Thursday, July 23, 2009

News Nits

"All the news that's fit to reprint."

It's been awhile for news nits. And we apologize to our reader. Fact is, it looks like 95% of blogs have been abandoned by their owners. Is there a blog pound? Will blogs get put to sleep? Will large companies or Jesuit schools declare eminant domain over, uh, your old domains? We will blog about ongoing developments, irony noted.

Cool picture above is of a new cloud type that has been turning up around the world more frequently since 2005. These new clouds are being called "asperatus" which is going to totally make the weather channel more fun to watch.

A lot of people have died as well. In a short amount of time, Ed McMahon, Farrah Faucett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays all died. Only Ed McMahon was old. Farrah meant more to a previous generation, when she was super hot. Out of all these people, I felt the most sorry for Billy Mays, dead at 50. Billy Mays was the fringe product schill who turned OxiClean into a household name with a legitimate national market share. Quite a story, and through the loud pitch and funny gimmicks, you got a sense that he was a real guy just trying to make it -- refreshing honestly somehow poking through a thin but entertaining shtick. MJ was very controversial and had long ago become more myth than man, if he was ever much of a man to begin with. Anyway, behind the media images and hype of these real people, may they each rest in peace.

Fast forward nits: A 14 year old boy in Germany was walking to school and got hit by a meteorite (the size of a pea) on his hand and lived to talk about it. Unfortunately, he only spoke in German, so I couldn't understand a word. Our brave soldiers fighting our politician's wars in Afghanistan may be in this longer than they or we would have thought. According to Marine Lieutenant-Colonel Christian Cabaniss, "we're going to seize the population from the Taliban and never let them go". Hang in there guys, we'll get some real leaders in office as soon as possible. (More on that at the bottom.)

Monkeys who ate 30% fewer calories but maintained the same high levels of nutrition lived longer and way better lives. This wasn't about obesity, this was about low calorie, high nutrition diets. It's been showing up in the literature for awhile now in mice and such (and in my own experiments on my fish, Bill) but the findings in monkeys are getting us closer to our own selves.

Ben Bernanke, our nation's favorite superfreak, says he wants the Federal Reserve (a private bank run by unelected officials) to expand its role and become "supercop". Mr. Benanke sites the recent awesome jobs his little cartel has done controlling the money supply and the effects that has had on the current economy. He also sited his boy Geitner's job in doling out trillions in taxpayer money to all their old buds from Goldman Sachs. In this picture, he shows you how he will squish your little brains as you relax in the pulsing, gooey matrix and lounge on cheap patio furniture while eating bags of funions.

At least some people are getting the joke. Russ Carnahan (D - MO) runs chin first into a crowd of good old, "show me" Missourians, who just will... not.... buy this farce of a centralized, socialist style takeover of healthcare being championed by Comrade Obama (especially precious are the looks on the women's faces who sit aside their wise leader as they are shocked that anyone would question his authority, benevolence, and supreme knowledge):

"In America, we have a two-party system. There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party. Periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called bipartisanship.” -- Sam Francis


Marty said...

Thanks for the apology

Roller said...

Glad to see the Nits back.

I looked at those monkey pictures in the article for a long time and I'm still not sure which is the healthier monkey. Sounds like more data to support the ELF diet. Eat Less Food! This is where the funny narrator sums up the story by saying something like, "In this case, the proof is not in the pudding!"

While you were on the subject of Bernanke, I'm surprised you didn't pump up your boy Ron Paul's bill, which is getting a lot of support, for government oversight to the Fed. Great bill, too bad it wasn't passed a couple years ago. Of course, it often takes a disaster for people to address a problem.

Marty said...

yeah, both those monkeys are pretty ugly...maybe i'll just stop eating food altogether, or switch back to my diet of a few years ago...which consisted of peanut butter and chocolate snacks at all hours of the day...

Ryan said...

Nits feels good to be back.

You really can't tell the difference between the monkeys?

I would pump Ron Paul's bill, but despite it's popularity, it will not pass. The Democratic leadership are too driven from the top down, and it looks contradictory to say "we need to audit the fed because it's suspect" while at the same time saying, "we trust and need the fed to distribute trillions in taxpayer money and manage the economy."

Marty, peanut butter definitely helps you live longer.

Marty said...

I see the difference, its just that one looks fat, unhealthy, and ugly, and the other one looks withered away, old and unhealthy...but i have seen news stories on these people who do nothing but reduce and count calories, and they say that the health and longevity benefits are pretty amazing...they're all just awful to look at though

kevin said...

both those monkeys need more human brain. whaddup congo!

G. Smith said...

it is indeed nice to see the return of the nits

both those monkeys look pretty unhappy to me. In this case I may agree with PETA in that there are plenty of fat people eating high calorie diets to experiment on...

poor Russ Carnahan! Nothings funnier than seeing an elected official get called out by constituents really upset about something.

Unfortunately, I don't think that's what this is - this is the old tea-baggers taking cues from the right wing nut jobs, who would rather continue to let millions go without basic health care than let Obama have a "win." They're not even trying to have a conversation about it according to their own memo:

but they sure are funny - got to watch this video:

this is pretty sexy too:

although it does seem to be getting violent:

So who on the right is fueling the tea-baggers fears? Could be Congress:

Could be the media:

"centralized, socialist style takeover of healthcare being championed by Comrade Obama"

or it could be the outright lies:

I don't know. What I do know is that the strategy just may work, that the bill is so watered down now, that the progressive caucus has issued a warning that they may withdraw support if it doesn't meet some basic conditions, like having a public option (a far cry from a socialist system - maybe it's a socialist option?).

The thing is, folks who support this plan far outnumber the tea-baggers:

and include the tens of millions of americans who are currently getting screwed, for whom, the status quo is killing them.

but support for health care reform isn't sexy, and all the supporters get is Huff. post articles.

So I've got to feel badly for Russ and he's such an easy target for the tea-baggers, that may be his last public appearance for a while.

and cause I know health care just isn't sexy - I've also got to point out that Farah Faucett was hot in our day too - this is just 10 years ago:

(you could hang wet duffle bags on those things!)

Ryan said...

G, great to hear from you. Plus, you are proof that our readership is up 50% over last month. Not even Cash for Clunkers could inflate those numbers.

First off, thanks for posting that picture of Ms. Faucett. that is perhaps the most important issue we have ever dealt with -- Farrah Faucett invented the Cougar, except there was nothing fake on her...

As for your other points, I heard similar arguments from John Stewart last night, you both must be reading Saul Alinsky's handbook. You both, rather than dealing with the issues, try to cast opponents as radicals spoonfed by the media, thereby implying the agenda of the bill is mainstream.

Yet you cannot deny that this healthcare bill would, in fact, be a socialization of our healthcare system.

I have come to understand that many people in our age group -- the first generation that grew up completely within the age of the Great Society -- now think government takeover or federal government regulation of an industry such that it is effectively taken over is normal, rather than Socialist. We live in such a weird age that avowed Socialists can't even be called "Socialists!" without the accuser being mocked.

I doubt we even know what the word means anymore, since a Socialist act cannot even be called Socialist without people thinking you're crazy. Heck, if it's Socialist and bi-partisan, it will get an ovation.

I remember growing up hearing of how dumb the Soviet Commies were to let so much of their industry be run by the Czars and central committees. Now we have Czars (literally) and have turned over the entire banking system and automobile system to our central government, and we think it's great! Actually, those who oppose this are being labelled as Right Wing extremists (who are also being targeted by Janet Napolitano as potential terrorists!).

It might not end up being Socialist, it could become Fascist. Let's play that game, it has worked out so well in the past.

The fact is, the federal government is making a huge step to control the entire healthcare system in our country. Whether or not it gets watered down to pass is irrelevant, it can always be amended/expanded.

But what can we expect from a culture that thinks "healthcare" is a "right"? The age of the Great Society has created the Age of Entitlement.

My grandkids just paid taxes so some people now could get nicer cars! This is called a win-win by our President.

G. Smith said...

It's good to know I'm part of a readership that is growing exponentially. And I have to apologize for the link laden response before, I'm hoping the descriptions were enough to make the point.

Ryan, I hadn't seen John Stewart the other night, but I appreciate that we had the same take on it.

Although, I hope his point in ridiculing the tea-baggers on health care was the same as mine, that it's sort of sad, and pathetic that this thing may sink b/c of wrong information. The fact is, the plans in Congress right now will be a huge step forward.

Now lets talk about this slippery slope to fascism. There are two government entities created in this health care plan, they call one the exchange, and the other is the public option. The exchange is like the connector in MA (not a socialist state) - all private plans have to sell their insurance through it, and are regulated so they can't deny people for preexisting conditions like pregnancy. The public option is another plan that people can buy through the exchange if they don't want to buy one of the private plans.

"Yet you cannot deny that this healthcare bill would, in fact, be a socialization of our healthcare system."

I'm not sure if by socialization you really mean this health care plan lands us directly in Red Square 1980, or if you mean this is a step that mirrors the policies of other Westernized socialist leaning countries. I suspect the latter, I just don't see the slippery slope to Stalin. Creating fire and police departments was a socialization of our safety system - was that an earlier slippery slope?

Personally, I trust the government to be looking after my health rather than my wallet far more than I trust my health insurance co. There's accountability with gov. that doesn't exist with private insurance companies, who are only accountable to their shareholders.

But I don't think that many of the folks that are turning out against this health care plan really care that much about health care. I think it's about about pure and simple fear of coming anywhere close to Socialism. The type of fear that would make people adhere to ideological principles like unregulated financial markets and capitalist health care delivery despite their proven ability to fail. They type of fear that makes people act irrationally, and has elderly people screaming at Congress to keep the government's hands off their Medicare.

I think a more intelligent discussion was had right here on tlatl about whether or not it make we should make policy guided solely by principle, or practical realities. My take then, as is now, that there should much consideration of both. In this case, our health care system is so fucked up for so many people, and it is so clear that healthy communities make healthy individuals and vice versa, that it just makes sense that we the people have control over it, not wealthy shareholders.

My point is that the tea-baggers arguments obstructionist tactics on health care are misguided, and irrelevant. The good news to me is that for those paying attention, supporters of the bill are starting to get recognized, and the media is realizing that the tea-baggers aren't really against this health care plan, they're just throwing a fit b/c of fear. Fear of a black man. Now where have I heard that before?

Ryan said...

G, for future political, especially economic, discussions on this site, please begin your statements with, "I am a proud Socialist." It will make it a much more productive conversation, and you won't run the risk of deceiving anyone.

Frankly, your email is so full of baloney, I can't really respond to it. Well done. Saul Alinsky would be proud.

The main point I would like to reiterate is that everyone in our country has a full right and is fully within their rights to oppose something that is practical or intelligent if it is also socialist.

Your own ideological grounds make you a hypocrite, you have merely replaced what you snidely call "fear" (and even have the nerve to intertwine with racism) with a cold "practicality" and "intelligence". Such arguments are always the front line of socialist movements.

Here are some statements from you that are incoherent:

"But I don't think that many of the folks that are turning out against this health care plan really care that much about health care."

This makes no sense. Did you conduct a poll somehow? Are you the most empathetic person of all time? What *should* these people "care" about?

"They type of fear that makes people act irrationally, and has elderly people screaming at Congress to keep the government's hands off their Medicare."

Medicare is run by the government. This example is a great argument against Medicare, itself, and federally run programs that dupe people into ignorance and lethargy.

"Personally, I trust the government to be looking after my health rather than my wallet far more than I trust my health insurance co."

That's awesome. They will certainly be looking after both soon enough. I can say nothing myself that undermines your position any better.

"Creating fire and police departments was a socialization of our safety system - was that an earlier slippery slope?"

I knew you were a socialist, but I didn't know your critical reasoning was slipping. Obviously, fire and police are organized on a local level, funded locally with local controls. We are debating a nationalized healthcare plan. Reinforces my position that not even current socialists know what socialism is vs. republicanism.

Keep reading. And keep your posts honest. Don't come here telling people they don't have a right to be outraged by encroaching socialism or that they are governed by fear. Don't tell people they should be more intelligent and practical as you bungle the facts and spew your own fear-mongering. If you want to be a proponent of this plan, state your agenda and then state your reasons, but cut out the crap.

Ryan said...

I just came across this article. It is more comprehensive and better written than my admonishment to G. Here is a snippet comparing the radical, socialist Obamamites tactics to push this healthcare through with the fanatical Bush/Cheney tactics used to push us to an unnecessary war with Iraq, below it is the link:

"First, you trump up a problem (2003: Terror/WMD/Saddam!; 2009: Healthcare costs! (which, granted, are outrageously high, though not for the reasons Obama, Krugman, & Co. say they are)). Next, you declare loudly that something just must be done, and you offer your gargantuan program (which you’ve wanted to enact for decades) as the one solution forced upon us all by the terrible predicament we’re in (We must invade Iraq!; We must have universal healthcare coverage!). Thirdly, you lament that the other side “offers no solutions” and is preventing a “consensus,” and you might have to also express chagrin at long-time allies who are reluctant to jump on board (“unpatriotic conservatives”; Blue Dog Democrats). You finally agree to “compromise” and perhaps whittle down some of your more outlandish proposals (Send Colin Powell to the UN; lower the proposed taxes on small businesses.) No matter what, you win in the end because you started the whole process off demanding something really big, forcing people to “compromise” towards your position, so to speak. (For another example of this technique, see the “debate” last January over Obama’s “stimulus” package, which was deemed too costly at $1 trillion and thus reduced to the paltry sum of $700,000,000,000.00.)"

G. Smith said...

??? wtf?

I work with a coalition of grassroots organizations that focuses on bringing the needs of the poor, and communities of color to decision makers. We promote policies and decisions that will empower those who historically have had no power - federally, we've recently won min. wage increases, expansions of health care for children, the stopping of the immigration raids that split apart families. 100% of our funding comes from private donations and large private foundations. Check us out for local victories at

Recently, I've been spending most of my day following, and promoting this health care plan in coordination with grassroots organizations in every state in the country - it's my job. Check out the campaign at

I am a proponent of this plan b/c it is going to help those who need it most, those suffering the most under the status quo - the poor, the under-represented, and people of color.

My agenda is to let the TLATL reader know how this debate is being perverted by lies, mistruths, and an ideological battle that will ultimately only benefit the private insurance industry.

We knew that this month was going to be a big one with this health care plan. The insurance lobby (American Health Insurance Plans) promised to spend over $1 million per day on fighting against it in August. One of the national players in the fight against the plan is a group called Conservatives for Patients' Rights, which is in fact run by a former CEO who set the record for Medicare fraud (google Rick Scott - he's a shady mother fucker - Conservatives for Patients' Rights is coordinating their anti-campaign with CRC Public Relations which was responsible for the Swift Boat ads in 04).

The reason I say that the tea-baggers don't really care about health care is because of what they're saying in forums, town halls, on blogs, and in the media. Its not about health care, it's about ideology and an unfailing dedication to the free market, its about fear (anyone seen the obama with a hitler mustache posters, or Obama shaking hands with hitler?), it's about racism (anyone seen the Obama in whiteface posters?), it's about bald face lies about what is in the plan (although some clever Members of Congress are now bringing along copies of the health care bill to their events, so that when someone shouts out a mistruth about the bill - like the death squads that Palin suggested and Gingrich supported - they can go look it up), and it's about people saying things that just don't make sense, like, "there's nothing wrong with our health care system as is," or, "keep the government's hand off of Medicare" (these two statements don't make sense b/c of the clearly documented fact that there is something seriously wrong with our health care system if people are dying b/c of lack of insurance, and b/c Medicare is a single payer, gov. system that tea-baggers are shouting to keep the gov. out of (sorry for the dangling preposition - the entire statement confuses me))

But since it seems that it's enough for you to just label me a socialist, and not engage in an actual conversation about our health care crisis (not a trumped up problem according to the 50 million that get no health care, or the 18,000 that die every year from maladies that would have been cured had they been insured), and I really don't like being called incoherent and full of baloney, I'll sign-off on this one, after this last point:

You're wrong about Alinsky being proud of my rantings about the facts on this health care plan. He knew, as well as I should, that facts don't convince people of anything. People are driven by their values, and we make decisions, and assign truth or falsehood to information they receive to fit those values, even if it leads to decisions that are not in their own self-interest.

The point being that even though we both grew up in the Grove, we seem to have radically different value systems, so we may not agree on any political point (although we'll always have Farah!).

Ryan said...

G, man, that's truly not the point. We may never agree on anything, and that's fine. The point is to be honest with people. Even in your attempts to come clean, you have slipped back in to old habits.

I didn't say Alinsky would be proud of your rantings on the facts of this healthcare plan, because you have entered no facts for debate at all. You have only, in true Alinsky fashion, brought criticism of your righteously emotional critics to bear. This is what I mean about being honest, don't claim to be above the fray when you are causing it.

You entered your first comments here implying that anyone who wouldn't engage you on your terms -- which were disingenuous because you brought no facts and tried to set the ground rules so that people couldn't argue against socialism -- as being unintelligent. If that is not a page out of Alinsky's handbook of emotional fear-mongering, I don't know what is.

Perhaps you are following the political aspects of this way closer than anyone else. I couldn't care less what the tea-baggers are doing, or how organized they are or aren't. At worst, they are simply opposing a radical, heavy-handed agenda, at best they are just living active democracy.

The links you posted originally, at their worst interpretations, are over statements. It is sad that the "right" has had to engage the pro-life crowd with such exaggerations just to energize them, but I don't think anyone actually believes the government will force you to euthanize yourself a la soylent green style.

But these overstatements are based on facts of the plan, which you continually avoid discussing while charging others as being ideologically driven.

The facts are that the government will be forced to ration care. The facts are that all health insurance plans will be affected via the exchange. The estimates are that as many as 50 million people will be pushed from their current plans to the government plan (Obama is absolutely lying that "if you want to keep your current plan, you can", technically true, but "your plan" will change, and you won't want it). The facts are that the last year of life is typically the most expensive one, and those costs will be cut, which means you won't get euthanized, but you won't get treated either.

You want us to debate this:

But on your terms. You won't let people just say "no". You want to nickel and dime them to death on a bill that is over 1000 pages long that you do not understand.

And you should double check your inflated stats. The 50 million uninsured is an extremely misleading number. It comes from census data and was first foisted upon us by the esteemed Ted Kennedy, through a drunken haze. (It was originally 46 million, but we'll forgive the rounding.)

Half of those people get health insurance within 6 months.

10-20(?) million of them are illegal aliens, who were counted among the uninsured.

~8.5 million of them make between $50-75k a year and choose not to purchase health insurance at that moment.

another ~8.5 million make more than $75k and are in the same boat.

The real numbers of chronically uninsured who make less than $50k a year and don't qualify for gov't assistance is much closer to 8-10 million.

So that's what I meant by both a) bungling the facts by both obscuring them or avoiding them and b) spewing fear-mongering by implying people who didn't agree with your or wouldn't debate particulars weren't intelligent and were ideologically driven and were not concerned about healthcare.

I wish you luck in your job but would encourage you to stick to getting money from willing donors, not backing heavy-handed govn't programs.

And we've never had a free market in healthcare within our lifetimes. You're confusing Capitalism with free markets.

I am just as eager as you are to bring down the Capitalist system, but I am just not willing to do it with Socialism.

G. Smith said...

Facts, facts, facts...

I know I said I'd be done but I guess I'm still riled up. I've read the bill, I understand it, and will reference it here. For those that want to follow along at home, you can find it here:

"The facts are that the government will be forced to ration care."

this is already happening in our current system - some powerful personal stories here:

Will it continue in the public plan or through the exchange? My reading of the bill suggests it no, that the bill puts medical decisions directly in the hands of patients and doctors, not an insurance company profit motive. People with this claim often point to Section 1401, which deals with comparative effectiveness data collection - which is just good practice to see what treatments are most effective. I'm pretty sure most docs think this is a good idea.

"The facts are that all health insurance plans will be affected via the exchange."

Absolutely. They won't be able to deny people for pre-existing conditions. There will be a minimum standard of benefits that all must cover. People will have the right to either buy from the private industry, or will be able to hop on a government run plan. Check out Sec. 122 for a good description of what all insurers, gov. and private will have to cover.

"The facts are that the last year of life is typically the most expensive one, and those costs will be cut, which means you won't get euthanized, but you won't get treated either."

Refusal to treat effectively euthanasia - this is the kill grandma theory, and yes, there are people who really believe this because the right wing radio shows that tell them this. In places like Idaho, rural Washington, rural Oregon, western CO, and western PA (places I'm following closely), that's all you can find on the radio dial. I've spoken with seniors who are scared shitless about it b/c this is what their news sources are telling them. You saw the woman who used her one question to the President in her lifetime to relieve her fears that this would happen. You have Palin and Gingrich quite seriously talking about death squads.

The only thing I can find in the bill that has anything to do with cost savings in end of life care is a provision to reimburse doctors to have voluntary conversations about end of life decisions with elderly patients Section 1233. So people can decide what kind of quality of life they're willing to accept. If they want to be hooked up to equipment that will extend their life for another year in a state of severely reduced capacity, it will be their choice to do so. If not, that will also be their choice.

Regardless, it's a moot point since it doesn't matter what kind of health care system you have, the final years of your life are going to be the most expensive, and someone has to pay for it. The question is whether you want a government, or shareholder guarantee that it will be covered.

"(Obama is absolutely lying that "if you want to keep your current plan, you can", technically true, but "your plan" will change, and you won't want it)"

I already don't want my plan - they've raised my rates 130% in the last 4 years, and in that time have raked in a sizeable profit. I know I'm not the only one out there who doesn't like their health insurance plan, and feels like I have no control what they will and will not pay for.

Sections 131-137 have a good bit on consumer protections that don't currently exist in the private market.

I'll give you the haziness on the number of uninsured, both the left and the right have discussed whether the 46.7 number is accurate, and whether or not we should count people not insured at the time, in the last 6 months, or any time that year.

G. Smith said...

But there are other health economists suggesting that the 46.7 number is probably too low, since the recession has caused millions of job losses, and likely loss of health benefits.

The census is releasing a new count on Sept. 10 on their American Community Survey which for the first time includes a question about health insurance coverage.

Important to remember, too, that the health care crisis isn't just about people without insurance. It's about the millions more who have bare bones plans that still can't afford basic preventative treatment. Over half of bankruptcies in the U.S. (before the recession) were caused by medical debt, and a vast majority of those people were insured at the time they incurred the expense.

But I don't think it's misleading to talk about 47 or so million uninsured, because for whatever reason someone is uninsured, or under insured, we all pay for their treatment when they go to the emergency room. So it's a problem for everyone.

Part of solving the thing is figuring out how to get those people access to health care. For some it means forcing them to do it b/c they can afford it, the individual mandate. For others it means improving and streamlining enrollment procedures so that we reach those who are eligible, but not yet enrolled. And for the undocumented immigrants, who we all know aren't going anywhere, and are as much a part of our communities and schools as anyone, it's about getting them access to health care somehow (this bill doesn't do that, in fact, this bill explicitly forbids anyone not in the country legally from getting health care, Sec 246, and if that weren't enough, the House passed an amendment with the bill saying that all bans on undocumented immigrants currently in place, stayed in place)

It is a long bill, seems like it could be shorter, but it's a big country, there are a lot of people here, and this is a massive overhaul. Seems like a weak complaint of the bill.

I have, though, changed my mind on one thing in the last week, I shouldn't discount the tea-bagger movement - it is truly a grassroots movement. It's no longer the insurance lobby paying people to go out and protest. They're showing up in large numbers across the country. But I have yet to see a coherent argument besides misreadings of the bill, Obama's Hitler, and cries of It's Socialism! And again, to the millions who are suffering b/c we have a broken health care system, that doesn't seem like a strong argument.

Ryan said...

I don't see much point in entering into this debate any further. You have disclosed that you work for a socialist, racist organization and that it is your job to push such agendas through the government onto other people.

No amount of detailed wrangling can change the nature of this bill or the nature of what you think is normal.

Gene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel said...

Your mommas.

Gene said...


Ease up. You are treading in waters that are directly contradictory towards previous TLATL ideals. Discussion, even arguments, are protocol... but they are done with respect.

Best I can tell, however, you are stepping into new grounds. Accusing G of working for a socialist and racist group sounds pretty damned baseless if his words and website are your foundation.

It's ok to disagree, but your name- calling antics are quite irritating.

Funny thing is, you have good points. You and G probably have somewhere between 260-340 IQ points between the two of you, and all you do is bicker about what the other said. Don't get me wrong, bickering is better than apathy, and I'm guilty of the latter at times, but Jesus H Christ, enough of the name calling.

I expect a resolution to this be the morning. That is all.

Ryan said...

Gene, I can understand that my words might sound harsh, but that is only because of the cultural PC norms of today.

I absolutely respect the man known as G, and I call him my friend even though we haven't had a beer together in too long.

And to the extent that his office and profession makes people's lives better through charity, I have the highest regard for it.

But for a respectful debate to happen, honesty needs to be foremost in terms of how we represent ourselves and the meanings of the words we use have.

G's job is to push agendas, among other things. These agendas are on behalf of people "of color" as he put it, which makes his company racist, by definition. G also on numerous occasions has injected Race into debates, so he is obviously comfortable with the topic and knew what he was doing when saying what he said about his profession. This is not a slur except possibly only in your own mind. And G works to push through the government, among other things, wealth re-distribution efforts and other so called equality measures, which is a hallmark of Socialism.

I was not name calling in the sense you bring, like when kids call each other poo poo faces or when adults call each other assholes. "Racist" and "Socialism" have real meanings that are relevant for any discussion, especially the current healthcare fiasco gripping the nation.

G is free to explain how I am wrong if he wishes, but he would be eating his own words. I have added nothing to them, only simplified them because I was explaining why I wasn't willing to engage in debate over each tree, when I considered the forest invalid.

The worst language I used against G was "baloney", and I apologize to him and others if that was out of line.

Gene said...


rac⋅ism  [rey-siz-uhm] Show IPA
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

Using the word racist in the sense you claim to intend is like referencing a faggot and immediately expecting others to think of a bundle of sticks. I of course believe you don't think G has a racist agenda as in the sense of definition #3. It is, however, incendiary language that has clear connotations. Call me PC if you must, but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

I guess I'm opening up a whole new discussion. Sorry to take away from the healthcare debate.

Coovo said...

Gene, I heed your call and I am on the blogging warpath. As soon I finish this last licorice rope.

Until yesterday I thought a socialist organizations were like country clubs or bars. Places where you can be you know, social.

Last thought. I was scorekeeping for the park district the other day and talking with one of the umpires. He called Obama a communist. Yikes! Does he mean like Lenin? Or Lennon? I better liquidate my assets. Who wants to buy my coffee table.

The ump also said that this healthcare thing would give the government access to all of our savings accounts. Has he been sniffong to much mississippi mud?

Ryan said...

Gene, no need to apologize, this is much more interesting than the supposed healthcare debate. Thanks to you and Coov for your comments.

Coov is showing how harmful it can be when people cling to misinformation (G was showing this as well), etc, and that is what we are trying to avoid. It's one thing to make the leap from end of life discussions and cutting late stage treatments to control costs up to forced euthanasia, and it's another to say they'd have control over our savings accounts. Whatever.

I would argue that racism has become such a loaded word that it no longer means the hate filled lives of people like the KKK or Black Panthers but has become a soft weapon for usually leftist agendas to use to keep otherwise non racist people on their heels.

For example, G insinuated earlier that people against the healthcare bill were against it because we have a black President. "Fear of a black man" were his words.

Is that not racist language? Does that not leave a sour taste in one's mouth?

G's organization is racist in the sense that race is always an issue, either central or distracting to the debate, it is always used as a weapon to back down opposition or justify a crisis so agendas can be pushed.

G also didn't just say that he works on the behalf of poor people and leave it at that, he added "people of color". Now I'm not saying he doesn't help some white people somewhere in there, but I'm trying to straighten out why it's outrageous for his organization's agendas to be called racist.

You don't need to be a southern white christian to be a racist anymore. The types of organizations such as Northwest Federation of Community Organizations feed on racial tensions and claim almost any disparity in life is racist.

I just looked at their website for the first time this morning and was not surprised to find their lead article fitting my description on 2 counts, 1) it is showing how racist some system is, 2) it is manufacturing a crisis out of it to justify changing some law.

"NWFCO exists to advance a progressive national agenda by executing regional and national campaigns for economic, racial and social equity and by building strong affiliates."

I would be interested to find out the sources of their private funding.

Socialism is a fascinating philosophy. Marx noted that Socialism happens after Capitalism fails on its transition into Communism (man was smart, and Coov's Ump might be able to see the future).

The stated goals of Marxist agents in the U.S. (you can go back and read this anywhere, it was very popular in the 50s and 60s), were to destroy in America:

the strength of nuclear family
the strength of religion
the strength of private property

How far along that path do you think we already are as a nation? Why would some extremely rich people have a direct interest in making sure it happens?

These things are more than names or labels, they are dynamics happening in our country, and we better be able to identify them and speak out loud about them.

G. Smith said...

Apology accepted, Ryan, I hate baloney.

I don't want to argue semantics too much, but there is a big difference between the popular and common definition of racism as Geno quoted, and what we do, and what I think Ryan is trying to say.

We do look at our work through a racial justice lens, and are deliberate in leading with a race frame. As an organization committed to social justice, it is ineffective to ignore the fact that a lot of social injustices are defined by racial lines. To ignore it pretending that everyone has the same opportunities, is to ignore realities of institutional racism that we see in most inner cities, the rural south, and really most of America.

We are not in a post-racial society.

At the risk of sounding like "some of my best friends are white," I hasten to add that these aren't aren't the only lines that we see, we also work very closely with folks in rural Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Montana - who are mostly white, and just as stuck in systemic poverty as anyone. In fact, 4 of our 5 affiliates were founded by predominately white, poor, grassroots leaders, in large cities. It has only been in the last 3-5 years that our board made the decision to also publicly recognize that people of color - black, latino, asian, most immigrants, native Americans - are overrepresented among the ranks of the poor.

Overall we advocate for the poor, and under-represented, and it is clear that race plays a role - but not the only role. So of course we play the race card, otherwise we're not playing with a full deck.

We're driven by our members, grassroots leaders who come to us with stories of being stuck behind a variety of social barriers, social, economic, geographic, racial - read the stories in the reports we put out. These are not manufactured crises for these people.

As for using race to back people down - our focus is not on interpersonal racism, but on institutional, and structural racism - like when public programs get cut in urban areas, it is often black and latino folks who lose their health care, or access to healthy food etc. For many rural areas, it's often mostly white folks, and we fight just as hard there too. Another example of how these lines get drawn along racial, and non-racial lines is in education. I saw this clearly in high schools - when I was a teacher at WGHS, where there was a large, very segregated population of white kids and black kids (a few others thrown in), ivy league schools regularly visited recruiting seniors. When I taught in a blue collar, mostly white and latino neighborhood outside Portland, we only saw Army/Navy/Marine recruiters. In Renton, Washington, a school of true diversity, latino, asian, white, black multi-ethnic, we were lucky to see literature on local community colleges in the career center. All these can be good opportunities, but they're not all available to all students, and they clearly set kids up for different life paths. The Renton kids, and the Portland kids were victims of injustice, what Jonathan Kozol called Savage Inequalities.

It is perhaps not useful to suggest that people are protesting the health care plan b/c they're afraid of Obama b/c he's black. That's not the sort of thing our organization would address anyway, since that's an interpersonal problem, and we're focused on a larger level. But - I just moved to western PA, and there are some blatantly racist mother fuckers out here, and I think it's naive to suggest that interpersonal racism isn't playing some role.

We don't suggest that every disparity in life is racist, we collect data on outcomes, and highlight the lines along which these disparities exist. These lines are often, but not always, racial. And we are committed not to run from whatever the barriers are, and committed to address them on an institutional level. Sometimes that means taking on governments, sometimes that means supporting government. Really, it depends on the government.

G. Smith said...

Our organization is an open book. Check out, and search us - our tax forms are all there that list our funders.

Marx was a bright guy, Plato had a similar analyses of our progress towards a dictator state - but I think their sense of absolutes have been proven wrong by history, and the myriad of developed countries that are balancing capitalism and socialism pretty well. Both Germany and France just emerged from their recession, and both have versions of socialized health care. (Neither are perfect, France in particular suffers from horrible structural racism b/c their constitution prevents them from collecting data on race - but don't get me started on the French).

My point on the health care debate was to suggest that most of those that are protesting it, and manufacturing lies about the plan, are principally worried about what Marx was talking about - the slippery slope.

But, it's clear to me, but not to others, that this health care plan is not a slippery slope, that there are enough Capitalists in America and in Congress who want to keep private insurance alive, that we will never have a single payer system - a truly socialist health care system. So stopping the current reform would only perpetuate the ongoing injustice that is our health care system, that is failing not just the poor, and people of color, but of middle class Americans too.

And we all have agendas we're pushing don't we?

"It's time to start a new political party based on private people not government power."

Isn't that what blogs are all about?

Ryan said...

G, good to read your comments. Let me hit a few of them and see if you're interested in responding:

"And we all have agendas we're pushing don't we?"

Not at all. Geno might be a great illustration (pardon me for volunteering you in effigy Geno). Gene is both a private individual and a medical doctor. Now, if he received his paycheck or some big chunks of money from big pharm companies and while debating this healthcare issue, he painted opponents of their interests as fear-mongering racists, then he might have an agenda. Otherwise, the rest of us are expressing opinion. This is why I keep hammering on honesty in the sense of full disclosure. Only one of us here gets paid to read 1,000-page government documents.

(Perhaps I should switch jobs though.)

"It is perhaps not useful to suggest that people are protesting the health care plan b/c they're afraid of Obama b/c he's black."

Useful to what? The agenda being pushed? Or do you mean that it is perhaps not accurate? Again, the slip of the tongue reveals the way race is used as a weapon. (This is not an accident or isolated tactic but an intentional and centrally dictated tactic documented by people like Saul Alinsky in the 60s and handed down to "grassroots" organizations through multiple generations of indoctrination.)

"As for using race to back people down - our focus is not on interpersonal racism, but on institutional, and structural racism"

So this is either not true, or you just made a mistake in your previous statements making race a personal issue for it's usefulness. But forget that for now and say your company is only against "institutional racism". That in mind, here are some very simple questions with simple answers:

Does your company actively lobby to end all forms of affirmative action and quota systems? Is your company actively lobbying to end race-based mandates like requiring government contracts to include a certain percent of minority-owned businesses?

What should the new party be named?

John Hanrahan said...

I more to read to fully catch up on this whole chain of blogs but I have read most of the material and have some thoughts

I think individuals as a whole have a hard time discussing issues and solving issues with pure reason. I think both the right and the left use wedge issues to move things in the direction that they would like things to go without making a point why one way is better than the other.

I would like to say first and foremost that I am a big fan of capitalism and I think that capitalism should run most of the programs in the United States. That being said I think as an American you have fundamental rights that are essential to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I think access to affordable Health Care is a right for all Americans. I think every America has the right to an education and the right to be protected from people breaking the law.

I think before we discuss ways to fix the system people need to discuss if they think health care is a right?

We also need to discuss if you think the current system works.

What suggestions do you have for fixing the system if you think that the system is broken?

I think it is hard when politics get involved because people use emotion instead of intellect and reason. An example of this would be the man at the town hall that said he wanted the government to stay out of his Medicare. I guess he didn’t know that the government ran Medicare.

With most of us having at least a college degree, if not a Masters, or Medical Degree. I think we can use reason to have this discussion.

I think healthcare is a right.
I think we could improve the current systems

Here are some changes I propose.
- Tax Breaks to doctors and medical facilities that treat lower income individuals.
- An electronic system that allow doctor to share medical information. I think it is silly when my General Practitioner and My Asthma Doctor both do Chest X-Rays two months apart from one another.

Ryan I really don’t think people use the term racist in the way you though you used the term racism. When Glenn Beck called President Obama a racist and said that he hated white people and their culture. He also said that the whole Obama plan was a secret plan to get reparation for blacks. I think we should keep those comments and attacks out of this discussion and we will all be better men for the debate. (That being said I have known you and G for more than half of my life and I would bet every dollar I have that neither of you are racist)

G. Smith said...

I can't win here!! Either I haven't read the bill, and I don't know what I'm talking about, or I have read it and I'm a patsy for - poor people?

We're a grassroots lobbying group - we lobby on behalf of poor people. For that I earn a teacher's salary. Ya nailed me. I do feel fortunate, however, to have a job that I strongly believe in. I wouldn't have been able to muster up so many posts on behalf of the WG Aquatic Center.

I suppose you have a point, though, it is my job, and so perhaps I should therefore opt out of discussions about health care these days. I was inspired to weigh in b/c you had posted the Carnahan video, and I'm doing what I can to fight back against the gross misrepresentations of this bill that were evident in the video, and all over the media.

but let me take your questions:

"Does your company actively lobby to end all forms of affirmative action and quota systems?"

No. Most times we support them. These types of policies, while sometimes flawed, are means by which to reverse the results of the historic and present day racism, which sees people of color less likely to be in high-wage jobs or positions. They came about b/c even though the civil rights movement removed much of the lawful segregation, the status quo continued to perpetuate economic and social stratification along racial lines.

Is your company actively lobbying to end race-based mandates like requiring government contracts to include a certain percent of minority-owned businesses?

No. Most times we support them. See above.

(did I just walk into a McCabe trap?)

I bet Geno's got an agenda - I bet he'd like to see everyone eat healthy, not smoke or drink too much, have regular doctor's visits, and check their nuts and boobs for lumps. But there's no need to push that here (although a testicle conversation may be more fun, we already covered boobs), or anywhere else except with individual conversations with patients b/c no one's saying otherwise...(yet).

We may be getting into a last word fight on this, though, and I sort of want to loose. I don't think we're going to agree - we both seem pretty sure of our righteousness. I'm pretty confident that you're going to say that our support for affirmative action type policies means we're racist, and I'm going to say no it doesn't - we may get a lunch meat jab at each other in the middle, and we'll come back to G's a Socialist paid by ultra lefties with an eye towards communism, Ryan's an ideologue too worried about fascism to care about poor people.

So, have the last word if you like, and then lets let someone else weigh in, or better yet, lets talk about your last question, possibly on your new post - how can we call your new party anything but what it seems to be - Libertarian?

G. Smith said...

By the way, I have much love for TLATL - it's been too long since I've seen most of you, but it is nice to feel among old friends while having some heated discussions.

John Hanrahan said...

by the way my blog should have started with

I need to read more to fully catch up on this whole chain of blogs

Stupid cut and paste

Gene said...

Thanks guys. I feel warm and fuzzy now, knowing that even though we all disagree, we still check each other's nuts and boobs for lumps. That's all I was getting at.

Seems that my dispute with Ryan was more a misunderstanding (semantics again... see strikeouts in CWDFB,) compounded by Rye's genuine gift for setting someone off. I love that about you, seriously. Well, most of the time at least.

Health care is a huge issue and to be quite honest, I don't know what the best choice is. I do not have an agenda, outside of perpetuating Cardinal Fever. I am certain that complete socialization of medicine is a terrible choice, but beyond that I'm unclear. Without a well regulated oversight system run by the government, I have my doubts about Ryan's previously described system that benefits from charity of others. That's just my cynicism from seeing the underside of humanity.

And I think John's point of healthcare rights is again the base. Ryan, you alluded to this many posts ago and I got the drift that healthcare is not necessarily an inalienable right in your mind. Please correct if I am wrong. If I am right, that may be the root source of much of this disagreement between you and G, and "agreeing to disagree" is probably the least bloody forward course.

I've enjoyed reading, as always, and I've learned some from both sides. Thanks.

Ryan said...

I'd like to first apologize in the polite sense to G. This very interesting conversation has had the side-effect of putting his company and indirectly himself under a lot of scrutiny. It is a credit to him that he has been willing to show up and continue to add fuel to the fire. G is one of the only people I know who has bigger calf muscles than I, and I think it is showing here.

Let me finish my points with him and then we can all move on to the healthcare insurance debate.

G, yes, it was a trap, but I knew you'd see it. My point was simply that your org can't say you are against institutional racism, since in principle, they're not. They are a purely outcome-based organization that works to change laws and redistribute wealth. Because of the sensitive times we live in, the race card is often played in order to appeal to more people. I hope we can drop this, I didn't mean to imply your group was hate-filled or traditionally speaking, racist. But just like affirmative action, they are racist. And of course, I think it's clear how Socialism is a consistent goal of so many such groups.

Is healthcare a right?

This is going to take more work first before we can be productive. Are we really talking about healthcare, or healthcare insurance? Are we talking about "rights" in the same way the Declaration of Independence does, or has that concept changed as well?

First, the concept of rights. As an extension of Western Civilization, the U.S. is the most recent attempt to find the right mix between gov and people. At some point, we agreed that our rights came from God, our Creator, not the Government, and that Government tended to infringe on our rights, not grant them.

In that sense, and in our country's charter, rights belong to all people by virtue of their existence. The Bill of Rights was written not to guarantee any rights, but to enlist the ways the Government could not grow -- to enlist the ways the Government could not attempt to control our lives. The Government does not provide our rights.

Now to healthcare. There has never been a healthcare crisis (their may not even be one now) until corporations teamed up with government to take over hospitals in the 70s. Hospitals themselves were essentially invented by European Catholics -- nurses, nuns and doctors -- and no one was ever denied access. Since the government has been telling us it is our provider and our overseer, if you enter a hospital now, the first question is, "Do you have insurance?".

It has not been all bad. The capitalization of healthcare has poured lots of profits into innovation, and the result is that the U.S. has the best healthcare system in the world in terms of quality.

The bad part is that we have shifted yet another area of our lives from locally controlled charity to giant corporations, shortages and excesses have occurred.

This confusion persists today, when people say they think all people have the right to healthcare. What they are really agonizing over is that health insurance -- a commodity -- has gotten in between doctors and patients. Like any commodity, poor people can only afford so much of it.

Combine this with the prevailing liberal sentiment that the government provides us with our rights (a fallacy) that the government must then provide us with healthcare.

Given this background, it is clear why I say that I do not believe healthcare insurance is a right give to me or anyone else by God.

Ryan said...

This is a money and control grab by both the federal government and large pharm, plain and simple, not a step towards a better future for us.

There are plenty of problems with the current healthcare system, and they almost all come from companies that are too big to manage, government intervention under the guise of kindness, and a lack of open competition in a free market.

We will probably have to get into the difference between Capitalism and free markets as well, but that's a different post. Sufficient to say for now, Capitalism has almost single handedly gutted our country and out culture and has dealt us such a harsh blow, we may not recover. Instead, we will stumble down the path of Socialism as a reaction, and we know how history has treated that.

Ryan said...

P.S. G, I am not a libertarian in the least, though I do think they are a decent place to start an education.

Individuals, families, and communities would be the center focus of this party. It would be an alternative to (or blend of) Socialism and Capitalism. It would primarily challenge the NeoCons in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Ryan said...

Here's an article that is another side to the debate, granting some perspective and light into how things don't have to be the way they are:

John Hanrahan said...


Healthcare not being a right is a valid point.

How would you fix the current system?

What should we do with the elderly on Medicare?

By the way I heard Glenn Beck say we have the best Health Care system in the world as well. Where are you getting this information?

The World Health Organization Ranks us at number 37.

Ryan said...

Johnny, yeah, this debate is a mess, isn't it? When people who are reasonably intelligent and informed are saying opposite things as if they are well known facts.

Glenn Beck is funny and entertaining. Sometimes he is really weird.

How would I "fix" the current healthcare system?

There are two aspects that I see as being broken with the system (although there really is no "system" any more than there is an "economy").

The first is inequality. The things I said may be true, about insurance getting in the way of medical care, that doesn't mean it's not a reality that has to be dealt with.

I would not favor any national plan. If individual states want to have a more socialized program, that's on their citizens. Massachusetts is learning the hard way. The needs of Florida, Missouri, Washington, Minnesota are all different, let the plans be different, if they should even exist at all.

My general opinion is that if we followed other models, like the auto insurance model (no crisis there) where consumers make their own decisions based on a mix of considerations and options, prices would come down almost immediately.

This would make charity possible, which today it probably isn't due to opaque pricing, medical bureaucracy/regulation, high taxation/gov't usurpation of charity, etc.

Second, I would dismantle the federal grip on so much of the healthcare industry. There is nothing to be done about the elderly on Medicare, we owe them what has been promised, whether we like it or not. Perhaps some reforms can happen within the program.

Long view, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security need to be shut down. Make them immediately voluntary, meaning the young can opt out of paying those taxes and then will not receive benefits. Offer the people on it a buyout option to get them out of the system. The fewer people hooked on the government teat, the better, in every case.

Another part of dismantling the federal grip is to massively deregulate the system, from drug purchases (including the so called "war on drugs") to the impossible, top-down, central regulation of the industry. The FDA might need to go as well.

It wasn't that long ago that people paid for what they wanted in healthcare. That should be restored. It is a myth that the central government has provided any level of security in our healtcare system by regulating it. Modern medicine is the 4th leading cause of death (as old people have been saying for years, once you go into a hospital, you don't come out) in hospitals. Literally, hundreds of thousands of patients a year die from current medical practices.

This is the security the FDA provides?

p.s., I gotta go, the Cards game is starting, but I said that our system is the best in the world in quality, what I mean is we have access to the best, top-level care in teh world, in spite of not having a nationally universal system in place. I didn't get that from Glenn Beck, I swear!

G. Smith said...

On health care as a right, there are two strong arguments to suggest it should be. First, for our founding fathers, access to health care was not the integral part life as it is today. However, with the state of modern medicine so integral to everyday life, access to health care is now essential to the pursuit of life and happiness - which our founding fathers did declare a right.

Second is to note that prisoners already have a clear right to health care, this according to a Supreme Court decision based on the cruel and unusual punishment clauses in the Constitution. It seems an injustice that prisoners would have rights that law-abiding citizens do not have.

My analogy to explain our "greatest health care system in the universe" coming in at 37th is South Africa, where throughout the 70s, 80s, and into the 90s, there was a large pool of highly trained doctors and high quality hospitals. Of course, a majority of their population had no access to it, so of course the WHO still ranked them low in terms of overall health.

We're in a similar situation here, less extreme than apartheid SA, but it is still true that huge numbers of our population has no access to this quality health care that is "available."

This is what I worry most about the health care plan you describe, Ryan. I worry about the poor, and how your system will allow people to escape systemic poverty. I don't have faith that the rich will provide care for the poor out of the kindness of their hearts. Already, non-profit, religious based hospitals have to be forced to provide the certain percentage of charity care they're required by virtue of their non-profit status.

I worry that a completely unregulated health care market will not develop products, or medicine that help the poor, since they're not paying customers. We already see this globally where billions are spent world wide on R&D for treatments for erectile disfunction, while comparatively little is spent on common killers of poor people, like malaria, and TB.

In a completely unregulated system that depends on charity to help those that can't afford care, the focus of the industry will be to market the highest quality on those who can afford it.

Lastly, I can't believe anyone is still suggesting that we are not in a health care crisis. I guess it's another instance of two people looking at a set of information, and judging them by their values. To me, the facts are in, millions forgo basic health care because of cost, and end up less healthy. Those that get sick end up bankrupt or dead or both, despite suffering from curable ailments for which they couldn't afford treatment, or in many cases were denied treatment. To me, this is a crisis.

But of course intelligent people can say directly contradictory things as if they are facts. It's not about facts, it's about values.

I understand that there are no libertarians around here, but I have been reading up on their literature. My concern about the what a libertarian country would look like is for the poor, and under represented. I am not at all convinced that it would do a better job at creating equal opportunity than something like a nationalized health care plan would.

Roller said...

Rye, you mentioned the idea of opting out of health insurance and Social Security. I admit the idea of opting out of those is very appealing to someone who doesn't believe they'll ever need them (especially the latter).

But it seems like those that would opt out would be those on whose the program's existence depends.

Just curious to hear your thoughts on that.

Ryan said...

G, you'll need to do a better job making your two strong cases for healthcare being a right.

The first point you make is either just poorly stated or erroneous. Although I would argue that healthcare is not a daily part of very many people's lives, it's a moot point. Transportation is a much more prevalent thing, and it is not a right either. Nor is a job or clothing. The founding fathers did not connect rights to specific stuff on purpose. They did not connect the right to bear arms to muskets.

They described the rights broadly and initially as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." (not the pursuit of life). It's important to note that the pursuit of happiness was used interchangeably with and depended entirely upon the ownership of private property. Every man has the right to own his own stuff and do what he wants on his own land and with his own things.

Nowhere does it say people without private property should get some in the name of equality.

So, actually, you are describing how socialized medicine goes against these rights, since you think the federal government should take away private property from one group (because you think they have too much) and give it to another. Correcting this type of coercion was what founded our country, so why would you want to bring it back?

Second, not only has the supreme court made plenty of mistakes, especially during the days of the Warren Courts. But, I find it ironic that you would use prisoners as a justification for socialized medicine. Prisoners, who have had their right to liberty taken away, are in the custody of the state. It is not surprising that we would all, under a nationalized, socialized plan become custody of the state.

Whether Obama's plan (or Clinton's before that) constitutes cruel and unusual punishment for prisoners and senior citizens remains to be seen.

Finally, the concept of a crisis has been clearly manufactured by people who are trying to push through this radical agenda. A crisis usually means that things are radically different now than they were before. When Katrina displaced tens of thousands of people who had homes last week, that was a crisis.

The healthcare in our country is about the same now as its been for 40 years. It is not a burden on us to explain why there is no crisis, it is a burden on those with the radical agendas to explain why there is one. So far they have not, as their statistics are inflated, and their solutions worse than the problems.

The sad facts of this are that there is no such thing as "equality" in the sense you push. Poverty has always existed, and always will. That is why local charity is the only possible solution -- everything from the War on Poverty to rigid wealth redistribution programs have not really worked. We will never live in a world without poverty, so why pretend?

You can only help the people right in front of you. Mother Theresa changed the world this way, and especially India, without forcing any of her beliefs on anyone. (For example, malaria and TB do not kill a lot of poor people in our country, so why should we be talking about that?)

I agree a purely Libertarian society would probably be pretty nasty ,which is why I'm not a libertarian.

I also didn't suggest massive deregulation as a fix to inequality, which can never be fixed. All you can do is cause the least amount of harm broadly and do the most amount of good locally. Deregulation would drive prices down to their actual levels, therefore, more local good would be possible than currently is.

Ryan said...

Rollz, your points are accurate as well, what I left out was that these are economic problems that our government is putting on our backs one way or another. We need to do 3 things: 1) Ween people off the program through attrition, buy outs, opt outs, and not letting new people in. 2) Admit that the programs are a burden on the general budget, since the taxes raised for them do not pay for them. 3) Honor our promises to previous and current generations.

SS supposedly operated under a lockbox system, which was a lie. There is no money in it. It will all be paid out of the general fund, which currently stands under the greatest debt in the history of our country.

SS, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. are not fiscally solvent programs nor have they solved any of the problems they claim to have solved, and they have also created many new problems as well.

Nothing's perfect. Nothing will "work" totally. The question is what is the least damaging to individuals, families and communities.

Ryan said...

I thought this was interesting (not my words):

"There was an interesting story reported on the radio here in Illinois at some point late last year. It was about a physician in the Midwest who had become alarmed that many of his regular patients who had lost their jobs, and therefore their medical insurance, had stopped coming to see him and stopped taking their medications. He knew that many had chronic diseases and that for many this required regular medication and monitoring. As such, in order to ease the burden he converted his practice, or at least a part of it, to a cash only business. This meant that he offered regular service and any discounted pharmaceuticals he could get his hands on for a fixed rate that was higher than typical PPO co-pays but much lower than what he would charge out to payors (insurers) for the typical patient visit. I believe the charge was something like $30-40 per visit. What he found was that not only did his regulatr patients return, but many new patients started arriving. Pretty soon his practice became cash only. He found that he could get rid of the two employees he previously had who were entirely focused on dealing with insurers and government agencies (actually, I believe he moved them to patient care roles) and actually made MORE profit as a cash business and had many more patients that were thrilled with his service.

I realize that this would not necessarily work for high-cost medical procedures or hospital stays, but it is illustrative of the mess that is the insurance business today. It is so complex that ordinary doctors offices have to have dedicated staffs that deal with payments."

John Hanrahan said...

I am not trying to be rude or condescending to you when I say this but I feel as though this is a policy seminar on an abstract situation. You have said you want freedoms and the government to be limited but you have provided no reasonable way for us to accomplish that. It is very easy to talk about things in the abstract and say that something is bad. It is something else to actually fix the problem.

I don’t know what you would consider a crisis but in the last year I have spent $10,089 in health care. The 2005 census states that the average household income for the US is $45,016. That means that 22% of the average family’s income goes towards health care. 28.22% of American households make less than $25,000 which means 40% of the money they make would go to pay for my healthcare. Please keep in mind I am a single guy with no children. Can you imagine how much my health care will be when I am married with kids?

You talk about a great society where if taxes were lower people would be able to give more money to charity. While I agree that lower taxes can help to do a lot of things your idea that individuals will give more money to charity to take care of the weakest among us is just that a theory. The whole reason systems like social security came into existents were because we were not taking care of the weakest among us.

Oliver Wendell Homes said “taxes are the price you pay to live in a free society.”

I believe that everyone benefits from individuals being educated and healthy

My Suggestions to help with health care.

Set up a system where doctors can share patients test
Give doctors tax breaks for seeing poor patients at a discounted rate.
Put a limit on the amount an individual or corporations premium can increase yearly
Eliminate the ability to not offer someone health insurance for a preexisting condition when they switch jobs.
Offer to pay for medical school for individuals that will work in a free clinic

Ryan said...

Johnny, no worries. I'm glad that so many have bought in to this conversation. You were neither rude nor condescending, but I have to admit I found you confusing.

For your first point, I thought I was pretty clear on how I would increase freedoms and limit government, by not supporting a nationalized, socialized program of any kind and by slowly over time shrinking the dead weight of SS, Medicare, and Medicaid programs without screwing over the people currently addicted to them.

And I don't mean that there are no problems with healthcare in our country, I think there are plenty of them. I have addressed the idea of introducing competition by making payers and consumers the same and connecting them directly to providers, to drive costs down.

I just have not been convinced there is a real "crisis". A crisis shouldn't be hard to point out if it exists... sort of like a justification for a necessary war, it shouldn't be tough to convince people.

You can see a lot of dangers in how you used your own personal healthcare consumption vs. teh average family income. I'm pretty sure your income is much higher than the average family's and that your healthcare needs and wants are much different than their's too.

There is no such thing as the average American family in that regard. There are only real families in specific places with real needs. To claim to understand a national program that would address all of these is some weird sort of assertion. The audacity of hope indeed.

There is another reason I am against centralized, national government running almost anything. It is very unstable. It is very dangerous. It is very expensive. There is a ton of waste. Think of the military. Think of the post office.

What if they're wrong? Or, better yet, imagine that your 5-part plan is implemented. In my opinion, you have some good ideas there, and some bad ones, but let's say we decide to implement them for the U.S.

How much will it cost? What will be the side effects? What problems will it solve?

In fact, the solutions you have suggested aren't connected to any clear problems you have identified.

So why not, in the worst case, keep it at the state level? Why not see if it works first in Florida, where there is a huge elderly and immigrant population, and lots of other unique things. If it worked really well in Florida, I doubt it would work really well in Washington or Minnesota. Why impose it on them then?

We have no idea, which is why I am cautious to claim to know how to solve all these problems.

The only problems I am confident I can solve are the considerable ones created by the federal government.

And you're wrong about why SS was created, it was created to keep politicians popular and in power after their policies directly put our country in a prolonged depression.

Eerily similar to today, where most of our economy's problems are from the government and capitalists who kept the profits but socialized the losses and now are trying to convince us they have the solutions to more of our problems that they created.


And you are right about lowering taxes and costs not meaning that everyone would contribute more to charity. Everyone wouldn't, many would keep it for themselves. The burden of charity has almost always fallen on the relgious. You would see this rekindle our neighborhoods, churches and communities almost over night as the vast majority of us would reach and lean on each otehr for support rather than a federal agent.

Ryan said...

And this brings up your very important point that is true but incomplete:

"I believe that everyone benefits from individuals being educated and healthy"

Absolutely, but each of us only benefits so much from it, depending on who these individuals in question actually are.

As I have mentioned the role of traditional charity in our society falling upon the relgious (an ever shrinking remnant in our society). Every major religion has believed this for the past 2000 years, the Jews even longer. (So it's a little more than just a theory, Johnny.)

We are mostly responsible for ourselves, then our families, then our friends, neighborhoods, associations, etc. No one in their right mind thinks they are as responsible for the poor person in rural China as they are for the poor person in their own family.

This is the real diffculty with accepting Liberalism, it places impossible burdens on us. No one can save the world, and no one can save the nation.

This is one of the ways Capitalism (an extension of Liberalism) has destroyed our communities. We think it's more important for Wal Mart to have super cheap lawn furniture even if it means that our neighbor's job got shipped to Mexico. Well, now your neighbor has no job and needs help, what good has become of this?

And your life is more effected by your neighbor's loss than by the Mexican's gain.

This is why I don't discount Socialism entirely, just huge versions of it. If I lived in a racially homogenous, small country with rigid borders, it would probably be a pretty cool system.

John Hanrahan said...


Imagine we are in your new world where I just pay the doctor and the hospital for the cost of the medicine I need and don’t have a middle man to worry about. I am free to negotiate all of my needs directly with them. (I don’t have insurance as it has been eliminate) I now find out that I am 38 and I have cancer. I have three children. I will need three operations and chemotherapy for any chance of survival.

My Net worth is roughly $300,000 including the value of my home. I make $120,000 a year. The hospital tells me the cost of this work will be $1,200,000. I am an excellent negotiator and get the cost down to $500,000. Since this is purely a business transaction they want the money up front. I go to the bank to borrow the money but since I could die they won’t loan it to me. Am I just screwed?

Ryan said...

Johnny, I'm guessing you're going off of something I've said that's confusing, so I apologize. I never meant to say that there would be no insurance.

A lot of the evidence is looking like insurance won't cover as much of the office visits, etc, but will cover horrible accidents or cancer needs, etc, like what you describe.

Like car insurance, you don't buy it to cover oil changes and car washes or even little dings or problems. You have insurance to cover big problems. That wouldn't change.

What would also need to change though is that we would all need to shop for such insurance on our own (like we do for car insurance) separate from our association with our employer. Oh, so taht solves the portability problem right there.

It's bizarre we pay for health insurance through our employer, who chooses it for us. I can't think of anything else we are content to purchase that way.

G. Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ryan said...

G, take a breath man and perhaps revisit your last post. Attacking my family via my "privilege" just makes you sound juvenile. You are also starting to reveal too much about the source of your arguments, that privileged families like mine (and I suppose everyone reading this blog, including yours) are the cause of poverty for families you work with.

You won't go far with that thinking.

Instead of kicking and screaming that I don't agree with you, just point out the crisis. When did it happen? What is different now in our country than under the Bush or Clinton administrations? Where was the major event at any point in time during the past 40 years that indicated a crisis? The collapsing economy has given everyone a sense of crisis, that doesn't mean there's a specific one in healthcare.

If you reread the things I've said, you will find that almost none of the sentiment or meaning in your post is accurate. You will also see you addressed nothing specifically, just ranted.

Perhaps this thread is cooked. But you can have the final word, and you should probably use it.

Ryan said...

Johnny, here is one for you:

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Coovo said...

I tried. I really tried. I went to the top and tried to read the whole way down but I get lost and I say, you're both friggin' off your rocker. And who deleted Gene's post asking for some Coovo?

I didn't think G was referring to you (us) or your (our) families as an elitist, but just that it sounded like the comment was directed from someone with there point of view.

I personally don't see the connection between Obama and Hitler or Stalin. Or Communism as we knew it. When he starts burning books or federalizes tv distribution or we have people start defecting to Russia, then I will say, man you guys were right.

I really don't like to enter political debates because I'm just not as taken with it as I am other things. I read about it and it may sound bad but I just am not that interested in it on a micro level.

Buuut, what has made me right wing for most of my life is that I am pro-responsibility. People should deal with the consequence of their actions.

Example: Abortion: While I would encourage every woman to have their baby and use adoption, a man has to realize that he loses the choice the moment he has sex. He has to live with the consequence that it becomes her choice. If you don't want her to have an abortion, then take responsibility before your actions. I guess that makes me pro-choice, even though I think abortion is wrong.

But I'm losing faith in our ability as humans to accept responsibility and also provide services in the best interests of others. Businesses' goal are to make money. As much of it. Health care is no different. I think this is an industry that should have one focus in mind and that is making people as healthy as possible. That's it. But, can hospitals make enough money if people aren't in them as much? Will drug companies make money if people don't take them? I'm not a conspiracy theorist in the truest sense of the word, but being successful and making as much money as you can takes precedent over the consideration for others. There's really no definitive direction for responsibility and I think that is why I have such a hard time coming down on a side in this and other issues.

Sorry Ryan, I don't have facts (not a jab at you, I really don't), but that's just my opinion based on how I've interpreted my life. I could be way off base.

In other news, those monkeys are whack.

Roller said...

I think this has divulged into a semantics argument. Ryan, G, I understand what you are both trying to say, and I really appreciate the passion that you have for your beliefs. I now believe the whole thing can be solved with limes.

Coovo said...

Semantics? Let's not bring L. Ron Hubbard into this debate.

Ryan said...

Sorry Rollz, I don't buy it. We need, especially in written word, to make sure our meanings are clear.

Rather than either clarifying what he meant by "crisis" in offering an alternative definition to what I offered, or satisfying the definition on the table, G has resorted to the same type of *ad hominem* attacks that George Bush's administration did when people (briefly) challenged his assertion that there was a crisis in Iraq; the same thing Nancy Pelosi is now doing to people who (albeit rudely) are opposing socialized healthcare. Both groups have been referred to as "un-American".

G is calling any opposition "crazy privileged elitists" who are only thinking of ourselves.

That is not a semantic difference, as it was when I used the term "racist"; for which people demanded an explanation, which I gave. That is either a deliberate or accidental mischaracterization of what is going on and what has been said. It demands either explanation or apology.

Let's finish strong on this, not below the belt.

John Hanrahan said...

I think we have had enough time to discuss the issue. I think we should vote.

A. Leave Health Care Alone
B. Make some major changes to improve the health care system
C. Eliminate Government involvement in Health Care (Medicare and Medicaid).

Ryan said...

Shutting down the comments here.