parents whose kids go to public school be allowed to vote on vouchers? I agree with the strawman argument problem, but I think both parties are equally guilty.

Where is it written that liberals are required to shed themselves of all of their wealth in order to somehow be consistent with their political philosophy? ... The assumption seems to be that if only we had vouchers, then everyone would be able to send their children to St. Alban's.

Proof of my previous assertion.

Freder Frederson said...

Why should corporate profits only be enjoyed by the rich? Everyone should own stock, own a piece of land, own part of the US economy, however small.

Gee, that sounds positively Marxist. The workers should own the means of production.

And the inheritance tax is flat immoral. If I earned it legitimately and paid the necessary taxes on it at the time, the govt should have no right to take a big bunch just because I died.

Again, the Republican leadership has so obfuscated the issue, most people don't have the slightest clue that death actually brings huge tax advantages for the vast majority (something like 98%) of the heirs of people who die in this country.

Most inherited wealth in this country is competely untaxed, has never been taxed, and the basis for the heirs is the value at the time of death. So say for instance your parents own a small apartment building for $50,000 in 1945 and held onto until they died when it was worth $2 million. If they sold it the day before they died, they would have to pay taxes on a gain of $1,950,000. If they left it to you in their will and you sold it, your tax bill would be exactly zero (or the difference between the $2 million value at their death and whatever you got for it when you got around to selling it). That is a fact that I never hear mentioned in the debate about the inheritance tax--that all funds up to the threshold are passed tax free and a new basis is determined.

Please do not charactize people who do not accept your values, or see different interpretations of data as "liars:" it's one of the least attractive characteristics of modern liberalism.

The statement was made that because of IRAs and 401Ks many middle and working class people are now stockholders and therefore have a vested interest in lower capital gains tax rates. While it is true that many people own stocks through IRAs and 401Ks, it is untrue that the capital gains tax rate affects the holdings in those funds or the owners of the funds one way or the other.

I was not criticizing anyone's values or interpretation of data, I was calling him a liar because he simply lied about Capital Gains taxes and 401Ks and IRAs. Neither contributions to, or withdrawls from, 401Ks are taxed at the Captial Gains rate. When you withdraw money from such vehicles they are taxed as ordinary income, not as capital gains. What "value" or "interpretation of data" was I criticizing? I was calling him out on a deceptive argument that just because you own stocks through a retirement vehicle you would benefit directly from a lower capital gains rate. That is simply untrue.

Perhaps I was too harsh on him and he truly believed that IRA and 401K withdrawls were taxed as Capital Gains. If that is the case, then I should have just called him an ignorant moron who doesn't bother to check his facts before spouting off on something he knows nothing about.

Do you see the pattern I am criticizing here? Take half-truths and lies or irrelvant facts, and use them to garner support for policies that either harm or are of absolutely no benefit to the vast majority of Americans while the benefits go to a vanishingly small minority. While this is happening, there is no doubt that these policies are creating a long term fiscal crisis of massive proportions for this country.

You are painfully clueless.

I've really got to remember that sarcasm and outrageous exaggeration is lost on right wingers (even when I clued you into the fact that I realize that many investments do not pay off and that my 99.9% tax rate was there just to make a point and not to taken literally).

Funny though, when Ann Coulter does it in the form of personal attacks, everybody leaps to her defense.

RogerA said...

Freder: While I may not have stated it well or completely, my underlying point was that the equities that are the underlying investments of 401Ks and IRAs benefit from their capital gains treatment and that, in turn, benefits the holders of those instruments. Similarly, though again I wasnt clear, for those of us that own stocks and mutual funds outright, which IIRC is now over 50 percent of Americans we do benefit from capital gains. For my lack of clarity, I am now either a liar or an ignorant moron. You genuinely do incorporate all those wonderful aspects of modern liberalism!

Pogo said...

Freder said, "Gee, that sounds positively Marxist. The workers should own the means of production."

You're all over the map, Freder. Owning shares of multiple companies via a mutual fund is a far cry from Marx's rdiciulous and boneheaded dictatorship of the proletariat. And you know it.

Marx was a terrible economist, and so was John Kenneth Galbraith. Leftist economists have never been able to figure out how to create wealth except by assuming it as a constant.

Susan Sarandon and Michael Moore and Dan Rather and John Kerry are elitists who want to rule, who want to show their great compassion for the unwashed masses by taking care of us. They, however, are different, and remain in the Platonic model of educated rulers, meaning they get to cut in front of the line ('don't-you-know-who-I-am?').

They are all idiots.

Elizabeth said...

We just saw them ousting Joe Lieberman

No, we saw his lose his party's primary, that's all. Since when do we all hate the voting process so much? He ran, he lost. That's not being ousted, or purged.

Bruce Hayden said...

altoids1306

My point I think is that we are undergoing a major political realignment right now, and the WoT is a lot of the impetus for it. Maybe you can think of it as a tipping point. But we have proud Democrats moving towards the Republican Party, and visa versa. It almost seems as if a major blockage has been removed.

It sure feels to me that a lot of socially conservative Democrats are finally moving into the Republican column, and a lot of socially liberal Republicans are moving into the Democratic column. I suspect for many of them, they had been stuck in their old party through loyalty, tradition, and inertia.

Part of this seems to be that socical conservatism seems to go better with a strong stance on the WoT, and social liberalism seems to go better with an internationalist, accomodationist viewpoint about the global WoT.

This may be a result of social conservatives being more comfortable with a black and white view of the WoT, whereas social liberals are more into moral relatism.

As I said, this is just a theory. We may find a lot of the Democrats who are supporting Bush right now moving solidly back to their party when the WoT is finally won (if ever), and Republicans who oppose it moving back to their old party too. But I doubt it.

If I am right though, I will suggest that the title of the article: "The populism of Ned Lamont and the netroots runs only skin deep" may be somewhat accurate, in that my suspicion all along has been that much of the populism spouted for years by the liberal elites is faked (like Lamont talking about Wall-Mart, while owning its stock), used to manipulate their blue collar followers, and that, in truth, many of these elites are truly elitist. Without the bluer collar of their followers, the need for this will evaporate, and the pandering will become unnecessary.

Freder Frederson said...

Sort of like increasing by fiat the wages of a wildly successful retailing chain that specializes in supplying people who are not wealthy with the goods they would not be able to afford otherwise.

Again, Republicans like to play the poor little WalMart card. One reason that WalMart is so good at providing low prices is that it has raised the art of shifting the costs of doing business (from paying property taxes to providing health care to its employees) on to the very same customers who it claims to be helping by offering low prices. It is an expert at tilting the playing field in its favor by extracting tax breaks from the communities where it locates to indoctrinating its workers on the evils of unions. To pretend it is picked upon or that it has not brought all this scrutiny upon itself through its own greed is just ludicrous.

Mike said...

"I've really got to remember that sarcasm and outrageous exaggeration is lost on right wingers (even when I clued you into the fact that I realize that many investments do not pay off and that my 99.9% tax rate was there just to make a point and not to taken literally)."

You are being disingenuous (or, as you might say, lying). While your admission to hyperbole for the 99% tax was clear, nowhere did you indicate that you understood that one can lose money on investments just as readily as you can gain ("an investment is always going to result in a net profit").

Pogo said...

Say Freder, just for kicks, define "greed" for me. And be specific. What does it actually mean? Since even union members expect to be paid for their labor, why isn't that also considered 'greedy'? Is wanting to pay lower prices for food greedy? Why not?

Freder Frederson said...

While I may not have stated it well or completely, my underlying point was that the equities that are the underlying investments of 401Ks and IRAs benefit from their capital gains treatment and that, in turn, benefits the holders of those instruments.

Sorry, that's not the way I read it and I doubt that's the way you intended it. You just thought I was some wild-eyed granola munching liberal who didn't know the first thing about stocks and 401Ks and thought you could slip in a BIG REPUBLICAN LIE without me calling you on it. Well, I'm not and you couldn't.

BTW, you don't remember correctly, the "over 50% stock ownership" number Republicans throw around includes stocks people own through their 401Ks and IRAs. So it is all part of the same lie that Republican pundits (it seems to me that David Brooks is particularly fond of it) love to spout to "prove" that we are now a nation of capitalists who all want low capital gains tax rates because we all live off our fat stock portfolios and only work at WalMart because we love it so much (there goes that sarcasm again).

It is just amazing that advocating maximum marginal income tax rates in the mid-30 percent range, a balanced budget, decent wages, healthcare, retirement security, and strong unions, makes one a raving Marxist. If that qualifies me for the far left nowadays then the right must be way out there.

Henry said...

Sorry, that's not the way I read it and I doubt that's the way you intended it. You just thought ... you could slip in a BIG REPUBLICAN LIE without me calling you on it.

Oh good grief. It's Quxxo without the tact.

Pogo said...

Re "It is just amazing that advocating maximum marginal income tax rates in the mid-30 percent range, a balanced budget, decent wages, healthcare, retirement security, and strong unions, makes one a raving Marxist."

It all depends on how you "advocate" them.
Do you mean a "living wage"? National health care like in Canada? Government-supplied-only retirement? Strong unions like in France?

Well, yeah. that makes you a Marxist.

SippicanCottage said...
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RogerA said...

Yell louder Freder--so we can all hear you better--Now you can even tell me what I intended--Use all caps when you type; call people morons; tell us what we intend; call us liars and morons; use more ad hominums--Its all very effective in making your point! Trust me Freder: it isn't your support of social or econmic policy positions that make you a marxist. Have you always had this problem with having your ideas criticized?

Karl said...

Freder said, "The cake she was referring to is the hard crusty residues in the bread ovens that is normally thrown away (think of little pieces of bread "caking" on the side of the pan and the oven)"

SippicanCottage said, "It was a testament to the fantasy world that Marie and other populist autocrats inhabit that they thought demanding that bakers supply an even more expensive alternative to the item that wasn't worth making would solve the problem."

My French Revolutionary scholar fiancĂ©' never misses a chance to explain this one, so I’ll take a shot. You all give Marie too much credit. She was, in fact, an idiot, and had no idea what was going on in the streets, and certainly didn’t have any concept of the economics of bread prices.

She merely knew that there were always two types of "bread" with her breakfast, baguette and brioche. When she was told that there was no baguette for the people, she suggested that they do what she would in such a case, eat the brioche. Brioche was translated as cake at some later point, and we find ourselves constantly berating poor stupid Marie.

Freder Frederson said...

You hate it because it makes poor peoples lives better, by supplying them with things they couln't afford otherwise, and by employing so many people for wages you sniff at, but they're glad to get. But unless you can yoke it all to your political benefit it's all worthless to you.

Well, I guess this is where you and I differ and why we have two starkly different world views. You see WalMart and see a huge success. Low prices that provide needed goods and jobs to lower income people. Never mind that in many instances WalMart has been accused of deliberately creating its own customers or that it leans on the governments of the communities in which it locates so that the burden of the store is actually borne by the taxpayers of the community (because WalMart is not paying its fair share in taxes).

But I look at WalMart and ask "why do so many people have no choice but to shop at WalMart?" Especially considering that the bottom half of the ten richest Americans consist entirely of Sam Walton's children. Its not like retail adds any net worth to the wealth of a nation. Sam Walton didn't split the atom or invent anything, he just sold a lot of stuff.

Yet you turn around and accuse me of being insensitive to the needs of the lower classes? You are the one with the attitude "let them shop at WalMart". If they can't afford health insurance, let them languish and die in the emergency rooms.

call us liars and morons

I specifically called one person a liar for blatantly misstating a fact (and then trying to backtrack and cover it with another mistatement--the one about 50% ownership of stock outside of 401ks and IRAs). He is only a moron if he didn't know he was lying.

The Republican Leadership (especially the RNC and the Vice President) and certain rightwing pundits are lie factories. I cited two specific instances where the Republican party and their message machine have dishonestly and deliberately lied about important issues to such an extent that most Americans hold incorrect opinions about capital gains taxes (their 401K and IRA distributions will be subject to capital gains taxes) and that inheritances are taxed for most people, when in fact the exact opposite is true. Both these "facts" are simply untrue, yet they are constantly propounded by the Republican party. If you disagree with my assessment of the situation, please tell me how I got it so wrong.

dick said...

Freder,

Whether the people own stocks as shares or as parts of 401K or mutual funds is totally beside the point. In either case they own stocks and if they have enough shares in mutual funds then they could easily hit $2 million.

You mention $2 million as being rich. If the majority is in land that the family has farmed for generations and because of the real estate market the land is worth $2 million, that does not make the person rich. He becomes rich only by selling the land. So long as he continues to farm it he is still subject to the property taxes and other costs and cannot reap the value of the land otherwise. It does not take much to be worth a million or two. At only 2% of the population that still makes up 6 million millionaires in the US. If a man builds a small business that requires a lot of equipment, then he is worth $2 million with almost no trouble at all. If you tax it and the cash is not there, then the survivors have to sell it to pay the taxes and you have just destroyed a business that was supporting at least one or maybe more families plus all the employees and their families. Again that does not seem to matter to the democrats. The man is a plutocrat because he is worth $2 million and as Hillary told us they have plans for that money.

What you seem to be in favor of is penalizing those who have saved some of their earnings from their early years and as they get older they have amassed a decent sum to live on. When they die, you decide that it belongs to those who did not save and you just take it from the families who may also be saving for the future. Is that really a no-no with the democrats? Sure seems like it with their policies.

Mike said...

Hey, Freder. How about the largest whopper of them all: The Social Security "Trust Fund"? Talk about duping the masses.

Pogo said...

Re: But I look at WalMart and ask "why do so many people have no choice but to shop at WalMart?"

And thus is a bad economist born. The very framing of the question suggests an invincible ignorance regarding wealth creation, as if one took dialectical materialism to be something other than the pure piffle it is known to be.

gbdub said...

I know it's a way up the topic but I wanted to respond to altoids' comment regarding strawmen and hypocrisy.

First, I fully agree that both sides are guilty of strawman type tactics. However, following altoids' definition, there'd really be no such thing as hypocrisy. I'll admit the difference between 'advocacy without action' and 'hypocrisy' is subtle, but it is a real one.

For example, were Al Gore to limit his argument to 'Global Warming is a real problem that should be addressed' his personal consumption would be troubling, but hardly hypocritical. However, he expands the argument to 'If *you* don't stop consuming and flying on airplanes, the world is going to end (perhaps an overstatement of his position, but only slightly)'. The fact that he tells everyone else to fly less, and then travels in a private jet, is the very definition of hypocrisy.

An example from the rightish side - Saying 'I support the war, and encourage young men and women to consider the military as a career' is fine. Saying 'Everyone who is a good American should join the Army' and then not doing so yourself, is hypocritical.

Does that make any sense? It does to me, but maybe I'll admit it sounds a bit muddled now.

The school voucher issue is definitely murkier, but I would say sending your kids to a ritzy private school while opposing school choice and/or vouchers is, if not hypocritical, certainly a little elitist if you don't propose an alternative means of improving public schools (that is, public schools are good enough for you, but not good enough for my kids, because I'm rich). However I suspect a lot of opposition to such programs has more to do with helping teacher's unions than helping kids. But that's disingenuous, not really hypocritical. Fine line I guess.

To Freder - first off, chill out dude (and that goes equally to those responding to him). Democrats aren't saints, Republicans aren't Satan (and vice versa). Also please don't make the mistake of forgetting that, for example, an across the board 5% tax break will help rich people more dollar for dollar, but that doesn't make it a 'tax cut for the rich'. Not saying you've made that argument yet, but I've seen it way too often.

I'm no expert on tax policy, so if I'm totally wrong on this let me know. But where I see a problem with the inheritance tax is this: having $2 million in capital does not necessarily make you rich, especially if most of that capital is in the form of non-liquid assets.

For example, a decent sized family farm could easily have more than $2 million worth of land. Say a farm is worth $5 million, between land, buildings, and whatnot. Despite this large capital value, a tax on the $3 million that isn't exempt from taxation could easily make it economically untenable for the family heirs to keep the farm. Maybe this is already addressed in the law, and please enlighten me if that's the case, but it seems that there should be a way to distinguish between a pile of cash and the back 40.

Also, your earlier example of the $50,000 apartment building is incomplete. Because, while the son will not be taxed on $2 million worth of the value of the property, his parents have been paying property tax on the $2 million value. In that light, it does seem to be a 'double dip' - you're being taxed on the appreciation of the property value twice, both through increased property tax and then through a death tax if the property breaks the magic $2 million mark.

In general though, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to me that you should have to pay a tax on something you leave for your family, regardless of how wealthy you are, since the property has already been taxed in multiple ways.

The capital gains tax makes more sense to me. But then I can see the value of it being somewhat lower than the main income tax rate to encourage investment.

SippicanCottage said...
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altoids1306 said...

Bruce:

Hmm, I don't like the way you've framed it, but I see what you're saying. What I call a "moral understanding" of GWOT might be due to social conservatism as you said.

But I think the larger point is that the two parties are realigning along disagreements about the moral nature and fundamental rationale of the GWOT, and I'm not sure there is a good correlation of that with social conservatism. There are plenty of pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, pro-legalize-pot, pro-sex-ed Republicans. (The Governator, for one)

IMHO, Republicans provide a much more consistent platform for believers in classical liberalism and humanism. The anti-war Left can't stop shilling about Gitmo while white-washing Saddam. To turn a parable on its head, the Dems want us to obsess over the sawdust stuck in our eye while ignoring (or even excusing) the planks being shoved by jihadists into the eyes of others.

RogerA said...

Garrick: I am one of the people responding to Freeder--and normally I am pretty laid back, but I really dont like being called a liar or a moron--so pardon me if take a bit of umbrage.

Freder: You are referring to me when you say: "I specifically called one person a liar for blatantly misstating a fact (and then trying to backtrack and cover it with another mistatement--the one about 50% ownership of stock outside of 401ks and IRAs). He is only a moron if he didn't know he was lying."

You assumed I was knowingly lying when I made the first statement (like you were lying when you talked about that brioche crap re Marie Antoinette (check Maria Therese and JJ Rousseau for the orgins of that)--and what I said was "if I recall correctly.." which I didnt--So I was blatently lying again.

Is it possible for you make an argument without resorting to an adhominum attack or assuming I am lying? If you think I am wrong, all you have to do is say it--I have been wrong before and I will continue to be wrong about some other things until I die--human being do tend to be wrong sometimes. Yet, somehow you assume I was lying--and then lying some more--Geez man, that doesnt pass the no-sh*t test--do you honestly think I care what you or anyone else on this particular blog thinks of me?

Your statements about Wal-Mart are equally one-sided--It couldnt possibly be that wal-mart understands its customers and has an inventory control system, and JIT merchandise system that wrings most inefficiencies out of the market, could it? Nahh--not remotely. You assume that Wal-Mart seeks favorable deals with local municipalities--exactly; all big firms do including, even miore egregiously, sports franchise owners who wring concessions from city politicians to tax the public directly to put their in stadiums so the people can afford sky boxes (Seattle, eg)

As long as people like Freder represent the liberal position in this country, the adherents of that position will continue to be governed by the red-staters and the new democrats.

Apolgies to our hostess for my wasting your bandwidth. It won't happen again.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am not sure either if there is a really good correlation between social conservatism and a support for the WoT as being fought by the Bush Administration, and, the converse. I may be stretching a bit too far here.

And, I will admit that my personal experiences don't translate that well here. I think that I am fairly close to the middle on most social issues, yet stronly support the Administration's WoT, esp. in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, family and friends who share very similar social views, but oppose the Administration's WoT, are now voting for a lot of Democrats.

Yet, I still get the feeling that we are seeing a major political reallignment right now, and that the WoT is just the impetus for the reallignment. I seriously doubt that that county in Conn. moved so quickly from Republican to Democrat because of emmigration/ immigration, but rather, suspect that a lot of Republicans have jumped ship over this issue. And there are plenty jumping the other way. But if the WoT were all that was involved, most wouldn't be switching political affiliation. You would have more Joe Liebermans.

I appreciate Ann providing a venue to work on this theory and those of you who have poked holes in it. Thanks.

Mike said...

SC said: "where I live say catastrophic health insurance isn't good enough, so it's illegal."

Back when Hillary was formulating her health care plan I was appalled when I was told that it would outlaw paying for treatment out of your own pocket. It really highlighted in stark relief the difference between my view of the world and that held by the nanny staters. You are not allowed to help yourself. "We help you or nobody does".

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with ad hominem attacks in a forum like this is that they don't work. They aren't persuasive. All they do really is get Ann upset and the poster banned from her blog.

I suspect that part of the reason is that this is a pretty much middle of the road forum, where people of different persuasions can meet to hopefully discuss these issues intelligently. The sites far on either side of the political spectrum attract a lot more invective, but for the most part, they are preaching to the choir, and no one is really trying to convince anyone.

Freder Frederson said...

all big firms do including, even miore egregiously, sports franchise owners who wring concessions from city politicians to tax the public directly to put their in stadiums so the people can afford sky boxes (Seattle, eg)

Where did I say that WalMart was the only or worst offender in this particular brand of corporate welfare? Again, this is just the kind of rank hypocricy is what I find objectionable about the Republican party. I use WalMart as an example. You say everybody does it as though that somehow justifies the practice and makes it economically sensible or doesn't inevitably result in the true cost and risks of the business being borne by local ratepayers rather than the brave capitalists we should all be emulating and worshipping.

And she doesn't have health insurance, either, because the magnificent statists like you where I live say catastrophic health insurance isn't good enough, so it's illegal.

This more than anything shows what a wonderful job the Republicans have done over the last twenty-odd years. This country spends more per capita on health care, by something like fifty percent, than any other country in the world. Yet compared to every other comparable country, we have a larger uninsured populace (all those countries with dreaded "socialized medicine" have universal coverage), and do not lead the world in any of the various measures of health. In other words we pay more and get less than all the countries with "statist" systems. Yet for some reason, your spouse's lack of health insurance is the fault of statists.

As for insulting people. The tone of this entire thread is that Democrats are dishonest hypocritical poseurs who have never done an honest day's work and don't know what it is like to work for a living and don't really care about poor people. Forgive me if I take offense at Republicans claiming to be the defender of the working man or I am less than credulous when dishonest Republican talking points are parroted as though they are gospel.

And if I have anything today, it is that there are a whole bunch of different opinions out there as to what Marie Antoinette meant when she said "let them eat cake".

Freder Frederson said...

In general though, it just doesn't make a lot of sense to me that you should have to pay a tax on something you leave for your family, regardless of how wealthy you are, since the property has already been taxed in multiple ways.

Perhaps land was a bad example. But of course property taxes are local and the estate tax is federal. Generally, income taxes on land transfers are not due until the land is sold (you can trade land among family members without any federal income tax liabilty and not pay any income taxes until the land is actually sold in a cash transaction) but I am not sure that is the case in the inheritance tax. Anyway this is the case on any land. You pay property taxes while you own it and then capital gains when you sell it. The point is if you inherit it, the vast majority of people never have to pay the capital gains tax. That fact is always glossed over in discussions of the evil "death" tax.

If I had used stocks rather than land, there would have been no tax liability at all until the stock was sold or transferred at death.

Pogo said...

Re: "Yet for some reason, your spouse's lack of health insurance is the fault of statists."

Well, it is. Too much to discuss here, but Sippican points out a crucial point you skipped right by.

State and Federal laws make the purchase of simple cheap catastrophic insurance illegal, and mandates huge coverage that prices most of the uninsured out of any market at all. Pricing Medicare and Medicaid fees under the market similarly drives prices up for everyone else.

Whenever you run into a shortage in modern societies, one can be certain that the dead hand of government is to blame.

Mike said...

Sip and Pogo are exactly right, Freder. Many of the uninsured could afford and would purchase catastrophic insurance if it were allowed. But you'd rather that they "languish and die in the emergency rooms."

Steven said...

The two ways to analyze "economic populism" are the socialist-leaning way and the libertarian-leaning way. Let's see their conclusions:

1) "Economic populism" takes money from the rich and uses it in the benefit of the less well off, and so is in the self-interest of the working and middle classes and against the interests of the affluent. Accordingly, with the current voting pattern, it is clear voters don't understand their own interests and must be educated in them.

2) "Economic populism" causes poor economic growth, job loss, and a stifling of class mobility. It accordingly directly harms the working and middle classes. The well-connected affluent remain largely unaffected, at worst trading a few luxuries for the power that their connections gives them over the flow of government money. The current voting pattern represents an expression of those interests.

SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...
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Freder Frederson said...

I'm going to say it one more time. I'm the them. I don't won't your stinking government cheese. Get your foot off my face.

It's unfortunate that you are so angry at the government that you blame it for all your problems, lack of stability and unavailability of healthcare. It is sad that we live in a society as rich and affluent as ours, yet all that an apparently quite well educated and literate person expects out of life is enough insurance to protect his children from the ravages of cancer. Are your expectations really that low? Do you really think that is the best this country can do? Do you have any idea how pathetic a Canadian or a European reading this blog must think we are? Do you really hate the concept of unions and government service so much that you are willing to sacrifice the health of your children for an ideal?

Pogo says that "[p]ricing Medicare and Medicaid fees under the market similarly drives prices up for everyone else". Does he have one shred of evidence to support this? How about the burden of uninsured flooding the emergency rooms? You think they might drive up prices for every one else when they use the most expensive form of care for problems that have been left untreated til the very last minute?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Well, Sipp, you tried it one more time, and Fred didn't get it.

gbdub said...

Roger A: Perfectly understandable to be upset at being called a moron. (Yes it is possible to be wrong and neither a liar nor a moron. It is also possible to disagree and not be wrong). My apologies. There were just a couple points where it looked like things were going in the yell fest direction and we'd get the inevitable Nazi comparison that officially ends the argument.

Anyways, Freder you are of course right that property tax is generally local rather than federal. Still, that hardly matters to the person who has to pay it.

I still don't like the whole estate tax thing - say your father wills you an estate valued at $3 million, tied up mostly in non-liquid assets related to a family business. Say your net worth is $1 million (not really that much when the average house is $250K). If the tax is at, say the 30% you consider reasonably progressive, you'll pay 15% on the $1 million dollars over the $2 million exemption. That's $150,000, 15% of your entire previous net worth- a huge lump sum for anyone to make. You'll almost *have* to sell off a lot of assets to pay this. It seems like the net societal harm of forcing even a few family run businesses to liquidate their assets outweighs the benefit of taking away some rich people's money when they die.

In general, I think the 'populist' argument is a wrong one, for many reasons. First, how much 'wealth redistribution' do you consider fair? Say we agree that it's wrong for some to have $1,000,000,000 and others to have $1,000. So we redistribute until the richest has $10,000,000 and the poorest $20,000. Well that's still a huge gap so we do it again until it's $1,000,000 and $50,000. But heck, that's still 20:1, so let's keep going...

So basically, where do you stop? You could say, well, 10:1 is okay, but that's a purely arbitrary distinction. And really, is it 'fair' for some people to have 10 times as much money as others? Of course not. So why don't we make it so that everyone is precisely equal?

Which leads to my second point - capitalism works because it runs on greed, and greed is never in short supply. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - it's greed that leads people to work hard to better themselves. The vast majority of people work harder than they need to to earn the minumum needed for survival, because they *want* to provide more for themselves. Theoretical communism ('populism' is sort of Communism Lite - and I mean this honestly and not as an insult) fails because, when everyone is equal, there is simply no motivation to work hard, since there is zero self interest in doing so. (And really, a lot of 'populism' is just groups of people with similar self-interests bickering with other self-interested groups) So the entire economy, with no incentive to grow, stagnates.

Populism of course doesn't go quite that far, but it does rely on the major fallacy that the government can take care of you. Really, the vast majority of government agencies turn into wasteful, overbloated bureaucracies. Witness health care in Canada - generally good to fall back on for emergencies, but lousy if you have anything not immediately life threatening (the infamous 2 year waiting list for knee replacements you need in order to walk). Their health system is failing because students have no incentive to become doctors (no extra pay to justify the extra work), and, since there is no competition (as it's illegal to buy private health insurance), there is no motivation to innovate or work harder than the bear minimum required.

And dispite our 'lousy' health care system, patients who clearly have no way to pay are still allowed into emergency rooms for life-saving treatment. And the lines are usually shorter than at the oft touted public health systems of other countries. Even the extent to which we provide public health care is a failure - ask anyone who works in healthcare what they think about Medicare's reimbursement policies and you'll almost certainly get an earful.

Basically, the government is terrible at doing anything other than making laws and fighting wars (and not fantastic at those things either). Private systems will always be faster, more efficient, and more effective, because they have to be to survive. Even charity works better when in private hands.

Sorry for post length. Got on a roll.

SippicanCottage said...

Are your expectations really that low?

My expectations for you are gettin' lower all the time.

dick said...

Freder,

Check the Brits with their NHS. They have a waiting list of 122 days for MRI. In Canada they have people who have died waiting for the procedures. Germany is losing doctors all over the place.

I don't know about anyone else but I would a whole lot rather have what we have here. I wouldn't have to wait for a bureaucrat to decide that I would be the one who got the next procedure rather than someone else. I would rather not wait for a procedure because the list is so long that I might not live to have it. I would rather not wait for the NHS to get enough of the machines to actually handle the cases they have.

Take a look at the Telegraph some time rather than the Guardian. Almost every issue has articles about how the NHS doesn't have enough doctors or nurses or medicine or equipment. They even had a case earlier this year where a woman went to Belgium to get an operation because the NHS had a 3 year waiting list. She sued the NHS and they had to pay Belgium to perform the surgery. Is that the medical care you want for this country? There is a reason that the Canadians and the Brits and the other foreigners come here for medical care. We have the equipment and the medicine and doctors who can deal with it.

RogerA said...

A shred of evidence about the effect of medicare on the cost of health insurance can be found here: http://www.nber.org/digest/apr06/w11609.html

The Journal Health Affairs also provides a good source the impact of medicare; finally, basic economic theory relating to the effect on demand for a good when that good is subsidized predicts what happens.

(Its amazing what a glass of good syrah will do for one's attitude)

RogerA said...

OOPS--the same glass of syrah doesnt do a lot for typing, however--cost of health CARE--not health insurance

Palladian said...

To add to what Sippican says so brilliantly above... A member of my family was diagnosed with terminal cancer about one month ago. Terminal, in that there is no long term chance of survival, no "cure" rate. Yet this member of my family is receiving treatment for this cancer at a wonderful, state of the art cancer center, treatment which may prolong his life and make the prolonged life more comfortable and more "normal". This family member has good insurance from his employer, which is fortunate since 400 ml of one of the three drugs is 8 thousand dollars. One of the things that goes through my mind when he's at the treatment area is "none of this would exist in a socialist/socialism lite system. The drugs and treatment my family member is receiving could only have been developed in the medical and research system that we have, only with the expectation of profits, and only through a mix of co-operation and competition between research and the pharmaceutical industry. The amount of both intellectual and financial capital needed to develop these fiendishly complicated and amazing drugs could not be mined from the finite shaft of statist medicine. One of these drugs has only been on the market for a little over a year. The science of understanding and treating cancer moves fast, something government-run projects are not noted for.

You can crow all you want about free medical care, but as Sippican notes, in the socialist dream utopia, I imagine going up to the grim counter after a 4 hour wait: "Hello, here is my family member who has cancer X with metastases. We are here for his treatment."

"Sorry, we don't waste expensive drugs on terminal cases, besides the stocks of those drugs are dwindling since we can't produce them anymore post-revolution. Go to the state pharmacy across town and get some laudanum. Here's your voucher."

I would also note that one of the drugs was researched and produced by an Israeli company. I'm sure that the Hezbollah drug companies will produce much better 13 step synthetic monoclonal antibody cancer drugs once they win the war.

Mike said...

Freder, Sipp only asks that he be allowed to buy insurance to cover that which he is financially unable to cover by himself. This is what insurance used to mean. And you continue to evade the question. Do you believe that it is right for the government to regulate such a product out of existance? Sipp wants to buy it; insurance companies want to sell it to him. Why can't he?

Aspasia M. said...

"Sorry, we don't waste expensive drugs on terminal cases, besides the stocks of those drugs are dwindling since we can't produce them anymore post-revolution. Go to the state pharmacy across town and get some laudanum. Here's your voucher."

I haven't been following this thread -- but do you think this happens in Germany, Japan or Denmark?

It was years ago that I researched those health systems for a paper I wrote - but in a 1st world country like Germany, Japan or Denmark do you reall think they wouldn't treat cancer under their health care systems?

Sorry for talking off thread -- but I don't think progressive Democrats advocate health systems that are more radical then those in existence in Germany, Japan, Denmark, ect.

In fact - I think progressives would be ecstatic if Americans had access to the insurance systems in those countries.

Aspasia M. said...

My mother has to pay $650 dollars a month for her health insurance. (She's healthy - good chlorestorol/heart/blood pressure - never had a major illness.)

She and my deceased father ran a small buisness. They are members of the Chamber of Commerce. (Prior to my father's death they paid 1000 dollars a month.)

Insurance is quite expensive for small buisness people. It's a problem in America.

I suppose if a large corporation pays for your health and dental, then you're set in the United States. But people who aren't taken care of by large companies have to figure our how to pay these extra-ordinary high rates. And it's particularly difficult for people, like my mother, who is in her 60s, and yet not eligible for medicare.

Palladian said...

My point was that those countries and ours would not have the health systems they and we do if it weren't for the free market medical industries in the US and other countries. Socialized medicine takes advantage of the advancements of countries that have more market-geared systems. And I would argue that you would not get the same quality of care in those places that you get in the US. I'm not saying our system is perfect but I think the advanced (and advancing) state of medicine and care is thanks to the US and similar countries. European socialized medicine takes advantage of that, just like they take advantage of our military protection because they can't, for the most part, defend themselves.

Seven Machos said...

Gooey Duck -- The problem in a socialized medicine system is queues. They simply cannot be gotten around. I have a friend in Great Britain -- clearly a first-rate country -- who works for a big American company. His job is to create computer-based programs that help people get around queues. There may be a great doctor who has a shorter wait somewhere. It's hard to know in a centralized system. The more centralized decision-making is, the more likely it is that resources will be used poorly, no matter how smart the decision-makers are and, apparently, no matter what technology there is. People don't get turned down so much as they have to wait. And, in medicine, wait often equals death or, at any rate, bad outcomes.

Do you want queues or do you want stuff to cost a bunch of money? (Or both?) That's the choice, in any economy. Our system is better, I would argue, because even though stuff costs a lot of money, people generally tend to get the treatment they need without waiting. There is a lot -- a whole hell of a lot -- of free medical care in this country. Go to a big-city emergency room tomorrow night. Look around. Are the people there all covered by insurance? I would suggest that they are not. Are they getting help when their lives are on the line? They are.

ChrisO said...

"Please don't give me statistics about health care in countries smaller than Rotary Clubs. I've been to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and I'd rather not get my insides looked at there."

This is OT, but I too live in Massachusetts, and despite the common use of the Registry of Motor Vehicles as a symbol of the lumbering bureaucracy that cares nothing about the individual, I have to say that virtually all of my trips to the Registry have been pleasant, including shepherding two daughters through the driving test process. The people have been very polite and helpful, and I haven't generally found the wait to be that onerous. Am I the only one, or has the Registry of Motor Vehicles become the knee-jerk example of the nightmare bureaucratic experience?

michael a litscher said...

Karl: She merely knew that there were always two types of "bread" with her breakfast, baguette and brioche.

Being neither an expert on French cuisine nor French history, I had to wiki 'brioche' to see if I'd missed out on an alternative to the over-abundant baguette during my brief travels in France.

Aside from what brioche is (and I strongly suspect I would have preferred it over the baguette), it's suggested that Maria Theresa of Spain is the one responsible for uttering "If they have no bread, let them eat cake."

Pogo said...

What I find maddening about the Left and Progressives is their refusal to admit that the economics of socialism are an absolute fraud. It destroyed the Soviet Union. It brought England to its knees in the 1970s, when it was so broke from its failed nationalized industries it received a loan from the IMF in 1976 in order to remain solvent. It is, in fact, no longer an arguable assertion, except in the way that astrologers and conspiraciy theorists deny reality, that socialism is a viable way to run all or any portion of an economy.

Socialsim imposes the impossible burden of replacing the intricate information available through prices with a centralized bureaucracy that must somehow learn what people want and provide it by orders and protocols. Mises correctly predicted it would be "impossible", and it is. The planned economy relies on the unrealizable goal of omniscience by central management about supply and demand, and invariably results in unproductive incentives and a vicious circle of declining output. As a result, “it is intrinsically impossible”* to successfully implement any such plan. “It can’t be done, not even by an army of wise saints, let alone by normal people exposed to the normal pressures and temptations of official power. *"

The feminist writer and journalist Slavenka Drakulic described the debilitating effects of the Soviet version of socialism on the daily lives of women and the poor. “Every mother in Bulgaria can point to where communism failed, from the failures of the planned economy (and consequent lack of food, milk), to the lack of apartments, child-care facilities, clothes, disposable diapers, or toilet paper. The banality of everyday life is where it has really failed, rather than the level of ideology.” The failures are evident from newspaper headlines declaring “No Bread”, to “the lack of sugar, oil, coffee or flour”, even decades after World War II. “After all these years, communism has not been able to produce a simple sanitary napkin, a bare necessity for women. So much for it’s economy and its so-called emancipation, too.” She asks, “What can one say except that it is humiliating?” Communism failed, she concludes, because it resulted in fear, distrust, and shortages, “a system that was continuously unable to provide for its citizen’s basic needs for forty years or more,” a condition of egalitarian poverty that “cannot be changed by words, declarations, promises, or threats from politicians.”

Following the Great Depression and World War II, Britain nationalized multiple industries, as socialism appeared to be the answer to the widespread misery of the times. By the 1970s, the telephone and water systems, the National Health System, British Steel, British Airways, British Gas (which also made stoves), British Coal, British Rail (which owned gas stations, highways and hotels) and the massive state electric power monopoly controlled huge sectors of the economy. And they were failing. Inflation and unemployment were high, taxes were punitive, and labor strikes were frequent. In 1973, coal and power supplies were so disrupted that British businesses only operated three days per week, and families spent their evenings by candlelight. When hospital workers struck, medical care had to be severely rationed. Work stoppages resulted in uncollected garbage and unburied coffins. By 1976, Britain was forced to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund in order to remain solvent. *

These examples should serve as a warning to those who, despite all evidence, refuse to believe that Marx was horribly wrong. I understand that anti-capitalism is regularly taught in public schools in France, but even there attitudes are beginning to change. I wish US Progressives would have already learned that lesson.

Freder Frederson said...

but lousy if you have anything not immediately life threatening (the infamous 2 year waiting list for knee replacements you need in order to walk).

Do you have any idea you have to wait for a knee or hip replacement in this country if you are uninsured? You wait until you can pay for it out of pocket or you find a doctor who is willing to do it as a charity case. For my best friend's father-in-law that was 10 years. For my ex-mother-in-law, who had a myriad of other health problems, she died from a blood clot, waiting for her hip replacement.

So don't trot out your horror stories of waiting lists in other countries, they exist here, they are just more crude and less visible.

SippicanCottage said...
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Mike said...

Freder. Please explain to us why Sipp should not be allowed to buy catastrophic health insurance. It's a simple question.

Henry said...

Following the Great Depression and World War II, Britain nationalized multiple industries, as socialism appeared to be the answer to the widespread misery of the times.

This reminds me: Once, when Labor was ascendent, Winston Churchill entered the men's room of Parliament to take a pee. Clement Attlee was already in the process. Churchill pointedly assumed his stance as far away as possible.

"Feeling a little stand-offish today, Winston?" Said Attlee.

Replied Churchill: "Any time you see something big, Clement, you want to nationalize it."

knoxgirl said...

Anyone who extolls the virtues of universal healthcare has not done much reading on it. Or has never lived in Tennessee, where our "universal" TennCare system has never been anything but a bureaucratic nightmare and devours more and more of the state budget every year. They closed open enrollment over ten years ago, and it is still metastasizing.

Get sick in Canada and get ready to start bribing receptionists, nurses, pharmacists, and everyone else within sight to get timely appointments and necessary meds. You don't get to choose a doctor, you don't get a second opinion, and they will not let you go see a private practitioner even if your assigned doctor is too busy to get you necessary treatment/surgery/etc.

Mike said...

Not letting you go see a private practitioner, not letting you buy catastrophic insurance. They tell you what you can and can't do with your own health. All to push their view on how the world should be structured. On top of economically unsound, it's immoral.

Freder Frederson said...

Freder. Please explain to us why Sipp should not be allowed to buy catastrophic health insurance. It's a simple question.

It's not a simple question because I have no idea what he means by "catastrophic health care insurance". Does he want a policy that only covers certain illnesses or that kicks in for all expenses after certain high deductible dollar amount? I also know nothing about the laws and regulations pertaining to health insurance in Massachussetts.

There are very good policy reasons for strict regulation of the health insurance market. Health insurance functions best when the risk pool is spread among the largest population possible. Once you let insurance companies pick and choose who they will insure they will obviously only insure only the best risks (young, healthy people). People who have chronic illnesses or unhealthy lifestyles, or even choose to participate in dangerous sports, will find themselves unisurable or offered only very expensive policies. That is why large companies can offer insurance at a considerably lower cost than small ones and often require their employees to participate in the company health insurance plan whether they want to or not. I worked for Sprint and the only way you could opt out of the Sprint sponsored plan was to prove you were covered under your spouse's company provided plan (even if you went out and bought private insurance you still had to participate in Sprint's plan).

Are the people there all covered by insurance? I would suggest that they are not. Are they getting help when their lives are on the line? They are.

And you think this is an acceptable solution? People wait until they are so sick, they resort to the emergency room for the most expensive care possible. Of course the emergency room is required to treat them (which is unnecessary government interference in the market place, why should the government force these hospitals to take these people), but they can and will be billed for the services. And if the patients don't pay, their credit will be ruined, and you and I will inevitably pay for indigent care in the form of higher hospital bills (and insurance premiums).

Yes, emergency care for the uninsured certainly is an efficient, cost effective, sound method of dealing with the problem that advances the public health.

For the miserable failure that all the "socialized" systems are (and most European countries simply don't have socialized medicine, no matter how much you call it that), why is it that we spend more and generally don't get as good results for our health care dollar as almost any comparable countries? Even in Britain, where the NHS, a true socialized medical care system, they spend only 7% of GDP on healthcare compared to 17% in this country. Yet by any measure--life expectancy, infant mortality, heart disease rates, etc.--the English are healthier than us.

Freder Frederson said...

Not letting you go see a private practitioner, not letting you buy catastrophic insurance. They tell you what you can and can't do with your own health. All to push their view on how the world should be structured. On top of economically unsound, it's immoral.

If a private insurer tells you which doctors you can or cannot see, or which procedures or drugs they will or will not cover, that of course is economically sound and moral.

Because they hold their shareholders interests and profit as paramount their decisions will be absolutely correct when it comes to your health because extending your life and providing you the best possible medical care will always increase their profits.

Or something like that.

Pogo said...

A comparative study of death rates from stroke and heart disease put England’s NHS thirteenth out of 15 European countries studied. In a 17-nation cancer study, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer in England was the worst of the 17, for colon cancer 12th, and for breast cancer England was eleventh out of 17 (just above Slovenia, Austria, Estonia, Poland, and Slovakia). In the early 1990s Britain had fewer radiotherapists per capita than Poland, and fewer medical oncologists than any country in Western Europe. OECD figures for 1996 show that the UK had 1.7 practicing physicians per 1,000 population Germany had 3.4 per 1,000, France 2.9 and Poland 2.4. The only countries with a lower proportion among the 29 studied by the OECD were Korea (1.2), Mexico (1.2) and Turkey (1.1). Total NHS spending on health care is low by international standards. In 1997 total expenditure on health care in the UK was 6.9 per cent of GDP. The German figure was 10.7 per cent and the French, 9.6 per cent. Of the 29 advanced countries studied by the OECD, only Hungary, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, Poland and Turkey spent less. *

In 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) rated health systems around the world and ranked Canada 30th, well behind top-rated France. Criteria included efficacy of health care spending, preventive care and how fairly the poor, minorities and other special populations are treated. Virtually all of the industrialized countries that ranked higher than Canada allow private health care purchases and have a mix of public and private suppliers of care. * Further, a report on the 2003 SARS outbreak found Ontario's public health system to be “unprepared, fragmented, poorly led, uncoordinated, inadequately resourced, professionally impoverished, and generally incapable of discharging its mandate.” As a result, the report called the structure and capacity of its public healthcare “woefully inadequate.”* Even food quality has suffered as Canada’s Medicare applies cost-saving measures to hospital meals. Manitoba hospitals cut expenses by using frozen meals shipped from 1300 miles away. However, the reheated meals were unpalatable and so widely reviled, the matter became a major regional political issue.*

According to analyses by McKinsey, an economics and management consulting firm, the United States is more productive in the treatment of breast cancer, lung cancer and cholelithiasis than Germany and the United Kingdom. The reasons for this result can be traced directly to their respective health systems. For example, “the United Kingdom has not invested as quickly in technologies that have dramatically improved the diagnostic capabilities of medicine and significantly reduced recovery time.” Germany, on the other hand, “has a system more like the United States had twenty years ago. In Germany, medical expenses are paid for on a task-by-task basis for services of doctors and hospitals. As a result, hospitals in Germany have no financial incentive to reduce length of stay.”*

Paul Zrimsek said...

There's your answer, Mike: Sipp shouldn't be allowed to buy catastrophic health insurance because it would interfere with Fred's plan to force him to subsidize people with higher levels of risk-- this ideological program being neatly concealed within the neutral- and descriptive-sounding "Health insurance functions best when the risk pool is spread among the largest population possible."

RogerA said...

With respect to health statistics the devil, as always, is in the details. It can be argued, for example, that US infant mortality tends to be higher because neo-natal care encourages more interventions in premature births--so one must look at the meaning of the demoninator labelled as "live births."

Similarly, the top ten causes of death in the US have one thing in common: they are closely linked to behavioral characteristics of the population. In general, they can be cut in half if we stop smoking, reduce drinking, exercise more, eat less, wear seatbelts, and reduce risky behaviors such as driving while distracted and get more preventative checkups. With the exception of the last item, these are not medical interventions. In fact, it can be argued that the relative economic prosperity encourages some unhealthy behaviors.

SippicanCottage said...
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Mike said...

Freder. Does your home insurance pay for you to paint your house? No, that's maintenance and you are expected to fund it out of your own pocket. It pays when your house burns down. That's a catastrophe which the vast majority of people can't handle financially. So they buy insurance, hoping to never use it. That's how home insurance remains economically viable. Many pay in, few collect. What you want is not health insurance. You want free health care. But of course, it's not free. You just want someone else to pay for it.

RogerA said...

How would this work for a hybrid health care system incorporating both public and private sectors: Private is easy; business as usual with open competition among insurers. Public: Public fund a health insurance program that focuses on preventative care: neonatal care, immunizations for life, and annual physicals for life. When citizens are in their teens they get a family history work up to identify risk factors that will form the basis for more testing later in life--also public funded. This sort of program makes more sense to me because it encourages the cheaper examinations rather than the more expensive interventions. Needless to say this notion overlooks precisely how interventions might be paid for--but perhaps the current system might work in that regard.

Freder Frederson said...

That's how home insurance remains economically viable. Many pay in, few collect.

But even the home insurance market can break down when there is a large amount of claims from a single area, causing private insurers to decide the risk is not worth covering. I live in New Orleans and many insurers want to pull out of southern Louisiana because of the hurricane risk but still offer insurance in inland parishes.

It is all well and good to say that insurance companies should be allowed to cover who they want and the idea of pooling risk shouldn't even be considered. But what then would you do about people with chronic illnesses? Obviously, you don't want the government taking care of them and private insurers shouldn't have to bear the burden.

I'm not allowed to buy the insurance I can afford, someone wants to sell me, that covers my family for the eventuality that I need.

I can't answer the question. I don't even know why Massachussetts has made the decision not to allow such policies in your state. Was there a history of fraud with such accounts? A lot of fly-by-night companies taking in premiums and never paying claims? I didn't say I was opposed to such policies, I just stated there were valid policy considerations as to why they may not be a good idea.

I also don't know anything about your financial situation, the type of insurance you want to buy, or if the eventualities you anticipate are even realistic. I'm not an expert on insurance products. But I do know that if you develop a chronic illness you will find it will be almost impossible to find affordable insurance.

But I do know a little about the expense of medical care. I know that a simple ACL repair (thankfully covered by insurance) cost me $25,000 in 1997 and that a CT scan is $1100 (I got that bill just the other day), or that a bicycle accident requiring 37 stitches was a $3000 emergency room visit (that also included a CT scan). Or that the prescription drugs I take, if I had to pay for them out of pocket, would cost me $700 a month. And I consider myself pretty healthy--but controlling migraine headaches is extremely expensive.

As for people dying why I sat by and watched. It was my ex-mother-in-law. She was hardly a "loved one" even when I was married to her daughter. Certainly, after we were divorced and my ex's mother's health really started to go down hill, I certainly didn't feel any moral or ethical duty to help her out with her medical bills. She was one meanass bitch and her daughter is a lying, cheating whore.

tcd said...

"I'm not an expert on insurance products."

Well who'd thunk that by the way you've been spouting on and on about insurance and the insurance industry.

Mike said...

I never said I thought insurance companies should be allowed to pick and choose. Others may hold that position, but I don't. For the right to sell insurance in a market, they should have to take all comers to spread the risk. However, here is the flip-side problem""if you develop a chronic illness you will find it will be almost impossible to find affordable insurance."

Well, Yeah! Once you present with the illness you are not asking to buy insurance, you are asking for somebody else to pay your bills. People who want to buy catastrophic insurance want to do the responsible thing by buying insurance before they need it and are prevented from doing so by nanny-state legislators and public health advocates who think in the long run they'll get their government run health care if they inflict ehough pain on the masses.

Pogo said...

For reasons I cannot fathom, Blogger ate my html.
Here's the links in ugly form.

http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/cw55.pd

http://www.aims.ca/library/notromanow.pdf

http://www.theglobeandmail.com%2Fservlet%2Fstory%2FRTGAM.20040420.wsars0420%2FBNStory%2FFront&ord=1155660744762&brand=theglobeandmail&force_login=true

http://www.mackinac.org/print.asp?ID=2748

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0226476987/sr=1-1/qid=1155660991/ref=sr_1_1/002-9465337-4764020?ie=UTF8&s=books

Mike said...

Pogo, your dog is named Blogger? (Blogger ate my homework.)

SippicanCottage said...
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Pogo said...

But Mike, it did eat my homework, or it was consumed in a spontaneous and evil wind, or lost while trying to saving a starving man. Or something.

Mike said...

If I had a dollar every time a student used the old "Blogger ate my homework" line...

altoids1306 said...

Health care, like money, does not grow on trees. If "insurance paid for it", that means some sucker paid for it.

The role of insurance isn't to decrease the amount of money you spend (see 1st point, health care does not grow on trees), it is to smooth it out. Let's say I have a 5% chance per year of developing a disease that will cost 50,000 USD to fix. Then my health insurance premium should, theoretically, be 2,500 USD/year, plus the overhead and profit margin. If the market were perfectly efficent, the insurance premiums you paid over your lifetime would exactly equal your medical bills.

Your insurance premium should be based on an individual assessment of your personal risk. If I don't smoke, the premium will be lower. If I get married, have two kids, my premium will be lower - because I am less likely to engage in risky behavior. This isn't discrimination, this is called an accurate assessment of risk. In a free market, if an insurance company refuses to recognize my lower risk and lower my premium, I can switch to a company that will.

The only argument for national health insurance is that it will eliminate some of the overhead "single-payer, yada yada". However, in my opinion, that is vastly outweighed by the drastic loss in choice, as Sippican pointed out. Only the free market can make provide a multitude of products for all life styles at all price ranges. Only in the free market, can risk be securitized and sold - if I buy a share in an insurance company, I am essentially buying risk. In this way, consumers can hedge against risk, and basically transfer their risk to investors, who assume it willingly for a price. A far better system than just forcing that risk on taxpayers.

knoxgirl said...

This thread would drive me to drink if it weren't for so many astute responses to the madness. Nothing terrifies me like people advocating for universal health care.

Pogo said...

Re: "Nothing terrifies me like people advocating for universal health care."

I once was in a debate involving David Himmelstein MD, one of the folks behind the Proposal of the Physicians' Working Group for Single-Payer National Health Insurance

Afterwards I googled (oops ...sorry!), er, I did a Google search and found out he's an out-and-out Marxist, having written at least one article with "a Marxist view of current U.S. health policy". Sheesh. He was also a malignant sort of debater (made up facts, etc.) Regardless, the craving for power he had was almost palpable.

The debate was at a small NY NPR affiliate, so I was the Evil One on the panel. I was lucky to escape alive.

SippicanCottage said...
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Mike said...

Sippican - I'm not invited because us UW-types are shmucks?

Pogo said...

Sure! invite Mike!
In Wisconsin, the beer is free.

Or so I've heard.

Mike said...

It's a closely guarded fact that Lake Mendota is filled with beer. That's why Ann's mermaid took up residence there.

SippicanCottage said...

Mike is sooo invited. Bring the thermite!

Mike said...

Sounds like a blast!

Freder Frederson said...

If I get married, have two kids, my premium will be lower - because I am less likely to engage in risky behavior. This isn't discrimination, this is called an accurate assessment of risk. In a free market, if an insurance company refuses to recognize my lower risk and lower my premium, I can switch to a company that will.

Well, this would be wonderful if health-related risk were entirely within your control. While you may be able to control some health risk factors, others are completely beyond your control. Some devastating and very expensive diseases to treat have nothing to do with lifestyle. You can't control whether you get MS, Alzheimers, Muscular Dystrophy, some types of diabetes and many types of cancer. There are diseases that are purely genetic and others that we have no idea how they are caused. As mentioned, just treating my migraine headaches, which can be debilitating if untreated, probably would cost me $10,000 a year (between neurologists and prescription drugs) if not covered by insurance. Nobody knows what causes migraines so you can't blame it on risky behavior on my part.

The free market can't do anything about that risk or reduce the frailties of age.

We require people to carry mandatory car insurance (you're probably against that too) because you have a responsibility to the other drivers on the road. The same could be said of health insurance. Unless we are willing to let uninsured children die of and force people to pay before they receive treatment at emergency rooms those of us who are insured will ultimately bear the cost of uninsured people.

SippicanCottage said...
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altoids1306 said...

Freder Frederson:

I understand your point - it does seem unfair for people who lose the genetic lottery to pay more in health care. And the government does have a responsibility to protect the weak and poor.

But let's not go to extremes. Your strawman of children dying outside emergency rooms (better yet, a poor, disadvantaged minority girl of a single mother, bleeding to death as she claws at the spotless glass doors of a Hampton clinic) is absurd. Do the uninsured have a right to free basic care? To have their pain relieved? Of course - you're not going to find much argument there. Do they have the right to generic drugs, root canals, and the like? I say why not, but some might object. Do they have the right to multiple MRI scans, and the best, most expensive cancer treatments? I don't think so.

Every dollar of mine that is spent on someone else's care is a dollar that I can't spend on my family's care. What's so wrong about wanting the best I can buy for those I love? I can play the sob story game too. What if, because I'm forced by the government to pay for others, I can no longer afford the treatment that could save my child's life?

You can say that the nice thing to do is spread everyone's money around so everyone gets equal care, but I don't think you have the right to take it by force. Let's call a spade a spade. This is socialism.

Pogo said...

altoids:

Freder doesn't care about no stinkin' facts. He won't be persuaded by pointing out his ideological flaws, the economic impossibility of socialism, or the unintended side effects of national health care that makes the cure worse than the disease.

The New Democrats want to rule. They don't need to make any sense. They're our betters, they know what's good for us, and they are just right, that's all, and that's that.

P.S. Careful! People to the right of the far left best call it a shovel.

Freder Frederson said...

Freder doesn't care about no stinkin' facts. He won't be persuaded by pointing out his ideological flaws, the economic impossibility of socialism, or the unintended side effects of national health care that makes the cure worse than the disease.

Let's get a few things straight. First of all, a single payer system is not "socialism" except in the loosest definition of the term. Our current system is bad and getting worse. We are spending more and even those with insurance are facing higher copays and more limited choice. One of the constant scare tactics about "socialized medicine" is you won't be able to choose your doctor. Yet, most people with company provided health insurance plans don't have free choice of their doctor anyway. Fee for service plans are increasingly rare and have been almost completely replaced by PPOs and HMOs.

You speak about how evil any government participation in the market is, yet when I point out what the consequences of removing the government are, you accuse me of erecting strawmen. Which is it, should the government provide basic medical care to the poor and the very sick or not? Should the market decide completely on who gets medical care? Does the government even have a place in regulating the insurance industry (Sippican apparently believes he should be able to by whatever coverage he wants without state interference)?

You sure have a lot of faith in a system that has such obvious flaws. We spend 50% more on health care than any other comparable nation, yet leave 1/8 of the population completely uninsured (while most other countries have universal coverage) and at best get middling results for all that expenditure.

And when you look at administrative costs, all the government systems are much more efficient than any private insurer. Private insurers generally eat up 15--20% of their costs in administration while government healthcare spends just 3--5% on administration. So much for the theory that government is always more wasteful.

tcd said...

"Which is it, should the government provide basic medical care to the poor and the very sick or not?"
They already do. It's called Medicaid and taxpayers are already footing the bill for that.
I've read nothing but bad faith debating from you, freder. You don't just want healthcare for the poor & very sick, you want Cadillac health insurance for FREE. Conveniently, you skip over the part about how much such a thing would cost and who's going to pay for it?

Mike said...

Freder, the reason health care in this country is so expensive is everybody who has health care gets everything for "free". Or damn near. I heard an NPR story, several years ago, in which the interviewee was pushing some socailized health care plan. The interviewer asked, "so, under your plan if I go to the doctor with a cold, who pays for my visit?" In asking that question, she unwittingly highlighted the problem. She wants to go to the doctor for something he can't fix, and she expects someone else to pay for it. I don't think you're going to understand this statement, but I'll try anyways: when everybody gets everything for free, it's damn expensive.

How about returning to the original concept of insurance? First off, do away with employment related insurance. It's an artifact of a post WWII situation which has gotten out of control. Everybody will be responsible for buying their own health insurance. Many people (myself included) will buy the high deductable, catastrophic health insurance that covers me for the truely expensive treatments I can't afford. I will cover my routine care out of pocket. Others may choose to buy expensive health plans that cover every asprin (not very smart, but who am I, or you, to tell them how to run their lives?). The poor will have to be subsidized. I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with subsidizing those who can afford it perfectly well, which is what your plan does. Insurance companies will be required to sell to everybody, and I favor restrictions on how much they can risk-adjust premiums. I might even agree with prohibiting premium adjustment based on age. In the spirit of insurance, I don't have a problem with the young paying more that they might otherwise, knowing that they too will get old someday. On the other hand, I would have little sympathy for someone who choose not to buy insurance for years, then expected top notch treatment when they get sick.

This plan returns to a rational economic model of insurance: everybody pays in, the unfortunate who get hit with a catastrophy are covered. As you've pointed out, what we do now doesn't work well; many people are without insurance because they can't pay for the gold-plated plans that are offered and that people like you have brainwashed people into thinking are their God given right. On the flip side, there is ample evidence around the world that your nationalized plan provides poor health care to everybody.

altoids1306 said...

Pogo:

I know. My intent was never to convince him - that's a fool's task - but to present a reasonable counterargument for anyone who might be reading this.

To those people, let me make a direct appeal - use your broswer's search function (Ctrl+F) to search for all instances of "altoids" or "freder" in this thread. You be the judge. I think you'll find that I have been acting in good faith, responding to the main points of his posts, while he has constantly avoided mine, changing the subject, misrepresenting my views, bringing fresh accusations.

My arguments stand for themselves, I don't think there's any need to continue this any further. Here are the links.

Link Health care does not grow on trees, insurance cannot make medical bill magically disappear - it just makes other people pay for it. Insurance should be based on individual risk, a free market is the best way to quantify and manage risk.

Link Government has the responsibility to protect the weak and poor - which means basic health services should be guaranteed. Vaccines, yes, $1000 MRI scans, no. But we must balance that with our individual right to private property. What if, because you're forced by the government to pay for others, you can no longer afford the treatment that could save your child's life?

To summarize, national health insurance means taking people's money by force and redistributing it. This is socialism. The government has a history of fantastically underestimating the cost of it's social programs. Social Security and Medicare will go bankrupt unless the government either reneges on its promised benefits, or drastically raises taxes. We don't need more problems. We've got enough wreckage already.

SippicanCottage said...
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Pogo said...

Re: "a single payer system is not "socialism" except in the loosest definition of the term"

Your invincible ignorance of the meaning of that word just made everyone's IQ drop several points.

Freder Frederson said...

I've read nothing but bad faith debating from you, freder.

Bad faith from me? How can I debate with you all when you won't even admit to basic facts?

Like a single payer system is not socialism? A socialist system is where the government runs the hospital and employs the doctors and we are not talking about that.

Or statements like this "On the flip side, there is ample evidence around the world that your nationalized plan provides poor health care to everybody." Where is this ample evidence? Where are the statistics that for all the money we spend on health care we are healthier than people in countries that spend less and cover more people than this country? It simply doesn't exist. All you have is anecdotal horror stories while the raw statistics show we do an adequate job in healthcare and certainly on a per dollar basis get lousy results. You simply make unprovable and untrue assertions.

And then statements are made like [t]hey euthanize children up to one year old in Europe and don't count them as births for actuarial purposes. We save them, or try, and count them. They kill them when they're old and getting expensive, too. Nice", which is such an ignorant slur on an entire continent, I didn't even think it deserved a response.

And then there is this one "US infant mortality tends to be higher because neo-natal care encourages more interventions in premature births--so one must look at the meaning of the demoninator labelled as 'live births.'" I don't know where this backwards logic comes from, but neo-natal care actually lowers the rate of infant mortality. The lack of neo-natal care is why our infant mortality rate is so high.

Everyone here seems to think that Americans go to the doctor too often. The opposite is actually the case. Our insurance system discourages primary and preventive care and encourages invasive procedures. Successful nationalized systems stress primary and preventive care, thus reducing the need for the very costly treatments we seem addicted to.

And you are simply wrong about the purpose of modern health insurance. Health care is such an expensive product the only way to rationally dispense it is to spread its cost amongst a wide population. It is more like an extended warranty on your body than an isurance policy. Bad luck or bad genes can bankrupt all but the wealthiest of us and can lay low even people who think they are very healthy. It is if we all live in a hurricane or earthquake zone. Insurers would never offer policies if they could only offer policies to only the people who live in those zones. The bigger the pool, the more the risk can be spread out. That is why health insurance companies would much rather write group policies than individual ones (or when they write individual ones, only sell them to good risks). The market just isn't efficient when it comes to providing health care.

One last word about the wonderful efficiency of private insurance. My friend is a doctor in private practice with 8 other doctors. His practice employees three full time employees whose only job is to deal with insurance claims and companies.

Pogo said...

Re: socialism; Don't take my word for it:

In advocating the dominance of government allocation over market principles in the organization of the US health system, NHI is by definition a socialist endeavor.
Berger PL, The Capitalist Revolution: Fifty Propositions About Prosperity, Equality, and Liberty; Basic Books, New York; 1986 pp. 20, 70-3

By state control of the economy, socialism transfers power to an inner circle of bureaucrats who will inevitably seek more expansive powers. “It cannot be stated too often that collectivism is not inherently democratic, but, on the contrary, gives to a tyrannical minority such powers as the Spanish Inquisitors never dreamed of.”
Cristopher Hitchens Why Orwell Matters; Basic Books, New York; 2002, pp. 82-3.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, liberal economist Robert Heilbronner noted that there is “widespread agreement, including among most socialist economists, that whatever form advanced societies may take in the twenty-first century, a market system of some kind will constitute their principal means of coordination.”
Heilbronner R, 21st Century Capitalism; Norton, New York 1993, p. 97.

The productivity, creativity and competence of the free market that has been “the greatest –indeed, the only significant- alleviator of poverty in history.”
Mueller J, Capitalism, Democracy and Ralph’s Pretty Good Grocery; Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ; 1999 pp. 21, 53

Mike said...

"Health care is such an expensive product the only way to rationally dispense it is to spread its cost amongst a wide population.

Will you actually read what I wrote? What part of what I proposed limits insurance to a small pool? It does exactly the opposite. In the current system, those who don't get insurance through their employer have a problem. In what I propose, the pool is the size of the entire U.S. population. How much bigger can it get?

"Bad luck or bad genes can bankrupt all but the wealthiest of us and can lay low even people who think they are very healthy."

And those are the people who receive payouts. In your plan, everybody receives payouts for everything. That's why it's uneconomical.

"It is if we all live in a hurricane or earthquake zone. Insurers would never offer policies if they could only offer policies to only the people who live in those zones. The bigger the pool, the more the risk can be spread out."

Bad analogy. In the hurricane case, everybody gets wiped out at the same time. In health care, yes, a large number of people get wiped out, but not all at once. When you consider the entire population, only a fraction are sick or old at anyone time, while everybody would be paying premiums.

"That is why health insurance companies would much rather write group policies than individual ones (or when they write individual ones, only sell them to good risks)."

I think we've already covered this. The risk pool is the entire U.S. And as I said, but you conveniently ignore, I propose not allowing insurance companies to pick and choose.

Pogo said...

Re: "My friend is a doctor ...His practice employees three full time employees whose only job is to deal with insurance claims and companies."

And if you spent 10 minutes there you'd realize that at least half of the forms and demands for information come from Medicare and Medicaid, and the other half all merely copied Medicare's format for their requests.

Anyone who argues that the government is more efficient running health care doesn't know the meaning of the word. (Clue: Merely spending less on administration does not equal higher efficiency.)

Pointing out inefficiencies and contradictions in the pseudo-market of health insurance does not translate into "therefore, the obvious answer is national health care", except maybe to you and other socialists, but then socialists tend to say that as an answer to every problem, big or small. It's the Marxist's magic pill.

Homework for Freder:
Look up socialism and efficiency. May I suggest Von Mises as a source? Or Thomas Sowell. If time is short, read Hayek's "Road to Serfdom". If you're really lazy, try the cartoon version.

Andrei said...
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