Take a Xanax before you blow an artery. Then try to respond to the substance of my post. I'm sure you can do it with just a little extra mental effort (otherwise known as "thinking").
The market determines the rewards reaped by work. And there's no doubt that the market values managing a hedge fund more highly than flipping a burger. But that is beside the point. Both the burger flipper and the hedge fund manager are producers. Tyrone's contempt for the poor betrays a vicious social Darwinism that , if translated into government policy, would render the United States a banana republic in short order.
The argument that every man owns the fruits of his labor and should be free to dispose of them as he chooses rests on the false premise that one has achieved material success entirely on one's own. But it is the system of laws and their enforcement that makes economic success and the acquisition of private wealth possible. And those who have benefitted from the legal and social stability provided by the government owe something back.
Before you quote remarks allegedly made by Lenin, you might want to learn to spell his name.
As far as your Ayn Rand "producers" go, why is a factory worker or a fast food cook any less of a producer than a hedge fund manager? Or maybe I should put it the other way around: what does a hedge fund manager "produce" to earn his multi-billion dollar income?
And just what is is that you want the 40 million uninsured to do when they get sick or seriously injured? Die quickly so they don't burden society with the costs of their care? That's a hell of a health care plan. What they do now is crowd the emergency rooms and spread communicable diseases to others including people like you while running up huge bills that taxpayers ultimately pay. If you think you can insulate yourself from the troubles of the rest of society, think again. Microbes don't know what's in your bank account. Drunk drivers don't simply hit poor people. Earthquakes don't just strike poor neighborhoods, nor do hurricanes. To live in society is to assume responsibility to some degree for the welfare of everyone.
Loudly opposing Obamacare may give Republicans a little spasm of pleasure, but since they have nothing to offer in its place the pleasure is short-lived and doesn't produce any long-term benefit for the party. It may not even have an impact on the mid-year elections, which tend to be locally focused in the absence of a Presidential race. By 2016, the ACA will be firmly entrenched as the law of the land and running against it will be a waste of time and effort.
And that's a shame because there are many ways to improve the law some of which, at least, people who present themselves as economic conservatives should get behind. I've written here more than once that the
cartelized hospital industry should be a natural target for believers in free markets; hospital charges make up about one-third of the national health care bill and they are increasingly ridiculous in relation to the value of the services performed. But you can search the rhetoric of the Republican gasbags from top to bottom without finding any serious proposal for going after the cartels. ( It wasn't always this way: Teddy Roosevelt gained fame and won an election as a "trust buster" for example.) There are many other pro-competitive
reforms that could be advocated by the GOP, but the urge to score political points by attacking the badly flawed roll-out of the ACA is apparently too strong to overcome.
So when you read posters here lambasting Obamacare, ask them what their alternative is. You will get either silence or invective as your response.
Here's a happier story that illustrates what the ACA might become. Last year my wife and I were passing through Boston on our way back to California from a vacation in Italy when she developed a profusely bleeding spot on her shin. We thought she must have been bittten by something nasty, so we walked into the ER at Mass General. We were seen in less than 15 minutes by a resident who examined the wound and gave it a name I don't remember but basically said it wasn't serious and would clear up in a few days with a band-aid and some antibiotic ointment. We were there for about an hour and the total bill was $450, of which we paid $50. Had we done the same thing at a Sutter Health affiliate out here in California, the bill would have been in the thousands.
The reason for the big difference is, of course, Romneycare, and it is because of experiences like ours that people in Massachusetts overwhelmingly support their health care system. The Affordable Care Act is basically Romneycare on a national level. As a national program that overlays more than 1500 different health insurance plans around the country, implementing it is orders of magnitude more complex than implementing Romneycare, something which the White House should have figured out sooner rather than later. But as the bugs get ironed out and people begin to experience the benefits, public support will grow exponentially. Outfits like HCA and Sutter Health that have profited from killing off competition are of course dead set against the exchanges or any other innovation that might reduce their profit margins.
The main reason for high hospital costs in the United States, economists say, is fiscal, not medical: Hospitals are the most powerful players in a health care system that has little or no price regulation in the private market.
Rising costs of drugs, medical equipment and other services, and fees from layers of middlemen, play a significant role in escalating hospital bills, of course. But just as important is that mergers and consolidation have resulted in a couple of hospital chains — like Partners in Boston, or Banner in Phoenix — dominating many parts of the country, allowing them to command high prices from insurers and employers.
Sutter Health, California Pacific Medical Center’s parent company, operates more than two dozen community hospitals in Northern California, almost all in middle-class or high-income neighborhoods. Its clout has helped California Pacific Medical Center, the state’s largest private nonprofit hospital, also earn the highest net income in California. Prices for many of the procedures at the San Francisco hospital are among the top 20 percent in the country, according to a New York Times analysis of data released by the federal government.
“Sutter is a leader — a pioneer — in figuring out how to amass market power to raise prices and decrease competition,” said Glenn Melnick, a professor of health economics at the University of Southern California. “How do hospitals set prices? They set prices to maximize revenue, and they raise prices as much as they can — all the research supports that.”
Until we break the power of medical monopolies like Sutter Health, reform is a half-way thing.
In today's NY Times is a story that perfectly illustrates why we needed health care reform and what we still have to do:
SAN FRANCISCO — With blood oozing from deep lacerations, the two patients arrived at California Pacific Medical Center’s tidy emergency room. Deepika Singh, 26, had gashed her knee at a backyard barbecue. Orla Roche, a rambunctious toddler on vacation with her family, had tumbled from a couch, splitting open her forehead on a table.
On a quiet Saturday in May, nurses in blue scrubs quickly ushered the two patients into treatment rooms. The wounds were cleaned, numbed and mended in under an hour. “It was great — they had good DVDs, the staff couldn’t have been nicer,” said Emer Duffy, Orla’s mother.
Then the bills arrived. Ms. Singh’s three stitches cost $2,229.11. Orla’s forehead was sealed with a dab of skin glue for $1,696. “When I first saw the charge, I said, ‘What could possibly have cost that much?’ ” recalled Ms. Singh. “They billed for everything, every pill.”
In a medical system notorious for opaque finances and inflated bills, nothing is more convoluted than hospital pricing, economists say. Hospital charges represent about a third of the $2.7 trillion annual United States health care bill, the biggest single segment, according to government statistics, and are the largest driver of medical inflation, a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found.
A day spent as an inpatient at an American hospital costs on average more than $4,000, five times the charge in many other developed countries, according to the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurance industries. The most expensive hospitals charge more than $12,500 a day.
And at many of them, including California Pacific Medical Center, emergency rooms are profit centers. That is why one of the simplest and oldest medical procedures — closing a wound with a needle and thread — typically leads to bills of at least $1,500.
Hobby Lobby is not a church, and presumably they have lots of employees whose religious beliefs differ from those of the owners. The real question is why the owners of the company get to enforce their religious beliefs on their employees. If they made fundamentalist Christianity a job requirement, that kind of discrimination wouldn't last 10 seconds in court. So why can they do indirectly what they certainly could not do directly?
Nick Saban loaded up the offensive line with beef to protect his kicker and had almost no speed on the field. Once the run-back reaches the 40 yard line, there is not an Alabama player in sight.
I think if I had been Saban I would have made the same decision. The risk-reward ratio favored attempting the kick because the likelihood that Auburn would be able to take a missed kick all the way back was so low.
Some things that are labeled "black swan" events really aren't, they just seem that way. For example, Michael Milken became a very rich man on the basis of discovering that junk bonds actually performed far better than their pricing implied they would. Similarly with handicappers who recognize that long-shots win more frequently than the odds suggest. In both cases, the true risk isn't priced into the cost of the bond, on the one hand, or the odds on a horse, on the other.
I think you're wrong about Auburn's ranking, btw. Auburn was ranked fourth in the country before the game, behind 'Bama, Florida State, and Ohio State.
There is a horse race of sorts among telepundits to see whose predictions are most frequently and seriously wrong. Before he more or less vanished from national consciousness, #$%$ Morris was leading the field. Bill Kristol took the lead from Morris, but George Will is coming up fast on the outside. The trouble is that there are no consequences to being wrong over and over again. Bill Kristol is still there on Fox pontificating away despite his impressive string of bad predictions. Ditto George Will. It's all about ratings and controversy drives ratings. In the special case of Fox News, Obama-bashing drives ratings among the Neanderthals who get their news from Fox. (Actually, that's an insult to Neanderthals, who were probably, on average, smarter than us. But that's another topic.)
1. Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen while Europe suffers through a seemingly endless recession everywhere but in Germany, the United States continues a slow, steady recovery. The stock market, front-running as usual, has already hit historic highs and the broader economy is improving across the board from manufacturing to real estate to finance. For this we have the Federal Reserve to thank. While the President and the Congress have taken turns engaging in meaningless gestures, the Fed has held a steady pro-growth course. The result is a major improvement in my personal net worth as my 401K has regained and surpassed its previous levels, my house has increased in value, and all the while inflation at the grocery store and gas pump has remained low.
2. John Kerry For the first time in living memory, the USA is attempting a diplomacy-first approach to the middle east. This has disturbed warmongers in Congress and in Israel, but it is the first hopeful sign of reduced tensions in the area in decades. Whether ti will succeed remains to be seen, but America's willingness to make a fresh start is the sine qua non of a calmer landscape in the region.
3. Chris Christie The NJ governor has demonstrated that it's possible to be a modern Republican without buying into the BS of the Tea Party. His enormous popularity in a traditionally blue state that just elected a Democrat to the Senate is testimony not only to his personal appeal but also to the hunger in the public for an intelligent and responsible alternative to the doctrinaire liberalism of the Democrats.
4. Jerry Brown California has a budget surplus for the first time since....the last Jerry Brown administration 30 years ago. For a state the a few years ago seemed doomed to run deficits as large as the GDP of many small countries, this is a remarkable turn-around. We Californians still pay some of the highest taxes in the country, but at least we are getting something for ou money these dyas.
You're right about openness to inspection but if you were surrounded on all sides by powerful enemies, would you be eager to open your kimono and show them everything you've got with no promise of any reward and the possible threat of an attack once your enemies discover how weak you are? The political calculation that any Iranian leader would have to make is extremely complex, especially given the veto power over those decisions that the ayatollahs have held up to now. That's why progress, if there is going to be progress, will be agonizingly slow. On the other side, Netanyahu has built his political career on exploiting Israeli fear of Muslim aggression. He can't afford to give up his fear-mongering so no matter what deal America and the Europeans make with Iran, he's compelled to reject it as a threat to Israeli security, even if it is a step to enhanced Israeli security. As I said, this is not an area where slogans and stereotypes work very well as guides to policy.
There is no one solution, just as there is no one terrorist group. Each country has its own local conditions that breed terrorism and we couldn't remedy them all even if we tried. But for sure one thing I wouldn't do is invade the wrong country, the way Bush did. Ronald Reagan's Navy Secretary and later a Democratic Senator from Virginia, James Webb, called the invasion of Iraq the greatest foreign policy blunder in American history and he was right. I would also be very careful with drone strikes which kill so many non-terrorists that they are very likely counter-productive when used against any but the highest value targets. In general, resort to military force represents a failure of diplomacy rather than a thoughtful response to a complex situation. The Chinese have achieved enormous influence in Africa and Latin America without spending one penny on shipping arms or soldiers to those regions. We could learn a lot from them.
No, the entire world does not know that Iran is working on nuclear weapons and no, the Iranians have not admitted it. What the Iranians have admitted is that they they are developing the capacity to produce enriched uranium at the same time as they have denied that they intend to weaponize that material. They are developing dual use technology. The Israelis (reasonably) fear the Iranians will in fact use that technology to build nuclear weapons. The Iranians (reasonably) fear that the Israelis will bomb their uranium enrichment facilities, perhaps with nuclear weapons. The lack of trust between the two countries is extreme. If diplomacy is able to ease the tension and move the Iranians to what I believe is their long-run interest, namely, to get out of the uranium enrichment business, everybody will be better off. A test of the sincerity of Iranian intentions might be an offer from the United States or Russia to supply the Iranians with nuclear materials that can be used for electricity generation but not for bomb building in exchange for Iran's abandoment of its own uranium enrichment program. It would take a bold leap by an Iranian leader to trust such an offer from the US but he just might trust Russia. And of course, we would have to work closely with the Russians to make sure no weapons grade material comes in by the back door. It is a very dicey problem and not one amenable to simplistic solutions or slogans in place of thinking.
I've no doubt that the security bureaucracy in both the Bush and Obama administrations agreed with the Israelis that the Iranian nuclear program represented a potential threat to Israeli security and developed the Stuxnet worm to disrupt it. I've also no doubt that Dubya and his advisors sincerely believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and started a war based on that belief. But we don't have to uncritically accept the fears of the Israelis and make them the basis for American foreign policy, especially when the downside risks of creating a weapon as sophisticated as Stuxnet are so large. The Stuxnet worm was supposed to self-destruct upon discovery. Unfortuantely, the suicide feature didn't work, so the worm has been reverse-engineered by the Iranians, the Chinese and others and now represents a major threat to the security of computer systems worldwide, including the USA. The small security advantage we gained from overheating the Iranian centrifuges is tiny compared with the threat that we now face from other nations and non-state-actors in possession of the Stuxnet worm.
Even if the Israelis have to assume the worst intentions on the part of the Iranians, the fact remains that Iran would be committing suicide if it began a nuclear exchange with Israel. Iran has a potential ability to make weapons grade fissionable materials. Israel has 200-250 deliverable nuclear weapons. The Iranians are plenty smart enough to understand that arithmetic and it does not surprise me at all that newly elected moderate Iranian leadership is looking for a way out of a confrontation with the Israelis. Obama, it seems to me, is playing the Reagan game, threatening the Iranians with one hand and holding out rewards for good behavior with the other.
And just how do you know that Iran is making nuclear weapons? The same way that George W. Bush "knew" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction?
Iran doesn't need nuclear weapons to wield outsize influence in the region. It's the largest country and one of the most modern. It (together with its new friends in Baghdad, a friendship made possible by George W. Bush) controls an enormous oil resource, collectively larger than the Saudi oil fields. Economic power and the pull of co-religiosity with other Shia areas are more than enough to guarantee Iran a leading regional role.
In fact, given its ability to be a dominant regional power without nuclear weapons, Iran is far better off to renounce them. Pursuing a nuclear capability makes Iran a target of both Israel and the United States. Convincingly abandoning that pursuit boosts Iran's image and drives a wedge between Israel and the United States. The Iranian leaders may be Muslim fundamentalists, but they are not stupid. They can see clearly that a military concession that leads to a diplomatic and economic victory is more in their interest than possession of weapons that make them a target of far more powerful antagonists.
Even a theocracy like Iran has to take account of public opinion. I don't know how the average Iranian feels about nukes, but I would bet that he favors gaining influence through diplomacy and trade to gaining influence by dubious threats of mass destruction.
I am old enough to remember Nixon's easing of relations with China. The thundering denunciations from the right were loud enough to deafen people 100 miles away. The reason for the right's attacks on Nixon then and on Obama now were essentially the same: by easing tensions with a demonized adversary, the President has taken away an electoral issue from the Neanderthals. That is also the primary reason that Netanyahu is p,o.'d. Bibi's tenure in office depends on convincing ordinary Israelis that he is a tough guy who will protect them from the scary Iranians. If the Iranians cease to be scary, the Israelis cease to need Bibi. George W. Bush similarly protected Americans from evil Saddam Hussein and his mountains of imaginary WMDs and that scam worked well enough to insure his re-election.
I am not a fan of Obama, as anyone who has read my posts about his horrendous civil liberties record knows, but I give him credit for undertaking this diplomatic initiative. He reminds me increasingly of Nixon, another bright, thin-skinned, arrogant lawyer with scant regard for civil liberties.
One hardly knows where to begin answering a post like yours. The founders did not build a supermajority requirement into the advise and consent process, though they easily could have done so. In 1806 (more or less by mistake) the Senate amended its rules to make filibusters possible, but Senators rarely took advantage of that power until the latter part of the 19th Century. In 1917, the Senate adopted Rule 22, the supermajority requirement for advise and consent, initially requiring 2/3 vote, later revised to 3/5 and this week revised again to a simple majority. The Senate is already a fundamentally anti-democratic institution that vastly over-weights the votes of persons living in sparsely populated states. Adding the super-majority makes it even more anti-democratic, our own little House of Lords. Getting rid of supermajorities moves the Senate a small step forward into the 20th century. Some day it may even make it to the 21st.
You mean the way GOP Presidents have "kept the staus quo" on the Supreme Court by appointing one ultra-conservative after another? Politicizing the judiciary is something the Republicans began under Reagan and perfected under Dubya. None of the last 3 Republican Presidents would appoint a moderate to the top court or, for that matter, to any of the inferior federal courts, if they could possible help it. They only appoint sitting judges with long records of extreme conservative views. The result is that the only question about the Republican majority on the Supreme Court is who is farthest right, Scalia, Alito, Thomas or Roberts? Scalia seems not to believe in the Bill of Rights, so maybe he gets the prize.