Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How Is This Socialism

Ok you libertarians, how does this,  this, or this= socialism?  Below is a brief summary of what most of them all have in common:

"...plan includes an individual mandate to ensure universal coverage, offers all Americans access to the same menu of regulated private insurance options that members of Congress use, creates a new public insurer based off of Medicare that anyone can buy into, bars the insurance companies from price discriminating based on preexisting conditions, and uses refundable tax credits to limit the percentage of a family's income that health costs can consume ..."

Admittedly I don't know much about the details yet but it sure seems to me that the aim of the Edwards, and now HRC plans, is to make private insurance available on-top of universal health plan for those that can't afford the premiums we pay now.  That seems like a good way to get around some of the arguments (the delays in treatment) that are made when talking about the universal health care the rest of the modern world has. 

Maybe I'm totally naive and this is the evil socialism.  Educate me, please.

Oh, and regarding that oft-repeated quote that proves HRC is a socialist: "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."... Here is the context in which that quote and others attributed to her have been made.  Stupid context, always getting in the way of a perfectly good slam.

One note here, HRC is my least favorite candidate on the Democratic side.  I think she'll be divisive no matter what she does and that isn't really the best thing right now.  However, I also believe more crap has been flung at her than any of the other candidates to date and a lot of it is misleading or not true, as the above paragraph illustrates.  Not that this doesn't happen to all candidates, but her in particular. 

"Free and responsible government by popular consent just can't exist without an informed public." --Bill Moyers


Jim said...

This topic requires extended writing to properly address. Unfortunately, today's average American has a short attention span. Very short ... in fact, I have probably already lost half the people reading this comment by now. I will take some time (maybe tomorrow) and refute a few of the points made by some of the aforementioned candidates, or at the very least provide comments as to why socialist health care doesn't work. This past Friday 20/20 had an excellent show demonstrating why such health care systems are flawed. And the Cato Institute (Cato.org) also provides an endless amount of statistics and factual insight into the failings of government managed health care. (Frankly ... would you really want an organization that runs the DMV (at the state level) or the DOT (at the federal level) providing you health services?!?) This is the 20/20 webcast segment from last Friday (with 30 second commercial at the beginning ... sorry)


Anyway ... more later.


Silent Joe said...

All I am going to say on this is that our Social Security card should be our medical card. Benefits should be based off of your tax returns. You dont pay, you dont get benefits.

Too much money is being made at the expense of human life. The prices for health care items is almost, if not more than, as expensive than what the government pays for toilet seats.


Silent Joe said...

just want to add..
Whats wrong if it is socialism if it stops the "fuckmeintheassism"?


Jim said...

It amazes me that some people want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg just to get at what eggs may be inside it …without realizing that the goose will not continue to lay golden eggs once it is dead.

If we take away the incentive to make money, then there will not be advancement. If the system is socialized then the advanced life-saving drugs and medical breakthroughs that we have today will not continue to be innovated. Americans are idiots. We see the squalor the rest of the world lives in under socialism, and for some reason many want to join them. The hatred for free market enterprise, which allows people to make money while improving quality and length of life, is attacked by the left without regard for the advantages it has provided us.

Life is extended in this country even for the dirt poor because of the advances that have been made due to our economic system. The vile and hatred that exists because some people are actually able to afford “more” due to their financial status causes people to become irrational and attack our very advanced medical industry. Why? Because some get better treatment than others. The thing is … I would rather be in the lowest 10% of our country’s socio-economic populace with a health problem than be in the top 25% of virtually any nation in Central or South America, Africa, or Asia, and even many parts of Europe.

Rather than attack the system and insist that the very thing that drives the advancements – our free market economy – be destroyed ... why not figure out what has caused the system to deteriorate in the first place. You will find that overwhelming government regulation and an outrageous tort system have more to do with the problem than financial gain by the doctors and hospitals. But ironically, instead of fighting to reduce government interference people like Edwards and Clinton want to increase government meddling and intrusion.

The government is the only entity where failure is met with additional funding and resources. In industry, failure means that a different course is taken. In government it means that not enough money is being thrown at the problem. Keep throwing money at it even in light of overwhelming evidence that something doesn’t work. Because that’s all that people raised to think that government is solution to any problem can do. It is the hardy stock of our founding fathers that understood the dangers of government. They could foresee that the ultimate course of an all powerful government is Hitler or Stalin style totalitarianism. History proves that in one generation things can go from amazing prosperity to depression and violence. And that is the direction we are heading now with so many people leaving the government school system incapable of understanding why our system is (was) superior to the socialist countries around the world. No critical thinking is taught. Kids are taught government government government … government is the only solution. And this debate demonstrates that there is little chance that will change. History will repeat itself. And more will suffer because of the ignorance of the masses al clamoring for the government to kill the goose and rip it open to try and find those gold eggs.

Ryan said...

Alright! The startings of a conversation.

I ask why the medical plans are socialism because, as far as my reading goes, no one is pulling the plug on the incentive for medical breakthroughs. Money will still poor into the system through Americans that opt into a higher level of coverage, which I would believe the majority of people would do. The main goal of universal coverage is to give medical coverage to those that can't afford it so that medical costs, in case of an emergency for example, do not put them in debt for the rest of their lives. It is not the subsidizing of the entire industry by any means so I'm not sure where the parallels between an Americanised version of universal healthcare can be made to full socialized medicine.

Now, onto the rest of the soap box. I would submit that the reasons a lot of the counties you point to as "squalor" have a lot more to do with cultural or religious issues than political issues.

Am I right that based on your comment the problem you have is more free-market vs government regulation? Are you opposed to all government regulation of anytime and believe that the market can correct for all issues based on consumer backlash or some other mechanism? How do world players such as China play into the free market model if their goods are subsidized by the government to protect against any sort of free market backlash when they mess up? Hell, for that matter what would happen to our farming industry if we stopped subsidizing them and had them try to compete on the world stage?

It seems to me that a certain amount of government "meddeling" is desireable. Certainly there can be and there has been too much in many instances. But it seems that in light of a world market that won't play equitably and players within our own nation that seek profit over everything else (Enron, for example) some oversite and controls are necessary.

Dave said...

OK, so there are a couple of conversations going on here. One is about the benefits/costs associated with socialized medicine, but that has nothing to do with the question Ryan asked initially; and, it's a very good question, so I'd love to see a response. The question is not "is socialized medicine a good thing" but rather how is what Obama and HRC are proposing socialized medicine?

Here's the current system. Most people have worked for a company before. And while working for that company we bought into a group health plan. The plan may be Blue Cross, Etna, or one of the may other HMOs/PPOs out there. This means that the HMO/PPO isn't billing each individual person but rather it's billing the company you work for. The company then takes a certain amount out of your paycheck to pay for the cost. This model spreads the cost of care around so everyone pays the same amount, which has both an upside and a downside. The upside is that if you are one of the 1 in 3 (cite) who is unlucky enough get cancer then you know you'll be able to afford treatment. The downside is that 2 out of 3 will be subsidizing treatment for the other guy. I'm not much of a gambler but, personally, I'd bet on the coverage, and most people I've talked to about this feel the same way. Hell, it's the reason we get health coverage in the first place. We know that it's not a question of if we'll need it but rather a question of how much.

OK, so that's our current system. As I understand it, what Obama and HRC want to do is take that idea of group coverage and create a really big group, consisting of everyone in the country who wishes to buy in.

So I repeat Ryan's question: how is that socialized medicine?

Shana said...

Excuse my scatter-brained response, but I’ve been doing this in-between work for the last two days.

Firstly, Socialism, as defined by Wikipedia, refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community for the purposes of increasing social and economic equality and cooperation. These ‘universal healthcare’ proposals intend to take money from everyone (read: law-abiding citizens) via the American tax system, and redistribute it in the form of healthcare for the purposes of social and economic equality and cooperation. Hopefully that helps to clarify why it’s socialism.. it’s taking from everyone to help ‘everyone’ (or at least that is what they’d have you believe).

Secondly, let’s look at some of the programs that our current politicians ‘administer.’ Do you honestly think that social security and medical care for veterans is handled better by the government than it would by the private sector? Do you like the idea of less than 1% return of your money IF you live long enough to collect it? Have you heard glowing stories of how our country’s bravest are receiving the best and timely healthcare? No? I didn’t think so. Then tell me how much you're looking forward to the government having more and more control over your medical care.

Hillary Rodham was suggesting just two days ago that under her government-controlled health care plan Americans would have to show proof to any prospective employer that they have a health insurance policy before they could go to work. Soooo.. if I wanted to hire someone to do my gardening I’d have to require proof of their insurance? What about the 14 year old babysitting my kids? How much control are we willing to let the government have over the everyday functioning of our lives?

You will be required by the government to purchase a government approved health insurance policy. It wouldn’t matter if you were satisfied with the terms of your policy ... only the government's demands are important!
Oh ... and get this. If you happen to be a highly successful individual, and you go out and purchase a policy with too much coverage, then you are going to have to pay a penalty to ... just guess ... the government! That's right! Not only does the police state force you to buy a policy, but that very same police state penalizes you if you buy one that is too much better than some other people might be able to afford! (We can’t have citizens that are too far above the collective can we? We must crush their success and take some of it to redistribute to the less successful!)
It’s my firm belief right now that through participation in the private sector can we have affordable comprehensive health care and preserve our liberties. I, myself, have worked in the medical private sector, going in and out of disgusting, POORLY government-run VA hospitals, and I encourage you to download a policy study by the Reason Foundation titled "Emergency Medical Services Privatization: Frequently Asked Questions." [pdf] for further proof of how the private sector does it better.
Here’s some suggestions that I agree with (slightly edited by me, but not my own entirely):
• Eliminate government health insurance mandates. If I want to buy a health insurance policy that does not include coverage for drug and alcohol abuse and treatment or sexually transmitted diseases, then I should be permitted to purchase just such a policy. Check with your health insurance carrier in your state and see if you can buy such a policy there. More likely than not you will learn that various pressure groups have coerced the politicians in your state to make coverage for these items mandatory. This does nothing but drive up the cost of medical care.
• Give individuals the same tax treatment large employers get when it comes to purchasing health insurance. That is, allow the individual to take a complete tax deduction for every penny that individual or household spends on health insurance coverage.
• Clean up regulatory restrictions. Why shouldn't an optometrist be allowed to give some simple eye drops for diagnostic purposes? Why should you have to rely on a doctor with seven years of education and training to diagnose a simple sore throat? Why can't a nurse stitch up a small cut. Why can't a dental assistant pull a baby tooth? We have a system of regulation here that was designed not to protect the patients, but rather to protect the practitioners. Ophthalmologists don't want optometrists to use eye drops for simple diagnostic procedures. Physicians want you to sit in their office for 45 minutes – and then another 20 minutes sitting on that crinkly paper on that table in their examining room – so that they can ram a tongue depressor down your throat before you get your antibiotic prescription. Reign in the regulatory agencies .. give the free market and our ability to make decisions for ourselves run the show.
• Move away from employer-provided policies. Let's move to a system where all health insurance policies are privately owned. What happens then? We go out and we comparison shop for those policies ... and competition enters the picture. We also learn that we, not our employer and not the government, are responsible for our health care.
• Speaking of competition, no government should be able to prevent a health insurance company to refuse coverage to anyone because of that person's lifestyle choices. Stupid cigarette smokers should have to pay higher premiums to companies who specialize in insuring the ignorant. Ditto for the overweight. Reckless drivers pay higher premiums ... so should people who are intentionally reckless with their health. That lowers the premiums for those of us who are nearly perfect.
• Expand health care savings accounts. Politicians hate these medical savings accounts because they teach self reliance. Remember, the more self reliance we have in our society, the less we need government. The less we need government, the less we need politicians. They don't like this equation.

Ryan said...

Ahh, this is very good. Some very good viewpoints, learning quite a bit here. Dave, thanks for refocusing the debate, that was quite nice of you.

The whole scare tactic of 'would you trust the government to do x when they did such a crappy job at y' isn't much of an arguement as far as I'm concerned. You can make similiar arguement (and I will) regarding private industry and market competition.

But first, let's see if we can find some common ground. Do we all agree that the health care industry, in its current incarnation, is broken? Based on the answer to that question we can figure out what works and what doesn't. In any case, that's no fun. So on to the debate!

Shana, you make some good points and, if true, they stink. Particularly the point about only being able to buy into government sponsored plans and the penality if you buy into too much coverage or whatever the limit may be. If both of those are true it doesn't make any sense to me. I didn't read the plans that way, however. My understanding is you provide a basic amount of coverage for all citizens and then, on top of that, you have the option to buy additional private coverage outside of that government mandated public coverage. In this way you preserve competition while at the same time covering people that wouldn't be covered in a private-only method.

Speaking of the private-only method, isn't that what we more or less have now? I understand the policy read tape that you spoke of and in some ways I agree. However, in a private-only insurance model what is to keep the insurance companies from arbitrarily cranking up costs? That seems to me what is going on right now. Sure, some of it is due to garbage regulations but I can't help but believe that some of it is just plain ol' corporate greed as well. Without some sort of supervising body how do you prevent this? Rely on just free market influences? I guess that would work if you lived in a vacume with no other outside influences but that'll never be the case. Regardless of the degree of supervision (and I do agree at this point there is too much) there has to be some sort of accountability beyond just the market.

And speaking of the free market and its much heralded self-regulating abilities, I admit I am somewhat uneducated into the arguements here. Could you give me an example or two of a well-functioning free-market only regulated industry? I'm not convinced it can work, particularly not in all cases even if it may work from time to time.

Finally, the concept of taking money away from some to redistribute. Taxes, socialism, whatever. Where do you fall on this? Is there any place for government and taxes or should it all be rolled back? Are there no federally sponsered programs/utilities/whatever that you feel should be supported by taxing the populace? I know this is off topic but I really want to know where the line is here. I have no idea what I think. :)

Jim said...

Still here ... will reply soon ;-)

Very busy week.