July 8, 2008

One Answer to Universal Health Care Critics

When confronted by the idea of universal health care, some opponents (when they're not simply yelling SOCIALISM! at you) will point to the weakest examples of other countries which have universal health coverage to bolster their argument. You can argue back that there are countries who have quite successful universal coverage, but these facts often fall on deaf ears. Germany and France are often cited by proponents and nonpartisan groups as successes in universal coverage with their lower costs and their relatively short wait times; such successes are rarely mentioned or even acknowledged by universal coverage opponents. And in fact, these successful countries do not have systems you can honestly call socialized medicine.

The resistance comes from their ears already having been primed by the idea that any reform of health care is socialism. A rhetorical answer is necessary to break these people of the idea that a couple of bad examples in other countries is enough to discount the idea.

Because religion is so popular, it makes an excellent counterargument. If you make an analogy between religion and universal health care (there are many different religions in other countries, just as there are many different implementations of universal health care) you could pose the following question:

You can point to arguably destructive religions in other countries (radical Islam, certain cults, state-sponsored religion which persecutes non-adherents), therefore, religion should be abolished in this country.

If we disregard all the differences between religions, just as some seek to disregard the specific details of universal health coverage systems, and you choose to focus only on examples that bolster one side of the argument, then you must come to the same conclusion. If some countries do religion wrong, then we must learn from that example and eliminate religion here!

Hopefully, they'll see the flaw in that argument and see the same flaw in the health coverage argument.

(And yes, I think it is wrong to argue against religion in general based on extreme examples. Extreme examples may prove useful in weighing the costs and benefits of religious freedom, or for purposes of asking adherents to rein in their more radical brethren. But alone they are no kind of argument against religion.)

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Posted by James at July 8, 2008 2:35 PM
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"You can point to arguably destructive religions in other countries (radical Islam, certain cults, state-sponsored religion which persecutes non-adherents), therefore, religion should be abolished in this country."

Of course, this is wrong, this is not a proper political action. Why? Because one group takes as its right, the right to persecute other individuals, on the basis of their choosing to have a religion.
And rightfully, America bans this, both ways. It says the State shall make no law pertaining to religion: it shan't persecute an individual for his religion, but it won't show him any special respect either.

Do you see how you've set yourself up for the corollary with Health-Care, which defeats your argument?

The call for Universal Health care is wrong. Why? Because one group, the poor, the sick, the needy, take as its right, the persecution of the wealthy, on the basis of their choosing to make some wealth for themselves.
It gets even worse if the government is given the monopoly on health-care. It becomes like a theocratic government, enforcing religion, killing religious men who refuse to conform - only in this situation, the religious men are the Doctors, who did not want to work for the state, but wanted to work in the more profitable private industry.

What any proposal means, when it asks to break down the wall between itself and State, whether it be Health Care, Religion or Environmentalists, is the same thing: the degradation and eventual destruction of the individual for some higher, 'nobler' cause.

Posted by: Rory at July 8, 2008 9:34 PM

Wouldn't it be entertaining to turn their religion into yet another reason to promote universal health care? What would Jesus do with the uninsured? Didn't Jesus want the downtrodden treated as well as him?

I love bringing Christian parables up with right wingnuts. In a lot of ways, Jesus was a Socialist. If you can quote the bible at the wingnuts, they get really purple-faced when you point that kind of stuff out to them.

Posted by: Kitten Herder at July 8, 2008 9:45 PM

While I am not for government sponsored religion, when I talk about the problems of religion around the world, those problems cannot be blamed on government involvement.

You have persecution without government intervention when there is a religious minority in many places. Also, there are countries which give preference to certain religions, and we seem to get along fine with those countries (Israel).

My analogy is intentionally flawed because it ignores results. That's the point: to focus your attention on the fact that ignoring results brings you to incorrect conclusions.

Rory's version of the analogy is flawed because it equates success with a governmental hands-off policy. In our country, the health system is the most wasteful in the world, and fails many of its citizens. (And Rory is equating it to the separation of church and state)

Rory is correct in bringing this to my attention, though. If someone is enamored of the idea that government is equated with failure, they'll definitely latch on and revert back to that canard.

Posted by: James at July 9, 2008 9:09 AM

The problem is that there's this free-market-will-solve-all-problems that flies in the face of basic observational skill and (therefore) is a particular form of crazy that's almost exclusive to the internet. The free market has brought us the current housing, mortgage, energy, food, and health-care crisis. If ANY form of regulation or ANY form of government action is socialism, and your only alternative is the system we have now... well then hand me a red card and tell me where to sign, comrade.

Posted by: David Grenier at July 9, 2008 9:40 AM

David, I don't want to broaden this into a discussion on free-markets as a whole, because we could go on forver. All I will say is that your alternative is not more-regulation or the regulation we have now. You're creating a false alternative there. The alternative is to scrap all the regulation we have now we have now and have free-markets, which not only be economically better, they would be inline with protecting a man's Right to his life and would therefore be moral.

James, let me see if I understand you correctly: you think that the problems of religion around the world, are not caused by governments? Well, that's both true and false. Governments don't cause religion, and they don't cause people to band together and linch someone or rape them for some religious reason. What they can do, is either punish people for breaking the law on religious grounds, or they can look the other way and sanction it. Even worse, they can embrace it and base their laws upon it.

Now, in regards to healthcare, my analogy is slightly flawed, because it's not like you can have little pockets of 'Socialised medicine' grouping together without the government. Until it has anything to do with government regulation or funding, it's still just a group decision (like, for example, these privately owned 'Co-operative stores' we have here, where people spend more, but in the spirit of paying the employees and producers more).
Government involvement in healthcare starts on small scale regulation. Say, a law that states nurses must make reports on the disposal of needles, or, that a Doctor must fill out paperwork to the government for 'statistical reasons'.
These are violations of rights, but tiny ones, they go unnoticed. It isn't like someone slapped down Medicare one day when no-one was looking. The way the law works is by legal precedent, and if a law is passed saying the government may intrude in one sector of a business, it isn't too long before someone uses that as precedent to create more laws.
I just want to make this clear, because it seems you don't want Socialised Medicine, but instead, some laws and regulations to, you know, make it a bit fairer for everyone, make sure everyone has a kind of, a good, basic standard of health.
I don't have long enough to explain just how, in practice, each law passed in that direction has proved a disaster, but I may ask that you look at groups like Firm And West, which provides a history of Health Care in the US:
http://www.westandfirm.org/docs/Gorman-01.pdf

The fundamentals of the analogy are intact though: the government does not have to force people to go to one health-care provider over another. But they can make it... undesirable, for you to go elsewhere. Look at education for example. You have the freedom to send your child to a private school, but you'll still be taxed to pay for state education alongside the cost of private education, which, may I note, is only as expensive as it is because it has to compete with a 'free' government monopoly.
But as I said, it's not automatic. One starts with the small regulation you are for now, the government action, which will somehow be limited to just a few bits of action. The fact is though, that's how all the regulation we have now on Medicine already started. I suggest you look at that essay for the history and results of regulation.

Posted by: Rory at July 9, 2008 1:09 PM

"You have the freedom to send your child to a private school, but you'll still be taxed to pay for state education alongside the cost of private education"

And this is a problem... why? I'm not even clear on why there's a "but" here.

I have the freedom to stay in my house 24/7, but I'll still be taxed to pay for the cost of roads.

Posted by: James at July 9, 2008 1:15 PM

I elucidated the problem in the next few sentences: because it means, contrary to its aim, that only the rich can afford good education.
Your choice as a parent, is the mediocre to terrible state education, or the better (I still think most private schols have a bad idea about education, but that's another issue, involving the false alternative of Dewey vs Classical Education) private school education. But you only earn so much money, a percentage of which is taxed. Now, say you can afford to send your child to a private school, it's just another few thousand pounds/dollars to you, then what's the problem?
But if its such that you simply cannot spend that much money, then you have to accept the schools which your taxed money paid for.

Now, assume there weren't taxes. People would have so much freed up money (not to mention there would be no more dead-weight on that tax-money) that they could afford a private education. The very best schools would still be for the very rich (or offered on scholarship) but education would be that much more affordable for employed citizens.

The same is true of healthcare, education, religion, pensions, mortgages, etc etc. Where you choose to spend your money is your choice, and whether you think the government has the right to start putting in regulation, limiting your choices, violating your fundamental right to your life, goes to the heart of your view of politics, and of morality.

Posted by: Rory at July 9, 2008 3:30 PM

You have the right to vet posts, so feel free to just stick this in at the end of my post, rather than make it a double post:

I can't resist your analogy of roads, because it's perfect. If you don't own a car, or a bike, if you don't leave your house, you have every right to refuse to pay for the upkeep of the roads. Why should you have to pay for something so other people can use it?

Posted by: Rory at July 9, 2008 3:33 PM

Excellent question.

Because you do use it. When you order stuff from Amazon.com, and it comes to your door, the truck that brought it there uses a road.

I don't pretend to be an expert in the philosophy of government, but you can look at funding public education as part of a social contract.

However, forgetting philosophy and talking about practicality, it makes sense to fund the education of the population simply because you benefit from other citizens being guaranteed a basic education.

In neither of those models should you view the funding of education as a service you are getting directly. So when you pay to educate your own child, or choose not to have children, or have long since stopped having children, you still have a responsibility/practical reason to fund public education.

Posted by: James at July 9, 2008 4:32 PM

To answer your model of abolishing public education, I don't accept the idea that markets automatically mean that people will make good choices.

Even in the aggregate, the idea of markets allowing the cream to rise to the top is theoretically sound but practically flawed because it depends on people having good and accurate metrics for making their individual decisions. In the case of schools, I don't even think experts have great metrics for education, let alone the individual.

There are a number of factors that the rich have "better" schools, and we can argue the relative importance, but obviously better pay for teachers is one. But another way schools are "better" is that they provide a gateway to the next school (or college). And they allow for networking with other successful and powerful people, producing a peer safety net that the lower classes do not have access to. And a lot of that is social, and has nothing to do with curriculum (or even being able to afford the school, if your family is not at the correct social strata).

Abolishing public school is not going to change that. It's a pie in the sky proposal, in my opinion, which promises much but seems to ignore the realities of the existing dynamics of schools, and the information people have access to in making choices.

Posted by: James at July 9, 2008 4:44 PM

Rory,

Correct me if I am wrong, but you seem like you are coming at this from a very Libertarian viewpoint. From that stance, any government regulation is an infringement on your rights.

I don't subscribe to this point of view. I have some Libertarian ideas. I think there are things that are too over-regulated. But I think there are things that are too under-regulated as well. I think Health Care falls into that camp.

The problem starts with taxation. Once you have been taxed, that money is no longer yours. So, complaining about how "your money" is being used is misleading. Tax money is meant to go towards infrastructure for the betterment of all society. Regardless of what you do, you will benefit from this infrastructure in some way. Certain resources and services are vital to a functional society. These resources should not be privatized. They should not be available only to those who can afford them. I lump roads, education, and medical care in this category.

I also disagree with your point that by abolishing taxes everyone will have better education because people will all be able to afford private schools. The economics will still be similar. Poorer areas won't be able to pay as well as richer areas. They also won't be able to afford to transport their kids to richer areas for school. Beyond that, there will be no educational standards. Schools will have the "freedom" to teach whatever they want, regardless of factual basis. I am not saying the current system is perfect. I could write several pages of diatribe on how broken it is. It needs to be fixed, but I also believe it needs to be there.

The same is true for health care. We have a variant of socialized medicine right now. Doctor's are not getting paid free market rates. They are getting paid rates forced on them by the insurance companies. How is that any different than having the government force rates on them? Congress' single payer system seems to work very well and is a pretty low overhead system. Why is that not scalable?

Posted by: briwei at July 9, 2008 6:31 PM

Do I use the roads? No I don't use the roads. Amazon uses the roads, they pay for it, and so they have every right to charge me a small percentage of the road charges they have to pay (same as you pay a taxi-driver for the toll booths he passes).

Education and Roads are presented as a false analogy when you talk about external benefits. A better analogy is, I don't pay for the roads, but I benefit from their workers being able to drive to work, thus giving them a wider pool of employees. But these employees wouldn't ask Amazon for a percentage of their Road costs back, though they may be in the position (as more prized employees usually are nowadays) to demand reimbursement to the cost of the oil they used to drive to work.

What you are suggesting is the rule of Externalities - that the unpredicted benefits or disadvantages to other of a trade should be rewarded or finded appropriarely. This is illogical, because a trade is a trade between two or more individuals on certain terms, not on the basis of what other people might gain from the trade. I trade to gain a value greater than that which I own; it is impossible for me to trade a value of my own for a value to other people, people that are of no concern to me.
It is also immoral, because it assumes that men are entitled to the benefits of Externalities, and that men have a sanctimonious duty to serve other men.

***

Your next post:

I recently attended OCON (the Objectivist conference) and took a lecture on 'The Philosophy of Economics'. The lecturer made a very astute point: free market advocates and opponents make the same crucical mistake when discussing the idea of Laissez-Faire capitalism. They claim that free-markets are supposed to make a better life, because people will only make good choices.
The lecturer pointed out this is not what a free market guarantees. What it does mean, is that a rational choice will succeed, and an irrational one will fail.

In practice, this does mean a better economy for everyone. If you think selling potatoes at a time when people are buying onions is a good idea, 'because potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates and everyone need carbohydrates', you will fail. And rightly so. There is nothing innate in reality that means you should suceed inspite of reality.

You say the rich have better schools, because better teachers move there due to better pay? Well, where does the better pay come from? The parents being rich. Why are the rich parents spending their money at this school? Because they can afford to. Why can they afford to and not others? Well most other parents could afford to, if they weren't paying taxes towards education. Not only would they be able to afford it, but because they were all paying for it, the price of private education would go down.

Look, if abolishing state schools is so pie-in-the-high, an idea that will never work, why are legislators so afraid of letting people choose? Why don't they give, say, school vouchers back to taxpayers that allow them to spend their money on the schools they want to? In fact, why don't teachers support this proposal, since, being such an important factor, they would have the most to gain from being rewarded for good work?
I'll give you a clue: when a monopoly is formed, those within the monopoly have every interest in keeping competition out.

Posted by: Rory at July 9, 2008 9:36 PM

One last bit to James: you talked about networking. Well, the only reason the kids they are networking to the colleges are any good, is because they got a private education. Why is better? Well, that's mainly because of funding, and thus we get back to the main issue.

Briwei:

I come, not from a Libertarian viewpoint, but an Objectivist one. I think all government intrusion is an infringement on my rights, yes, but I also believe my rights are grounded in morality. I see it as a violation of me, as a human.
When you say you think some things can be regulated but not others, that to me, is like hearing someone say, 'Well, I can live without my little finger, but I'd hate to loose an ear'.

It's not as misleading as you'd think. Sure, it's immoral for them to take my money, but if they spend it on gas-chambers, that's even worse.
Of course, this Tax money is certainly /meant/ to go towards things that benefit society, but not only do they achieve the opposite of their intended goal, they split society into two parts. They claim on one half, we have the people who have a need, and on the other half we have the people who have the means to ail that need. Therefore, we should force them to ail it. When the 'best for society' is proposed, it means the best for a certain group, not for every single individual. Someone always has to be the victim, and you cannot separate government spendiding fronm the act of theft it begins with, no regulation from the freedom in impinges.

I do not disagree that certain things which the government has chosen to adopt (healthcare, roads, education) are vital to a society; I disagree that these therefore, should be nationalised.
These goods /should/ be available only to those who can afford them (including those who choose to finance the less well-off*) for the simple fact that they earned their money, and they have a moral right to keep what they earned and to trade freely, as they see fit.
Will the education system be better overall? First off, as I've said, an economy doesn't run by its externalities, it runs on the basis of the trades themselves. An economy IS a system of values and the trade of values.
But practically speaking? Well, I wouldn't have it done automatically, but lets say we faze out state school education with school vouchers. The best schools will win, and it will be funded only by those who are getting their tax-rebate from the government i.e. those who produced the money in the amount they produced it to begin with.


A funny observation on wording and its meaning: you say they should not be privatised - I argue for the repealing of regulations. My problem is that these are products of voluntary free trade, but the government sticks their hand in; not the other way round.

I think education needs to be fixed. I think it needs to be there. I just don't think needs make reality. The actions of men trading freely make up the reality of an economy, not the government intrusion dictating those needs and who shall fund them.

Are insurance companies not free-trade? What an insurance company pays a Doctor is the result of the free-trade between individuals. A group of individuals pays the insurance company, the insurance company pays out. The difference between this and socialised medicine? The government acts not like a government, but a mafia. It forces you to pay for their insurance policy, with money you could have chosen to spend somewhere else, and creates a state-wide monopoly, near impossible for other companies to compete with. The difference, essentially, is that insurance companies can't compel anyone by force.

Tell me more about Congress' single-payer system. I don't know much about it.

Posted by: Rory at July 9, 2008 10:10 PM

I left an asterix in my last response, on the point of people providing services for others. I was going to add this:

*On that note, if you look at the figures (Page 48 in the document, page 50 in Adobe Reader) you can see, even if you account for the greater population of the United States, it spends 4 times as much as its closest rival, the more-socialised Britain, and more than anyone else in the world, in private charity.
I only put this an affix, because I don't like arguing things like Charity as a main points. Charity is a derivative aspect of man's life, and is like his taste in music or his choice to take up stamp-collecting: he may do it, he may do it a lot, but it isn't central to what a man is. Central to the issue of state education is not the practicality (though it IS impractical), but the fact that it is that state education is immoral.

Posted by: Rory Hodgson at July 9, 2008 10:23 PM

The primary benefit of networking is not the quality of the schools, but rather the connections to other people who are wired into the money and power structures of the country. So that failure becomes a bump on the road rather than a life or career-ending problem. We have a prime example in the highest elected office of the US government at the moment.

Your lecturer's point does not tell me anything about how school choice serves the individual who is forced to make a choice, only how the change would benefit private schools. Because the choice he is talking about with markets (and you with potatoes) is about the decisions that the business is making, not the individual. If you assert that the schools will be better for their decisions, you still haven't explained how the customers somehow are making rational decisions. The reward comes so much later after the decision that success can't possibly be attributed to a rational decision.

I think people who advocate vouchers wrong about the amount of information available to the person who is most affected by the decision. They are wrong about why rich people send their kids to expensive schools, and why there is stratification in schools. They're wrong about metrics, and about market action. Many are motivated by an aversion to taxes or an unhealthy trust in greed. At least Objectivists admit it, but that doesn't make them any more pleasant dinner companions in my experience.

I think it would be fair to say that I've had enough of these discussions to know that it comes down to whether you believe altruism is immoral or not. To be straightforward with you, I'm not interested in going there.

Our individual morality informs our decisions, and so if we disagree on our responsibilities to society we've got as much a point arguing about the mechanisms as if we disagreed on abortion and argued about different methods for performing them.

I think we can agree that Objectivist morality is not in line with the mainstream; if you want to say that means you are oppressed because the majority forces you to immorally fund public schools, I'll understand where you're coming from but disagree. And, honestly, to me that's a triumph of rhetoric over morals, not rationality over morals. But in the end I'm really not interested in being a sounding board for Objectivist ethics.

To reiterate my original point, the rhetorical example of generalizing about religion may be useful in pointing out to some folks that generalizing about health coverage by choosing a few bad (i.e. less successful) examples is inaccurate and misleading.

Posted by: James at July 9, 2008 11:29 PM

It is a moral issue to a degree, but then you cite reasons why, in practice alone, 'networking' is this big evil. Well, I don't see it. I don't see any figures showing this to be true. Great, it might be /easier/ for some than others, just like it's easier for the the son of a mechanic to find somewhere to work as a mechanic; that doesn't mean any guarantee to succeeding. Also, let's not bring political jobs into this, because then you're not just talking about competence for a job, you're primarily talking about what people think of him, and that is in turn, determined by someone's right or wrong Philosophy.

What's this about being 'forced to make a choice'. Force means the use or threat of physical force, usually to get you to do something. The /fact/ that you have to make a choice is no more a matter of force than choosing what sandwich to have for lunch or which shoes to buy. You're deliberately conflating the meaning of the word 'force' to define simple facts of reality as 'forcing' you to choose.
So, then we get to your idea that, ok, maybe businesses get to make rational decisions, but individuals don't. Ok, let's assume that's true: should someone should make the decisions for them? Is there an omnipotent force that can make that decision instead? Rather than be 'forced' to make a choice, you'd rather be literally forced to accept a specific choice?
You can't expect to have an economy run on perfect information, because human beings aren't like that. We can make a very rational, very good decision, but only within the scope of our knowledge. If there is some factor outside of our knowledge which we have been unable to account for, one doesn't claim, 'AH! The human mind! So flawed! Let's give up on thinking all together!'

If we're all so wrong about 'market action' and 'metrics' and why people send their kids one place rather than another... well, let's again, assume that's true: why does that give you the right to force anything upon them?
Let's assume there's this big networking conspiracy all round the country, a great aristocracy of the rich. Only the rich or those connected to the rich are allowed in. People go to special rich schools to be trained in this conspiracy and how to keep themselves in. How long do you expect such a practice to last? Do you really think a business is going to hang on to an employee for very long just because he happens to be connected, but is actually terrible?

Surely, if this problem is so rife, State education only exacerbates the problem? It makes the process so much easier, because the private schools become so much more exclusive. Wouldn't you then be for opening up the system and allowing people to take their money where they like?

I wish you'd cite at least one study on this whole 'stratification' and 'metrics' issue so I actually knew what you were talking about. You can't just say, 'Oh you're wrong, because you don't understand this thing here' without explaining what it is and how it actually relates to the issue; and furthermore, why it is therefore a reason to start violating rights?

Objectivist morality isn't about saying us few, enlightened individuals are being oppressed by the majority - it is about saying that the majority, by supporting public schools, are calling for their enslavement as well as ours. In issues like tax and socialised medicine, by voting for these issues and campaigning for them, they destroy the very meaning of 'human rights'.
If you think words are funny little things disconnected from reality, then I can understand where you're coming from, but disagree. And honestly, that's a triumph of reality over rhetoric.
What is rhetorical about describing a band of people as thieves, when they have an in surmountable amount of force behind them, and demand your money from you and put dictates down on what you can and can't do in your life?

And the religion-healthcare example is quite accurate I think: it's not a matter of the influence of a religion or some way of organising healthcare, all involving free choices; it's a matter of whether the government actually decides to get involved in these issues.

As for bad examples - what constitutes a good example? I mean, I can simply point to the fact that, each wave of regulation to the Healthcare in the United States has been met with a general deterioration in the system.
Perhaps this is a matter, just like Socialism, that, 'Well, those countries just weren't doing it right; but we have the plan to get it perfect!'

The flaw is in the theory and the practice of the initiation of force; not in the fact that the use of force wasn't done in the right way.

Posted by: Rory at July 10, 2008 8:12 AM

I think James is right. We are coming from such different ideological prespectives that this conversation is going to continue to go nowhere. You argue that all government intrusion is a violation of your rights and thus, immoral. You then present analogies that are rooted in your belief system. The analogies are invalid to me because I don't accept the premise.

For example: "When you say you think some things can be regulated but not others, that to me, is like hearing someone say, 'Well, I can live without my little finger, but I'd hate to loose an ear'."

The base premise, that the regulations are taking something away, is something I reject. That makes the analogy flawed. It's like trying to argue with a devout Christian who uses the Bible as evidence that they are right.

And your reference document is similarly suspect. The author works for a "free market think tank" and has a stated agenda in the introduction to her document. "Let consumers spend their
own money on health care, free of interference from professors with statistical studies..." She then uses pages of statistics to support her point that we need to deregulate.

Likewise, FIRM and its founder Lin Zinser, also have a stated bias. "Ms. Zinser became concerned with the increasing threat of socialized medicine in Colorado and nationwide." The word THREAT is a pretty clear indication of where she stands.

How can I view these contributions objectively. I certainly don't view the Bible as an objective work on religion. And I don't view the Proctor & Gamble study on the safety and benefits of Olestra as objective either.

History is littered with too many examples of the free market taking advantage of the individual for me to agree that all laws and regulations are immoral. Since we can't agree on that, there is no basis for discussion.

Posted by: briwei at July 10, 2008 12:53 PM

Bri,

Somehow you managed to convey what I was thinking without using the word "douchebag." I'm still not sure how you did it.

Posted by: David Grenier at July 10, 2008 5:26 PM

Wait, so you believe data supplied can only be objective if not human being was actually involved in the process? I mean, everyone is going to have some sort of 'bias' - i.e. they will start from certain premises.
No one treats a phenomenon as if it's the first time they've ever seen something like it, and as if it has no relation to anything else... actually, that's not true, the modern education system of America teaches its pupils to do just that.

Well anyway.

"The base premise, that the regulations are taking something away, is something I reject. That makes the analogy flawed. It's like trying to argue with a devout Christian who uses the Bible as evidence that they are right."

I don't see the analogy you make between Christians and the Bible. If I was saying regulations are bad, /because Atlas Shrugged says so/ then yeah, it would be the same.
I'm saying that man has right to live his life as he wishes; that the US Constitution recognises this; that a regulation, means, a coercion, a compulsion, by the government, for someone not to behave in a certain way.
Now you can argue any of those premises if you like. I mean, there they are, laid out there. No referring to holy texts - just the meaning as it is. Do you deny that regulation means /regulating action/? Do you think that one can both have a right to personal choice, and also be told he is limited in how he may act in certain situations?

Your last paragraph intrigues me. There was no such thing as Capitalism or the free-market until sometime after the Scottish Enlightenment. The closest thing was Mercantilism, which seems to be what we're reverting back to (the idea that there is an innate 'resource of money' which is divided amongst the people, rather than being freely created and traded). Or perhaps you mean American History, or world history, Post-Revolutionary Era.

I mean, it just interests me for that fact alone, but even considering there's never even been a single Laissez-Faire capitalist country (the closest being, of course, the few decades post-1776 US); unlike the countless examples of Socialist systems, where we see the individual placed as a cog into a machine, forced to serve the 'common good' and degraded and spat on for any pride he might show in achieving anything for himself.

David, it's probably because he has some element of class.

Posted by: Rory at July 10, 2008 8:44 PM

David, it's probably because he has some element of class.

No, it's because he is most likely not up on the newest version of the term. The full word "douchebag" is too long and has been replaced by the more common "douche."

Brian, get with it, will ya?

I recently attended OCON (the Objectivist conference)

Ha ha ha ha ha!! Wait, are you serious? Oh, but I don't care.

Say, you don't happen to know who John Galt is, do you?

Posted by: Patti M. at July 10, 2008 9:37 PM

Did you see the Bunk study stating 2/3 of doctors in America want National Health Care. The doctors who did this study also conducted one in 2002 and found that the majority of doctors did not want national health care, the problem with this is that the 2 question surveys drastically differ in there 2nd question. I found this article, 60% of Physicians Surveyed Oppose Switching to a National Health Care Plan, It's worth a read.

[Ed. link removed -- Spam post]

Posted by: Matt at July 13, 2008 5:08 AM

Two paragraphs into that "article" it was still only about insulting liberals and making up moronic slogans. Since I have barely enough time for the actual intelligent stuff I want to read, I moved on.

I wouldn't be surprised if doctors were, in large numbers, opposed to universal health care. A recent NPR story interviewed some German doctors and found that putting the doctors on a budget lowers health care costs, but the doctors don't always like it.

The story is here and I promise it won't insult you or your intelligence in the first couple of paragraphs. (You can also listen to the audio version.)

We've experienced first hand how some in the medical profession work hard to increase their bottom line by ordering procedures that are unnecessary. But, hey, that's the vaunted market at work!

Posted by: James at July 13, 2008 9:11 AM

I skipped the first few hysterical paragraphs of the anti-liberal article and got to the wording of the survey questions. The article gave the wording of all the questions, but only discussed the responses to the second question. I wondered why the first question wasn't discussed, so I checked out the linked PDFs, which contain the actual survey results. These were much more interesting.

Question 1 asked if doctors were generally in favor of governmental legislation to establish national health insurance. In the first survey, the answer was 49% yes, 11% neutral, 40% no. In the second survey, it was 59% yes, 9% neutral, and 32% no.

So the response to the first question, which was worded the same in the two surveys, became more positive over five years; but in both surveys, more doctors were in favor than not.

Now to question two. The first survey specifically asked doctors if they wanted the government to pay for healthcare. (No details on how this would be funded or administered.) This got a resounding no.

The second survey instead asked doctors if they favored "incremental reform." This benignly vague question got a very positive response. (It's easy to get people to agree on "reform," but you can't assume that their idea of reform is the same as yours.)

So if you ignore the anti-"leftist" article and read the survey results, you'll see that doctors ARE generally in favor of the government requiring some kind of universal healthcare. In 2002, they didn't like the idea of the government paying for it directly, but this doesn't tell us what they would like. It doesn't necessarily follow that they want to continue dealing with PPOs, HMOs, indemnity programs, and the like, as the author of the hysterical article assumes.

Posted by: Julie at July 13, 2008 1:33 PM

Oh, lord. Is "Matt" "Rory" in disguise?

Posted by: Patti M. at July 14, 2008 12:52 PM

Actually, you're all just one person in real life; the person I pay to make comments on my blog under the names Maggie, Patti, Julie, B.O.B., etc... :)

Posted by: James at July 14, 2008 2:13 PM

OK - now that I realize that was a spam posting, I've eliminated the link. Sorry, no Google page rank for you!

Posted by: James at July 15, 2008 5:26 PM

Yeah, I had a feeling that was some sort of crap-ola when I tried to find out more from the "article" and there was no "about us" on the web page. All I could find was a blog info thingie, and that's when I said "nuts."

Posted by: Patti M. at July 15, 2008 7:00 PM

Well, that's odd. It was a lame blog, but I enjoyed the fact that the two source articles it linked to contradicted the blogger's point.

Posted by: Julie at July 15, 2008 9:33 PM

Self-foot-shooting. Hmm. What an interesting way to self-promote.

Posted by: Patti M. at July 16, 2008 8:35 AM

In case people missed it, the same exact comment was reposted word-for-word. Them's spammin' words.

Posted by: James at July 16, 2008 8:46 AM

Oh! I did miss that. Greedy poophead. (him, not you)

Posted by: Julie at July 16, 2008 10:27 AM

Pretty weird. It's not the kind of spam I usually get. I wonder if it's just someone keying off a Google search or something.

Posted by: James at July 16, 2008 11:03 AM

Did I mention I have cheap canadian Cialis for sale at my site? Oh, and also porn. Lots and lots of porn.

Posted by: David Grenier at July 16, 2008 12:07 PM

Setting people up for disappointment.

Posted by: James at July 16, 2008 12:30 PM

How about some cheap Canadian orn-pay? Got any of that?

Posted by: Patti M. at July 16, 2008 1:30 PM

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