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Old 01-22-2008, 07:04 PM   #1
philabramoff
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To address what you wanted me to respond to...

Concerning my comment that "most liberal ideas sound nice,
but don't work in reality", I can discuss several categories...

I'll list some of them, and then grab hold of one, we can chew on it,
and then go onto another one...

...in no particular order...
Socialist Economic Systems
High Taxes
Universal Health Care
Price controls on drugs
Liberal Approaches to Secondary Education
"Secularism" (for lack of a better term)
Some forms of Affirmative Action
Pacifism (i.e. the "anti-War" position...not specifically concerning Iraq)
(I'll think of others)

Socialist Economic Systems:
I start with this one, because I think it is an open-and-shut case.
I'm not sure exactly what your interpretation of what "socialism" is,
or what version, or volume of government you believe in, but liberalism
is primarily predicated on high government control of the economy,
redistribution of wealth, and controls of people's incomes.
I base my case against Socialism in that it is fundamental human
nature that people usually don't work if they are not compensated,
or only partially compensated. On the micro-level, under socialism,
a person works, receive a small personal compensation for their work,
are usually guaranteed to have their job, and then have a wide range
of government services providing for various needs. If the person's
compensation, and gov't services are guaranteed, whether the person
works hard and produces, or not, most people will not work very hard,
and not produce much. On the macro-level, under socialism, business
and commerce are highly controlled by the government, with business
profits highly limited, so business does not expand, produce, or become
innovative, or takes risks. Moreover, business and commerce also have
to deal with a primarily lazy and unproductive workforce. The apparent
"upside" of the government controlling the nations wealth in this way
is that the government will provide for the basic needs of all its citizens
with the wealth it controls. However, the government will only be able
to provide so much, because there just won't be much wealth there to
draw from. In summary...government services can only be provided for
if that government has a strong economy to draw from. Socialism, by
it's nature, will produce a weak, lazy economy, since the members of
that economy (who are not compensated on a personal level) will not
produce.

Okay, this is an oversimplification of the issue, but my basic argument
is there. My evidence toward my brief analysis is what has happened
in every nation where it has been tried: Russia, China, eastern Europe,
now Canada, and many nations now in Africa. Socialism has produces
weak, pathetic economies that have fallen apart at their cores, and
have given their citizens universal poverty, blight, and very little personal
freedoms on top of it.

Democratic Capitalism is the way to go, and has produced the strongest,
most vibrant economy in the history of the world, that of the United States.
Admittedly, the downside is that a portion of the citizenry falls through
the cracks, and suffers in poverty. Still, in this country, anyone, realistically,
if they really WANT to, can work their way out of poverty, or at least be
able to provide for their own needs, and the assistance is there for the
disabled.

In other words, Socialism doesn't work (unless it is done on a VERY small
scale, such as small communes where individual familes agree to buy into
it). It's pretty much been an abject failure everywhere it's been tried.
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Old 01-22-2008, 07:06 PM   #2
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Old 01-22-2008, 11:14 PM   #3
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philabramoff,

First let me say, that is a very solid and well-thought argument.

Much of what you say I agree with on some level. But let me specify my stance on socialism.

Most "liberals," I believe, are not for all-out redistribution of wealth to the point of complete eqaulity. I am for more governmental control of the economy, but that hardly eliminates incentives for success. Would you still like to be the CEO of a major corportation if you made 10 million a year instead of 50 million? Would you still want to be a doctor if you made 250K a year instead of 500K?

Basically, I would like to see the very wealthy (top 5%) taxed at a much higher rate than the other 95% of us.

Futhermore, we do live in a semi-socialist society. We have many socialized programs and governmental restrictions on commerce. We have unions and various worker's rights that are fundamental to socialist theory. Our economic system's relation to the government is slightly capitalist and slightly socialist.

Socialism feeds, clothes, and shelters children in poverty every day.

Socialism got us through the great depression.

Socialism was adopted with a fatal mistake in the Soviet Union and China. They skipped capitalism - and went from feudalist to socialists over-night, which could never work.

The US has, for the most part, adopted socialism at an appropriate rate.

Universal health care does work in other countries. Every western nation with universal health care has a longer life expectency than the US. In the US we pay more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world, yet the results don't match the cost. Our health care system is a catastrophe. We limit the number of medical schools, and doctors in America. We have the ability to treat people - the funds, the eqipment, the doctors, the time, ALL THE RESOURCES - yet we deny them because "they can't afford it..." How can that be okay with you?

Maybe universal health care isn't the best option... But it is better than our current system. Any system that denies millions of people life saving treatment because of money is immoral and completely unethical. If you don't want universal health care, then please propose a way to treat every American in need of treatment.
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Old 01-23-2008, 11:24 AM   #4
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Firstly, let me say it was a pleasure to read your response.
So often, when I encounter someone on the other side of
the aisle, I get yelled at a lot (which is why I usually avoid
discussing politics with people, except for people that I
know very well).

To answer some of your responses...it is interesting that you
make somewhat of a distinction between "socialism" and the
idea of the United States being "semi-socialist". I think there
is a clear distinction between "socialism", and offering "social
programs". My firm belief is that a nation can ONLY offer
effective social programs if it has a very strong, very vibrant
economy to back it up. Moreover, I believe that capitalism
and socialism are diametric opposites toward that end. It
almost seems, from your response, that you tend to agree
with me on this point, in that you don't adopt "socialism"
per se, but a form of socialism which is predicated upon
capitalism. Without getting bogged down on the definitions
of our terms, let's just say that I believe in capitalism as the
most effective economic system for generating wealth for a
nations, and then providing various social programs as needed,
and with clear examination and forethought. Sounds like you
would tend to agree (correct me if I read you differently), but
that maybe you believe in more expansion of those social programs
than I do.

Here's where we might differ...I try to differentiate between types
of government spending which are "necessary" and those which
"would be nice". For example, here in California, there's a measure
on the ballot called Prop 92 which will allot some more money to
community colleges. Now, here at the COMMUNITY COLLEGE WHERE
I WORK, they want everyone to wear "Yes on 92" buttons. I won't
wear one, mainly because I am personally conflicted. Yes, these
monies would HELP the place I'm at (and thus help ME personally as
well). However, the conservative I am tends to ask the question
"who's going to pay for it?" I have a bit of a conscience when it
comes to voting for something where "I get something" but "someone
else is paying for it". My decision has to be based on whether I
feel overall that such a measure would have an overall net benefit
against the idea that many people are working hours at their jobs,
and then having to cough up that money, so it can pay for this.

Speaking of which, I have my first class to teach, now in about
5 minutes, so I have to go.

Will get back to your other responses later.

Later, Fresh.
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Old 01-23-2008, 11:36 AM   #5
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To your first point, I think we are in agreement to some degree. I do feel that capitalism is necessary for out society. I feel that it works quite nicely when proper restrictions are in place. I feel the same way about socialism, which is why I think the US has done a pretty good job balancing the two. In other words, neither capitalism nor socialism are any good without the other. Capitalism without socialist policies would create a society where nearly everyone lived in poverty. Socialism without some capitalist policies would create a society of bums.

We need both.

Quote:
Here's where we might differ...I try to differentiate between types
of government spending which are "necessary" and those which
"would be nice".
I don't know much about the specific issue you are addressing, but since you mention "necessary" and "would be nice..." Where does universal health care fit on that spectrum? I think it is quite necessary... and a lot more than just "would be nice..."
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Old 01-23-2008, 05:33 PM   #6
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Okay...

Just an example of the difference between "necessary" and
"would be nice", to make the point...

Example: Funding the police force in Milwaukee is necessary.

Example: Building a two "light-rail" lines running through Milwaukee
"would be nice" (as I heard some people say), but it was,
thankfully, shot down about 10 years ago, because the cost
would have been prohibitive (about 1/2 billion dollars just to
build...all operating costs aside), while the ridership was estimated
to be only about 1500 people per year (i.e. over 300 Grand per
person)...would've more cost effective to just buy each of these
people a Lexus.

The opponents of this light-rail plan were demonized as being
some kind of greedy capitalist who didn't care about poor people.

Now...on to the Universal Health Care issue...

This is the way I read it...our health care system in the United States
is great. It's the best. We have cleaner, more efficient, more
professional hospitals than any in the world. Our R & D is untouchable.
We develop 92 % of all prescription drugs right here in the US (while
other countries take our work, copy them, and sell them in their
countries cheap). I'm also saying this as a minorly disabled diabetic who
visits doctors on a schedule, and takes four prescriptions.

This is the problem: COST.

Unfortunately, I believe the reason why 1/7 of the people do not
have health insurance, and are shy about going to doctors is because
the cost of health insurance is (at least perceived to be) too expensive.

But, as you say, health care is a necessity (and I agree with you).

So, how to address this issue?

Firstly, I identify a few MAJOR problems regarding why health issues
are so expensive....

1) By the nature of it, since health care IS so advanced and so good,
it is GOING to be expensive, because it is expensive to develop, both
in R & D (such as drug research), producing all of our intricate health
care equipment, and educating new doctors. Med schools have become
outrageously expensive.
2) Lawyers. We need MAJOR tort reform. Thanks to lawyers, and our
ever-more litigious society, malpractice insurance is through the roof
(I've heard figures like a quarter million a year). Obviously, the cost
goes on to the patients, and the taxes supporting the medical profession.
3) Insurance companies going out of control. Insurance companies have
been unethically not trying to pay claims, upping their premiums,
especially when it comes to many group plans. However, part of this
problem lies is some liberal-sponsored ideas, such as the idea that
insurance companies be REQUIRED to take applicants with pre-existing
conditions (meaning, required to take on new applicants who will
cost the company several thousands of dollars up front...so they have
to pass these costs on to others to cover the loss).

There are other reasons...but since I'm getting long-winded here,
let me think about some possible solutions...

1) Don't go the UHC route...address only the 1/7 who do not have
health insurance. Please note that many of these 45 million do not
have health insurance by CHOICE (young/healthy, or make enough money).
2) Tort reform...limits on lawsuits, bring down the cost of malpractice
insurance, soften the law of this and admit that doctors are ALSO
human beings who MAKE MISTAKES TOO.
3) Provide a low-cost federal health insurance plan that the gov't
will offer at, maybe 100 bucks a month (basic disaster plans are
already available thru regular insurance companies for 90-150 dlrs
anyway). Reduce the cost, or make it free for those who qualify
(disabled, elderly, etc.)
4) Require everyone over 18 to enroll in a plan. (We require people
to pay to get driver's licenses, etc). However, I am conflicted
about this idea, since it sounds like it would violate a citizen's
person right NOT to be insured. Would a person have that right?
5) Rein in the insurance companies. Stiffen the laws on them
not paying. However, work with them so the law doesn't screw
them over either.

Overall, I agree health care not the category of "would be nice",
but in the "necessary" category. Address the issue of those whose
needs are being failed...but don't SOCIALIZE it. It'll go to the
toilet, like it has in Canada.

More later...have to go now...
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Old 01-23-2008, 06:33 PM   #7
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I am glad to hear that you do believe our health care system can be improved.

As I said, I can not support a system that allows sick people to go untreated, when we have all the resources to treat these people. It is immoral in my estimation. I would support any proposal that would guarantee every sick citizen would be treated... Universal health care is the only proposal I have heard that can promise that...
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Old 01-24-2008, 04:04 AM   #8
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It's not an either/or thing, as if the only two alternatives out there are the former Soviet system and pure, unalloyed Social Darwinism.

Otto von Bismarck tried to tell the Kaiser that, urging him to adopt what by present standards would be considered a very modest social safety net. The Kaiser didn't take Bismarck's advice - and when World War I broke out, the German working class didn't exactly get behind the war effort 100 per cent - which was a major contributing issue in Germany's defeat in that war (in his famous testimony before the Reichstag after the war, Paul von Hindenburg blamed the "socialists, trade unionists, and Jews" for Germany losing the war).

Now fast-forward this scenario about a century, and transfer it across the Atlantic. Who can blame lower-income people in this country for opposing the war in Iraq, and in fact the War on Islam generally? And if things get really out of hand, they may very well end up doing what the Irish did in 1916 or the Ukranians did in 1941.

That's the thing about Social Darwinism: It has an uncanny knack for getting itself replaced by its diametrical opposite; and the replacement process has a strong tendency to be horribly violent - see France circa 1790 and Russia circa 1920.

Bismarck understood this. America's contemporary conservative leadership does not.
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
Universal health care is the only proposal I have heard that can promise that...
Not so sure I can endorse that particular bent on this.

Universal Health Care (i.e. turning the whole system over to the
government) in this country would be disastrous, as has shown to
be in Canada. It would not be "free", we would still be paying for
it through what would be necessarily high tax rates, and the quality
would dump into the toilet, with horribly long wait times (as it has
in Canada). Moreover, the psychology of the human person will
create a situation where many people will figure "hey, it's 'free',"
and end up going to the doctor every time their butt itches.
There won't be enough doctors to go around (there aren't now).
Then, we would be stuck with some form of governmental triage,
where the gov't starts to decide who gets treatment and who
doesn't. I fear going that direction. Insurance companies, and
health plans offered by businesses would go away, and anyone
forced to seek treatment out-of-pocket, would find it impossible,
unless they were REALLY wealthy.

As an anecdote, I heard a Canadian woman describe how her child
had a life-threatening illness, but was placed on a 6-8 month waiting
list in Canada. Out of necessity, she left Canada, and came to the
US to, ultimately, save her son's life. Her conclusion: "I'd rather have
my child live, and pay a price, than have my child dead, for free."

I disagree that UHC is the "only proposal" that can "promise" coverage
for everyone, and firmly believe it would make the problem much much
worse than it is. As I described before, I believe there are ways to
provide better health care coverage for the 5-10% of the population
who really "can't" reasonably get it (these issues described before).

Again, I have to go, I'll be late for my morning class...

But, CK, I'm curious to have your thoughts on this...
Question: Should the government REQUIRE that every citizen be
signed up for a health care plan (whether their own, or a gov't
sponsored plan) ?
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:23 AM   #10
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Oh yeah, CK, if I don't reply right away, it's because I won't
be back here until Monday morning.

C-ya.
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Old 01-24-2008, 11:34 AM   #11
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Quote:
Universal Health Care (i.e. turning the whole system over to the
government) in this country would be disastrous, as has shown to
be in Canada. It would not be "free", we would still be paying for
it through what would be necessarily high tax rates
It would be less expensive though. Per capita, the price of health care would be nearly cut in half...

Quote:
and the quality
would dump into the toilet, with horribly long wait times (as it has
in Canada).
That is mostly a myth created by the far right. I have family in Canada... They've never had to wait more than a week for care... I know people in America who have had to wait for a week (or longer).

Quote:
Moreover, the psychology of the human person will
create a situation where many people will figure "hey, it's 'free',"
and end up going to the doctor every time their butt itches.
Hmmmm, which is worse, THAT, or the alternative - "I've got a lump on my testicle... It might be cancer, but I can't afford the co-pay to go to the doctor... Oh well, I hope it goes away..."

Sorry phil, but I'd much rather have the luxuary of going to the doctor because my butt itches than having to avoid the doctor due to lack of funds...

Quote:
As an anecdote, I heard a Canadian woman describe how her child
had a life-threatening illness, but was placed on a 6-8 month waiting
list in Canada. Out of necessity, she left Canada, and came to the
US to, ultimately, save her son's life. Her conclusion: "I'd rather have
my child live, and pay a price, than have my child dead, for free."
I can give you millions of anecdotes of Americans who were denied life saving treatment due to lack of funds... No system is perfect, but every western nation with UHC has a longer life expectency than the US... How could it be as bad as you claim if every other nation is out living us?????

Quote:
But, CK, I'm curious to have your thoughts on this...
Question: Should the government REQUIRE that every citizen be
signed up for a health care plan (whether their own, or a gov't
sponsored plan) ?
No citizen should have to worry about any plan... It should be a birth right... If you are born in the US, you have access to the same hospitals and procedures that the president and Bill Gates have access to...
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Old 01-28-2008, 05:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
It would be less expensive though. Per capita, the price of health care would be nearly cut in half...
CK...I had the weekend to think it over, and your arguments honestly
do win me over. Unlike a lot of people you might meet, I do try to
listen to the "other side", as it were, and am open to changing my mind.

However, something just didn't seem to ring true to me, and I tried to
think through why. It concerns the problem with the quote you have
above.

A main argument in favor of UHC is that it is less expensive, per capita,
in other countries, than in the US (even figuring people "pay" for it
through taxation and a socialist economic system, rather than directly
through insurance, copays, etc.)

IE we pay much more per capita in the US than in other countries...

Here's my challenge:
What is included in our expenses toward health care in the United States?
1) We have most of/the best medical colleges in the United States.
Our cost lies in the training of physicians and medical personnel here.
Other countries send people in droves to the US to receive their medical
degrees here.
2) We do the vast majority of medical research and extraordinary medical
advancement here in the US. We spend a ton of our national resources
on medical advancement through our universities and research firms.
Then, other countries piggy-back off all the advancements and innovations
we make. As the charitable nation we are, we spend the time and money
to advance medicine, and then freely share it with the rest of the world.
3) We do the research to develop 92 % of all prescription drugs.
American companies like Amgen, Glaxo, Smith-Klein, etc. spend billions of
dollars on medical research to invent these life-saving medications, and
then other nations copy them, and sell them cheap (WITHOUT putting in
all the necessary time and money on the research).

In short, the United States is the golden land of medical training,
research, and advancement. Other nations, especially third world
countries, simply benefit from all the resources we produce, without
putting in the necessary costs.

I'm not saying it's BAD that other nations gain from our medical research
and advancement...on the contrary, we are a generous nation, and I
think it's good that we do.

Still, I believe it is faulty to use as an argument how "cheap" it is in
other, smaller nations to provide nationalized health care in comparison
to the United States. The US does, far and away, the lions share of
the medical research and advancement, and most importantly, foots
the bill.
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Old 01-28-2008, 06:04 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CKFresh View Post
No citizen should have to worry about any plan... It should be a birth right... If you are born in the US, you have access to the same hospitals and procedures that the president and Bill Gates have access to...
I challenge this also. Without getting too deep into the trap of
trying to "define terms", I do need to know what you mean by
"birthright".

Firstly, what do you mean by having the same care as the president and
Bill Gates? Do you mean that every person should be assigned their own
personal physician? You can't mean UHC that's that enxtreme, it would
be impossible. How about assuring the basic care for the people at the
bottom who really can't afford it, and not get too bunged up at the
fact that some ultra-wealthy people happen to pay personal valets to
wipe their butts whenever they bend over?

Secondly, I have an issue with "birthright". On a philosophical level,
as you don't believe in God (ie, we're all just a bunch of molecules),
the concept of "birthright" does not exist. However, in fairness, I
think you are referring to a "right before the law". My interpretation
of a "right" is this...
We have a right to "food". We don't have a right to force someone
else to go out and get it for us.
We have a right to "housing". We don't have a right to force someone
else to build our house for us free of charge.
We have a right to "health care". We don't have a right to force
someone else to spend ten years in medical school, and then treat
us for our illness free of charge, and take on the liability for our
condition, too.
I AM NOT SAYING THAT WE SHOULD IGNORE PEOPLE WHO CANNOT
AFFORD THEIR OWN HEALTH CARE...I just object to this idea that a
person simply has an inherent "right" to receive the outstanding
medical care we have in this country, with ALL its expenses and
all the resources and work behind its development, simply free of
charge (especially if that person CAN afford it, like 90-95% of the
population can).

My conclusion...UHC may work in smaller countries, especially those
that piggy-back off of what the United States has put into medical
development and advancement. It would be a disaster here.

So, CK, why is it not reasonable to go with MY idea of tightening up
the system for the lowest 5-10 % of the population who really CANNOT
afford health care, and assure that they do...and then require everyone
else who CAN afford it, to take responsibility and take care of it
themselves? Why must we go the extreme route of turning over the
whole system to the government?

PS: We can also bring down health care costs with some serious
tort reform.
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:04 PM   #14
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Phil, what do you do exactly? Are you connected to the medical field in some way? I'm pretty impressed with the knowledge of the issue you have shown here, I'm wondering where you picked it up. Good posts.
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Old 01-28-2008, 07:06 PM   #15
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I will argue against you in one respect though. I would say that even atheists can believe in a birthright...or a natural right to something. I would definitly say "health care" does not sensibly qualify as one, however, sense no one has the right to it before they enter society (obviously)...but in a larger sense atheists can believe in natural law/rights in my opinion.
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