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  #51  
Old 09-07-2018, 07:45 PM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
Other first-world countries can afford generous safety nets because they don't have to spend much money on defense. Why? Because the U.S. subsidizes their military; we promise to come to the defense of our allies. As a result, our allies can get away with spending a relatively small percentage of their GDP on defense, while we (in the U.S.) need a strong defense to protect us and them.
Partly that is true but it's also true that the US wastes a great deal of money on ridiculously expensive aircraft, ships and other hardware. Do we really need as many aircraft carriers as we have?

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 09-07-2018 at 07:45 PM.
  #52  
Old 09-07-2018, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
Other first-world countries can afford generous safety nets because they don't have to spend much money on defense. Why? Because the U.S. subsidizes their military; we promise to come to the defense of our allies. As a result, our allies can get away with spending a relatively small percentage of their GDP on defense, while we (in the U.S.) need a strong defense to protect us and them.
Even if we accept that premise—which I think is overstating the US contribution to the post-Cold War security of Europe and understating how much having a massive standing military encourages the US to engage in fruitless and expensive military adventurism abroad—the reality is that the Department of Defense is actually the nation’s largest entitlement program, and even modest cuts to it could fund vast social welfare programs.

We’ve been adverse to welfare programs in general because of the failure of Johnson’s “Great Society” programs, and perhaps rightfully so in that they effectively did little to elevate people into a sustainable middle class, but that doesn’t mean that providing health care, educational assistance, and an economic ‘safety net’ are goals that we should not aspire to. I realize that for the very wealthy, maintaining a large underclass of people who can be easily exploited because of their lack of economic and political power is desireable, but it is an overall terrible thing for the future of the country, unless your ideal of a future is to look like India with its institutional social stratification. A prosperous middle class and reduction in socioeconomic divisions is a sine qua non for overall prosperity and viability...unless, of course, you want an economy based on factory workers and coal miners instead of intellectual workers and skilled craftspeople.

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Partly that is true but it's also true that the US wastes a great deal of money on ridiculously expensive aircraft, ships and other hardware. Do we really need as many aircraft carriers as we have?
More to the point, we waste enormous sums of money on programs and technologies that are designed to fight the last war instead of preparing for future conflict. The F-35 and the Long Range Strike Bomber are but two of many development efforts that are essentially pointless but extravagant wastes of money to fight a type of war nobody is going to fight in the future.

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  #53  
Old 09-07-2018, 08:36 PM
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A lot of older folks think of "Socialism" as, to use a phrase of Bill Maher "Communism's gay cousin", but someone upthread has rightly pointed out that the right has really devalued the term by applying too, er, liberally. If you call X, Y and Z socialist programs someone who actually likes those programs can't be blamed for thinking: "Gee, I must be a Socialist then."
  #54  
Old 09-07-2018, 09:33 PM
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It's a simplification. What is going on in the US is that we pay healthcare providers more for their services than in other countries. Our physician and nurses salaries are the highest in the world. Physician salaries especially are incredibly high in comparison to their European counterparts (Why is always the question, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that the AMA acts like a cartel in the US and limits the number of practitioners via statute.) Due to the amount that we pay, we're also innovation centers that effectively subsidize research to the rest of the world. Pharmaceuticals is one of the easiest places to see this. Pharmaceutical companies basically run their development budgets off of the US market. Non-US countries move to generics much more quickly and so US consumers are footing the bill for research costs via higher drug costs. It's a situation where the rest of the world likes to shake their head at the US paying so much, but they really don't want to see the US stop paying so much either.
Look up where Big Pharma spends its money. You'll see it spends more on marketing than on R&D - marketing which is not allowed in much of Europe.
Next time you hear an ad warning us that toenail fungus will kill us all, you'll know why our drugs are so expensive.
  #55  
Old 09-07-2018, 09:39 PM
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Canada is geographically close to the US but its polity is more Swedish. It has 10% the population of the US which responsive system of government. Like Sweden it made significant economic changes in a short period of time in the early 90s. It cut government spending by 20% over 5 years from 1993 to 1998 and its debt to GDP ratio when from 67% in 1994 to 31% in 2008 and has stayed there for a decade. It ran a government surplus for 11 straight years.
You are contradicting yourself, since Canada did all this with single payer healthcare.
But perhaps part of it is not having unaffordable massive tax cuts which aren't supposed to bust the budget but which always do. And which increase income inequality, making us more like Venezuela.

BTW we have friends who just fled from Venezuela - one kept her citizenship so they are legal. The poor might have gotten more in the past but there was never anything like equality. Even in the better days it was like an NRA nightmare - you had to hire someone to stay in your apartment when you went on a trip or it would surely get robbed. The US is nothing like Venezuela.
Note they got worse as they got more autocratic. Which is yet another reason to resist Trump.
  #56  
Old 09-07-2018, 10:21 PM
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1. I don't understand the significance of countries' "similarity" here. If I want to make leaded petrol illegal, why must I first be like other countries that have implemented such a policy?

2. The idea that the US is more similar to Venezuela than Canada required some pretty high-class cherry-picking. I'm impressed.

3. At least the OP mentions another country than Venezuela, so we're getting somewhere. In Conservative media right now it's simply "If you reduce the cost of healthcare, you pass the event horizon and the only possible future is Venezuela"
  #57  
Old 09-08-2018, 03:12 AM
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1. I don't understand the significance of countries' "similarity" here. If I want to make leaded petrol illegal, why must I first be like other countries that have implemented such a policy?
I was wondering about this myself, and I hope OP explains it. But let me try to take a stab it.

Don't you see that banning leaded petrol in a country of 100 million takes ten times the effort that it would take in a country of ten million? You'll need ten times as many painters for your "No leaded petrol sold here" signs, ten times as many inspectors to sniff the petrol for compliance, ten times as many prisons for the violators, and so on. Not to mention ten times as many lazy government bureaucrats.

The U.S. began its phase-out of leaded gasoline when the population was only about 220 million. If we'd waited until today's 325 million population it might have been impossible. Yes, China banned leaded petrol with a 1+ billion population, but they don't have the ethnic problems the U.S. has. Some of the Uyghurs, Tibetans and Mongols in China can pass for ethnic Han; others have the grace to stay in their own enclaves.

North Korea has a population of barely 25 million, but still may not have banned leaded petrol! That's because they've adopted Bernie Sanders' system of government — any attempt by them to ban leaded petrol would lead to high taxes and hyperinflation.

No, the Sanders-Kim model of economics just doesn't work. If the Apollo Project that put a man on the Moon had been run by the government of an over-sized country like the U.S.A., it would have ended in failure.
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  #58  
Old 09-08-2018, 03:53 AM
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I was wondering about this myself, and I hope OP explains it. But let me try to take a stab it.
Well firstly it's not that I can't imagine reasons why being similar in some way might be advantageous. The point is simply that "The US is very different from Sweden!" or whatever, is not an argument in itself.
It has to be shown *what* is different and *why* that means the whole program becomes impossible.

I'm not sure that the examples you've given work particularly well though:

Quote:
Don't you see that banning leaded petrol in a country of 100 million takes ten times the effort that it would take in a country of ten million? You'll need ten times as many painters for your "No leaded petrol sold here" signs, ten times as many inspectors to sniff the petrol for compliance, ten times as many prisons for the violators, and so on. Not to mention ten times as many lazy government bureaucrats.
And, all else being equal, you have ten times as many laborers around to do that work, ten times as many customers etc
  #59  
Old 09-08-2018, 04:27 AM
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Other first-world countries can afford generous safety nets because they don't have to spend much money on defense. Why? Because the U.S. subsidizes their military; we promise to come to the defense of our allies. As a result, our allies can get away with spending a relatively small percentage of their GDP on defense, while we (in the U.S.) need a strong defense to protect us and them.
The US spends 3.3 % of GDP on defense. France spends 2.3 and the UK 1.8. Meanwhile, the US spends 18 % of GDP on healthcare while France spends 11 % and the UK 9%. So you know, I don't see how that extra 1 % of gdp on the military means you have to spend an extra 9 % on healthcare, or how saving it would somehow help.

Meanwhile, the European NATO forces has 1,5 million personnel. The vast majority professional. Russia has 750 000 about half conscripts. So I am not sure what the US would be protecting anyone from exactly.
  #60  
Old 09-08-2018, 06:06 AM
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... I'm not sure that the examples you've given work particularly well though:
...
And, all else being equal, you have ten times as many laborers around to do that work, ten times as many customers etc
Tell me the truth: Did you really not understand that my entire post was a satirical Whoooosh?
  #61  
Old 09-08-2018, 06:35 AM
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Although the OP is a long block of text, I think he and others are on to one thing:

Socialism, like democracy, is only as effective as its people. If your people are Swedes or Finns, it can work.

If your people are Americans, it probably can't.
  #62  
Old 09-08-2018, 08:19 AM
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Tell me the truth: Did you really not understand that my entire post was a satirical Whoooosh?
Yep. In the current political climate, I have no satire-dar.
Otherwise I would think every trumpist was hilarious.

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Socialism, like democracy, is only as effective as its people. If your people are Swedes or Finns, it can work.

If your people are Americans, it probably can't.
Sweden and Finland are not socialist countries.
And many of the policies that social democrats in the US are promoting have been successfully implemented in a great many countries, including many multicultural societies.
  #63  
Old 09-08-2018, 09:55 AM
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While the US is nowhere near the basket case of Venezuela economically, it is much closer to them in many respects. The US is a violent, unequal society, split by race and by partisanship. The federal government, by design, is very difficult to make large changes. It has two parties more interested in blaming the other than actual governing and neither party seems to have no interest in admitting mistakes and fixing them.
A great example is Head Start, it was started in 1965 to help poor children achieve academically. In 2000 the government commissioned a ten year study to assess how it was achieving those goals. The study found that Head Start had no lasting positive impact on student academics. Since that study funding has increased from 5.2 billion a year to 9.8 billion a year, and there has been no serious effort to either reform or end the program. Most Democrats want to expand the program to include all children and the Republicans just voted a 200 million dollar increase in the budget.
Another example is the Medicare doc fix, a program that was supposed to rein in the US's highest in the world healthcare spending. It was passed during a spasm of budgetary responsibility, the medical lobby then went to work and got the spending cuts delayed every year for 17 straight years under both parties and then repealed. Interest on the national debt is forecasted to reach 1 trillion dollars a year in a little over a decade and yet there is no serious movement to either rein in spending or raise taxes on anyone other than the rich. There is no political will to make changes to programs that are popular with a large enough section of the voters.
We're certainly not Venezuela or even close, even though we do have problems.

I'd like to see both parties be more responsible with the overall budget. When one party is in power, the other screams about debt, until they come into power, and then they go along with the usual debt/deficits or make it even worse. A great example is Paul Ryan putting on a big act in 2009 on the house floor about debt "as far as the eye can see", and then passing a 2 trillion dollar tax-cut in 2017, which will increase the debt & deficits over the next decade at least.

Having said that, we are not in any danger of debt overwhelming our ability to pay for the things we need. Our net debt/gdp is somewhere in the 77% range as of 2017 and is projected to reach about 96% in 2028. It's not great, but it's not something to consider an emergency, where we all of the sudden hit a fiscal wall. It's something we can slowly change the trajectory if we wanted. Currently the Republicans are in power, and they have no interest in that, as their tax cuts must take precedent. I think the Dems are more fiscally responsible than Republicans, but that's not saying much, and in any event, they're out of power.

https://www.cbo.gov/publication/53781

Last edited by survinga; 09-08-2018 at 09:57 AM.
  #64  
Old 09-08-2018, 10:28 AM
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Anyone remember back in 2010 when most economists were calling for stimulus, and a handful of right-wing economists (and, unfortunately, the house and senate republicans) warned that we would end up like Greece if we didn't take our debt seriously? And remember how the US's situation was nothing like Greece's, and there's absolutely no way for what happened in Greece to happen in a country that can freely print its own currency? And remember how every one of their predictions were painfully, destructively wrong?

I'm getting echoes of that here. The comparisons to Venezuela are just silly. Venezuela's problem is not "socialism". It's single-party authoritarian misrule by populist strongmen who have no idea what the fuck they're doing. It's gross mismanagement and kleptocracy. It's the rich working with the government to take whatever the hell they can get their hands on. There are factors in the USA that resemble this trend, but they aren't currently typified by the people pushing for socialized health care. The comparisons are just batty. To quote that Current Affairs article:

Quote:
I am not sure what it would mean to call Venezuela’s government left-wing, if it did not follow any of the principles that I consider central to being on the left. For example, it has been accused of being anti-labor; the government “crushed unions while firing and blacklisting tens of thousands of workers for their political opinions,” and “anti-union discrimination, violations of collective bargaining rights and the non-respect of collective agreements were frequent and persistent in both the public and private sector.”
It also quotes this WSJ entry at length:

Quote:
What struck me on arriving was how little the Socialist leaders cared about even the appearance of equality. They showed up at press conferences in shantytowns in motorcades of brand new armored SUVs. They toured tumbledown factories on live state TV wearing Rolexes and carrying Chanel handbags. They shuttled journalists to decaying state-run oil fields on private jets with gilded toilet paper dispensers.

[...]

As the recession took hold in Venezuela, the so-called Socialist government made no attempt to shield health care and education, the two supposed pillars of its program. This wasn’t socialism. It was kleptocracy—the rule of thieves.

[...]

Even Mr. Maduro has given up on the Socialist pretence, chucking leftist slogans in favor of straightforward clientelism: Vote for me and you’ll get a food handout. The red flags and shirts of Mr. Chavez’s heyday have largely disappeared from state television, an the ruling Socialist Party is being supplanted by Mr. Maduro’s new, anodyne-sounding political movement, We Are Venezuela.
We can have discussions about socialism and the effect of socialism. But socialism is a slippery word with a lot of different meanings. Some people take it to mean "any government action". Others take it to mean "government ownership of businesses". Others take it to mean "social democracy". Often, people intentionally conflate these definitions to make any action the government could take to make life better for the people sound like a stepping stone on the road to the gulags.

But not only is it profoundly unfair to compare the proposed policies of the American Left to Venezuela no matter what label you use for it, there's really no argument to be made that Venezuela is socialist or leftist to begin with. Here's a tip - when your government is cracking down on labor unions, you're not socialist.

Last edited by Budget Player Cadet; 09-08-2018 at 10:29 AM.
  #65  
Old 09-08-2018, 11:54 AM
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Anyone remember back in 2010 when most economists were calling for stimulus, and a handful of right-wing economists (and, unfortunately, the house and senate republicans) warned that we would end up like Greece if we didn't take our debt seriously? And remember how the US's situation was nothing like Greece's, and there's absolutely no way for what happened in Greece to happen in a country that can freely print its own currency? And remember how every one of their predictions were painfully, destructively wrong?
Yes, remember that well. The funny thing is that alot of the politicians who were echoing the "we're gonna be Greece" crowd are the same folks that supported the most recent deficit-increasing tax cut. Their predictions were wrong back in 2009/2010. And for alot of them, there was a dishonesty to their "Greece" concerns, as became evident with the 2017 tax cuts. And if these are the same people as the "we're gonna be Venezuela" crowd, then I think we know how this will play out....
  #66  
Old 09-08-2018, 12:35 PM
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What I find frustrating is that we're decades into a discussion of whether and how the US should implement single-payer healthcare (like every other developed and even some less developed countries) but undertake trillion-dollar wars with little or no discussion. (George W Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost more than two trillion dollars.) But at least wars don't make us socialists, because that would be the worst thing.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 09-08-2018 at 12:36 PM.
  #67  
Old 09-08-2018, 02:36 PM
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It's a simplification. What is going on in the US is that we pay healthcare providers more for their services than in other countries. Our physician and nurses salaries are the highest in the world. Physician salaries especially are incredibly high in comparison to their European counterparts (Why is always the question, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that the AMA acts like a cartel in the US and limits the number of practitioners via statute.) Due to the amount that we pay, we're also innovation centers that effectively subsidize research to the rest of the world. Pharmaceuticals is one of the easiest places to see this. Pharmaceutical companies basically run their development budgets off of the US market. Non-US countries move to generics much more quickly and so US consumers are footing the bill for research costs via higher drug costs. It's a situation where the rest of the world likes to shake their head at the US paying so much, but they really don't want to see the US stop paying so much either ...

... everyone agrees that the US spends too much on healthcare, but no one really wants to see a world where we stop spending so much.
There is so much wrongness wrapped up in those few sentences that it almost reads like a parody of right-wing misinformation on health care. When I saw it yesterday I just sort of sighed and moved on, not having the energy to deal with it. But let me now take a stab at the key points of wrongness.

1. Nurses in the US do not obviously make more than in Canada. In fact the highest-paid nurses are in Canada, and except for Quebec, most of the lowest-paid are in the US. Your statement implying that American nurses are making out like bandits is false.

2. Doctors are a different matter, but "salaries" isn't a valid metric since most doctors are effectively business owners and the valid metric is fees and revenues. And they are indeed the highest in the world, but why? Because of the astounding overhead of dealing with insurance paperwork and non-payments from patients and insurers, for which doctors have to maintain dedicated staff, and none of which exists in sensible health care systems. Additional factors are lack of cost controls which enables profiteering among some, and the costs of malpractice insurance. All of those things are serious problems with the system, not features. They don't contribute quality, they detract from it: costs and out-of-pocket payments discourage doctor visits and early diagnosis and drive demands for unnecessary testing, and for-profit hospitals have been shown to have lower standards and poorer outcomes than non-profit ones.

3. The ability of pharmaceutical companies to price-gouge in the US marketplace has little to do with the health care system or the high costs thereof, but to lack of regulation. In Canada, for instance, there is a federal authority called the Patent Medicine Prices Review Board which requires drug companies to justify the prices charged for brand name drugs protected by patents. It's simply a consumer protection agency and has no connection with provincial health care plans.

4. The idea that profiteering in the health care industry has anything to do with innovation is laughable nonsense. Doctors making extortionate incomes certainly don't fund medical research, and insurance companies making enormous profits don't fund anything except their executives' yachts and golf club memberships. Health insurers are basically parasites on the industry contributing zero value, since public single-payer can do a far better job and provide universal coverage for everyone at a fraction of the cost. Furthermore, expensive high-end medical technology is targeted to global markets, not just the US market, and most of the innovation for expensive technology like MRI and CT machines comes from outside the US, as I described here, the key quote being the following: among the top 10 diagnostic imaging innovators, only two are American (or three if you count GE's UK subsidiary), and except for GE they're mostly small players in this market.

5. I'm amused at the idea that "no one really wants to see a world where we stop spending so much". Actually, I think everyone wants to see less waste and better outcomes like in the rest of the civilized world, with the exception of those who directly benefit from the waste: health insurers, health care administrators, and the worst of the profiteering extortionists who ply their trade in the industry.
  #68  
Old 09-08-2018, 07:21 PM
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Socialism, like democracy, is only as effective as its people. If your people are Swedes or Finns, it can work.

If your people are Americans, it probably can't.
Cripes folks, it's apparently an actual PR campaign.

Exactly when did the standard conservative critique of socialism start switching from "The miseries of overtaxed socialist poverty may be good enough for those wussy loser cheap-furniture Scandinavians, but they're sure not good enough for US!" to "Those clear-eyed cold-hardy extra-white Scandinavians may be good enough for clean-governance socialist prosperity, but WE sure aren't!" ?
  #69  
Old 09-08-2018, 07:26 PM
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I must have missed the post about the magical foreign healthcare dust that will suddenly cause everything to be one sixth the price.
Full UHC costs vary by country, Canada pays 4 times the cost per person that Mexico does. Is Canada getting gouged by its healthcare system and why don't they switch to Mexico's system and pay one quarter what they are paying now?
In order to pay for the US system to go to Medicare for all costs would at least be 3.2 trillion a year and more likely would be 3.6 trillion a year. Any attempt to cut the US healthcare cost by a huge percentage would result in chaos.
What you have right now is chaos with massively expensive inefficiencies. If you ditch the chaos and go with single payer, you'll end up living longer, living healthier longer, paying less out of your personal pockets, and paying less through your governments' pockets, such as we do here in Canada. Try comparing the USA against first world nations like Canada rather than third world nations like Mexico.

Last edited by Muffin; 09-08-2018 at 07:30 PM.
  #70  
Old 09-08-2018, 07:29 PM
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The US spends 3.3 % of GDP on defense. France spends 2.3 and the UK 1.8. Meanwhile, the US spends 18 % of GDP on healthcare while France spends 11 % and the UK 9%. So you know, I don't see how that extra 1 % of gdp on the military means you have to spend an extra 9 % on healthcare, or how saving it would somehow help.

Meanwhile, the European NATO forces has 1,5 million personnel. The vast majority professional. Russia has 750 000 about half conscripts. So I am not sure what the US would be protecting anyone from exactly.
Protecting yourself from that security threat Canada, according to Trump.
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Old 09-08-2018, 08:37 PM
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The US spends 3.3 % of GDP on defense. France spends 2.3 and the UK 1.8. Meanwhile, the US spends 18 % of GDP on healthcare while France spends 11 % and the UK 9%. So you know, I don't see how that extra 1 % of gdp on the military means you have to spend an extra 9 % on healthcare, or how saving it would somehow help.

Meanwhile, the European NATO forces has 1,5 million personnel. The vast majority professional. Russia has 750 000 about half conscripts. So I am not sure what the US would be protecting anyone from exactly.
That gives me an idea. Forget about supporting UHC in order to improve the lives of Americans. Sell it instead that if we cut the cost by say 4% GDP we'll have a lot of extra money to spend on shiny tanks and destroyers and planes.
"Reduce money for shots, increase money for shooting!"

They'll eat it right up.
  #72  
Old 09-08-2018, 08:39 PM
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Protecting yourself from that security threat Canada, according to Trump.
South Park is prescient again.
  #73  
Old 09-09-2018, 03:56 AM
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... Try comparing the USA against first world nations like Canada rather than third world nations like Mexico.
Why?
OP's thesis seems to be that the U.S.A. is a third-world nation, but which just happens to have a lot of wealth (and is thus somewhat similar to Venezuela with its huge petroleum reserves). One of the major political parties seems to agree with OP.

It wasn't long ago that I'd have laughed at this thesis.
  #74  
Old 09-09-2018, 08:50 AM
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It’s just possible other nations spend less on defence because they’re not spending so much time and energy making enemies, engaging in foreign conflicts and meddling in the affairs of other nations.

Perhaps they value quality education for all, social safety nets for the in need, and equal healthcare for everyone, above bigger, better war machines, larger standing armies etc.

Just something to consider.
  #75  
Old 09-09-2018, 09:01 PM
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Protecting yourself from that security threat Canada, according to Trump.
According to Trump, one of the gravest threats to US national security is the Canadian cow, pictured here along with her presidential adversary, with the cow looking considerably more intelligent. The Canadian cow is such a threat that this is presumably why Trump has to partner with his trusted ally, Vladimir Putin, to fend off this global scourge. The accompanying story is here, with more details here.

The short version is that the US has a massive overproduction of dairy products, and would like to dump the overproduction on Canada. Trump was furious when he found out that the Canadian government imposes quotas on diary imports roughly limited by what the Canadian population is capable of consuming, and then levying 270% tariffs on imports over this quota as an anti-dumping measure. He falsely claims that 270% tariffs are always imposed on all US dairy imports, and hence the Canadian cow was demonized and has become for Trump what Alger Hiss was for Nixon. Both men, fittingly, battled an intellectual nemesis matching their own cerebral aptitude.
  #76  
Old 09-09-2018, 09:09 PM
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According to Trump, one of the gravest threats to US national security is the Canadian cow, pictured here along with her presidential adversary, with the cow looking considerably more intelligent. The Canadian cow is such a threat that this is presumably why Trump has to partner with his trusted ally, Vladimir Putin, to fend off this global scourge. The accompanying story is here, with more details here.

The short version is that the US has a massive overproduction of dairy products, and would like to dump the overproduction on Canada. Trump was furious when he found out that the Canadian government imposes quotas on diary imports roughly limited by what the Canadian population is capable of consuming, and then levying 270% tariffs on imports over this quota as an anti-dumping measure. He falsely claims that 270% tariffs are always imposed on all US dairy imports, and hence the Canadian cow was demonized and has become for Trump what Alger Hiss was for Nixon. Both men, fittingly, battled an intellectual nemesis matching their own cerebral aptitude.
I'm totally with you about Trump and trade with Canada (among many issues that I have with Trump). But you lost me on the Nixon/Hiss analogy. What happened with Nixon/Hiss that's similar to Trump & cows.
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Old 09-09-2018, 10:10 PM
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You're overthinking it. Just look at these two faces and tell me which one looks more intelligent.

Also, though this is getting off topic, this is a succinct analysis from the Brookings Institution about why the whole dairy kerfuffle with Canada is just typical Trump-manufactured nonsense.

Incidentally, and on the first topic, notice in the picture accompanying the Brookings article that all four cows closest to the camera are looking at it. Why? Because they're curious, a sign of at least rudimentary intelligence. Trump has famously never been curious about anything in his life, which is why he doesn't know anything.
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Old 09-09-2018, 11:34 PM
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Are you telling me that America isn't able to accomplish stuff that France handles effortlessly?
Nobody needs to be told that, it's self-evident.
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Old 09-09-2018, 11:37 PM
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I'm totally with you about Trump and trade with Canada (among many issues that I have with Trump). But you lost me on the Nixon/Hiss analogy. What happened with Nixon/Hiss that's similar to Trump & cows.
Nixon was about as bright as Hiss, and fought against him. Trump is fighting against cows, because someone like Alger Hiss is way out of his league.
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Old 09-09-2018, 11:42 PM
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Why?
OP's thesis seems to be that the U.S.A. is a third-world nation, but which just happens to have a lot of wealth (and is thus somewhat similar to Venezuela with its huge petroleum reserves). One of the major political parties seems to agree with OP.

It wasn't long ago that I'd have laughed at this thesis.
It's not a third-world nation of course, but it has the fear of everyone, and the backstabbing, and the psychotic fixation on weapons and armies, and the criminal for a president, that you would expect to find in a third-world nation.
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Old 09-10-2018, 08:00 AM
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Socialists in America says they want they US to be more like Scandinavia and not like Venezuela despite the fact that both are nominally socialist or social democracies.
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Old 09-10-2018, 08:30 AM
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Other first-world countries can afford generous safety nets because they don't have to spend much money on defense.
This is in total defiance of the evidence and, to be honest, simple arithmetic. You're embarrassing yourself.
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Old 09-10-2018, 11:47 AM
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Given the recent results of the elections in Sweden, perhaps they aren't as willing to give generous social safety nets to immigrants as expected.

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Old 09-10-2018, 12:36 PM
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Given that the racist party won 17.9 percent of the vote, as opposed to 13 percent last time (and far, far less than many polls had predicted) I'd say most Swedes are fine with immigration. Having seven or eight parties can make it complicated, though.

That said, being a socialist doesn't mean you can't also be a racist.
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Old 09-10-2018, 12:54 PM
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You're overthinking it. Just look at these two faces and tell me which one looks more intelligent.

Also, though this is getting off topic, this is a succinct analysis from the Brookings Institution about why the whole dairy kerfuffle with Canada is just typical Trump-manufactured nonsense.

Incidentally, and on the first topic, notice in the picture accompanying the Brookings article that all four cows closest to the camera are looking at it. Why? Because they're curious, a sign of at least rudimentary intelligence. Trump has famously never been curious about anything in his life, which is why he doesn't know anything.
OK, I think I understand what you were getting at. Never mind on my question.
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Old 09-10-2018, 01:28 PM
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1. I don't understand the significance of countries' "similarity" here. If I want to make leaded petrol illegal, why must I first be like other countries that have implemented such a policy?

2. The idea that the US is more similar to Venezuela than Canada required some pretty high-class cherry-picking. I'm impressed.

3. At least the OP mentions another country than Venezuela, so we're getting somewhere. In Conservative media right now it's simply "If you reduce the cost of healthcare, you pass the event horizon and the only possible future is Venezuela"
The similarity is the effectiveness of their political systems to suddenly change. When Sweden made a mistake and made its economy too socialistic they were able to turn around and fix those changes. Canada did the same. The US is nothing like Venezuela except that our political system does not do fixing mistakes very well. Part of it is a lack of parliamentary system which creates more chokepoints, part of it is by design, and part of it it the difficulty in governing a huge diverse nation. Once a segment of society becomes dependent on government money it becomes very difficult for the government to remove that funding. This country subsidized mohair for decades after the military stopped using the fabric for uniforms. Generally once a government program is enacted it never goes away. Because of this the US needs extra caution in creating new programs.
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Old 09-10-2018, 01:33 PM
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What I find frustrating is that we're decades into a discussion of whether and how the US should implement single-payer healthcare (like every other developed and even some less developed countries) but undertake trillion-dollar wars with little or no discussion. (George W Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost more than two trillion dollars.) But at least wars don't make us socialists, because that would be the worst thing.
The financial cost of the Iraq war was 2 trillion dollars spread out over 9 years. The proposed medicare for all is estimated to cost an average of 3.6 trillion a year in the first decade and have costs rising after that. That is like fighting 16 Iraq wars without end.
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Old 09-10-2018, 02:38 PM
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... The proposed medicare for all is estimated to cost an average of 3.6 trillion a year in the first decade and have costs rising after that....
What do you think the U.S. spends on healthcare now, and what would be projected without Obamacare? By coincidence it would "average 3.6 trillion a year in the first decade and have costs rising after that"!

You've not provided a cite but, if we trust your figure, the total U.S. spending on healthcare would be the same with or without medicare for all.

Let me repeat that in a larger font so you, puddleglum, may stare at it for a moment:

Total U.S. spending on healthcare would be 3.6 trillion annually whether medicare for all is adopted or not.

We're not sure where you got your figure — based on my experience of Googlings with an anti-government bent I'd assume your anti-government figures are inflated and single-payer would be much cheaper than the status quo — but even with your figures, Total U.S. spending on healthcare would be 3.6 trillion annually whether medicare for all is adopted or not. A main difference is that UHC would cover everyone; is that a disadvantage in your view?

A private pension scheme which provided the benefits of SocSec might be more expensive than SocSec, yet the anti-government clique ignores that pensions have value when lamenting huge "government spending" on SocSec.

And here, a number exactly equal to what is already spent via Aetna, Blue Cross, etc. becomes unaffordable and "like fighting 16 Iraq wars without end" if government is involved.

Got it, I guess.
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:04 PM
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The financial cost of the Iraq war was 2 trillion dollars spread out over 9 years. The proposed medicare for all is estimated to cost an average of 3.6 trillion a year in the first decade and have costs rising after that. That is like fighting 16 Iraq wars without end.
That statement makes absolutely no sense. The US already spends more public tax dollars on health care per capita than most countries spend in total to achieve full universal coverage, because the system is so bloated and inefficient. Progressives are essentially saying, look to other countries for a model that works and provides better outcomes at far lower costs. Conservatives are essentially saying, no, because ... socialism. And we'll become just like Venezuela! Just like the fear-mongering they did over Medicare.

Incidentally, I note that you never responded to my post #46 in which I noted that all the fiscally responsible deficit-reduction stuff in Canada that you so admired was done by the Liberal party which governed for 13 straight years after the federal Conservatives got thrown out on their incompetent fat asses. ISTM that you have all the right objectives, but choose to put your faith in entirely the wrong ideology to achieve them. All I've ever seen US Republicans do is cut taxes and run up deficits and the national debt with irresponsible spending.
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:38 PM
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Once a segment of society becomes dependent on government money it becomes very difficult for the government to remove that funding. This country subsidized mohair for decades after the military stopped using the fabric for uniforms. Generally once a government program is enacted it never goes away. Because of this the US needs extra caution in creating new programs.
So France is able to get rid of inefficient programs, but the United States isn't? What is so rotten about the United States that makes us worse than France?

Yes, people do get dependent on health care. Like, my wife had kidney stones, and if they hadn't been removed she could have eventually died from it. So yeah, dependency on health care, because without you could die.

What you're saying is that you'd rather people die than that we all paid for national health insurance. Some people just aren't worth saving. Remember Death Panels? Like, if a government bureaucrat says that we aren't going to spend a million dollars curing grandma's toe fungus, that's a death panel. But if a government bureaucrat says we aren't going going to spend any money at all on any health care, that's not a death panel.
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Old 09-10-2018, 03:49 PM
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What do you think the U.S. spends on healthcare now, and what would be projected without Obamacare? By coincidence it would "average 3.6 trillion a year in the first decade and have costs rising after that"!

You've not provided a cite but, if we trust your figure, the total U.S. spending on healthcare would be the same with or without medicare for all.

Let me repeat that in a larger font so you, puddleglum, may stare at it for a moment:

Total U.S. spending on healthcare would be 3.6 trillion annually whether medicare for all is adopted or not.

We're not sure where you got your figure — based on my experience of Googlings with an anti-government bent I'd assume your anti-government figures are inflated and single-payer would be much cheaper than the status quo — but even with your figures, Total U.S. spending on healthcare would be 3.6 trillion annually whether medicare for all is adopted or not. A main difference is that UHC would cover everyone; is that a disadvantage in your view?

A private pension scheme which provided the benefits of SocSec might be more expensive than SocSec, yet the anti-government clique ignores that pensions have value when lamenting huge "government spending" on SocSec.

And here, a number exactly equal to what is already spent via Aetna, Blue Cross, etc. becomes unaffordable and "like fighting 16 Iraq wars without end" if government is involved.

Got it, I guess.
The 3.6 trillion figure is from the Mercatus center's estimate which I believe everyone interested in the subject is familiar with.
It is actually about 100 billion a year more than is projected to be spent without Medicare for all, but it is in the ballpark.
I am not sure what point you think you are making. It makes a huge difference as to who pays for the healthcare system. If individuals do it and it grows unaffordable then those individuals have to adjust their lifestyles or go without. An awful outcome to be sure, but it is not going to destabilize the nation.
However, if the government can not afford to pay, then it has to have a huge tax hike or cut lots of other spending. This is going to be politically difficult and have huge effects on the economy at the level we are contemplating. A shortsighted politician, which the US has a huge amount of, could decide to monetize the burden. This results in inflation and starts the spiral that Venezuela is stuck in. It would be back to the stagflation of the 70s.
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Old 09-10-2018, 04:05 PM
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That statement makes absolutely no sense. The US already spends more public tax dollars on health care per capita than most countries spend in total to achieve full universal coverage, because the system is so bloated and inefficient. Progressives are essentially saying, look to other countries for a model that works and provides better outcomes at far lower costs. Conservatives are essentially saying, no, because ... socialism. And we'll become just like Venezuela! Just like the fear-mongering they did over Medicare.

Incidentally, I note that you never responded to my post #46 in which I noted that all the fiscally responsible deficit-reduction stuff in Canada that you so admired was done by the Liberal party which governed for 13 straight years after the federal Conservatives got thrown out on their incompetent fat asses. ISTM that you have all the right objectives, but choose to put your faith in entirely the wrong ideology to achieve them. All I've ever seen US Republicans do is cut taxes and run up deficits and the national debt with irresponsible spending.
What progressives are actually saying is not to make the system more efficient, but to change to a Medicare for all model. That is not because it is the best possible system but it is one of the few possible ways to get to single payer. We could get costs down to Canada's if the government agreed to cut provider benefits 25-40% and limit access to specialists and expensive technology. Neither is politically possible or even close to it. We could get to Canada's present level of spending if we started from Canada's level of spending in the 1960s and 70s. However, we can only start from the present system.
Discussion of which party made the cuts is the kind of stuff which would only interest a Canadian. It does not matter which party it is that enacts conservative policy, only that it gets enacted. It is great for Canada that they have at least one party that is willing to make drastic cuts in government programs. In the US there are only a tax and spend party and a tax cut and keep spending party. In the last election the responsible Democrat, Hillary, proposed 170 billion a year in new spending and the irresponsible Democrat, Bernie, proposed 3.3 trillion a year in new spending. The likelihood that a liberal American politician would actually cut the budget by 20% is similar to that of monkeys flying out of their butts.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:16 AM
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What progressives are actually saying is not to make the system more efficient, but to change to a Medicare for all model. That is not because it is the best possible system but it is one of the few possible ways to get to single payer. We could get costs down to Canada's if the government agreed to cut provider benefits 25-40% and limit access to specialists and expensive technology. Neither is politically possible or even close to it. We could get to Canada's present level of spending if we started from Canada's level of spending in the 1960s and 70s. However, we can only start from the present system.
Discussion of which party made the cuts is the kind of stuff which would only interest a Canadian. It does not matter which party it is that enacts conservative policy, only that it gets enacted. It is great for Canada that they have at least one party that is willing to make drastic cuts in government programs. In the US there are only a tax and spend party and a tax cut and keep spending party. In the last election the responsible Democrat, Hillary, proposed 170 billion a year in new spending and the irresponsible Democrat, Bernie, proposed 3.3 trillion a year in new spending. The likelihood that a liberal American politician would actually cut the budget by 20% is similar to that of monkeys flying out of their butts.
It's a shame you don't believe in the benefits of capitalism and competition.
First, I'm not sure that a lot of people are saying that the government should just pay for what we all say is a broken system. But even if we literally adopted Medicare for all, we'd still save money. Medicare pays less to physicians than insurance does.
But won't cutting payments destroy our system? That's where competition and capitalism comes in. In most areas of tech costs go lower. Medicine is now quite high tech, and its costs are going higher. And why not? Who wins if costs are reduced. Not the hospitals. Not the insurance companies - they want to negotiate a good deal, but their profit is based on sales and justifiable costs, and the higher they are the more profit. I worked for the Bell System, and it was the same there. Good for us, not so great for the consumer.
And if we add some stuff like negotiating drug prices, even better. And you'll remember who was against doing that - wasn't the Dems.
Who can imagine the efficiencies achievable if the health care system has their feet to the flier. I spent 35 years in the computer and telecom industry with my feet to the fire, and it is good for the soul.
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:31 AM
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If individuals do it and it grows unaffordable then those individuals have to adjust their lifestyles or go without.
This is the issue - if someone is dying, or terribly ill, or significantly injured, they will seek medical assistance, whether they have money or not. Either we
  1. continue on our current path of rolling the cost of treating those that can't pay into what others do BEFORE we tack on the 20% insurance company margin, or
  2. find a way to spread the liability around to everyone in some sort of Medicare-For-All, or
  3. turn people away from healthcare unless they can prove ability to pay for any treatments that may arise, which - even if all healthcare professionals somehow agree that doesn't violate "do no harm" - still results, eventually, in people dying in the streets from easily treatable diseases and injuries.

Are you ok with people dying in the streets from dehydration due to influenza, or skyrocketing disability costs due to people being unable to get an injured shoulder or broken foot fixed? That's not even third-world-country bullshit, that's pre-Industrial Revolution apathy.

The richest country in the history of the world, and we're absolute shit at taking care of our citizens, all because of greed at the top.
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Old 09-11-2018, 03:12 AM
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puddleglum, do you have any response to post 64? I feel like your premise is fundamentally misguided.
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Old 09-11-2018, 05:03 AM
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The 3.6 trillion figure is from the Mercatus center's estimate which I believe everyone interested in the subject is familiar with.
It is actually about 100 billion a year more than is projected to be spent without Medicare for all, but it is in the ballpark.
So your $3.6 trillion scare figure should have been $100 billion increase. Why not go with truth? The difference between Tr-tr-tr-tr-trillion and B-b-b-b-billion might have been lost in your screed anyway.

With the correct arithmetic, instead of "Wars in Iraq as far as the eye can see" you could have written "need to cut down on our orders of Ford-class aircraft carriers." We're already scheduled to spend about $50 billion on the Joint Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle. Maybe if we didn't have "Wars in Iraq as far as they eye can see" we wouldn't need them. How large a fleet of Boeing P-8 Poseidons does the USAF have? 100? If that fleet were just 99 planes, the savings would enable every uninsured child in the nation to visit doctor and get antibiotics next time he has an ear infection.


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I am not sure what point you think you are making. It makes a huge difference as to who pays for the healthcare system. If individuals do it and it grows unaffordable then those individuals have to adjust their lifestyles or go without. An awful outcome to be sure, but it is not going to destabilize the nation.
However, if the government can not afford to pay, then it has to have a huge tax hike or cut lots of other spending. This is going to be politically difficult and have huge effects on the economy ...
So much is wrong here. For starters, one minor point is that $100 billion is much less than $3.6 trillion!

You also seem unaware that health insurance is already unaffordable for many Americans. I've highlighted that to help you focus on it. Some Americans can only analyze in the context of "What's best for me ME ME?" but that isn't you, right puddleglum ?

But the strangest misconception you have is the insistence that money acquires a different character when it passes through government hands. Rather than pursuing this confusion down an abstract rabbit hole, let's compare with public education.

Governments in the U.S. spend about $650 billion on K-12 education — far more than the projected increase with medicare for all. Your argument, if valid, should apply equally to that K-12 spending, no?

If parents spent this money themselves, they could respond to any price hikes by cutting down on their fine wines and iPhones, or by keeping their children home. "Awful, but not destabilizing." But with government involved, what if K-12 education costs increase? Wouldn't this also be a huge problem?

Do you advocate repeal of "K-12 education for all"? To be consistent, it seems you should. First answer this question and then we can go on from there.
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:39 AM
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It's a shame you don't believe in the benefits of capitalism and competition.
First, I'm not sure that a lot of people are saying that the government should just pay for what we all say is a broken system. But even if we literally adopted Medicare for all, we'd still save money. Medicare pays less to physicians than insurance does.
But won't cutting payments destroy our system? That's where competition and capitalism comes in. In most areas of tech costs go lower. Medicine is now quite high tech, and its costs are going higher. And why not? Who wins if costs are reduced. Not the hospitals. Not the insurance companies - they want to negotiate a good deal, but their profit is based on sales and justifiable costs, and the higher they are the more profit. I worked for the Bell System, and it was the same there. Good for us, not so great for the consumer.
And if we add some stuff like negotiating drug prices, even better. And you'll remember who was against doing that - wasn't the Dems.
Who can imagine the efficiencies achievable if the health care system has their feet to the flier. I spent 35 years in the computer and telecom industry with my feet to the fire, and it is good for the soul.
You have an odd definition of capitalism and competition if it includes the government unilaterally setting prices and paying for everything. One of the reasons that Medicare is able to pay less to doctors is the difference between marginal cost and average cost. Medicare is able to pay closer to the marginal cost because private insurers pay the average cost. When Medicare pays everything that will no longer be the case and providers will have to swallow the loss. When this happens they can innovate and lower prices and find new efficiencies or they can lobby the government to hike payments. What evidence is there that the first route will be taken and not the second? They did that with the Medicare doc fix successfully getting it postponed for 17 years and then cancelled. They did that even though the cuts were going to be nowhere near what would be needed in the proposed Medicare for all plan. In contrast Obamacare created 34 pilot projects designed to rein in costs through disease management and care coordination. [URL="https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/WP2012-01_Nelson_Medicare_DMCC_Demonstrations.pdf"]This[/URL did not actually work. The idea that the government is going to impose cost discipline on medical care is a pipe dream.
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:45 AM
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This is the issue - if someone is dying, or terribly ill, or significantly injured, they will seek medical assistance, whether they have money or not. Either we
  1. continue on our current path of rolling the cost of treating those that can't pay into what others do BEFORE we tack on the 20% insurance company margin, or
  2. find a way to spread the liability around to everyone in some sort of Medicare-For-All, or
  3. turn people away from healthcare unless they can prove ability to pay for any treatments that may arise, which - even if all healthcare professionals somehow agree that doesn't violate "do no harm" - still results, eventually, in people dying in the streets from easily treatable diseases and injuries.

Are you ok with people dying in the streets from dehydration due to influenza, or skyrocketing disability costs due to people being unable to get an injured shoulder or broken foot fixed? That's not even third-world-country bullshit, that's pre-Industrial Revolution apathy.

The richest country in the history of the world, and we're absolute shit at taking care of our citizens, all because of greed at the top.
The first way is better than the second way because having the government bankrupt itself trying to pay for everyone's healthcare has consequences that are much worse than rising insurance premiums.
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Old 09-11-2018, 11:59 AM
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puddleglum, do you have any response to post 64? I feel like your premise is fundamentally misguided.
The problem with Venezuela is not that the government suddenly became rapacious and incompetent, that seems to be par for the course in much of that region. The problem with huge social programs is not that they are run by bad people, though in Venezuela's case they certainly were, but that they become so expensive they drag down the country's economy. From my distant perspective Sweden probably has one of the finest government's in the world. They seem civic minded, hard working, competent, incorruptible, and smart. Yet, despite this Sweden had slow growth throughout the 70s and 80s until the crisis of the early 90s created the worst economy since the great depression. The mistake in post 64 is to presume that the problem was bad actors and not bad policy. Sweden had a slow descent and then a bad recession until it changed, Venezuela had a plummet into hellish conditions. My fear for the US is not an utter collapse like Venezuela but instead of 20 year decline and turnaround like Sweden we will have a permanent decline because we won't be able to turn it around.
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
So your $3.6 trillion scare figure should have been $100 billion increase. Why not go with truth? The difference between Tr-tr-tr-tr-trillion and B-b-b-b-billion might have been lost in your screed anyway.

With the correct arithmetic, instead of "Wars in Iraq as far as the eye can see" you could have written "need to cut down on our orders of Ford-class aircraft carriers." We're already scheduled to spend about $50 billion on the Joint Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle. Maybe if we didn't have "Wars in Iraq as far as they eye can see" we wouldn't need them. How large a fleet of Boeing P-8 Poseidons does the USAF have? 100? If that fleet were just 99 planes, the savings would enable every uninsured child in the nation to visit doctor and get antibiotics next time he has an ear infection.




So much is wrong here. For starters, one minor point is that $100 billion is much less than $3.6 trillion!

You also seem unaware that health insurance is already unaffordable for many Americans. I've highlighted that to help you focus on it. Some Americans can only analyze in the context of "What's best for me ME ME?" but that isn't you, right puddleglum ?

But the strangest misconception you have is the insistence that money acquires a different character when it passes through government hands. Rather than pursuing this confusion down an abstract rabbit hole, let's compare with public education.

Governments in the U.S. spend about $650 billion on K-12 education — far more than the projected increase with medicare for all. Your argument, if valid, should apply equally to that K-12 spending, no?

If parents spent this money themselves, they could respond to any price hikes by cutting down on their fine wines and iPhones, or by keeping their children home. "Awful, but not destabilizing." But with government involved, what if K-12 education costs increase? Wouldn't this also be a huge problem?

Do you advocate repeal of "K-12 education for all"? To be consistent, it seems you should. First answer this question and then we can go on from there.
It makes a huge difference who pays. People react to taxes differently than they react to other expenses. Because no matter how much or little you pay in taxes you receive the same benefit. Thus there is no benefit or incentive to pay more in taxes. This limits the amount of money a government can raise and spend. The higher the taxes are the more people are affected. The amount of economic activity destroyed by avoiding taxes is called deadweight loss and the higher the taxes the more deadweight loss. If you double everyone in America's income tax then the deadweight loss is going to be huge. That is why the correct number for new taxes is 3.6 trillion and not 100 billion.
Secondly it is important to think on the margin. We already pay 650 billion, which like heathcare costs is way out of line with what the rest of the world pays. This means that any additional money is going to have a larger effect and deadweight loss than the current amount of spending.
So the answer to your question is that education spending should definitely be cut but not entirely, however if any new spending is approved then it should be cut even more.
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