Health Care: Turns Out To Be A Tax After All

If you recall, one of the most steadfast public positions of the Democrats and the Obama White House during the health care debate was that the legislation did not constitute a tax. President Barach Obama expressly denied that the legislation was a tax in pushing for its approval. Now, however, his administration is seeking to defend the law on the basis that it is . . . you guessed it . . . a tax.

The Obama Administration has been repeatedly criticized for saying things to the public and then saying different things in court. Civil libertarians have denounced the Administration for not only fighting to preserve Bush-era doctrines but actually expanding on those doctrines in court in the areas of surveillance, torture, and terrorism.

The Administration is defending the new law as part of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.” It is the strongest possible basis for defending the law (and was used to justify the social security law), but it happens to contradict what both Democratic leaders, including President Obama, told the public.

Just last September, George Stephanopoulos specifically challenged the President on his denial that the legislation was a tax on ABC News program “This Week.” Stephanopoulos observed that the legislation seemed to be clearly a tax by any definition. Obama replied strongly “I absolutely reject that notion.”

Here is the exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I — I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax — “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…

OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.

OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that. Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?

OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion.

I remain a bit unclear why the President believes that looking up a term in a dictionary must mean “you’re stretching a little bit right now.” Now, of course, you can simply look it up in the Administration’s brief.

While once defined as a “penalty,” the cost of being uninsured is now embraced as a tax that is expected to raise $4 billion a year by 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

I previously wrote this prior column on the serious federalism concerns raised by the new legislation.

Source: NY Times

181 thoughts on “Health Care: Turns Out To Be A Tax After All

  1. For once and all, the government does not tax. It is a use fee, like SS it is a use fee. You use it whether you use it, don’t you know.

  2. You can call a liar a fabricator but that doesn’t change he’s a liar.

    And let’s see what we’ll get for this tax?

    It’s certainly not universal health care.

    What we’ll get is more insurance company skimming off dollars that could be used for patient care to pay ridiculous overhead like inflated CEO salaries, bonuses and perks in addition to effectively allowing them to be medical practitioners without license with a vested financial interest in not paying claims.

    Do you smell that son? Equivocation in the morning . . . smells just like . . . the same old corporatist bullshit.

  3. “While once defined as a “penalty,” the cost of being uninsured is now embraced as a tax that is expected to raise $4 billion a year by 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”

    Obama….another compassionate political talking head…and apparently that is as far as the compassion goes…
    the whole point of Universal Healthcare was to insure those who could no longer afford to get around the inflated parasitic corporate healthcare tick to receive any healthcare at all….now we will be penalizing them instead, adding misery to woe and most probably ensuring an earlier death by disease. Apparently no one understands the concept of a healthy neighbor makes for a healthier home anymore.

  4. national health care is the “birth right” of every American citizen even though about 60% of us don’t want or need it. And of course it has to be a tax, it would probably be illegal otherwise.

    We don’t need single payer or government payer we need more than 5 companies selling health care insurance. Then they would have to compete and could not afford high executive salaries and expensive perks. The care would be better and less expensive and it wouldn’t lead to huge budget deficits. For the poor we could all pay an additional amount on our premiums to cover them like we do with auto insurance (at least here in Virginia). I imagine it would be cheaper than nationalizing the entire medical sector of our economy. And it would be paid for and controlled by private individuals looking out for their best interests.

  5. Byron,

    You above statement shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how insurance operates.

    Insurance operates by collecting premiums and collecting them together to form risk pools.

    Risk pools are used to pay out when someone makes a claim.

    The more members in a risk pool, the lower the premiums because the risk is spread out over the largest number of participants possible.

    Ergo, the largest possible risk pool returns the greatest operational efficiency related to cost of participation.

    We precisely need a single payer national health insurance trust because

    1) it creates the largest risk pool possible – everyone and
    2) it creates the additional operational efficiency of eliminating redundant paperwork and payment mechanisms in addition to
    3) reducing overhead in the form of costs above and beyond administrative costs, i.e. CEO salaries, bonuses and perks unrelated to actually providing health care.
    4) In addition, choice in physicians would be a non-issue as anyone offering medical services would have simply two options –
    a) the national health care insurance plan or
    b) cash. And that’s fine. Because the really greedy doctors could go all cash and there’s your beloved free market in action. Doctors don’t have to take insurance if money is their primary driver.

    Insurance companies and competition among them nothing to do with quality health care other than they operate as a drain on resources that could and should be used to treat patients.

    And “nationalizing the entire medical sector of our economy” is pure propaganda trollish bullshit language. Nationalizing health care insurance is not the same thing as nationalizing health care in toto.

    There would still be private hospitals and private drug companies (although they’d be forced to negotiate on price for a change) and private miscellaneous medical supplies. Only if we nationalized all of them would that constitute “nationalizing the entire medical sector of our economy”.

  6. ‘Then they would have to compete and could not afford high executive salaries and expensive perks.’

    Byron those days are long gone…the ‘capitalist’ zeitgeist has been perverted and those CEO’s and execs aren’t going back to the farm….Paree is much too hard to leave….and no one has the ability to drag them back across the piles of bones and corpses they created to get there…

  7. “Insurance companies and competition among them has nothing to do with quality health care other than they operate as a drain on resources that could and should be used to treat patients.”

    Verbs are important.

  8. What?! A tax from Obama and Stupak?! I bet the healthcare Insurers are upset ’cause I’m sure as heck shocked out of my socks!!

  9. Buddha Is Laughing’s latest useful post reminded me of a post of Jull’s a while back. This is the link for a planned parenthood email petition protesting the Obama administration’s proposed prohibition on abortions coverage for women in the high risk pool.

    http://www.ppaction.org/campaign/hcrnwwff_af?qp_source=hcrnwwff%5fafhp

    Here’s what it is about in case you missed the hookah discussion:

    “The Obama administration has decided that no woman in the new high-risk insurance pools will be allowed to obtain abortion coverage beyond limited cases (rape, incest, endangering the life of the woman). The high-risk insurance pools are for some of the most medically vulnerable women in the country — those with pre-existing conditions such as breast and ovarian cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and other conditions that may make pregnancy extraordinarily dangerous. These women will be locked out from abortion coverage, even if they pay for it out of their own pockets.”

  10. I believe Jill spells her name without a “u”. Fortunately it is only the first in a series of typos so I’m sure she won’t take it personally.

  11. Buddha’s got it exactly right. And Byron, the only nationalized health care program is the VA, a pure socialized system in which the facilities are owned by the government and all of the health care providers are government employees. Why is it that I never hear Sen. McConnell or Rep. Boehner, who see socialism under their beds, propose legislation to abolish this monstrous assault on the free market?

  12. Buddha,

    Already signed the petition for Elizabeth Warren.

    Mike A,

    It’s also worth mentioning that the VA (socialized medicine) is the cheapest and most effective (measured by patient outcomes and satisfaction) healthcare in the country.

    Byron,

    What Buddha and Mike A said. I have a question for you – assume you are a claims adjuster for a health insurance company and you have to decide if you are going to pay $50,000 a year for a customer’s ongoing care or if you will use a loophole to cancel the policy. Would you uphold your moral obligation to your customer or your fiduciary responsibility to your shareholders? Do you want an employee of a for-profit company making this decision for one of your loved ones?

  13. The truth is the entire plan was a sham from its inception. Obama negotiated with Big Pharma in secret, (they got what they wanted) and took single payer off the plate from day one. Meanwhile, the person who wrote the actual legislation is a staffer for Max Baucus. She worked for him a while back, left to take a job at Wellpoint, and then, as the legislation was pending, returned to write the bill. So if you wonder why health insurance companies’ stock went up after the bill was signed, there’s a plausible explanation.

    This is what drives me nuts when people say progressives just don’t understand Obama. The truth is we most certainly do understand. He appears to function via the creation of flattering headlines which people don’t look beneath. Well, here is an article that looks beneath the surface on the health plan for insurance companies: “Obama’s Health Care Bill Is Enough to Make You Sick

    by Chris Hedges

    A close reading of the new health care legislation, which will conveniently take effect in 2014 after the next presidential election, is deeply depressing. The legislation not only mocks the lofty promises made by President Barack Obama, exposing most as lies, but sadly reconfirms that our nation is hostage to unchecked corporate greed and abuse. The simple truth, that single-payer nonprofit health care for all Americans would dramatically reduce costs and save lives, that the for-profit health care system is the problem and must be destroyed, is censored out of the public debate by a media that relies on these corporations as major advertisers and sponsors, as well as a morally bankrupt Democratic Party that is as bought off by corporations as the Republicans.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/12

    Yissil,

    Maybe I should change my name to Jull as it sounds exotic!!

  14. As I read through these comments much blame has been placed on allegedly inefficient, profit-driven insurers for soaring premiums, rising health care costs, and lack of insurance access. That blame is largely misplaced.

    Competition raises quality and lowers prices. Lack of competition does the opposite.

    Government significantly limited insurance competition years ago by shifting health insurance from personal consumption to corporate consumption. It did this with large payroll tax incentives and mandates for employers to offer insurance. Today virtually the only way to get insurance is through a job.

    Government further raised insurance prices by 1) mandating coverage minimums beyond what individuals often needed, 2) banning state-to-state sales of lower priced products, and 3) outlawing portability.

    Government has directly raised cash/insurance health care costs by mandating that hospitals take below-market payments for government-paid care and leaving insurance companies to make up the sizable difference with providers.

    Government created incentives for hospitals to close in locations where low-paying government care reigns or where providers were forced to cover health care for large numbers of uninsured, such as – yes – Arizona.

    The future of the proposed health care can be seen in Massachusetts, where employers are now dropping health care coverage outright in favor of paying fines to the government. This leaves individuals to enroll in a state plan, which they must do or face fines themselves.

    In Massachusetts I predict that unionized state employees will eventually be the last ones to hold private insurance.

    The problem with the health care system is not too little government involvement, but far too much.

  15. Mike A:

    “Why is it that I never hear Sen. McConnell or Rep. Boehner, who see socialism under their beds, propose legislation to abolish this monstrous assault on the free market?”

    Because they are politicians and as such probably know little or nothing about economics as the current state of our economy is testament to.

  16. Slarti:

    Let me ask you a question. When someone else is paying for dinner where are you going to eat?

    [] McDondalds
    [] Olive Garden
    [] Mortons

    What do you think is going to happen? Care is going to be rationed. I would rather have a company with only a fiduciary responsibility to it’s shareholders doing the deed than some political operative who pretty much has me by the short and curly’s. At least I know where I stand with a company and I can read the fine print and decide not to buy a specific policy that has that loop hole in it. I am free to choose my poison. This national insurance/health care is without that ability. I will have lost control over my body, I will no longer own it in the strictest sense of the word. And for what? So 10% of us can be cared for? We can come up with something to help people who don’t have health care without a system that controls us at a very fundamental level.

    But who am I? It is a done deal and I haven’t had a say in it so I cant change the outcome. What is the sense in arguing about it? All I will say is you are not going to like the unintended consequences.

    “”Universal health care” is a lovely phrase with political resonance in some quarters. But what does it mean concretely?

    First of all, since people differ in what they want, nothing can be “universal” without being mandatory. In other words, we are talking about forcing people to belong to whatever program the politicians and bureaucrats come up with, regardless of what the people themselves might prefer.

    As for health, it is the end result of many things — diet, exercise, genetics, lifestyle — most of which are beyond the scope of government. What the government can control — doctors, hospitals, medicines — are only part of the equation.

    What the lovely phrase “universal health care” boils down to is politicians and bureaucrats forcing people to get their medical treatment and pharmaceutical drugs the way the politicians and bureaucrats decide.”

    Thomas Sowell

    And I might add they can control what we eat and how much we exercise if it benefits our health.

  17. Byron,

    How about you addressing your propaganda slinging (inadvertent or not) and misunderstanding of how insurance operates instead of changing the subject to what a couple of demonstrated morons do or do not know? I’d really like to hear why you think single payer health care insurance is bad for country instead of simply bad for overpaid insurance executives.

  18. Byron,

    I got ahead of your response . . . such as it was.

    What part of this:

    “4) In addition, choice in physicians would be a non-issue as anyone offering medical services would have simply two options –
    a) the national health care insurance plan or
    b) cash. And that’s fine. Because the really greedy doctors could go all cash and there’s your beloved free market in action. Doctors don’t have to take insurance if money is their primary driver.”

    didn’t register?

    The government won’t be determining treatment, just what they’ll pay for it – LIKE ANY INSURANCE COMPANY. Oh wait! That’s right. Insurance companies DO DECIDE ON TREATMENT NOW. And if often has nothing to do with medical diagnosis and everything to do with retaining profits.

    The only people “we are talking about forcing . . . to belong to whatever program the politicians and bureaucrats come up with” are the doctors if they want to get paid.

  19. And remember your episode about the wheel for your power chair?

    If you don’t think an insurance company had something to do with you not being able to fix the wheel yourself?

    Then you’re in denial about how lobbyists work.

  20. Buddha:

    I know exactly what insurance does and how it operates. And anyway Puzzling took the words right out of my mouth above.

    I am no shill for any insurance company nor do I own stock in any.

    A large risk pool sans competition will do nothing to reduce costs. What controls will be in place to reduce costs? There will be no incentives for government to reduce costs.

  21. Buddha:

    Lobbyists need to go in any event, all kinds both corporate and union.

    What makes you think it isn’t government regulation that deprives me of that right?

  22. i’m for single payer. just seeing rush limbaugh and the guy who tried to runover his landlord with the ford minivan in the same waiting room would be worth it.

    but in the end that’s why i don’t see universal healthcare anytime soon. some don’t want to see certain others in the same waiting rooms.

  23. Byron,

    Puzzling did noting but point to the mechanism by which we only have 5 companies running all of HC insurance that cater to corporations over individual citizens. A symptom is not a disease proper.

    And you sound remarkably like an insurance company shill for your claims not to be one. Because your statements in re health care insurance are propping up two things: waste in duplicate billing channels and CEO greed.

  24. Glenn Beck says he may go blind

    SEATTLE – Conservative commentator Glenn Beck says he has been diagnosed with macular dystrophy, a progressive eye disorder that could cause him to go blind.

    Speaking to an audience over the weekend, Beck, a Mount Vernon, Wash. native, talked about how he’s been losing the ability to focus his eyes. He says he went to his doctor a couple of weeks ago.

    “He did all kinds of tests and he said, ‘you have macular dystrophy …you could go blind in the next year. Or, you might not,'” said Beck.

    Beck tearfully began talking about the things he looks at, like his wife and children, and that he loves to read, followed by joking about how he is too lazy to learn Braille.

    Before making the announcement, the vocal opponent to Pres. Obama’s health care reform set up his story saying “I went to the best doctor I could find, while I could still go to the best doctor I can find.” The reported crowd of 6,000 in Salt Lake City laughed and applauded in approval.

  25. “Glenn Beck says he may go blind”
    That would put real meaning in the phrase”the blind leading the blind”

  26. Byron,

    The choice isn’t between a company man or a political operative getting to choose whether or not your loved one gets the care they need, but between a company man trying to find any way possible to cancel your policy (his job may depend on it) and a civil servant who legally doesn’t have the option to cancel your policy (since the single payer system would cover everyone – no exceptions).

    Your comment pointed out something about the whole ‘government can’t do anything right’ crowd (I know that’s an oversimplification of your position) – the government is not made up of just political agents – it consists mostly of career civil servants who stay the same from administration to administration. In my opinion, the Bush administration attempt to politicize every job they could get their hands on is just one more attempt to ‘break’ government so they can point to it and say, ‘see, government doesn’t work’.

    You might want to ask yourself in what way competition improves the for-profit health care system (what are the incentives favoring) – because for-profit health care does not incentivize providing health care to people…

  27. Byron–

    “national health care is the ‘birth right’ of every American citizen even though about 60% of us don’t want or need it.”

    **********

    Many young and/or healthy people in the US don’t think they need comprehensive health coverage–that is, they don’t think they need it…until they NEED it. One never knows if one is going to have a heart attack, be diagnosed with cancer, or suffer a major health problem. Too many Americans do not have comprehensive health coverage–or any health insurance at all. Too many Americans go into debt or need to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills they’ve incurred. Is this good for our country?

    Call me a socialist. I’d prefer to see my tax dollars help provide for comprehensive health coverage for all Americans–than to pay for unnecessary wars…than to enrich companies like Blackwater/Xe that make huge profits from war. I’d like to think that the taxes I pay to the government help to make life better for my fellow citizens.

    I’m with Buddha on this issue.

    And I also support Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Protection Agency. What our government needs is more people like Elizabeth Warren and Brooksley Born to be put in positions of authority. Geithner and Summers have got to go!!!

  28. ‘Byron 1, July 19, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Slarti:

    Let me ask you a question. When someone else is paying for dinner where are you going to eat?

    [] McDondalds
    [] Olive Garden
    [] Mortons’
    ______________________________________________________

    how and why how you answer that question will absolutely define who you are and how you view yourself in relation to other human beings.

  29. Byron,

    Why don’t you want to get the cost of heath care off of the back of American corporations? How do you expect US companies to compete with companies from countries that have single payer or socialized medicine? Wouldn’t it be much better if everyone was provided a baseline level of health care and insurance companies could sell ‘platinum’ coverage on top of that. By all empirical measures such a system would be better for everyone but the insurance industry, why is that so bad?

    Byron posted:

    Let me ask you a question. When someone else is paying for dinner where are you going to eat?

    [] McDondalds
    [] Olive Garden
    [] Mortons’

    The answer depends on who is paying for my dinner and why they are doing it. Is it a wealthy friend who wants to celebrate something, a potential client taking me to a business dinner, or a poor friend trying to repay a debt?

  30. Woosty:

    From what I am hearing, in other countries they choose Morton’s unless the care is rationed. But good luck trying to change human nature.

    You are very close to your answer with that statement you made. You just need to take it a little farther, think about what you are saying and the implications of that statement. Take it all the way and you will see my opposition to health care provided by government.

  31. even with Universal Single Payer this;

    [“but in the end that’s why i don’t see universal healthcare anytime soon. some don’t want to see certain others in the same waiting rooms.”]

    will never happen. The $$$$ that has been drained from the working people can/will never be replaced thereby NECESSITATING government intervention in making healthcare available to everyone and those who have been on the receiving end of that $$$$$ will never sit in a waiting room with anyone they consider of the ‘great unwashed’.

    another problem with people who cannot afford healthcare is that they are also the ones who tend to be subjected to a horrendously disproportionate amount of the stress and labour and ill-treatment doled out by big business and government demands and those dull enough to simply follow suit. Who is it, after all is said and done and decided, that actually, ACTUALLY fights the wars, pays the taxes, has to pay full price for all goods and services etc…who is on the short end of the stick when promises are reneged on…)and so on….and sick people don’t live on separate planets…that toxic treatment is not hidden,it undermines EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.

  32. Slarti:

    Most people will look at it as the rich friend who is paying so the sky is the limit. People like you and Woosty will try and use only what is needed, others will scream bloody murder for the entire enchilada or fillet, rare with a nice Shiraz depending on their tastes.

  33. Woosty:

    the rich will always have superior health care and the very poor will have adequate care. It is the middle class and the working poor that I worry about. Being one of them myself.

    Hell the very rich are probably the ones pushing this anyway to take the burden off of their companies.

  34. Byron,

    What part of “payouts cost less relative to risk pool size” doesn’t register. Rationing? Bullshit. Do the math based on current US population. You might have to WAIT. But that’s called treage, Byron. Because the sicker people get seen first. But that rationing argument is the same kind of regurgitated propaganda crap that national health insurance is the equivalent of “nationalizing the entire medical sector of our economy” is and as much as I’m glad you like your doctor, there is nothing about nationalized health care insurance that would keep you from seeing him or getting the treatment you both decided upon unless he was simply a greedy prick charging more than you could pay out of pocket.

  35. Byron,

    And it’s thinking like this – “the rich will always have superior health care and the very poor will have adequate care” – that ensures that inequity continues. I’m using the term “thinking” very loosely here because you aren’t doing a very good job of it.

  36. Slarti,

    “Wouldn’t it be much better if everyone was provided a baseline level of health care and insurance companies could sell ‘platinum’ coverage on top of that. By all empirical measures such a system would be better for everyone but the insurance industry”

    Bingo.

  37. Byron,

    I’m abandoning the restaurant analogy because I don’t think that it is very helpful here.

    Health care is rationed NOW and will continue to be rationed (until everyone can get all of the healthcare that they need which as you pointed out wont happen anytime soon). There is health care which is provided to everyone on the basis of need (right now that’s just emergency care – I’m assuming you don’t want them to wait for proof of insurance before treating you if you have a heart attack) and care which is rationed to those with enough insurance or cash to cover it. Everything that I’ve seen indicates that raising the non-rationed care level as much as possible (especially to include preventative care and care for problems BEFORE they require emergency room visits) is both more efficient and more effective. Are you against saving money and lives?

  38. Byron,

    I’m with Elaine on this but I will argue this from a financial aspect. You can either pay for other people’s health care in the most expensive and least efficient manner (what we do now) or you can pool the risk as Buddha explained covering everyone at the least financial cost or you can simply let people stay ill so they can’t work or you can even let them die. But those are the choices. To my way of thinking money isn’t the be all and end all of our existence. The welfare of my society and the people in it is what matters to me. That is a value system. Another value system says money is the most important thing in the whole world and if we give up any little piece of it to make a better society then we are being treated unjustly.

  39. I’m with Byron on this one.

    Even if it were true that insurance companies executives were vastly overpaid and multiple insurers resulted in tremendous duplication of billing infrastructure, those just don’t explain health care costs. Neither of those “inefficiencies” is that expensive against the backdrop of a $2.5 trillion health care economy. The challenge is much more fundamental than that.

    One core argument put forth here is that government will run the system more efficiently by virtue of combining everyone into some single risk pool. Where do you see this in nature, so to speak? I see no evidence that government has ever administered anything like this successfully.

    I wrote a short piece here last year that outlined why universal coverage will be a failure.

    My initial argument against universal care included the extraordinary dollar cost to the government and resulting intergenerational theft, reduced quantity and accessibility to medical services (particularly advanced ones), and lower quality of core services.

    Perhaps most importantly – and rarely discussed – I mention the chilling effect on innovation and medical advancement as the profit motive leaves. Universal health care will not just rob our children of wealth as we saddle them with endless debt, it will rob them of the kind of advancements that our parents left for us. Cures our children will never know. Medical technologies that will not be created. These are high and permanent costs to society.

  40. this conversation is getting above my head unfortunately, I wish I had more bullets for my gun but in the real world I am one of those that prepared myself to take care of those who needed healthcare for one reason or another…and in order to do that I had to leave conversations like this and put my faith in human beings who prepared to do their part in government and other venues that lent support so that we could do these things collectively and build a decent civilized place to live and blah blah blah….I hope I didn’t fool myself and waste my energies

  41. puzzling,

    And your argument then, like it is now, is a fine example of not just denial about the mechanics of insurance but the logical error of the formal bare assertion fallacy and the informal fallacy of single cause. It also begs the question. In addition to formal and informal logical errors about the argument of how the health care markets relate to insurance, your argument about stagnating innovation is patently ridiculous. No one is talking about socializing either phara or medical device companies – which would stagnate innovation. We’re simply talking about redefining how health care insurance is paid for and administered – which have NOTHING to do with private R&D functions in pharma and medical devices companies.

    Let’s say suddenly we have single payer universal health care insurance. Tomorrow, Company X invents an implantable artificial kidney. The economics of it work out to be cheaper in the long term than lifetime dialysis but it’s an expensive machine. Even a for profit insurance company would be stupid not to pay for it, so it’s given the public system would do the C/B and decide to do it too as they are not for profit, not bereft of logic and accounting. How exactly does this hinder Company X from pursuing their next project in the pipeline, an artificial pancreas? Hmmm? It doesn’t if the product is cost productive to make and cost competitive with the existing technologies to address insulin problems. The very same scenario they face now.

    Seriously, you guys need to get some logic.

  42. Buddha,

    I didn’t want Byron to think that we were all just picking on him, so I thought I should address the biggest error I could find in your post: It’s spelled triage, NOT treage. ;-)

    Byron,

    Why do you support the current rationing system? Do you have any evidence that less rationed care would be worse in any way? (For instance, are you against the right for everyone to get regular checkups? What would be the disadvantage of that?

    Still a Cat, Woosty is,

    Don’t worry, Buddha and I have your back in this conversation. And, at the very least, I appreciate your hard work in the service of society. Thank you.

  43. “Universal health care will not just rob our children of wealth as we saddle them with endless debt, ”

    this line makes no sense.
    the endless debt is here.
    Universal Healthcare is not here.
    What’s the &^^$#%&^%$%*&*#&%#! argument?

  44. Woosty,

    The argument is that we simply cannot afford universal healthcare.

    We are broke. All the borrowing we are doing for wars, entitlements, empires and government “stimulus” is robbing our children of their future income and wealth. They will have a much lower standard of living as a result. I call this intergenerational theft, since many who will be paying back these debts for their lifetimes to Asia (or by inflation) aren’t even alive yet to vote against it!

  45. Buddha,

    Who says that the company is going to set the price for the kidney machine? There is effectively only one customer, the government!

    The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but has created about 50% of the blockbuster drugs in the last quarter century. The other 50% were created because of profitable markets like the United States! That will all vanish in a universal system as the government decides what health care can be consumed, and at what price.

    In Canada they measure wait times for MRI machines in months, not minutes. Yet perhaps they have achieved the “equality” that so many seem to seek.

    You have already stated that there may be waits for services in a universal system, a.k.a. “triage”. While these will not apply to the ruling class, of course, the government will have the power to put everyone on an indefinite waiting list for new medicines or procedures by simply not approving them! This happens all the time under systems like the NHS today.

  46. puzzling,

    Who says the company is going to set the price of the machine? The company does. That’s their business. They control all the development and manufacturing costs they can. If they can’t make a machine priced to sell to one customer or twenty would mean they are incompetent at their jobs. Again you mistake the purchaser for having all the control here. At best the purchaser can bargain down the price so they aren’t paying ridiculous profits but what does that do to Company X? It simply means they recoup R&D over 20 years instead of 5 to 7. Awwwww. Poor ‘lil capitalists have to wait for the full payoff. Boo fucking hoo.

  47. ROI is ROI.

    If you’re impatient about when, then do something else less risky and less rewarding. Like digging holes. Because otherwise? You’re just illustrating greed in action.

  48. puzzling,

    Single payer (or in any way raising the level of non-rationed health care) will only save money. Quite frankly, our businesses can’t afford to be competitive under our current system. We wont be able to maintain an industrial base if we’re the only industrialized nation where businesses have to pay for heath care – look what it’s already done to the auto industry (the difference between the cost of workers in the US vs. Japan is almost entirely the health care liability of the workers and retirees).

    You also might be interested to know that kidney dialysis is actually a single payer system – the government pays for dialysis for anyone who needs it (and according to a friend of mine who is on dialysis, the system works very well). Apparently a senator back in the day had a sister who was on dialysis…

    The government sets a price they will pay to dialyze a person and private companies build facilities (and buy whatever machines they want) in order to make a profit dialyzing people. It works. It is a microcosm of just how wrong your argument is. Every other industrialized nation is able to get better health care cheaper with single-payer – are you saying that we’re not smart enough to do the same?

  49. puzzling,

    If you don’t want to wait in Canada? Guess what? You can buy your own insurance at an extra premium or pay out of pocket for a private clinic or hospital. Hmmmm. Now where have I heard that before? A

    Oh yeah, it was here.

    “Buddha Is Laughing 1, July 19, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Slarti,

    “Wouldn’t it be much better if everyone was provided a baseline level of health care and insurance companies could sell ‘platinum’ coverage on top of that. By all empirical measures such a system would be better for everyone but the insurance industry”

    Bingo.”

  50. Budda,

    You said

    If you don’t want to wait in Canada? Guess what? You can buy your own insurance at an extra premium or pay out of pocket for a private clinic or hospital.

    Earlier you said

    And it’s thinking like this – “the rich will always have superior health care and the very poor will have adequate care” – that ensures that inequity continues.

    If health care is a right, why do only the rich get timely diagnostic MRI’s in Canada? Are you demanding equality or not?

    Are you demanding a single-payer system, or will you permit so-called “CEO greed” to continue to corrupt health care? If you will permit it as you claim, which bureaucrat draws the line drawn between health care from the government and luxury medical consumption by the rich?

  51. “The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but has created about 50% of the blockbuster drugs in the last quarter century. The other 50% were created because of profitable markets like the United States! ”

    Puzzling, this is that weird ‘capitalist’ argument that always leaves me scratching my head….if our pharmaceutical system were so grande why is everyone clamouring to buy outside of the country? Do those big Pharma companies have big ‘footprints’ in this country or is the R&D and manufacturing happening elsewhere? The US market is profitable because the government colludes with pharma to keep us OUT of the world market and under the control of the corporate profit machine….nice government eh? If this were true capitalism why would it be against the law to bu drugs from Canada? [same corporation, no?] to only be able to go to certain Doctors or providers? What, again, was the rate of bankruptcies related to health care cost in the USA vrs other causalties? So much for capitalisms supply and demand setting a market price. I can;t think of a more anti-capitalistic equation than what currently exists in our healthcare system.

    Universal single payer is closer to capitalist ideals than what we have currently. This is nothing but Corporate gluttony.

  52. Starti,

    I looked into the kidney dialysis industry a bit more and I’m not sure I find the single-payer scenario you set out.

    I have found research that indicates for-profit firms successfully cherry pick the easiest patients, leaving public hospitals to care for the rest. I also read a case in Atlanta where public dialysis centers were closing due to funding shortfalls.

    That doesn’t sounds like a utopia to me.

  53. Woosty,

    I agree that government should not restrict importation (or re-importation) of prescription drugs. If you can find your medication cheaper somewhere else, who is the government to say that you can’t buy it?

    I have also argued that the FDA should be eliminated, allowing US consumers to purchase any drug approved for sale in the EU, Japan, or Australia. This is a decent first step towards a freer market with lower prices, faster product availability, and more choices than we have today.

  54. puzzling,

    What I’m demanding is equal access to the basics of health care so no one has to die for want of a doctor or treatment or has to worry if they are going to be bankrupted by becoming ill.

    If the wealthy want to buy their own damn MRI machines and keep them in one of their vacation homes in Dubai I could care less.

    It doesn’t mean Dora down at the grocery store should have to go wanting for a doctor because her employer won’t pay for her insurance.

    Or have to sell her house when her husband get cancer.

    Or have to choose between buying medicine or food every month.

    What are you demanding, puzz? Other than allowing greed to insert inefficiencies into the system so some go without so executives can buy a new boat?

    Because I said before where the line is created and you missed it. Everyone gets coverage. Coverage that may require waiting but that covers the above scenarios as well as any other – just like in Canada (excepting dental and optical which are private insurance). However, if you’re in a hurry because you’re so special, then the line is created by the market because some venal assholes will always practice medicine primarily for a profit motive and charge premium prices for premium services regardless of how good a doctor they are. Because I got news for you sport – how much a doctor charges has no bearing on how good he is at this job. It only has a bearing on how greedy he is.

    Rich high dollar doctors commit malpractice just as often as the guy working at an free clinic. Both of them pay malpractice insurance for that very reason. Malpractice insurance which would by necessity be reformed along with a single payer system as would tort liability (this is an area Canada is weak in).

    You want special treatment – no waits, allowing you to dictate the medical treatment you want versus you and a doctor deciding what you need? You should have to pay for it out of your pocket extra. But that doesn’t mean you should have to die if you loose your fortune and then loose your health without having private insurance – which is what happens NOW. If Danny Dubai looses all his money today and gets cancer tomorrow while living in the US, he’s a dead man looking at misery with no hope.

  55. “I have also argued that the FDA should be eliminated, allowing US consumers to purchase any drug approved for sale in the EU, Japan, or Australia. This is a decent first step towards a freer market with lower prices, faster product availability, and more choices than we have today.”

    Oh yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Freer markets? What that is a step to making America into a nation of lab rats. We don’t agree on a lot of things but that statement?

    Plain stupid, puzzling. I suppose we should get out of the food and water safety business too.

    Spoken like a Pfizer employee.

  56. Why do drug re-imported from Canada cost less, puzzling?

    Do you even know?

    They are manufactured here. They should be cheaper here. Lower transportation costs should mean lower to market costs. That’s basic economics.

    They are cheaper because the Canadian government makes drug companies negotiate pricing unlike here where they can charge what they damn well please.

    Your ignorance and vested interests in this argument are showing.

  57. The issue of taxation versus fees is subordinate to the question of the “General Welfare” question.

    Any issue which strikes the health, welfare, &/or security of the ENTIRE COUNTRY at its core comes (in toto or in part) under by the “necessary and proper” interstate commerce clause and/or the “defense of the United States.” The organizations which oppose a rational and just health care system are both national and international. Many of the remedies must be national as well. Sure,there are indeed local components of both the problems and the solutions. However, the (mostly Republican) ideology of federalism tethered to plutocratic greed is already leading to the gradual decline of democracy and democratic justice within the United States. Death by nuclear attack or slow death by strangulation of reform will still be death. The only advantage of the slow death of democracy under the guise of federalism is that if most of us are peons – we might still be able to revolt.

    Lon Clay Hill (Host of “Deep Autumn Flowers)

  58. Good post, Lon.

    Good night, W=c. May your BsubBUG + BsubITES < 0.

    And I retire for the evening as well.

  59. puzzling,

    Eliminating the FDA is a bad idea. We’re already living through a worst case off-shore drilling regulatory failure – try to imagine a worst case failure in food or drug regulation. I don’t want bunches of people killed just because you don’t have any imagination…

    Goodnight John Boy… I mean Buddha ;-)

  60. I just wish for all the taxes we do pay ….we would get some kinda health care that doesn’t cost an arm and leg before you die…

  61. Buddha:

    ROI is not ROI if you have to wait an additional 15 years to recapture your initial investment and profits. Who will develop and build new machines if they have to wait 20 years to recoup their investment? Not everyone is into altruism and that money they could invest in new equipment research for medical devices will be diverted to new equipment for say farm devices which will allow them to recapture funds in 5 years. That will be one of the unintended consequences of this system. Capitalists will always look for better returns on their money, that is what they do. So basically to have new innovations the government is going to have force companies to innovate.

    I asked my wife what if I gave her a million dollars to invest and she could realize profits in 5 years or 20 years which would she take. She took 5 years hands down and she is not a venture capitalist. You are going to have to make more government regulations to change behaviour, they havent worked in the past, they arent going to work in the future unless you penalize what you consider bad behaviour by death or long prison terms.

    Given the choice rational men are always going to act in their own self interest, it is an axiom of human existence. Joe Smith is always going to save his daughter before he saves John William’s son. Why not start from there and develop a system that works for man’s nature rather than trying to change man’s nature to fit an unnatural system?

  62. Slarti:

    “We’re already living through a worst case off-shore drilling regulatory failure”

    Damn good reason to have more regulatory oversight.

  63. Byron,

    Businessmen are in business for the long haul, no? Greed is greed and impatience is impatience. Together they make for a lovely combination: the short con specialist.

    Who’s going to wait for a longer ROI?

    The guy who wants the money without screwing someone over.

    You know, a fair business man.

    Oh, wait. That’s right. We don’t have those in America anymore. Just self-indulgent narcissists who want it all and want it now.

  64. Byron,

    Regulations failed at BP for two reasons: lobbyists had them relaxed and lobbyists got people appointed who wouldn’t enforce the codes they couldn’t change.

    See the common thread? Obviously not.

  65. Byron,

    The vast majority of innovation in drugs and medical devices is done by our universities. That research and those projects are then handed off to private companies. Further, there have been instances of drug companies killing innovation when it interfered with their profitable but less effective products. Since it is our tax money making the real innovation possible, I would like the public to benefit from our investment income. That’s a straight up capitalist idea.

  66. Jill:

    the federal government should not be “investing” in university research.

    I am sure Slarti will disagree.

  67. Buddha:

    most businessmen are fair, I know I am. However I would not want to wait 20 years for money that I could get back in 5. Assuming the return is the same either way I am losing money. How is that fair to the businessman? In terms of the present value of money he is getting screwed big time, why would he do that and how is that fair?

    You want innovation you have to pay for it, there are no shortcuts and no free lunches.

    As a final thought, by not getting your money back in a timely manner so that you can reinvest it, you are screwing someone-the guy or gal that has a good idea and needs money to bring it to market. The innovators that move society forward. They are being screwed and so is society. But then what is society but a collection of individuals.

  68. Byron,

    “the federal government should not be “investing” in university research.”

    Really? These guys beg to differ. http://www.aau.edu/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2638

    “I agree, a good first start would be to get rid of lobbyists.”

    You acknowledge the root of the problem yet discount that their removal would help the situation? To quote Harlan Ellison, that’s “crazy like a soup sandwich.” That’s the logical equivalent of saying that “HIV causes AIDS but curing someone of HIV won’t stop them from developing AIDS.” That’s a deductive logical fallacy, Byron, in addition to outcome determinism and begging the question – you don’t want regulation so that’s your conclusion despite acknowledging the truth of the premise(s).

  69. Despite acknowledging the truth of the premise(s) AND their causal connection.

    I really wonder what it’s like to be that much in denial.

  70. “most businessmen are fair, I know I am.”

    Logical error of fallacy of composition – the from each to all fallacy.

  71. Buddha:

    From your article:

    “How Does University Technology Transfer Work? Under federal law, as embodied
    in the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, nonprofit organizations-including universities–may
    patent and retain title to inventions created from research funded by the government. In
    general, the university must disclose each new invention to the federal funding agency
    within two months of the inventor disclosing it to the university, decide whether or not
    to retain title to the invention, and then file a patent application within one year of
    electing to seek title. Universities must license the rights to innovations to industry for
    commercial development; small businesses receive preference. The federal government
    also receives a nonexclusive, irrevocable license to the invention. Universities must
    share with the inventor any income eventually derived from the patent. Any remaining
    income, after technology management expenses, must support scientific research or
    education.”

    Sounds like some free market incentives to me. I would say that if they put those in then that is what is making this work. Take out even the minimal free market incentive and you will not have the same result.

    If you say all dogs have 4 legs and I produce one dog with 3 legs I have disproved your assertion. I don’t need to produce every dog with 3 legs only one.

  72. Byron–

    “most businessmen are fair, I know I am.”

    My husband has always been fair and has always looked out for the welfare of his employees too.

    I think your statement may be true for men and women who own small businesses. I don’t think the same is true for many executives of big corporations, banks, etc. I believe the “greed is good” mentality that began during the Reagan years is still with us today.

    Too many big companies like to take shortcuts so they can reap bigger financial rewards. Unfortunately, not spending money upfront to take environmental precautions or to unsure worker safety can cause disasters up the road. Think BP and the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico…the Massey Energy Company and the deaths of mine workers!

  73. No Byron, you do need to produce better evidence than you have when your logic is as faulty as it is.

    Like your logic about funding university sciences misses the point entirely. Free markets benefit BECAUSE of that Federally funded research being turned over to industry. In the absence of that collaboration, there would still be a net gain: knowledge. Your “financial incentive” is a result, not a cause.

  74. Puzzling,

    I’m not sure if this has been addressed, but you’re wrong about competition leading to better prices or a better product.

    Competition leads to a companies trying to differentiate themselves. That niche might be a better product, or lower prices, or a convenient location, or a unique product, or the making your product a status symbol, or better costumer service, etc. Sometimes, competition even leads to a business plan that’s basically “make the other guy go out of business, then people will have to come to us.”

    It’s like thinking that evolution leads to intelligence. It doesn’t. Intelligence is one of the many adaptations that help those that are successful, but so is using less resources, or blending in with surroundings, or being really frickin’ big.

    If you’re going to pretend that you’ve got the sole truth on complex issues, it helps not to base your views on huge oversimplifications.

  75. Correction on my previous comment:

    “Unfortunately, not spending money upfront to take environmental precautions or to unsure worker safety can cause disasters up the road.”

    That should have read: Unfortunately, not spending money upfront to take environmental precautions or to ENSURE worker safety can cause disasters up the road.

    *****

    I think the hot, humid weather is meltin’ me brain cells!

  76. Buddha:

    I don’t think my “logic” is faulty, but it would wrap it up in a nice, neat little package if it was as easily dismissed as that. No opposition or counter argument need be entertained in that case.

  77. Just as a fun exercise, and since we’re talking about the benefit of competition… Anyone care to guess what industry with an exemption from anti-monopoly laws I’m thinking of? Extra credit if you can give the reasoning behind that exemption.

  78. Byron,

    I’ve pointed out your counter argument is flawed on multiple levels to which you have not offered any substantive rebuttal.

    I need do nothing more than that.

  79. Byron said:

    “Why not start from there and develop a system that works for man’s nature rather than trying to change man’s nature to fit an unnatural system?”

    That’s what I’ve been trying to explain to you for months – regulation that that makes the desired action the best action economically works because it presupposes that people will act according to human nature.

  80. Byron posted:

    “We’re already living through a worst case off-shore drilling regulatory failure”

    Damn good reason to have more regulatory oversight.

    This wasn’t a failure of oversight, it was the predictable result of the intentional dismantling of regulatory agencies.

  81. Jill posted:

    The vast majority of innovation in drugs and medical devices is done by our universities. That research and those projects are then handed off to private companies. Further, there have been instances of drug companies killing innovation when it interfered with their profitable but less effective products. Since it is our tax money making the real innovation possible, I would like the public to benefit from our investment income. That’s a straight up capitalist idea. [emphasis added]

    Byron,

    I had a discussion about this with a colleague several years ago and he told me the most of the big drug companies were focusing on finding new uses for drugs they had already discovered rather than doing research to find new drugs because it was a cheaper way to make money. You’re advocating a status quo that we’ve moved past.

  82. Buddha:

    “Like your logic about funding university sciences misses the point entirely. Free markets benefit BECAUSE of that Federally funded research being turned over to industry. In the absence of that collaboration, there would still be a net gain: knowledge. Your “financial incentive” is a result, not a cause.”

    That is your bias, it is not a flaw in my “logic”.

    Where does the money come from? It doesn’t come from government it comes from individuals. Government merely redirects funds the private sector then doesn’t have available to it. How do you know the funds are even being used efficiently? And I don’t know they would be used efficiently in the private sector but there is substantial evidence to suggest that money used by the private sector tends to have a more salutary effect on the economy than does money controlled by government.

  83. Byron posted:

    “Jill:

    the federal government should not be “investing” in university research.

    I am sure Slarti will disagree.”

    Easy bet. I don’t think I can’t count the number of ways in which this is a bad idea (unless you’ve got stock in the Chinese or European university system). You like to talk about unintended consequences – the consequences of cutting off federal research money would eventually result in the US becoming a technological and scientific backwater…

  84. No Byron.

    It’s a flaw in your logic.

    Federal funding for research comes from government funds collected via taxes, etc. Private funds fund private research. It’s private companies that benefit when the universities turn over the fruits of that labor. So in effect you are arguing against basic science research that benefits not just society as a whole, but industry.

    “And I don’t know they would be used efficiently in the private sector but there is substantial evidence to suggest that money used by the private sector tends to have a more salutary effect on the economy than does money controlled by government.” Well Slarti just gave an example of what’s wrong with that thinking with drug companies. And then there’s the whole pot of money BP spent on safety research and implementation. Yeah. That worked out really well. You say there is substantial evidence that private people spend money better than governments?

    Prove it. With facts and proper logic. Otherwise, you’re back to unreasoned opinion again.

    As to my bias? Which bias do you think you’re pointing to? Because I know where I’m biased. I’m biased against illogical thought just like I’m biased against bias and stupidity in general. Because I think. Which leads me to be biased against fascism. Because it’s greedy myopic narcissism as a matter of logical analysis. So if bias is your problem? Which one of my biases do you take issue with?

  85. Byron,

    Regarding university technology transfer you said:

    “Sounds like some free market incentives to me. I would say that if they put those in then that is what is making this work. Take out even the minimal free market incentive and you will not have the same result.”

    You seem to be under the impression that this effects a large part of university research – it doesn’t. I don’t know the numbers, but the vast majority of university research is published, not patented. This is a system that, while not perfect, works well. With all of the problems that we need to address, why do you want to destroy a working system and replace it with something much worse?

  86. Byron said:

    “most businessmen are fair, I know I am.”

    Maybe (the most part, I’m sure that you are fair – confused and mistaken, but fair ;-)), but I’m certain that nearly all businessmen (there’s always an asshole somewhere…) will do the right thing if it is also in their economic best interests to do so. Why would you ever want to make the assumption that people will act against their own best interests if that is the right thing to do. That seems pretty naive to me.

  87. Gyges said:

    “Just as a fun exercise, and since we’re talking about the benefit of competition… Anyone care to guess what industry with an exemption from anti-monopoly laws I’m thinking of? Extra credit if you can give the reasoning behind that exemption.”

    I’m going to go with Major League Baseball.

    Byron,

    One of the keys to the academic research system is the free exchange of ideas – something which is demonstrably chilled in private sector research. You’re talking about doing something to a system that you don’t understand that would cause enormous deleterious effects. Here’s a good rule that I learned in my first mathematical biology class: Don’t mess around with complex systems unless you know what you are doing and it is absolutely necessary. Check out the effects of introducing the Nile Perch into Lake Victoria. You are implicitly making a suggestion here that is every bit as bad – and you don’t realize it because you don’t understand the system that you want to give a major overhaul to.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Victoria

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile_perch

  88. Buddha:

    “Federal funding for research comes from government funds collected via taxes, etc. Private funds fund private research. It’s private companies that benefit when the universities turn over the fruits of that labor. So in effect you are arguing against basic science research that benefits not just society as a whole, but industry.”

    This is what I said:

    “Where does the money come from? It doesn’t come from government it comes from individuals. Government merely redirects funds the private sector then doesn’t have available to it. How do you know the funds are even being used efficiently? And I don’t know they would be used efficiently in the private sector but there is substantial evidence to suggest that money used by the private sector tends to have a more salutary effect on the economy than does money controlled by government.”

    Quite a bit of difference if you ask me. It is the lost opportunity of private research not done because it is in competition with it’s own money. Funny how a private company pays taxes to fund competitors, only in present day America is that considered fair and logical.

  89. Byron,

    First let me say you have my respect and admiration for sticking with this blog. If you have the time, there has been a question I’ve never gotten an answer for from libertarians. Earlier you wrote the only business of govt. was defense (something like that, these aren’t your exact words). This strikes at the heart of a flaw with libertarianism or maybe I should call it freemarketism. Once you’ve said there’s a role for govt. in any aspect of human society you’ve made a moral choice. In libertariaism “Defense” (I would call it war crimes dept, but that’s me :) is a moral reason for govt. to intervene on our behalf. But why is it only O.K. for the govt. to intervene for defense? Why can’t govt. intervene in other aspects of society for the greater common good, just as it does for “defense”? What’s the moral difference? This is a serious question and I’m not trying to pick a fight with you.

  90. Byron,

    Government funded research has certainly been the norm since at least WWII (Manhattan project, anyone?), the Nile Perch were deliberately placed in Lake Victoria with catastrophic results, and you can never go back to the way it was. Any system works perfectly in a utopia, but in the real world your idealized solutions are far from the best.

  91. Slarti:

    It worked pretty well up into World War II did it not? From 1865 to around 1915 we had an explosion of wealth, of inventions, of ideas without any government funding [I am pretty sure of that statement] it was also one of the freest times in America.

    Please don’t go Robber Baron on me, there is a book called the Myth of the Robber Barons which you may want to read before you pull that argument out of your hat.

  92. Slarti,

    I’ve been holding off on using that Manhattan card, but in the world of trump cards, that one is a biggie.

    Byron,

    Oh yeah. You’re going to get the best ideas when everyone is competing versus the academic (as Slarti pointed out) where open exchange is the normal mode of operation. Not. Seriously, there is bias showing in this conversation, but it isn’t coming from me.

    Jill,

    One really must give Byron credit. He’s a scrapper. A confused scrapper at times, but a scrapper none the less. Good luck with your question. I’ll be a dollar this ends with him arguing something along the semantic line of “general welfare not meaning what people today thinks it means”. (We had a similar run during your absence. ;) But like a dog chasing his tail, every so often he catches it. :D)

  93. Byron,

    Is Burton W. Folsom, author of “The Myth of the Robbers Barons,”
    affiliated with the Foundation for Economic Education, a free-market organization, and the Claremont Institute–a conservative think tank that, earlier this year, gave “their coveted Statesmanship Award” to former VP Dick Cheney?

    Check this out:

    The Claremont Institute Honors Vice President Dick Cheney At Its 30th Anniversary Gala

    http://www.flashreport.org/commentary0b.php?postID=2010032902083203

  94. Byron,

    1865 to 1915? The Reconstruction? Really?

    You point to a period in American history where all our resources were being co-opted to rebuild from what was probably the most destructive war (relatively speaking) in US history. We were lagging behind both Great Britain and Germany in basic sciences because our educational institutions were either destroyed, devoid of students due to the war or geared toward military training. If Americans wanted a science education (or damn near any other education) they had to go to Europe. The only American scientist of note during the period was Josiah Willard Gibbs who did some groundbreaking work in chemical thermodynamics from 1876 to 1878.

    Other than that? America was a bloody, backwoods mess.

  95. Jill:

    I like seeing what other people are talking about, I don’t disagree with all that is written here and think you [pl] are correct about Sarah Palin, religion [for the most part], gay marriage, race, and other issues. I do believe that government is necessary and so I am not really a Libertarian, but that it needs to be very limited in scope and should only be used to defend individual rights from other individuals or from the mob.

    I dont know much about libertarians so Puzzling might be a better person to ask.

    here is a very good essay on the law that, in my mind, is well worth the read:

    http://www.fee.org/pdf/books/The_Law.pdf

  96. Elaine:

    I think he wrote the book in 1991. The book is a look at the various types of businessmen from that era a comparison and contrast between those that became wealthy by individual effort and those that relied on government to aid them.

    He is a Prof. at Hillsdale College in Michigan.

    from wiki:

    “Folsom is a former associate of the Free Enterprise Institute and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, both free market think tanks, and a frequent guest of the libertarian organization Foundation for Economic Education.”

  97. Buddha:

    I was just using a 50 year period, you could just as easily look at it from the end of reconstruction to say 1920.

    But I used 1915 because in my mind the creation of the income tax and the federal reserve are an important moment in history. A delineation if you will.

    and yes I know the dates are a few years prior.

  98. Byron,

    What you’re missing is the scientific and technological explosion after WWII. (Which I happen to think is a pretty good thing…)

  99. Slarti:

    what was developed by universities that had practical applications?

    I posted a few items created by the private sector one of which was Velcro. I understand you were pretty upset about that. :)

  100. Byron said:

    “what was developed by universities that had practical applications?”

    A system of investigating the universe unequaled in human history which has brought us to the age of technological marvels (and, yes, nightmares) in which we live today. If you would like a specific example – you’re using it right now! (That would be the internet.) Most scientific and technological breakthroughs weren’t profitable when they occurred (we knew about DNA for a long time before we were able to produce genetically engineered corn) – because they were discovered in a framework which promotes the free and open exchange of ideas, businesses had access to use the results of research to make money. You seem to want to treat the patient by cutting off his head in order to cure a hangnail he doesn’t have.

    Byron snarked: ;-)
    I posted a few items created by the private sector one of which was Velcro. I understand you were pretty upset about that. :)

    And as I said, my point is still valid since velcro became a commercial success as a direct result of its widespread use by NASA (hence the apocryphal story…). :-P

  101. Jill said:

    “Once you’ve said there’s a role for govt. in any aspect of human society you’ve made a moral choice.”

    Great point.

    Bryon,

    It looks to me like Jill pointed out a mighty slippery slope you’re standing on – in light of our off-blog conversation, might I suggest environmental protection as an example of another area where government should intervene for the common good.

  102. Slarti,

    “It looks to me like Jill pointed out a mighty slippery slope you’re standing on” . . .

    I certainly hope so. Our bulldog-ish friend is about due for a good tail catching. :D

  103. Byron,

    To answer your question for Slarti…

    Look at that glowing box in front of you.

    See that exchange of information going on between individuals on different parts of the country?

    I’d say that’s a pretty big one.

  104. Gyges,

    I had already mentioned the internet, but it’s definitely an example worthy of some repetition (both for its power as an example and its irony). You never answered if MLB was the anti-trust exempt industry that you were thinking of (I’m too lazy to go for the extra credit right now).

  105. Slarti:

    “If you would like a specific example – you’re using it right now! (That would be the internet.)”

    from this web site:

    http://www.isoc.org/internet/history/brief.shtml

    “In late 1966 Roberts went to DARPA to develop the computer network concept and quickly put together his plan for the “ARPANET”, publishing it in 1967. At the conference where he presented the paper, there was also a paper on a packet network concept from the UK by Donald Davies and Roger Scantlebury of NPL. Scantlebury told Roberts about the NPL work as well as that of Paul Baran and others at RAND. The RAND group had written a paper on packet switching networks for secure voice in the military in 1964. It happened that the work at MIT (1961-1967), at RAND (1962-1965), and at NPL (1964-1967) had all proceeded in parallel without any of the researchers knowing about the other work. The word “packet” was adopted from the work at NPL and the proposed line speed to be used in the ARPANET design was upgraded from 2.4 kbps to 50 kbps. 5″

  106. There is only one way to justify the fascist seizure of the health care system: the usurpatious supreme court decision justifying Social Security.

    I have said this since Obamacare was first proposed.

    Knuckleheads on the left first claimed the General Welfare clause allowed the heist. When that lie didn’t work, it was the Commerce Clause.

    Now it is the power to tax. (this won’t work either)

    I’m looking forward for this case going to the high court. You would have to be a nincompoop to think the Constitution as it is written supports S.S., Medicare, Obamacare or a myriad other assaults to its meaning.

  107. The Manhattan project is authorized by the Constitution.

    Obamacare and a myriad other programs are not.

  108. Starti wrote:

    … the big drug companies were focusing on finding new uses for drugs they had already discovered rather than doing research to find new drugs because it was a cheaper way to make money

    The reason drug companies often seek new indicated uses – or minor reformulations like extended or controlled-release versions of existing drugs – is the extraordinary cost to bring new drugs to market and patent protection. It seems like FDA regulatory hurdles are designed to crush competition by novel drugs as much as they are to “keep the public safe”. The FDA has also politicized drug approvals by refusing to approve long-proven compounds like the emergency contraceptive components of Plan B.

  109. Tootles,

    Who knew you were a comedienne? Not a good one, but ridiculous nonetheless. Now come on, tell us how Jesus wants people to not have health care insurance.

  110. Byron,

    Jill’s question on libertarianism and government is a legitimate one, and she has earned a carefully considered answer if I am able. We go way back, after all. Let me think about the clearest way to approach it.

  111. Let’s see there Tootles.

    He owned no property.

    He argued for treating all like they were your family – a form of communal living. He did so because he thought we were all of one body and one flesh and that his kingdom was in the heart, not of Earthly substance.

    He healed the sick, cared for the poor and practiced forgiveness.

    He threw the moneychangers out of the Temple and railed against usury and imperial oppression – a kind of class warfare.

    He was a laborer (carpenter) and a teacher who taught that you can’t be an oppressor and a disciple of a loving God at the same time.

    Socialist?

    You bet Jesus was a socialist. The most liberal of the liberal socialists.

    Hell, he was almost a communist except he didn’t buy into the atheism thing.

    Not only have you once again proven you don’t know shit about politics ‘lil Tooter, but that you’re not much more knowledgeable about the life and modus operandi of your proclaimed savior – a son of God you think has singled you out as one of his special people despite the fact you regularly spew a theocratic zeal to be an oppressor in “the name of God” by evidenced by your zealous desire to usurp our secular legal system with your theocratic nonsense, bigotry and homophobic hatred on a fairly regular basis.

    You’re special alright. Just not how you think.

  112. Tootie,

    Buddha did a good job of explaining exactly why Jesus was very much a socialist, but I’m sure your denialism is up to ignoring the inconvenient facts he presented so I’ll just leave you with a thought:

    “…I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    Since I’m sure this comment, attributed to Jesus by the gospels of Matthew (19:23-24), Mark (10:24-25), and Luke (18:24-25), doesn’t mean that capitalists are going to hell, perhaps you can explain to me what it does mean and how the man who said it wasn’t a socialist.

  113. Byron, you say “I want people to be able to act in their own best interest without the coercion caused by taxes and regulations, the system works better that way.”

    I feel and think that too. I can’t wait to see it. :)

  114. Thanks puzzling. I will check back here to see your reply. If it isn’t for a week or so, would you please give me the heads up on a current thread? I appreciate your response and look forward to reading it! My best,

    Jill

  115. Buddha:

    All that Jesus did he did as a religious leader (or, as I’m prone to say, as God). He did not do these things as a politician (e.g. socialist, president, congressman, or apparatchik).

    We are talking about what secular government does. Are we not?

    All that Jesus did and commanded was voluntary and none of it done at gunpoint (which socialism requires). Brute force is a defining feature of Marxism (and its offspring socialism). Naturally, this appeals to blood-thirsty monsters on the left. It delights them.

    But you won’t find Jesus assaulting anyone, drawing a knife, brandishing a weapon, or throwing them in jail because they won’t help the poor. If you do find Him thus, please provide the chapter and verse for me, because, I have apparently committed an huge oversight.

    The only verse about this that I know of regarding how to help those in need (especially believer to believer and not believer to everyone outside the church) was this one from 2 Corinthians 9:7

    “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (NASB)

    Correct me if I am wrong, but “not…under compulsion” appears to be the opposite of socialism.

    Only a moron would find these two methods [the New Testament method and socialist method] of “helping” others to be moral equivalents. To do so would be like favorably comparing rape with consensual sex. Yes, activities involving sexual organs occurred in both cases, but no one in their right mind thinks both are benign.

    Who is greedy or evil? The person with lots of money acquired legally, lawfully, or morally? Or the one who doesn’t want him to have it just because he doesn’t want him to have it and will do whatever it takes (including assault, imprisonment, or death) to get it?

    Are there myths about Jesus which dirty-rotten-scoundrels use for political gain (or monetary reward and/or theft) that I need to elaborate on further for you today?

  116. “We are talking about what secular government does. Are we not?”

    when it suits you

    another darn good reason for separation of church and state

  117. Jethro,

    To pull out an old favorite:

    All celestial Bodies are made of cheese.
    The Moon is a celestial body.
    The Moon is made of cheese.

  118. Slart:

    Why would it be hard for a rich man to enter into heaven?

    I already know the answer to that and so my question is a rhetorical one for myself.

    I was just wondering if you knew the answer.

    If after I elicited an answer from you, I would then ask you why in the light of Biblical knowledge that rich people have trouble getting into heaven, do you not all the more pity them? This is the logical response by those who are reasoning morally from the Bible.

    Rich people can go to heaven as well as the poor, just not as easily. And that is all the verses you posted imply.

    No where does God or the Bible condemn the rich for being rich. God blessed the Jews and made them a great and wealthy civilization. He intended for them to be rich. Many of them will surely go to heaven. Solomon will there. He was loaded. How could it be only evil then?

    I believe you do not believe in Jesus as God. And so it would seem that you only use what you think are His teachings to further your political ideologies in order to convince others (or yourself) that it is righteous to take away from the rich that which you do not want them to have. But you are not using His teachings because no where does He teach what you allege.

    This appears to be an old trick used even to deceive Christians. And I hope this century brings us the happy event that that myth dies.

    I’m so curious about this matter. What if I am poor? What if I am disadvantaged? What if I didn’t have health insurance for nearly ten years? What if I was all of these things and more from time to time over the past 25 years and yet never once thought that the rich owed me a dime?

    How is it that I could be living one paycheck away from utter financial disaster, without any savings to fall back on, without resources for the future, aging, and infirm, and yet never once feel that the government ought to reach into someones pocket and hand their money over to me?

    Am I that stupid? I’m sure you probably think so.

    But I am convinced that, even when I am poor, I ought not to take that which does not belong to me. I trust God instead.

    How is it that two poor people could have two different responses to the rich? How does one demand stealing and the other doesn’t? For me, it is the Bible that you seem to allege teaches stealing, that teaches ME not to.

    Even the poor ought not to steal. And the not so poor ought not to use the poor as an excuse to justify it. And it is stealing still when the poor demand the government steal for them.

    Do I think it is awful that rich people do not help the poor? Absolutely. It is cruel and evil. It is heart-breaking. But it is the sort of cruelty and evil-doing that gets settled elsewhere.

    Like the settling of Hilter’s account of cruelty and evil.

    Such huge accounts can never be settled within the framework of mortal life and mortal punishment. How could you have punished Hitler for what he did? It is impossible. No one could have devised a means of punishment that would have balanced the scales of justice. No means of punishing such crimes and sins are possible among mortals and finite time.

    Only a just immortal, infinite, and omniscient God could make Hitler suffer for what he essentially got away with here on earth: murder and destruction of the highest order.

    Therefore the virtuous godless among us are without a plan for just remedy against the greatest of evil doers. Those who believe and have faith in God (even if God is not true) live with the expectation and hope that those who escape this life not having paid a full recompense for their deeds, will do so in the next.

    This, in my opinion, leads to much less mental anguish and less madness in the world.

    I believe that mankind, though thoroughly wicked and corrupt, possesses, generally, a remnant urge for justice . And when that desire for justice is thwarted because many things cannot ever EVER be made right, it drives some stark raving mad.

    Marx is an example of that kind of madness.

    It is a true madness brought about by the intellectuals inability to cope with the unmovable realities of the human condition which when left unaccounted for lead to mass slaughter or human suffering.

  119. Tootie,

    Wow, that was an impressive array of straw men you just destroyed!

    I would say that it is hard for a rich man to enter into heaven because pursuit of wealth generally interferes with pursuit of godliness, but that’s just me – obviously you’ve got your own delusional rationalization going on… Since I don’t believe that anyone is going to heaven (since I don’t believe in heaven) I don’t see why I should care about rich people’s difficulty getting into an imaginary place one way or the other, but your comment about pitying rich people just shows that religion is the opiate of the masses, in my opinion.

    you said:

    “Rich people can go to heaven as well as the poor, just not as easily. And that is all the verses you posted imply.”

    Yes. And a camel can go through the eye of a needle as well as a thread, just not as easily…

    you said:

    “I believe you do not believe in Jesus as God. And so it would seem that you only use what you think are His teachings to further your political ideologies in order to convince others (or yourself) that it is righteous to take away from the rich that which you do not want them to have. But you are not using His teachings because no where does He teach what you allege.”

    I don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, however I agree with the things he taught and try to live my life accordingly (I was raised Methodist so I have a pretty good understanding of the teachings of Jesus). That his teachings are in good agreement with my political ideologies is just a happy coincidence. And I have no desire to take anything away from the rich or anyone else, I just want them to pay their fair share (and since they have received more benefit from society their share of the cost of society is naturally bigger). Buddha’s already given several good examples of Jesus’s leftist leanings, so I’ll just point out that the whole thing with the bread and the fishes seems very socialist to me… The only deception going on her is your self deception about what Jesus was trying to say.

    To assuage your curiosity, I don’t really care if you are rich or poor or heathy or sick or anything else for that matter. Your posts here have shown your ideas to be for the most part ignorant, unscientific, bigoted, hateful and wrong so I attack them.

    Your personal situation is irrelevant to the quality of the arguments that you put forth (as is mine). As the sign on the door says: “res ipsa loquitur”. I don’t think that anyone is entitled to government handouts, I think that a civilized government provides a safety net for its citizens (both because it’s the right thing to do and because it is in the best interests of the society as a whole to do so). I’ve been unemployed since the first of the year and haven’t applied for unemployment (as I’m entitled to) – why? Because I don’t need the safety net right now, but I’m glad it’s there if I need it and I want it to be there for everyone that does need it. So while I certainly think that you are ignorant, mis-informed and bigoted, that has nothing to do with your circumstances and everything to do with your statements here.

    I understand that you (like many people) take comfort in the belief that sinners are punished after death, but for those of us who don’t believe in such things the only justice is that which we make in this life.

    In regard to your comments about ‘true madness’, given the number of egregious assumptions you’ve made about the thinking of the ‘intellectuals’ you so despise (and me in particular), I don’t believe you are anywhere near a position from which you can understand how I or any other intellectual thinks.

    You know, I was reading your post and it just came to me that this is all just about evolution vs. creation. Since you believe that everything was created the only thing that it can do is decay from the perfection embodied in it by your imagined creator and anything new must necessarily be corrupt. The rest of us understand that the universe is evolving and that, in general, things get better as time goes on. You can keep extolling the virtues of your modern dark ages, but the rest of us will continue working towards a new renaissance.

  120. Slarti,

    I hate to nit-pick and not that I’m most or even close to representative of most, but I’m of the mindset that says the universe is evolving and that, in general, things get weirder as time goes on. It’s an extrapolation of Finnagle’s Law: the perversity of the universe tends toward the maximum.

    Weirdness is important. Better is good, but weirdness keeps it all entertaining.

  121. isnt Finnagle’s law used at Finnigan’s wake to maximze consumption of the effects of the fermentation of malted barley?

  122. Slartibartfast,

    ” … Since you believe that everything was created the only thing that it can do is decay from the perfection embodied in it by your imagined creator and anything new must necessarily be corrupt. The rest of us understand that the universe is evolving and that, in general, things get better as time goes on. You can keep extolling the virtues of your modern dark ages, but the rest of us will continue working towards a new renaissance. …”

    =================================================================

    I don’t have a dog in this fight and I beg your pardon for the intrusion but, damn, Slarti, that is one of the clearest thoughts on the difference I have ever read. Well done and thank you!

  123. In re Elizabeth Warren:

    ‘Lil Timmy is playing hard to get (away from the Banker’s Banquet of Graft).

    “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner conspicuously stopped short of endorsing Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Thursday morning. And while he praised her for her effective advocacy on behalf of consumers, he also refused to say whether he would be happy if she got the job.

    “I think she would be a very effective leader of that institution,” he said.

    At a breakfast meeting with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Geithner said he has not yet made his recommendation to President Obama about who should be nominated for the post.

    Asked who else might be in the running, Geithner noted that his “colleagues in the White House have put out two other names.” Those are Michael Barr, the assistant treasury secretary for financial institutions, and Gene Kimmelman, chief counsel for competition policy in the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

    Both have backgrounds in consumer advocacy, but nevertheless are seen as more sympathetic to Wall Street than Warren.”

    From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/22/geithner-refuses-to-say-w_n_655579.html

    Seems to me that Obama is Timmy’s boss and Warren is his choice for the job. If ‘Lil Timmy doesn’t want to do what the boss wants done, it’s about time for Timmy to hit the bricks.

    Maybe he can move into an abandoned bar and set up shop.

    But this Banker’s Clown needs to go. He’s clearly part of the problem, not the solution.

  124. Buddha–

    “Maybe he can move into an abandoned bar and set up shop.”

    LOL

    I doubt that Timmy G. has the ability to do that. Besides, he’d have to bring along his mentor, Larry “The Man with a Face Even a Mother Couldn’t Love” Summers, to give him directions and advice.

    Question: Have you EVER seen Summers with a smile on his face?

    I doubt the man has any laugh muscles to turn up the corners of his mouth.

  125. Slart: I’m so sorry you hate people like me, but it is no surprise. The godless have no reason to love their enemy.

    You got it partly right about the rich, as I said you would. You presume that the rich do not get through the eye of the needle because they are particularly evil, say, more evil than you.

    But that is not what the Bible says. The “good” unbeliever ends up in hell with the “bad” believer if both reject Christ. So the poor good person goes to hell with Hitler.

    You are silly to take the meaning of the eye of the needle phrase literally. When the bible says to remove the beam from your eye before you remove the speck from your friend’s eye, do you really believe that there is somewhat of a 2 by 4 in the eye?
    http://bible.cc/matthew/7-5.htm

    You are funny indeed.

    What happens to all the rich Israelites before the time of Christ? Do they get your permission to go to heaven?\

    In truth, you don’t know what the bible means. You were the one quoting scripture as if you did then asked me to explain.

    You said

    “but for those of us who don’t believe in such things the only justice is that which we make in this life.”

    That’s a very cheap moral code you have there. Tell me how you or anyone else made any sort of justice for the people Hitler murdered?

    All the children starving to death as we speak, how will your fine godless moral code make it right?

    It cannot. It never will. 6000 years of written human history prove it.

    Our race is thoroughly corrupt and the more we try to fix it the worse it gets.

  126. Gee, Tootles, that “stinging rebuke” might mean something if it wasn’t coming from a demonstrated theocratic and homophobic bigot. But is is funny that you think so much of yourself to assume others would go to the trouble of hating you. Disdain of stupidity and outright personal hatred are distinctly different behaviors. Hate you? I’m not going to speak for Slarti, but from what I’ve seen you simply don’t merit hatred. Hatred is like work – it requires more effort than you are worth. Sure, some of your ridiculous ideas merit hatred like many bad ideas, but you personally? You merit little more than mocking disdain and perhaps a dash of pity for being blind to your true nature: a logically blind and bigoted theocratic busybody who thinks she alone speaks for God and ergo should have special dispensation to rule the world through oppression and hatred.

    Jesus was a carpenter, not a demolitions expert.

    But then again, you missed and misuse most of his teachings so you missing the point again should come as no surprise to anyone. Except maybe yourself. But that would be assuming you were capable of learning and critical thought, two skills you have demonstrated a lack of over time.

  127. I wasn’t going to leap into this thread, but here I am. The discussion so far reminds me of all those debates back in the ’60s about whether Jesus was a “non-violent revolutionary.” I still love Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, but we were one large bunch of naive idealists in those days.

    Regardless of one’s views of Jesus as an historical figure, it is clear that he was apolitical. He was preaching a way of life rather than a theory of governmental organization. Therefore, arguments over whether he would have approved of socialism in any form lack a contextual foundation. That is not to say that his views would not be relevant to discussions on the formation of Christian communities; I merely mean to point out that they are not helpful in debates over institutional forms of government.

    Nor do I believe that his words can form a basis for the creation of particular forms of economic institutions. The push to give capitalism some sort of Christian imprimatur is as absurd as the argument that communism as an economic ideal is somehow “Godless.”

    Finally, contrary to Tootie’s views, the existence of God is not essential to the development of a rational moral code or to a rational theory of justice. One need only read Immanuel Kant or John Rawls to understand that.

    In short,forms of government and economic institutions strictly speaking are not the subject of the Gospels and satisfactory moral and ethical principles can be, and are, developed without reference to God. That believers in different religious traditions continually seek to impose specific theological doctrines on society at large through legislation or other forms of coercion does not change that truth.

  128. Mike A,

    Aww, you don’t let us have any fun. :-( I don’t know what you’re thinking jumping back into the discussion with your reasonable comments and logical arguments… In any case, I would argue that Jesus was very political for his time and that his espoused views seem very left of center to me.

    Buddha,

    I appreciate you not wanting to put words in my mouth, but you were pretty much spot on – I don’t hate Tootie (if anything I pity her for choosing to go through life as a narrow-minded bigot). I don’t even hate her ideas, I just feel the need to shine light on the illogical, bigoted and frequently unscientific crap she continues to dump here…

    Tootie,

    About your ‘eye of the needle’ link – interesting, I’ll have to ask my cousin about it when I see him in a couple of weeks (he’s got a PhD in biblical studies and I believe he knows all of the relevant languages here). It still doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the pursuit of worldly goods to me…

    Tootie said:

    Slart: I’m so sorry you hate people like me, but it is no surprise. The godless have no reason to love their enemy.

    As I said above, I don’t hate you – I pity you. I have also said that I agree with the teachings of Jesus (including the parts about loving your enemy) and ‘the godless’, as you put it, have much more logical and rational reasons to love their enemy than you do. Your assumption that all morality flows from religion (particularly YOUR religion) is offensive, ignorant, bigoted, and just plain wrong.

    You got it partly right about the rich, as I said you would. You presume that the rich do not get through the eye of the needle because they are particularly evil, say, more evil than you.

    You continually presume to know what I’m thinking. You don’t. Your straw man representations of my arguments do nothing more than reveal your bigotry and ignorance. I don’t believe people are good or evil, I believe actions run the spectrum from good to evil (and the morality of the effect is not always the same as the morality of the intent). I don’t believe that the pursuit of wealth is inherently evil, I just think that the primacy of greed in our culture is a dangerous imbalance.

    But that is not what the Bible says. The “good” unbeliever ends up in hell with the “bad” believer if both reject Christ. So the poor good person goes to hell with Hitler.

    It will apparently surprise you to learn that since I don’t believe in heaven or hell, I don’t base any of my notions of morality on who goes to heaven vs. who goes to hell.

    You are silly to take the meaning of the eye of the needle phrase literally. When the bible says to remove the beam from your eye before you remove the speck from your friend’s eye, do you really believe that there is somewhat of a 2 by 4 in the eye?
    http://bible.cc/matthew/7-5.htm

    I’m sure that Jesus didn’t mean to imply that it was any harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a poor man to get into heaven, he was just giving them some practical advice about getting through the city gates…

    You are funny indeed.

    Thank you. And you are ridiculous.

    What happens to all the rich Israelites before the time of Christ? Do they get your permission to go to heaven?

    No one gets my permission to go to heaven because I don’t waste time considering who gets to go to an imaginary place. What you do in your own personal fantasy world is no care of mine.

    In truth, you don’t know what the bible means. You were the one quoting scripture as if you did then asked me to explain.

    You said

    “but for those of us who don’t believe in such things the only justice is that which we make in this life.”

    That’s a very cheap moral code you have there. Tell me how you or anyone else made any sort of justice for the people Hitler murdered?

    We can’t get any more justice for Hitler’s victims, we can only give their sacrifice meaning by never letting it happen again. My moral code isn’t cheap, I just don’t need the fantasy of an eventual ‘Judgement day’ in order to cope with the fact that the universe isn’t a fair place.

    All the children starving to death as we speak, how will your fine godless moral code make it right?

    Nothing can make that right – it isn’t right by any moral code that I would consider worthwhile. Personally, I try to do my part by having as much of a positive impact on the world as I can.

    It cannot. It never will. 6000 years of written human history prove it.

    I’m not sure what made you think that I would in any way think children starving to death could be ‘made right’ nor how ‘6000 years of written human history’ proves anything in this regard, but as I said regarding Hitler’s victims, we give some small measure of meaning to their sacrifice by each child we prevent from starving in the future.

    Our race is thoroughly corrupt and the more we try to fix it the worse it gets.

    This is why I think that it is imperative not to let politicians that share your ideology win – the 4 billion year history of our planet (and the much longer history of our universe) is one of continual improvement and evolution, why would we ever want leaders who deny this in favor of saying that no matter what they do, they’ll make things worse?

  129. Besides . . . according to these guys, sheep go to Heaven and goats go to Hell.

    Let them both eat Cake.

  130. Slart,

    Actually, any one like Jesus would probably have been walking a VERY fine line between being the Jewish Messiah (at the time thought to be a Political\religious leader) and not stepping on the Roman toes.

    Reminds me of a great passage in “St. Lebowitz and the Wild Horse Woman.”

  131. Oops.

    Thanks for the reminder of my bad, Gyges.

    Good show, Mr. Appleton. With all that natty logic! However, while I agree Christ’s teachings in themselves are apolitical, he himself was a political creature as evidenced by his crucification. I’m pretty sure that the Romans weren’t upset enough to nail him down because he was a monotheist but rather that he was challenging their very Earthly authority. Like Slarti, I think his teachings show a left of center leaning even if his “official” stance was “render unto Caesar”.

  132. Mike A:

    “That is not to say that his views would not be relevant to discussions on the formation of Christian communities; I merely mean to point out that they are not helpful in debates over institutional forms of government.”

    the Pilgrims went there and did that and failed miserably, in fact it almost killed them. It would seem the Kingdom of God doesn’t work so well on earth, at least from a economic perspective.

  133. Buddha, I agree with you and Slarti that his teachings were decidedly left of center. That is precisely why various religious communities have been formed over the years based upon concepts like communal ownership and “to each according to his needs, from each according to his ability.” That is why there are serious Christian socialists and Christian Marxists. That is why the social justice movement among the parish level clergy in South America during the ’70s and ’80s had a solid basis in theology (that’s also why that movement was crushed). That also explains why people like Glenn Beck and other advocates of revisionist history become pale and begin to perspire at the mention of the phrase “social justice.”

    During my brief seminary experience, I came to understand that a vow of poverty is actually a liberating experience within a community of shared values. However, I also came to understand that such communities are impossible on a large scale. At the risk of incurring the wrath of bunches of people, it remains my belief that Marx’ exposition of the vices of capitalism were right on. His solutions suck.

  134. Slart, Buddha, Mike, et al.

    I also forgot my usual disclaimer that if anyone like Jesus existed, the Biblical representation probably isn’t all that accurate.

  135. Byron, I get your point, but the Pilgrim experience is not a particularly good analogy. It was more akin to an early corporate venture, privately funded, with everyone owning a share (and likely not equal shares). It was also one of the early corporate failures. But the bottom line is that the bottom line is what counted in that experiment, and it was severely undercapitalized.

    A truly communist community lacks a profit motive in the sense that the rewards of one’s labor is the sustenance of the group without regard to one’s position within the group hierarchy. But a hierarchy is necessary. Thus the vow of obedience in monastic communities serves both as a symbol of humility and a recognition that someone has to have the final word on decisions affecting the community as a whole.

    Finally, there must be within such communities the right to leave at any time. They are not for everyone. Most people are unable to sustain that level of idealism. But that is not a criticism of the theory; it’s only a recognition that it’s implementation is not feasible on a large scale.

  136. Slart: It doesn’t matter what you say or believe; if I say you hate me it has to be true according to your own standard.

    Here is that standard in your own words:

    “…given the number of egregious assumptions you’ve made about the thinking of the ‘intellectuals’ you so despise (and me in particular)…”

    You have made the assertion that I despise intellectuals. But cannot prove it. And I’m surprised you would make a statement you cannot prove. I have never said I despised intellectuals and anyone one who knows me would never come to that conclusion. I most certainly do not despise you.

    I would LOVE to be considered among the ranks of this world’s intellects.

    So, I still assert you hate me. Not only that, I assert you despise and loathe me. And furthermore, I assert you have horrible horrible feelings about me.

    Apparently, it doesn’t matter what the truth is according to the standard you have now set in which each of us (I assume) can invent any feelings we want the other to have.

    All that matters is what we assert them.

    Safety Net:

    You talk about a safety net as if it was something that grew naturally out of the ground and was usable for human comfort when needed. But is other peoples money acquired at gunpoint. That makes it a more serious matter than strong rope woven to form a net. I simply don’t understand the mindset of people who think others owe them these kinds of things.

    You say the rich owe taxes. I never said they didn’t. We mostly disagree about what they owe and for what purpose. Our government was meant to function from the proceeds of tariffs. I’m not so sure that would work these days merely because presidents abuse their powers. Lincoln used the tariffs as a pretext to murdering Americans.

    I think a national sales tax is a more fair means of funding the federal government. Rich people would pay more by virtue of their more expensive purchases. And the middle-class could be very tight-fisted and pay low taxes.

    I understand (from Stephen Moore) that the top 5 percent pay about 50 percent of the income taxes. This is truly amazing.

    I think the problem is not that the rich are not paying enough, but the politicians are spending too much. If they are spending too much then it only looks like they are not taking enough in.

    Also they are spending too much on things the Constitution doesn’t even allow. It doesn’t allow unemployment handouts, or welfare handouts, or medical care handouts, or education handouts, or thousands of other robberies.

    The least Democrats could do is change the Constitution so their plans, schemes, and heists were legal in theory (though reprehensible in reality). But that is too late now. No one can be trusted to open up the Constitution for revision now. Not with Marxist subversives running things.

    I’m not good with numbers, but the links below seem to indicate the rich are paying a very good share of things.

    http://www.american.com/archive/2007/november-december-magazine-contents/guess-who-really-pays-the-taxes

    http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2008/04/the_rich_and_their_taxes.html

    Good luck job hunting. Best wishes.

  137. Byron–

    “the Pilgrims went there and did that and failed miserably, in fact it almost killed them.”

    Approximately half of the residents living at Plimoth Plantation died during their first, harsh winter there.

    Mike is right about it being akin to a corporate venture. To pay for their passage across the Atlantic on the Mayflower, the residents of Plimoth were required to work for seven years to pay off their debt. They were, in effect, indentured servants. At least, that’s how I remember it.

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  139. Tootie posted:

    Slart: It doesn’t matter what you say or believe; if I say you hate me it has to be true according to your own standard.

    Here is that standard in your own words:

    “…given the number of egregious assumptions you’ve made about the thinking of the ‘intellectuals’ you so despise (and me in particular)…”

    You have made the assertion that I despise intellectuals. But cannot prove it. And I’m surprised you would make a statement you cannot prove. I have never said I despised intellectuals and anyone one who knows me would never come to that conclusion. I most certainly do not despise you. I would LOVE to be considered among the ranks of this world’s intellects.

    I was referring to comments in which you have explicitly (and incorrectly) described what you imagined my thinking to be. You can attempt to refute any ideas or attitudes that I have ascribed to you, if you are able but you don’t get to tell me what I’m thinking without me getting to tell you that you are full of shit. I inferred that you despised intellectuals because of your oft-repeated anti-scientific bias (among many things you’ve said here) and some of your comments that have referred to me personally. If you truly don’t despise me (or intellectuals in general) then you really shouldn’t act like it (whether or not you want to be one of them…).

    So, I still assert you hate me. Not only that, I assert you despise and loathe me. And furthermore, I assert you have horrible horrible feelings about me.

    You can assert it to your heart’s content, but that wont make it true. I don’t care about you nearly enough to hate you (much less despise or loathe you). I’m frequently annoyed when I see one of your posts as it generally means I have to waste time refuting it, if that helps any. ;-)

    Apparently, it doesn’t matter what the truth is according to the standard you have now set in which each of us (I assume) can invent any feelings we want the other to have.

    No dear, we can only convince other readers that the feelings that we are ascribing to each other are correct by appealing to the only available evidence: what each of us has written here – I choose to make rational arguments about what I believe you mean based on your words – I don’t know what the hell you’re doing.

    All that matters is what we assert them.

    All that really matters in a dialogue like this is how it affects the opinions of the people reading it.

    Safety Net:

    You talk about a safety net as if it was something that grew naturally out of the ground and was usable for human comfort when needed. But is other peoples money acquired at gunpoint. That makes it a more serious matter than strong rope woven to form a net. I simply don’t understand the mindset of people who think others owe them these kinds of things.

    The safety net is something that has been created through the hard work of generations of progressives which has been very successful (we have far, far fewer of the elderly starving to death or in poverty than we did before Social Security, for instance). I think that a society with a safety net is more healthy, efficient, and productive than one without a safety net. It enables more entrepreneurial risk taking if people don’t have to worry about providing for their family in the event of a worst case failure, it improves the public health (remember, healthier workers are better workers), and it reduces the stress of the populace as a whole (which also improves health). From a strictly economic point of view, a safety net is a bargain. When you also consider that a government protecting its citizens (which, after all, is what a safety net is for) is also the moral thing to do (or is your capitalist Jesus amoral?) I fail to find any good argument against it. And governments collect money from the people in order to redistribute it – that’s what they do. I would much rather that money be used for the good of the people rather than to fund wars we get dragged into because our unengaged, spoiled brat of a president wants to show he’s got a bigger dick than his old man.

    You say the rich owe taxes. I never said they didn’t. We mostly disagree about what they owe and for what purpose. Our government was meant to function from the proceeds of tariffs. I’m not so sure that would work these days merely because presidents abuse their powers. Lincoln used the tariffs as a pretext to murdering Americans.

    I think that the rich should bear a larger share of the tax burden as they are receiving more benefit from society than the poor. Like it or not our government is not going to run on tariffs and if you want to disband the military and fire all the government employees so that you can make all the tax cuts you want and still balance the budget then you are going to cause a new depression. We can’t go back to how things were in the past – but we do have a choice between productive and destructive change (unless we listen to people like you who think things can never be better than the idealized past. A question: aren’t people like you big believers in American exceptionalism?)

    I think a national sales tax is a more fair means of funding the federal government. Rich people would pay more by virtue of their more expensive purchases. And the middle-class could be very tight-fisted and pay low taxes.

    A national sales tax is an extremely regressive tax – the poorer someone is, the higher proportion of their income they need to spend on basic necessities and the more of their income they pay in taxes. Like most of what you write, you’re totally backwards with your reasoning here. Again, I favor a progressive tax code. Why shouldn’t there be a 45% marginal tax rate on yearly incomes above one million dollars? Don’t people earning over a million dollars a year have a vested interest in keeping the status quo of the system that allows them to earn so much money? If so, shouldn’t they do their part to help pay for it?

    I understand (from Stephen Moore) that the top 5 percent pay about 50 percent of the income taxes. This is truly amazing.

    And how much of the income do the top 5% of wage earners make? (Also keep in mind we’re only talking income here, not capital gains.) What’s truly amazing is the disparity between executive salaries and the average worker’s wages. In the seventies the average CEO earned about 20 times the average worker’s salary, now its in the neighborhood of 400. Don’t you think that fact alone speaks to serious imbalances in the system? Don’t you understand how wealth is being concentrated in this country? Do you think the shrinkage of the middle class is a good thing?

    I think the problem is not that the rich are not paying enough, but the politicians are spending too much. If they are spending too much then it only looks like they are not taking enough in.

    Who did the spending and what did they spend all of the money on? I seem to recall a surplus not too long ago – if you ever want to see a surplus again, you’d better keep the Democrats in power. I wish all of the children on the right would just be quiet and let the adults try to fix the mess that they made.

    Also they are spending too much on things the Constitution doesn’t even allow. It doesn’t allow unemployment handouts, or welfare handouts, or medical care handouts, or education handouts, or thousands of other robberies.

    The SCOTUS would seem to disagree with you… As I said above, the social safety net is a benefit rather than a drag on society – at least it should be (unless you let the system be controlled by corporate greed…).

    The least Democrats could do is change the Constitution so their plans, schemes, and heists were legal in theory (though reprehensible in reality). But that is too late now. No one can be trusted to open up the Constitution for revision now. Not with Marxist subversives running things.

    Yeah, all those evil whatever-ists that go around making this country a better place and helping people. What is reprehensible in narrow-minded, ignorant bigots like yourself trying to return to the policies that nearly destroyed our economy.

    I’m not good with numbers, but the links below seem to indicate the rich are paying a very good share of things.

    One of your links said that the top 1% earns 19% of the income and pays 37% of the income taxes. If we got rid of loopholes and counted all earnings (capital gains, etc.) as income then I think this would be about right (top earners paying about twice as much as their share of income).

    Good luck job hunting. Best wishes.

    Thank you – I’m trying to do freelance consulting, so I’m hunting for clients, not a job, but the thought is appreciated.

  140. Slart: Helping people in the way you insist–with other peoples’ money taken at gunpoint–is not helping people. It is called stealing.

  141. Tootie,

    The government collecting money (from its citizens) to spend to promote the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of its citizens is not stealing – it is the legitimate function of our government. Economically, what I want to spend the money on (social safety net, infrastructure, sustainable technology) all have a tangible benefit to society what you seem to want government to do (impose the narrow-minded, intolerant bigoted values of the Christian version of the Taliban onto the rest of us – and fight lots of wars, too…) only serve to tear down our liberties and restrict our rights and make us less productive and secure as a nation.

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