Study: Three-Fourths Of Americans Are Unable To Name All Three Branches Of Government

cropped-500px-scene_at_the_signing_of_the_constitution_of_the_united_states.jpgI just returned from a terrific event at Christopher Newport University on Constitution Day — a debate with Professor John Yoo.  While we were delighted by the large number of students who appeared to listen to the debate, we discussed the recent poll on the lack of knowledge of citizens.  A recent poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) found that, in a survey of over 1,000 citizens, only a quarter were able to name all three branches of the federal government.  We just discussed the poll showing that four out of ten Americans cannot name a single right under the first amendment.  Once again, these polls leave us with the troubling prospect of a woefully uneducated public on their own government.

 

Of the rights in the first amendment, only 15 percent could name the freedom of religion, only 14 percent could name the freedom of the press, only 10 percent could name the right of assembly and only three percent could name the right to petition.

I am more concerned that only 26 percent of those polled had the basic education on the structure of our tripartite system of government.  It is hard to see how citizens can defend their civil liberties with little knowledge of what those liberties are or how the government works.

107 thoughts on “Study: Three-Fourths Of Americans Are Unable To Name All Three Branches Of Government”

  1. Study: Three-Fourths Of Americans Are Unable To Name All Three Branches Of Government

    All three branches:

    The surveillance branch

    The warfare branch

    The torture branch

    At one time in the US governments not so distant past there were other branches such as the executive, legislative and judicial (although they still perform the kabuki ritual of democratic government for public consumption) but these are now defunct as the US government has morphed into an empire.

  2. These people that can’t name all three (by the way, let’s omit “all” because three isn’t very many) need only look at themselves in the mirror to see the key problem facing America today. When I was growing up we learned this stuff in elementary school. That grown men and women don’t know this stuff doesn’t offer hope for our future.

    I now know why to date not a single leftist has answered my impeachment question (ie, what happens AFTER Trump and Pence are impeached?).

    1. Three fourths of the hyphenates in California not only do not know the three branches of government, but do not speak English. Seriously? Do Americans know what has been done to their country? In California, many invaders want to secede and be annexed by Mexico. What are Americans thinking? America is still be “fundamentally transformed” by Obama.

      1. Citations to authority? Or merely something you heard down to the feed store? That’s what I thought.

        this is to “well, I want it to be true, so that’s close enough, I’ll reckon” george

      2. I’ll take it a step further. From 2005 until 2016 we lived in southern California. Don’t get me wrong. Those were some really great years. It’s beautiful country and we lived in a really cool and interesting community (92109 zip code if you want to look it up). That said, California is ante bellum. There are rich folks that live near the top of the pecking order. And there are the working poor that do not. California’s middle class for a number of years has loaded their stuff up and pointed their vehicles east toward Arizona, Utah, and Nevada where their prospects are better. What”s left is a state that economically exists somewhere between medieval and the slave trade. The upper crust lives on the top of foothills with the most amazing views, serviced by working poor people of color to include those that line up for work at 6AM in Home Depot parking lots if you get my drift.

        This is where liberalism ends up folks. It is a regression from capitalism toward something nearer a medieval economy.

        1. Oh heck yeah, it’s nothing but joy in the one-party communist state of California. Who’d you vote for in the U.S. Senate race; the democrat or the democrat?

          What happens when you step foot out of 92109? Did you enjoy your 740i at a dead stop in full gridlock as you exited 92109? 92109 where homes start a $1.3 million. You’re joking, right? Did you ever figure out where the $10.5K property taxes went along with the many, multiple other ridiculous taxes in CA that fund the unconstitutional welfare redistribution and impose the unconstitutional social engineering? A “Social Services” supervisor makes $100K+; does anyone know what they do? Actual American-Californians don’t even know what “social services” are. Did you enjoy paying taxes to print ballots in 23 languages and provide “interpreters?”

          You are being deceptive, sir.

          Start here, California used to be uncrowded and, way back, didn’t even have freeways; it had orange trees, thus, Orange County. It had Americans and some “guest workers” and “help.” How did the stifling, exponential congestion happen when Americans stopped replacing the population, putting the birthrate in a “death spiral?” The globalist shadow government issued an edict that America would import the population for the benefit of the profit of corporations with NO consideration for America, its environment or its culture. Californian growth has benefited corporations enormously while it destroyed the environment for Americans / Californians, overdeveloped the once pristine countryside and overpopulated as it packed in foreigners by the millions and millions as fodder for the profiteers. Did you know Californians used to be able to enjoy a serene Yosemite park with other Californians?

          Tell me, did you thoroughly enjoy the 14-lane freeways and gridlock in downtown areas and commercial/retail sections of every city?

          How are your Chinese, Vietnamese and Spanish language skills?

          “…more turbulent, less happy…”

          Thomas Jefferson –

          “Suppose 20 millions of republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom?”

          “If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here.”

  3. The problem is fostered by the schools.
    Teacher, teacher, I declare. I can see your underwear.

  4. To the degree this is true, and it seems impossible that it could be…Until you start reviewing the comments, twitter posts, and other social media posts of people. There you will find an amazing ignorance and inability to express a point without regressing into a shell of ignorant ranting and name calling.
    So our public square is full of people with strongly held feelings that do duty as opinions that are expressed as thoughts in terms of unflinching certainty…all the while all told while being ignorant of basic facts, not to mention context.

    To the degree, this study is actually accurate and a reflection of the public square is exactly the degree to which we are lost as a nation…

    Our certain ignorance is so well reflected in our own most ignorant, but most certain president, will lead us to the brink and over if something does not intervene.

  5. Reblogged this on Ideas Have Consequences and commented:
    A quick comment for later expounding: To the degree this is true, and it seems impossible that it could be…Until you start reviewing the comments, twitter posts, and other social media posts of people. There you will find an amazing ignorance and inability to express a point without regressing into a shell of ignorant ranting and name calling.
    So our public square is full of people with strongly held feelings that do duty as opinions that are expressed as thoughts in terms of unflinching certainty…all the while it is couched in the most ignorant of basic facts of context.

    It reminds me of a grandson, 3yo, who says with his own budding certainty just what is and is not happening at the moment.

    To the degree, this study is actually accurate and a reflection of the public square is exactly the degree to which we are lost as a nation… Our certain ignorance so well reflected in our most ignorant, but certain, president , will lead us to the brink and over if something does not intervene.

    More on this later….

    will in the end

  6. According to Republican theory gubamint is the problem, so why worry about the three branches? Lets have the masters of the universe { Wall Street } pick our next CEO and be done with it. That’s what some of them want anyway.

  7. in a survey of over 1,000 citizens, only a quarter were able to name all three branches of the federal government.

    The never discussed, underlying problem with this failure is not the lack of civics education. It’s the learning process that has been abandoned that has led to this sort of ignorance. The knee-jerk reaction to survey results like this would be to plant civics education within an existing model that is itself failing the students. The classical model of trivium and quadrivium would lead to a culture not only unlikely to be ignorant of the structure of our government but more importantly, they would actually be able to articulate the reason our government exists in the first place. That is something lost in the last 100 years.

    1. Olly, the trivium and quadrivium model was for adolescents drawn from a very narrow slice of each age cohort. It was a literary and philosophical education for the most part and isn’t going to teach you a blessed thing about the architecture of legal and political institutions.

      1. Wrong. A classical education is a different philosophy used to teach students from K-12 how to learn rather than what to learn. The building blocks within the Trivium track teach Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. This learning philosophy develops within the student the capacity to use reason and logic as they come to understand the various subjects throughout their education path and beyond. Using your example, it is not a replacement for learning about the architecture of legal and political institutions. Rather it goes beyond the mere structure of our institutions to examine why those legal and political institutions exist in the first place.

        1. Olly, having people learn Latin is going to teach them….Latin. Learning rhetoric is about articulation (for good or ill). Arithmetic and geometry are already incorporated into school curricula (and we have tools to teach them more reliably than they were taught in the High Middle Ages). There’s nothing particularly special about astronomy other than it has an aesthetic dimension the other natural sciences do not.

          It’s perfectly weird random as a response to our current predicament to complain about the absence of instruction in formal logic. You don’t have the manpower to teach it and it is simply not foundational in the realm of basic education. These youths need to read, write, sum, and learn features of public life. That is not going to be appreciably advanced by having them puzzle over philosophical discourses.

          1. It’s perfectly weird random as a response to our current predicament to complain about the absence of instruction in formal logic.

            Did you choose weird random to make your point because saying illogical would have been too ironical?

            We have plenty of manpower currently teaching youths to read, write, sum, and learn features of public life. The problem is they are only teaching the students what to think and the students are not learning how to think; and doing poorly at that. So our current education model is producing functionally illiterate adults with a neighborhood worldview. Who needs to know the three branches of government when your biggest concern is where your local PP, DMV or Nike outlet is located?

            Anyway, we’ll just disagree on this issue.

            1. So our current education model is producing functionally illiterate adults

              ‘Functional illiteracy’ is a nonsense concept promoted by social hypochondriacs like Jonathan Kozol. The same sort of people manufacture terms like ‘food insecurity’. They’re hustling business for education and social service bureaucracies. Some people read more fluently than others. That was true in 1925 and it is true today.

              1. I’ve never heard of Kozol, so I cannot speak to his motivations. My use of the term is meant to identify that group of people leaving secondary education that have a limited ability to apply what they’ve been taught in the real world. I coupled that term with neighborhood worldview to reflect how far their literacy can functionally travel.

  8. Jesus Obama to his third world immigrants: if you want to bring your third world ignorance and illiteracy, you can keep your third world ignorance and illiteracy. The stupider are his constituents, the more likely they rely on Democrat Progressive hand outs, the more likely they are life time Democrat voters, and the more political power do Democrats derive from the illiterate immigrants.

    Conversely, Republicans achieve their fine goal of completely eliminating the middle class, transferring wealth and power from the middle class to the top 10%, by insuring a constant stream of illiterate, low educated, dirt poor immigrants to constantly apply negative pressure to wage growth.

    Democrats used to be anti-war. Remember, during neocon warmonger little Bushie’s tenure, all day every day Dems labeled him the warmonger he is/was? Then later, under Jesus Obama, Hillary’s CIA hired and armed psychopathic ISIS murderers (the CIA’s so called “Islamic moderates,” as if such exist) to behead and anal gang rape Libya President Gadhafi. The CIA apparently achieved their goal of toppling a prominent African leader, who not coincidentally eloquently promoted the idea of one Pan-African currency, to better negotiate the first world desire to cull profits from Africa, the largest store of untapped wealth and profits on earth. Just ignore the side effect being that the CIA directly caused Libya to become an ISIS hell hole and untold thousands of innocent deaths and refugees.

    Of all Congressional Districts, Congress critter Pelosi’s is one of the top in financing for MIC contractors. I suspect another reason why Dem Progressives have grown to love illegal foreign military interventions is because they supply the aforementioned constant stream of illiterate and ignorant future Democratic voters and pressure keeping wages as low as possible.

    IT’S FOR THE CHILLUN, DON’T YA KNOW!

    1. Per your know-nothing, anti-intellectual, nativist, white pride comment regarding immigrants, I invite you to check the winners of the spelling bees, and take a gander at the demographics of the student body at MIT and Cal-Tech. Now who’s “ignorant”?

      This is to “but Hannity said so” Josey

      1. The U.S. skims off the elite from Third World countries. It’s certainly not unexpected that the child of a highly educated professional from India gets into Cal Tech or MIT instead of a white kid whose father is a mechanic or works in a factory. Not only is the India kid blessed with educated and wealthy parents, he also has the advantage of affirmative action, which a white working class American does not. And if you think that “white pride” is a problem, then maybe you have some real psychological issues of your own. Self-hate is never a good thing, unless you’re part of the SJW crowd who wallow in it.

          1. Okay by me. But seriously, back when I was in college there was considerable study given to the “brain drain” effect of Third to First World emigration. If the U.S. and Europe skim off the most educated and talented people of the Third World, are we not thereby complicit in keeping those countries in a permanent state of relative underdevelopment? And then, of course, there is the impact on poor and working class Americans who are at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis wealthy upper class immigrants in higher education and employment. Somehow, those serious concerns devolved into the current leftist prattle that all minorities and immigrants are wonderful and deserving and all white working class Americans are deplorable.

            1. Tin, You have a good head on your shoulders. Years ago I got into a discussion with a bunch of braniacs on this subject. It turned towards patent infringement which they were upset by. So was I, but I said that by importing these bright well trained third world immigrants who then went on to produce lucrative patenable things in the US, these patent infringers in the third world were getting copies while we were retaining the original (the one who developed the patent).

              Your same argument can be used in a discussion of immigration from the south. We act as a safety valve which means that many of the most willing to take risk end up here leaving a more compliant population there.

          2. Excellent, my fan club has appeared. Hate the game, not the player. Keep following, you to may someday be able to compete.

            He knows who this is to.

        1. Nice try, but you can’t argue with objective facts. SAT and GRE scores aren’t adjusted for “affirmative action”, no matter which wild-eyed, wack-job, gullible-beloved website sold you something different.

          This is to “I’m not American, I’m white” TINNY

    2. It is: “Hey Zeus Obama”. Get your spullin right. Or left.

      Hey Zeus, full of juice. Don’t let your meatloaf.

  9. Over 60 million people voted for Donald Trump and a southern state is likely going to elect a christofascist as senator. So, we’re in a heap of trouble that’s far bigger than ignorance about the three branches (as bad as that is).

    1. Susie’s operating under several illusions, among them:

      1. That her allies are better informed than her enemies; and

      2. That she knows anything.

      1. Although I comprehend completely your lack of rational response to Susie’s statements, you might want to consider learning how to respond to arguments, rather than resorting to middle school playground insults. Pro tip = gratis.

        This is to “now goal oriented” desperate

        1. Although I comprehend completely your lack of rational response to Susie’s statements, you might want to consider learning how to respond to arguments, r

          Susie never offered any arguments, Mark M. She offered her upraised middle finger. This isn’t that difficult to understand.

  10. Three branches of government:

    Huey, Dewey Louie
    Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria
    Larry, Moe, Curly Joe
    Eeny, Meeny, Miney
    Gaspar, Balthasar, Melchior
    Athos, Porthos, Aramis
    Maurice, Barry, Robin
    Harpo, Groucho,Chico
    José, Luciano, Placido
    Good, Bad, Ugly
    Yadda, Yadda, Yadda

  11. 1. How was the question posed? A summary or paraphrase is never good enough in assessing these cases.

    2. Back when I had to know these things (30 years ago), polls inquiring of people whether or not they followed public affairs and inquiring of people what their preferred news sources were generally had congruent results. About 30% reported preferring newspapers or magazines to broadcast media and about 25% reported following public affairs.

    3. A bit of market research conducted ca 1988 which incorporated standard ‘name recognition’ questions discovered that the most recognized opinion journalist in the United States was George Will. His name was recognized by 12% of the respondents, one percentage point for every year he had made weekly television appearances.

    4. About 37% of eligible adults reliably vote in general elections.

    You can add civics to the school curricula, and that may help some, but you cannot add motivati0on. People do not pay attention because they have other things to do with the rent-free space in their heads and (indubitably) because they cannot see how it makes a difference. You might attack the electoral system, excess centralization, and the usurpation of discretion by judges. Not that I expect a law professor to address any of that.

  12. This is the way the few stay in power. This last go around illustrated that better than ever. You have two extremes forcing the center to take sides. Eventually it’s back to the 60’s when if you questioned anything on the right you were a commie pinko and if you questioned anything on the left you were a fascist baby killer.

    A society comprised of several different groups, each with their own party or group of representatives demands a much higher quality of leadership and a much higher level of education and need to be aware of the population. Sadly, the US is woefully lacking in every respect. The words, sacred texts, government structures, constitutions, and all that are only as good as those that use them. Regardless of whether one is left or right the sad fact of the matter in the US is that there is only left or right. Or, perhaps there is really no choice at all, oligarchy.

    1. NFL may mean Not For Long, lol. The younger generations are more interested in soccer, and many of the football folks are skipping it because they aren’t interested in the politicization of what was formerly just an enjoyable pastime. Too many other fun, relaxing things to do on a Sunday afternoon than put up with that cr@p.

      1. Tin-Well said. Bet half of them don’t know why their kneeling or able to articulate the reason.

  13. Government has been entrusted to self interested leaders of both parties to remove power from the people and increase the power of the federal bureaucracy and the self-interested officials that run the nation. Why should the people know anything when they are being fed from cradle to grave even thought the diet is horseshit. A better question would be to ask why the mainstream press seems to know so little.

    1. Allan

      The main problem with the education system in America today is the fragmentation of just about everything. Take a peek at all the other countries that do so much better. Their education systems source from a unified centralized government oversight. They utilize the private sector but do not allow every jerk water county in podunk USA their input. You either want a high level of educated citizens or some blissful dream of local independence.

        1. Baltimore is a city in of itself, but is treated like a county by the State of Maryland. Baltimore County surrounds independent Baltimore City and is a separate, distinct, and mutually exclusive entity within Maryland. And believe me, the citizens of Baltimore County want nothing to do with the Democratic party success story that is Baltimore City.

      1. Issac, It’s not the lack of local independence that causes the problems we face. There were times when America was quite rural and local, yet provided education without the benefits of the technologies we see today. My understanding is that American literacy rate was quite high in comparison to most nations during that period of time and started to decline with the intervention of the socialist state.

        I would go into depth as to why you are so wrong and why too much federal reliance has led us to where we are today, but I noted when I brought well regarded studies into our healthcare debate last time you backed away after you made a series of erroneous statements that appealed to the superficial egalitarian, but didn’t provide substance to those views.

        1. Ah, there it is; the “Good Ole Days” of yore, when “those people” knew their place and weren’t so “uppity” and everwun spoke the “Good Lord’s” English, or some such.

          This is to “if only Little House on the Prairie was real” allan

          1. In the good old days Mark you probably owned slaves or wish you had. It’s amazing how young our nation is and how it leads the world economically. Certainly that didn’t occur based upon people of your nature. Most of them were a lot smarter.

            1. About 30% of the households in the Deep South included slaves in 1860. A great deal less anywhere else.

        2. My understanding is that American literacy rate was quite high in comparison to most nations during that period of time and started to decline with the intervention of the socialist state.

          No, about 30% of the population was illiterate in 1850.

          1. IN COMPARISON TO MOST NATIONS. Read the entire statement. 30% literacy was relatively high. Remember that women were significantly more illiterate than men so that brings the number of households that could read and discuss what occured to even a greater number.

        3. Allan

          You have it again, backwards. The rise of the socialist state in Western Europe, Canada, Australia, etc has produced vastly superior public school educations at half the cost than in the US. This is because these countries focus on education and not the rights of this or that group under this or that political mumbo jumbo or ideology. They treat education for what it is and nothing else. Comparing the average public school education of any of these countries with that of the US proves you wrong. This goes just as well for healthcare. The US spends two, three, and in some cases four times as much and ranks 35th over all. Step back, remove your ideological hat, and look at the results. There is a place in society for socially administered elements. Education and healthcare cost less and provide more under the more socially organized, free enterprise, democracies. None of the preceding exists to any determining degree in the US. The US is an oligarchy where everything is up for grabs. That equates to a very few at the top benefiting. It’s kind of a unique form of socialism. Take the health care insurance industry. We subsidize to the tune of billions, thousands of high paid administrators and hundreds of thousands of workers. Pick your socialism. For me it is the ones that work the best and the US does not work the best.

          1. “The US spends two, three, and in some cases four times as much and ranks 35th over all.”

            AS I said Issac that number is based greatly upon egalitarianism and other things that do not involve the delivery of medical care. In other words in treating cancer if all common citizens were give a bullet to the head their rating would climb because a bullet in the head though it kills people is egalitarian, not the delivery of medical care.

            I even provided you with one of the few and best international studies, the CONCORD study, that deals with outcomes not equality of life. On common cancers the US was either number 1 or number 2 in 30-40 western nations.You don’t read these studies because they don’t go along with your ideology. It’s impossible to argue with anyone that refuses to look at the literature no matter what subject is involved and you seem to be one of them.

            The US in recent years has turned backwards because of socialists like you that have supported government growth paid for by regular working people. I think you should move to the EU because you like it better there. If more of your type moved there this nation would start moving in a better direction. Where do you live? I heard someone say you were Canadian and live in the US. Is that true?

    2. Why should the people know anything when they are being fed from cradle to grave even thought the diet is horseshit.

      This rhetorical question is pretty much nonsense. Very few people are being fed ‘from cradle to grave’ and if your income depends on public expenditure you have every incentive to pay attention.

      1. DSS, get real. There are various degrees of cradle to grave care. That is why savings accounts are so low in American bank accounts. That is why instead of trying to pay healthcare bills people rely upon government, bankruptcy, the empoloyer etc. I can go on and on why your answer is pretty much nonsense, but that is not going to change your direction of comment.

        You don’t like libertarian approaches. That has become increasingly obvious and more obvious in our discussion of healthcare. But you don’t seem to recognize grey, a shade between black and white, so you often have something to say to demonstrate you are on the ball trying to keep the two shades separated.

        1. I can go on and on why your answer is pretty much nonsense, but that is not going to change your direction of comment.

          No, you can’t, or you’d have done it.

          That is why instead of trying to pay healthcare bills people rely upon government, bankruptcy, the empoloyer etc.

          ‘Medical bankruptcy’ is an unusual phenomenon that Elizabeth Warren and others have attempted to make use of to flog a policy. Employer paid health insurance is not some charitable extension. It’s part of employee compensation. It’s not an optimal means of financing medical care, but it has some utility as employee sets form stable actuarial pools.

          Again, attempting to treat medical care as a pure fee-for-service activity is foolish. Medicare was not enacted because legislators were stupid, but because they were all too familiar with the problems of the day.

          1. “No, you can’t, or you’d have done it.”

            I did more than once in the past and you ducked away. Now you are tangentially responding, but to an example and not to the context of our last interaction on healthcare.

            Those in the know realize Himmelstein’s study on medical bankruptcy was flawed. Elizabeth Warren says a lot of nonsensical things.

            I think most of us aware of the subject matter recognize that on average employer paid health insurance is not charity rather it is in lieu of salary or another benefit. AS you say it has some utility, but the harm it has caused via third party payer has been tremendous.

            I am glad to see that you some minimal rudimentary understanding of the subject, but it sounds mostly definitional.

            “Again, attempting to treat medical care as a pure fee-for-service activity is foolish. ”

            Fee for service is the way to go where the patient controls the dollar and can hire HMO’s or a private physician or something else to manage their care even though the Ware study taught us that the elderly and sick did a lot worse on HMO’s. Socialized medicine is dangerous. I’d rather have the patient calling the shots rather than a bureaucrat a thousand miles away who is concern isn’t centered around the patient’s life.

            “Medicare was not enacted because legislators were stupid, but because they were all too familiar with the problems of the day.”

            There were alternatives at the time. I have no problem with subsidies in one form or another based upon need, but Medicare spends so much more than necessary and regulates so poorly that those that run Medicare are constantly chasing their tail.

            1. No, if medical expenditures consisted of roughly predictable charges, charges which could be readily postponed, or were dominated by conditions of amenity, it could be treated as a fee-for-service activity with consumption smoothing through the use of forms of consumer credit. It’s not that, which is why it isn’t treated that way. You can treat certain components of it that way, but only certain components. This is true in spades vis a vis long-term care. If you fancy the use of consumer credit is going to assist you in finessing a $300,000 charge for cancer treatments, you’ve lost it. People are motivated to participate in risk-pooling schemes in this realm because there are actual risks. The trouble is, stable risk pools do not form naturally without defeating much of their purpose. You can address these problems or pretend it’s all gubmint’s fault.

              1. You are wrong. Most of healthcare is not emergency. Predictability of charges is not a problem if insurers are permitted to risk rate premiums.

                You ask why wasn’t it done that way. It was, and the % cost of GDP was less than half. Unfortunately we developed third party payer after ww2 that killed a lot the free market’s control over prices. The employer bought insurance and because of the tax deduction incorporated all sorts of things into the insurance. Had the individual actually bought the insurance the individual would have more frequently than not opted for less expensive insurance. To make things worse the insurers knew that the sickest of the patients insured by their employer would eventually lose their jobs and be placed on private non tax deductible insurance. That increased costs for personal insurance to the individual and is a big problem today.

                Don’t change the subject to long term care for that confuses things even though I look at long term care as one of the big problems we face.

                “If you fancy the use of consumer credit is going to assist you in finessing a $300,000 charge for cancer treatments, you’ve lost it. ”

                Why? That is what we buy insurance for and most cancers aren’t in the $300,000 range. You are using extremes again as a substitute for good argument. I argue for insurance coverage with high deductibles. In a way that is saving for the future. You are an economist. Remember that the prices go way up for a group of sick patients, but they didn’t go way up for the unknown sick that were insured. They were already in the pool and they were covered at normal rates.

                The trick is to design a system where the patient has significant control of the dollars and let the patient make decisions whether good or bad. There will always be patients that make bad decisions and always those that fall through the cracks, but that happens no matter what system exists.

                “or pretend it’s all gubmint’s fault”

                This is a foolish statement consistent with your reliance upon the extremes of black and white. Let us say that government in trying to help people made things worse. I think the first big error of modern medicine intervention was when government discriminated against people that bought personal insurance and giving the tax break (if one should have been given at all) to the employer. That was a big error of government and helped creat the eventual fall of our healthcare system. Such a tax system strays far from a free market.

                1. You are wrong. Most of healthcare is not emergency. P

                  1. You’ve lost sight of the distinction between emergency care and episodic high expenditure.

                  2. The $300,000 sticker price was for a fairly conventional set of treatments for breast cancer a decade ago. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the standard menu of treatments available in a 3d tier city. That is what it costs.

                  3. Again, McArdle. One problem with attributing high allocations solely to 3d party payments (Friedman’s thesis) is that consumption bundles have changed considerably all across the board since 1940 and a similar revolution occurred with expenditures on veterinary care absent 3d party payments. Looked at from a different angle, the share of value-added attributable to finance and real estate is also a great deal larger than it was 70 years ago (but manufacturing and agriculture much less). There isn’t anything necessarily pathological about it if that’s the best use of factors of production.

                  4. Again, 49% of all medical and nursing expenditures in a given year are attributable to the care of 10% of the individuals in the population. About 50% of the individuals in the population account for 3% of all expenditures. Jagged and unpredictable variation is why we have insurance. Long term care, which encompasses as seven-digit population, has a sticker price of over $100,000 a year most places.

                  1. StepOnToads

                    “1. You’ve lost sight of the distinction between emergency care and episodic high expenditure.”

                    I understand that distinction extremely well. Take note of what DSS said about “amenity” Unpredictable high costs are insurable and therefore manageable.

                    “2. The $300,000 sticker price…. That is what it costs.”

                    Not true. Some cancers cost that much, but many don’t cost anywhere near that. It is a ludicrous assumption.

                    3. Consumption has increased greatly in part due to technology, but third party payer is still a major if not the major cause of cost spirals that did not need happen.

                    4. Regarding your 10%. The problem with your understanding is that the 10% does not remain static in one population. It’s an important number, but it doesn’t prevent insurability. Insurability means that risk can be voluntarily spread.

            2. ” The problems of the day” that Medicare addressed was primarily the inability of many seniors to obtain health insurance.
              There were about 20 million seniors (65+) in 1965, the year Medicare was passed.
              Probably 35-40% of those seniors either lacked health insurance, or the ability to pay their medical bill.
              There were programs prior to Medicare designed to assists those seniors who required financial assistance with health care expenses ( e.g., the Kerr-Mills legislation), but they were never refined or fully implemented.
              The first wave of Medicare recipients had paid little or nothing in payroll taxes.
              In enrolling all seniors, the benefits of the Medicare program were extended equally to the couple in the neighborhood struggling on $200 a month Social Security, or the millionaire on the other side of town.
              MC payroll taxes were a tiny fraction of today’s payroll taxes…. The maximum an employee would pay was $23 per year, with an equal ( maximun) $23 paid by the employer.
              The ratio of working Americans to Medicare recipients was much higher 50 years ago, so the Ponzi-scheme characteristics built into the Medicare program “worked” for the first generation or two enrolled in the program.
              Any long term projections of the costs of the MediCare program were blown out of the water, with massive increases in payroll taxes and
              general tax revenuesbeing required to prop up the program. Wilbur Mills was one of the few politicians who seemed to have a concern about the ultimate costs of the program…
              he eventually got on board when it was clear that Medicare would pass, and fellow legislators were not necessarily concerned about what would happen to the program a couple of generations down the road.
              There were ways to provide financial assistance/ subsidized insurance to that portion of seniors who needed it, but the political appeal of “free” healthcare all seniors was too great.

              1. “There were ways to provide financial assistance/ subsidized insurance to that portion of seniors who needed it, but the political appeal of “free” healthcare all seniors was too great.”

                Tom, that is the key and there were proposals to do just that. AS an aside, some believe that when Kennedy made his speech at Madison Square Garden in support of Medicare he wasn’t on board and that is why the speech was lousy. They attribute that to Kennedy meeting Roy Annis the night before who explained why Medicare shouldn’t be passed and why other alternatives would, in the long run, work out better. Whether or not Kennedy was influenced by Annis is left open to question.

        2. You don’t like libertarian approaches.

          Of course not. Libertarianism is proverbially good and original – just never at the same time.

          1. “Of course not. Libertarianism is proverbially good and original – just never at the same time.”

            That of course is an expected response from you. You can’t deal with gray, only black and white. There are various degrees of libertarianism or classical liberalism. It is not a black and white ideology and means somewhat different things to different people.

            But, you constantly have to demonstrate how smart you are and in order to do so you look at things in their extreme so you can pick away at a comment to demonstrate the statistics that you have spent a lot of time studying. Thus if a man says to his wife ‘the lawn is dry so I will water it’ you are busy trying to figure out a way to comment proving yourself smarter than the man. Your response might be ‘That is nonsensical. The lawn is green so it must have 0.xx% water in it and therefore cannot be dry.’ Technically you are right, but that doesn’t have an effect on the lawn, its care or the nature of the discussion.

            1. That of course is an expected response from you. You can’t deal with gray, only black and white.

              I’m a fat late middle aged man. I deal with greys just fine, as does any contemporary of mine who isn’t senile or stupid. It’s a pretty amusing rebuke from someone who wishes to commend to the world the mechanistic norms of libertarianism.

              the statistics that you have spent a lot of time studying. T

              No, they take a few minutes to call up from standard sources. If you want something sophisticated, you’ll have to get it from academic literature.

              There are various degrees of libertarianism or classical liberalism.

              I’m aware of that. There’s the Austro-cranks at the von Mises Institute promoting monetary policy nostrums, the Reason Foundation / Libertarian Party segment (whose concerns begin and largely end with the drug laws), the Ayn Rand acolytes (who actually haven’t much time for political sectarianism but will take an hour out of your life to discuss Aristotle), the faculty poltroons (see the Mercatus Center), the shmucks pushing open borders (see the Wall Street Journal and Mercatus and Paul Ryan), Oh, and there’s Wm. Voegli reciting twee political controversies of the 1790s while treating everyone to inane homilies featuring Davy Crockett.

              1. “I’m a fat late middle aged man.”

                DSS, I got the picture and it isn’t a pretty one.

                OK, your spectrum includes gray one mm in between one kilometer of black and one kilometer of white. If you didn’t have blurring of your vision at your elderly age you probably wouldn’t see any gray in your world.

                libertarianism sometimes by some referred to as classical liberalism is a broad based ideology with the anarchists on one side moving all the way over in the spectrum.

                the statistics that you have spent a lot of time studying. T

                “No”

                You mean you didn’t spend a lot of time studying numbers and how to research these things as an economist? I think you spent a good portion of your life in that fashion.

                I take note how you call everyone cranks, because you must be smarter than them, Von Mises or Milton Friedman, or Hayek or anyone that doesn’t believe in an overbearing governmen or even anyone on the other sides. Maybe you should have studied political science instead of economics. You sound very much like Obama, always tearing things down without the ability to build. That is a recipie for disaster.

                1. Milton Friedman was an adherent to fairly conventional microeconomic models and part of the broad range of mainstream perspectives in macroeconomics. He was a ‘policy libertarian’ promoting particular avenues to certain goals. He had normative preferences as well. He was capable of making a normative argument but also of explicating for a general audience the benefits and costs of a given course of action toward a variety of goals.

                  I have no clue why Murray Rothbard and his acolytes, who commonly reject conventional theoretical models and commonly reject empirical investigation are equated in your mind with Milton Friedman.

                  1. StepOnToads, Firstly, I agree with you about Milton Friedman. Secondly I didn’t mention Murray Rothbard because I have so much disagreement with him. I mentioned Von Mises because his opinions have merit and though other opinions have been connected to his name many of his viewpoints are very different than Rothbard’s. I mentioned Hayek because his book The Road to Serfdom is very important. I mentioned Friedman because I believe he fits in well with our society. I chose those with libertarian or classical liberal views because DSS wanted his response to stand out above all others. Therefore, he called this type of thinking ***”cranks”***. Along with that he was quite dismissive of the ” inane homilies featuring Davy Crockett.”. I disagree. They are good stories to use when teaching young or even ignorant adults. DSS feels he has gone past that bit of education which I believe he has, but that is not a good reason to be so dismissive of the story. I believe whether I agree with these authors or not they have more brain power regarding economics than DSS and myself as well.

                    This is the quote that created your response. Pardon the spelling. I am a terrible typist.

                    “I take note how you call everyone cranks, because you must be smarter than them, Von Mises or Milton Friedman, or Hayek or anyone that doesn’t believe in an overbearing governmen or even anyone on the other sides. “

                    1. You keep conflating dissimilar people. The term ‘crank’ I attributed to the von Mises Institute. That’s a specific corporation employing specific people. Nothing to do with Hayek or Friedman specifically. In the policy realm, Hayek was notable as a critic of economic planning, which isn’t a live issue in the United States.

                      No, they aren’t good stories, Allan. People aren’t living on subsistence farms a day’s ride away from the nearest village and random bonuses paid out in response to sob stories are not analogous to an architecture of social insurance (two which Hayek offered no objection, btw).

                    2. Stepontoads, I was not conflating anything. You started to assume things and brought Rothbard and Von Mises Institute into the conversation. I said nothing about an institute or Rothbard. All I did was provide the names of three well revered economists. You did the rest and pulled a Hillary blaming someone else for your mistake.

                      As far as the Crockett story goes, why don’t you first mention the context of the story to make sure we are talking about the same one. I think the story most often told is quite a good learning experience. If you choose to disagree that is your problem.

                      Did you read the Road to Serfdom?

                    3. “allan, DSS and step on toads is the same person.”

                      Thank you Foxtrot. It appears his second personality doesn’t know anymore about healthcare policy than his first. Does he have a bunch of other personalities or will we suddenly see a new blogger in the group?

                      I suppose if one looks at the name “step on toads” one understands what he thinks about other people. It must be that some require a second personality to affirm the first.

                      Again, thank you.

                2. You sound very much like Obama, always tearing things down without the ability to build. That is a recipie for disaster.

                  I hardy utter a sentiment on this site that isn’t fairly conventional. You’ve got one woman who babbles about the sexual behavior of blacks non-stop, another woman babbling about fictional ‘war crimes’ non stop, another babbling about fictional ‘collusion with Russia’ non stop, another pair who post snotty drive-bys and nothing more, another woman who has swallowed whole every SJW media myth propagated in the last six years, another woman who made dozens of evasive posts the other day rather than answer two simple questions, but you’ve got your nose out of joint when someone uses the term ‘crank’ to describe a collection of people who have subscribed to one or another of the following propositions: that statistical analysis of economic data is nonsense, that a gold standard or currency board is the only legitimate or prudent monetary system (they babble a great deal about ‘socialist money’), that Soviet Russia was to be preferred to the United States because Laverenty Beria was executed and J. Edgar Hoover was not (that gem was from Rothbard himself), and the political conflict in the Near East is occurring because ‘we’re over there’ (that bit of wisdom from Ron Paul). Peter Boettke was predicting hideous disasters to come in 2010 which never materialized. Ya think maybe someone might think he’s not the most perspicacious student of economics around?

    3. Then why follow the mainstream press? After all, whichever loony-tune source you follow seems to tell you exactly what you want to hear now.

      This is to “Rush for President, by Gawd” allan

    1. Regents’ examinations are perfectly proper and necessary. What isn’t necessary is the use of public agency as a delivery vehicle for educational services (bar where demand-constraints do not permit of multiple competing schools) and haphazard and unfocused content in elementary education. Test literacy and numeracy in the early grades and literacy, numeracy, and the fundamentals of American history, geography, and civics later on.

      1. DSS – the original theory was to have high-stakes testing in history, science, English/Literature and Math. Math and English came first. Since schools start giving the test the spring of the sophomore year, which science and history would you include? Most schools don’t require students to take history until their sophomore or junior years and civics their senior. However, they all pop you into a math class as a freshman and of course, you take 4 years of English.

        Arizona, the backwater of education, has mandated a civics test to be taken and passed before you can graduate high school.

        1. You’re talking about secondary schooling. I’m talking about primary schooling.

    2. “Crazy Abe” Lincoln learned by firelight. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg learned more than enough to become multi-billionaires through extra-curricular activities. You don’t suppose the lazy, greedy, striking thug teachers unions in their high schools taught them exponentially superior, post-graduate software and social media skill-sets, do you, oh, and they threw in nuclear-grade motivation and ambition classes too, right?

      Looks like public school is 90% fraud and scheming chicanery, oh yeah, and a make-work teachers union, job and dues-payer slot creation program. What do the Dept. of Education and Teachers Union officials make in annual payroll for their final product of 7-Eleven clerks and fork lift drivers?

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