Aug 4, 2009

Dingell town hall on health care may disrupted by rightwing thugs


U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, is holding a health care town hall at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Romulus Athletic Center, 35765 Northline Road in Romulus, and there are plans by right wing thugs, stealthy organized by a rightwing lobbyist group, to disrupt the meeting.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported last night on a plan by the Washington, DC-based, rightwing think tank and lobbying firm Freedom Works, chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader and rightwing Republican Dick Armey, to disrupt town hall meetings as members of Congress return to the district for summer break and meet with constituents. You may remember this group from their organization of the so-called "tea parties" with another rightwing lobbying group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

Maddow reported on a leaked memo from a Freedom Works lobbyist that has a script and instructions on how to shout down the speaker, intimidate anyone objecting and how to disrupt the meeting.

I saw some of that this weekend by a similar group also targeting Dingell at the Monroe County Fair parade. The protest fizzled, but they were attempting to use similar tactics. Dingell is a prime target because he has been a champion for health care in his long public career. At the beginning of every session of Congress since 1955, Congressman Dingell introduced the national health insurance bill, just like his father before him did.

Maddow played videos of Democratic Congressmen getting leading questions, and when they tried to answer them they were shouted down and the mob refused to let them answer. The mob shouted down the lawmaker trying to speak, as well as anyone asking a legitimate question.

Dingell’s town hall meeting is already being advertised on some rightwing blogs here in Michigan, and it’s clear that these mobs are not interested in hearing what he has to say or even to have a civil debate. In fact, they even have a Facebook event page where they brag about disrupting past meetings. The thugs will try to do the same thing in Michigan.

We need to get supporters there or people who are neutral and just want some answers and are willing to act like decent human beings.
The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday Aug. 6 at the Romulus Athletic Center, 35765 Northline Road in Romulus

48 comments:

Mark said...

I will be at the town hall meetings. For the first time in my life and I will be speaking out against this Government run health care program. They want to remover my health care insurance company form between my Dr and me and insert the government. But I know that I can always change insurance company's. Once the government is invloved I cannot get them out of my life, YET. Wait until the next election.


John Dingell
Time: August 6, 2009 from 6pm to 7pm
Location: Romulus Atheletic Center
Street: 35765 Northline Rd
City/Town: Romulus

Sander Levin
Time: August 13, 2009 from 3pm to 7pm
Location: Eastpointe Senior Center
Street: 16600 Stephens Dr.
City/Town: Eastpoint, MI

Time: August 18, 2009 from 3pm to 7pm
Location: Madison High School
Street: 915 E. 11 Mile Rd.
City/Town: Madison Heights, MI

Time: August 20, 2009 from 3pm to 7pm
Location: Cairns Community Center
Street: 58 Orchard St.
City/Town: Mount Clemens, MI

Time: August 24, 2009 from 3pm to 7pm
Location: Oak Park Community Center
Street: 14300 Oak Park Blvd.
City/Town: Oak Park, MI

Communications guru said...

Wow; you have bought into every single talking point and scare tactic put out by the Republicans.

Does the government get between the doctor and the Medicare patient? The answer is no. Does the government get between the doctor and the Tricare patient, for veterans and their families run by the government? The answer is no.

Does the insurance company get between the patients and the doctor? You bet, every single hour of every single day. That $1.4 million the health insurance companies are spending on lobbying every day to protect tier huge profits is working. Money well spent.

But thanks for the dates so we can get our people out so our elected representative can actually get the truth out there without being shouted down by the thugs organized by lobbying firms.

Not Anonymous said...

Profits are a bad thing in the socialist world. They are now getting what they want. In seven months this year since Obama took over, corporate profits are down 57%. Are you socialists happy about that?

The result of profits being down is less tax revenue coming in. The government revenue from taxes is now down more than at any time since 1932. This is what happens when government interferes with business.

More and more businesses are moving to other countries with no plans to come back. This means that jobs are going overseas faster than at any time.

Personal income dropped in June 1.6%.

But you're talking about health care. So we now see that Obama has said that he thinks that private insurance will be eliminated in 10, 15 or 20 years. Barney Frank says this is the first step to eliminating insurance companies.

This means that Mark has it exactly right. Government, the socialists, are attempting to take over health care and will get between doctor and patient. For proof, look at the bill. End of life counseling for the elderly rather than needed treatment. "Suck it up Gertrude. Breast cancer is only on one side. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so maybe you'll get lucky and the tumor will just magically disappear."

Medicaid, medicare, social security are broke. Yet Obama wants to take money from Medicare to pay for the new health care system.

These disruptions are not being organized by any groups. They are real people, veterans, the elderly and the moms and dads showing up and questioning and then calling these elected officials out when they lie. Not one poll shows the American people behind this health care plan. 85% of the people are insured. This complete revamp of the entire system is being done with 15% of the people in mind and 20 million of those 47 million are illegal aliens.

So, in the words of those that were at Doggets town hall, "just say no."

bluzie said...

Mobs that shout and don't let anyone speak, is really not a great public relations move. But go ahead and look like the party of the crazies.

Jim said...

Mark and "Not Anonymous" are idiots.

NA -- You have got to be kidding yourself! Bush wrecked the economy and brought about the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression and somehow you blame Obama for the weak economy???? This only goes to your complete and total stupidity. At least you're a member of the right party. The Republicans are the party of STOOPID and you fit right in.

As for Mark's ridiculous diatribe:
Communications Guru got it right when he stated that you bought into every bogus talking point about health care. Get a brain and read about it for yourself. Maybe you might get past all of the lies and BS that the obstructionist Repubs are putting out there. Even Bill Kristol admitted that the government runs a BETTER health care system than private insurance companies.

People like you two make America dumber. Please feel free to leave and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Communications guru said...

I wouldn’t know if “profits are a bad thing in the socialist world” because I don’t know any socialists. For me, a 155 percent increase in profits over one year is excessive, and an increase of 78 percent in health care premiums for family plans in Michigan since 2000 is also excessive.

It took us eight years for Bush to plunge us this deep in the Bush recession, and it will take us more than a six months to get out of it. More businesses moved offshore under Bush because he made it easy and there were no consequences for doing it.

Obama never said he thinks that private insurance will be eliminated. I wish he did because we don’t need for profit insurers.

There are no socialists in this country, and this is just a fascist Republican talking point. End of life scare tactics put out by the corporate lobbying firms behind the fake Astroturf mob rule at townhall meetings is a complete lie. The bill simply provides for the reimbursement of a voluntary session of end-of-life counseling with your physician once every five years. This in no way means the government will make decisions for patients or encourage doctor-assisted suicide. Counseling simply makes patients and their families aware of their options.

No, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are not broke.

“These disruptions are not being organized by any groups?” You hade really lost it. You need to just look at the links I provided. These are fake and scripted by corporate lobbyists.

“Not one poll shows the American people behind this health care plan?” You need to see my post on the CNN poll today that debunks that myth. Where do you get this crap: “20 million of those 47 million are illegal aliens?”

vonroy said...

Jim - The economy was not wrecked by a single person. It was wrecked by the infusion of huge amounts of fiat currency offered at artificially low interest rates into the economy. Ludwig Von Mises well proved that this results in structural problems in the economy as entrepreneurs are systematically mislead by distortions in the prices of originary interest and capital. Hence, entrepreneurs made unsound investments which do not ultimately line up with producing that which consumers desire. These malinvestments must be liquidated. However, the current administration is perpetuating the errors of the previous on a much grander scale via the federal reserve system and massive government spending - especially deficit spending.

Those here promoting the government health system do not appear to realize the important role that prices serve in a free market economy. Profit is a good thing: When an industry profits, it is a signal to expand investment in a particular industry. If health care is profitable, then more individuals will involve themselves in providing health care services, and competition will reduce prices and profits until the profit margin is consistent with other industries. It is foolish to judge profits as "too much", and impose a form of price control (i.e. via tax policy or nationalization) to reduce profits. This destroy's or distorts the signal which in the end results in fewer individuals undertaking the task of providing the health care services which are desired.

It is further foolish to argue a government health care service is "better" when the costs are not considered and cannot be accounted for. Any organization, other than the government, cannot obtain compulsorily financing of its operations. The economic activity which is destroyed by this expropriation is unseen and forgotten. Further, it strikes me as unjust - a form of theft - to use government to forcibly take from one person in order to give to another.

I respectfully suggest those advocating gov't health care undertake due diligence to inform themselves of the problems of such socialist systems by reading at least Henry Hazlitt's "economics in one lesson" and Ludwig Von Mises "economic calculation in a socialist commonwealth".

P.S. - The one who is unaware of any socialists in this country need only look in the mirror. For your convince the definition of socialism is "any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods". - Which is exactly what this is about.

tkinmi said...

I am NOT a THUG! I am a 58 year old American and for the first time in my life I am DAMN ANGRY and I intend to express my freedom of speech. I am so mad I purchased my own Website just to express my anger www.governmentgonewrong.com. Anyone that does not support the Constitution of the United States I will actively campaign against them in 2010, 2012.

I would like to thank Mark for listing the town hall meetings.

bluzie said...

I just read an article where union members have vowed to engage these mob protesters head on. So it is going to get really interesting now!
We owe so much to our American union members, they make sure our voices can be heard!

bluzie said...

The nation's largest federation of labor organizations has promised to directly engage with boisterous conservative protesters at Democratic town halls during the August recess.

In a memo sent out on Thursday, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney outlined the blueprint for how the union conglomerate would step up recess activities on health care reform and other topics pertinent to the labor community. The document makes clear that Obama allies view the town hall forums as ground zero of the health care debate. It also uses the specter of the infamous 2000 recount "Brooks Brothers" protest to rally its members to the administration's side.

"The principal battleground in the campaign will be town hall meetings and other gatherings with members of Congress in their home districts," reads the memo. "We want your help to organize major union participation to counter the right-wing "Tea-Party Patriots" who will try to disrupt those meetings, as they've been trying to do to meetings for the last month. ...

(Remember the hooligans - many of them Republican Congressional staff - who harassed Florida vote counters in 2000? We can't let that happen again!)."

A showdown between unions and grassroots conservative organizations could make for an August full of fireworks, with even more dysfunctional town hall meetings. The AFL-CIO is planning to target 50 "high priority districts," in addition to organizing telephone town hall gatherings.

But while the union conglomerate seems poised to flex its political muscle on Obama's behalf, it may find some friction on the policy front. Detailed in Sweeney's memo are certain legislative priorities that are clearly at odds with what seems likely to be produced in the Senate Finance Committee's compromise bill.

Sweeney describes it as a "requirement that ALL employers 'pay or play,'" that the final bill have "a robust public health insurance plan to compete with private insurers and drive down health costs," and that the legislation contain "relief for company/union funds providing pre-Medicare retiree coverage, and no taxation of health benefits!"

The AFL-CIO also promises to "Redouble our efforts on Capitol Hill against taxation of benefits OF ANY KIND, for including ALL businesses in the requirement to provide coverage, and for a robust public health insurance plan option."

According to reports on Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee is considering compromise legislation that will contain no public option for insurance and would tax health-care benefits of the most generous plans.

UPDATE: AFL-CIO Secretary TreasurCRETARY TREASURER RICHARD TRUMKA ON CORPORATE
FUNDED 'MOB RULE' AT TOWN HALLS

chrislo said...

Umm...sorry, but we at these protests are not "thugs" or "right wing extremists." We are AMERICAN CITIZENS who will NOT let the federal government dictate what kind or quality of health care we get. The government doesn't give a sh*t about health, anyway. All this is is a blatant money and power grab, and that is IT. When so many citizens go to these protests on their own accord, it should send a message that we better be listened to. I'm going to this "town hall" tonight to make sure Mr. Dingell knows that if he doesn't listen to us, he will live out his remaining days at home, and not in public, elected office. And by the way, I read this piece of garbage bill all the way through, and nobody had to tell me to do it or go to this meeting.

Communications guru said...

You are correct, the economy was not wrecked by a single person; it was wrecked by a single person’s polices: Bush.

I’m not an economist, and neither are you, but right-wingers had no problem when patron saint Ronald Reagan plunged the nation into a massive deficit with huge tax breaks for the wealthy. You also had no problem when he said it was necessary.

The free market for health care is not so free. Premiums for family plans have increased 78 percent in Michigan since 2000. Just last month, health insurance giant United Health Group Inc. reported a second quarter profit of $859 million, a 155 percent increase from the $337 million earned during the same quarter a year ago. I don’t see any other company recording profits like that, and when a family’s income is faced with a cost that has gone up 78 percent in less than 10 years, they don’t have money to buy anything else anyway.
http://www.lansingstatejournal...

Plus, Medical problems caused 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. in 2007, according to a study by Harvard researchers. Even more surprising was that 78 percent of those filers had medical insurance at the start of their illness, including 60.3 percent who had private coverage. Bankruptcies and forecloses had a huge effect on the economy.

No, it’s not “foolish to argue a government health care service is "better.”” First, no one is making that argument. But, Medicaid is the most popular health insurance program in the U.S., based on patient surveys. The VA can buy drugs in bulk and drive the cost down, and no one has that kind of buying power. The U.S. spends about 16 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care, more than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet more than 50 million Americans do not have access to quality health care. There is a problem even though you refuse to acknowledge it.

I don’t consider Social Security to be theft, and no one but you does.

P.S. – I would be “the one who is unaware of any socialists in this country” because it's true. The government does not own health care providers, and doctors are not government employees.

Communications guru said...

If you go and act like the people who were at the townhall meetings highlighted on MSNBC then you are a thug. You can practice your free speech all day outside the meeting, but people came to hear what the Legislator has to say, not you.

Good for you and your web site. There is no one that is not supporting the Constitution.

Communications guru said...

Umm...sorry , bit if you go and act like the people who were at the townhall meetings highlighted on MSNBC then you are a thug. And people are not going to let you dictate what gets heard at the townhall meetings. People came to hear what the Legislator has to say, not you.

I disagree that the government does not give a shit about health care. By the way, this is not a rightwing blog that looks for the smallest excuse to ban people that disagree with them, so you can say shit if you want.

I understand many citizens – hell, all of them - “go to these protests on their own accord,” but it has been documented that well-paid rightwing Republican lobbyists are stirring up people with lies and trying to make it look like a grassroots effort when it is not. They even have scripts to tell you how to disrupt the meeting. Are you denying that? Second, it’s not a protest it’s a townhall to hear what the lawmaker has to say.

You are right when you say it is a “blatant money and power grab.” That’s why health care insurers are spending $1.4 million a day on the lobbyists that are paid very well to stir people like you up, so people like health insurance giant United Health Group Inc. can record a second quarter profit of $859 million, a 155 percent increase from the $337 million earned during the same quarter a year ago.

Well, Congressman Dingell will retire when he feels like it and “live out his remaining days at home,” and not when you say so. You are a minority fringe group, and do not have that kind of power.

Communications guru said...

That is good news, bluzie. Hooray for unions.

Karen said...

I am a typical suburbanite and not a thug, and I do not support Government run health care for several reasons:
1. Observing other countries currently under socialized health care, health care quality will deteriorate. There is not one country on a socialized health care system that has better health care quality than the United States.
2. Loss of freedom. Once Government takes over health care, they can dictate what I eat, if I am ALLOWED to smoke, if I am worth a certain surgery at an older age etc. In the health care bill, there is a MANDATORY "Counseling" session required every 5 years. Mandatory? All of this Government intrusion equals loss of freedom. In the Netherlands, people are encouraged to end their lives so that they are not a burden on the system or their relatives. Also, private insurers will cease to exist because they must make a profit to survive, where the Government does not. They just print more money and deflate the value of the dollar. Therefore, the socialized health care will be the only option after 15 to 20 years of socialized medicine. Obama has publicly stated this opinion.
3. The V.A. is an example of Government run health care. It is terrible. My brother in law was given a death sentence by the V.A. with no chance of them changing their mind to treat his cancer properly. He spent his retirement savings and went to the Mayo Clinic for treatment. They said that he would have died in 2 years if he had been forced to follow the required V.A. “treatment”.
4. Cost of socialized health care in other countries is outrageous for mediocre to poor quality of care. As costs increase, Government decreases services and people suffer and die. For example, people die waiting for heart bypass surgery. This is documented in Canada, Britain etc.
5. Health care in the U.S. can be improved with a few changes. The whole system does not need to be scrapped.
6. If people want Government health care, then make it OPTIONAL for them to get it and leave me out of it.
7. Congress will not use this new great health care system because they want good care. Just like their other benefits. Theirs is much better than that of us “commoners” (Serfs?)

vonroy said...

Would you be so kind as to identify the specific Bush policy that wrecked the economy? I contend it was not Bush alone who is the culprit, but more particularly Alan Greenspan, the fractional reserve banking system, and the deficit spending congress.

Re: "but right-wingers had no problem...". Ronald Reagan's deficit spending was terrible and it should be strongly disapproved of, however, such efforts as he made to level the tax burden by reducing taxes for the wealthy are honorable.

Re: "The free market for health care is not so free." Indeed it is not free - nor should it be free.
For the reasons I mentioned above, which I would like to welcome you to challenge, profits are a good thing.
Furthermore the numbers you quote do not ultimately prove your point. For do not show the whole picture regarding UHG's profit. UHG's profit is not really at all remarkable, for consider its earnings were upon 21 billion in revenue, which is (in rough calculation) tantamount to a four percent return. I'm sure if you take a second look, that you will find a 4% gross profit over revenue is not really very unusual thus, as far as I can see, it invalidates your argument.

Re: ”First, no one is making that argument." -- Would you be so kind as to explain the true meaning of the word bolded "better" in Jim's first post which is the fifth post in this discussion?

Re: "But, Medicaid is the most popular health insurance program in the U.S., based on patient surveys."
Unfortunately, this is meaningless measure of success because patients do not pay for the particular services they receive. The real question is not whether or not people want health care, but whether or not people want health care in consideration of the costs required to provide it. Given that resources in this world are scarce individuals must make choices about how to appropriate them. Of course everyone wants more resources at a low cost, but the question that faces the real world is whether or not people would or would not want alternative uses of the finite resources which are available. Only in a price system where individual are faced with making particular choices - so much of this, or so much of that - can satisfaction be judged.

vonroy said...

Re: "The VA can buy drugs in bulk and drive the cost down, and no one has that kind of buying power."
This is not convincing, for again emphasizes what is seen but neglects what is unseen - the idea of driving down costs by a single buyer in the end drives resources away from those providing drugs. When government drives profit out of a market, then fewer or none enter that market to provide services.

Re: "The U.S. spends about 16 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care, more than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet more than 50 million Americans do not have access to quality health care."
Yes, of course, health care costs have risen - but it is fallacious to believe somehow government intervention or government run health care is a panacea for this problem.

Re: "There is a problem even though you refuse to acknowledge it."
It is quite premature and disingenuous in a discussion to throw out the charge of refusing to acknowledge something until one actually poses a particular question and receives a reply in which there is an omission.

Re: "I don’t consider Social Security to be theft, and no one but you does."
I do, and I am willing to stand alone on this point. As Martin Luther said "Unless I can be instructed and convinced with evidence from the Holy Scriptures or with open, clear, and distinct grounds of reasoning . . . then I cannot and will not recant, because it is neither safe nor wise to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me! Amen."

Re: "The government does not own health care providers, and doctors are not government employees." True, however, it is the case that this government intervention will lead to nationalization of the insurance industry.

Is it your opinion that purpose of a townhall meeting is solely to be lectured by a government official? I was of the opinion that government representatives of citizens were supposed to listen to their constituents and actually represent them - rather than give a lecture them. I think you have the direction backwards here.

Jim said...

Karen said: "Loss of freedom. Once Government takes over health care, they can dictate what I eat, if I am ALLOWED to smoke, if I am worth a certain surgery at an older age etc. In the health care bill, there is a MANDATORY "Counseling" session required every 5 years."

Karen -- you are woefully uninformed when it comes to the health care plan that has been proposed. Do you realize that Medicare is a government-run, single payer system? Are seniors told what to eat, whether to smoke or not, that they are too old for necessary procedures? No, none of that occurs with Medicare and it would not occur with any of the current proposals either. As for mandatory counseling, every five years your doctor would speak to you about having a living will so that YOU could decide your end-of-life issues, not burden someone else with it. Don't want one, no problem so quit whining already. You should spend more time examining the facts and less time with ridiculous scare tactics and BS.

Vonroy -- You are correct that Bush alone did not wreck the economy but he and his policies did the job. Greenspan, Reagan, Phil Gramm and his wife, Congress, et al deserve a fair portion of blame too but it was Bush that allowed 9/11, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, politicizing of the justice dept., financial deregulation, etc. We were in a much stronger position on 1/19/01 than after the debacle that was Bush.

As for Ludwig Von Mises and Austrian economics, it is a steaming pile of discredited (in part) crap. Austrian economics did make some interesting gains but most supporters over play its value. Fractional reserve banking is not the primary cause of our current condition.

I suppose that you would prefer a return to the gold standard?

If so, I suggest you do a simple google search to read many articles that suggest what an awful decision this would be.

vonroy said...

Jim,

Would you be willing to share any particular resources that you believe refute the Austrian position. I am willing to read some of these in so far as my time permits.

Peter

bluzie said...

Karen,
These types of Townhall meetings would be a good idea for you to attend to get the facts. You have your opinions based on lies.
You would have a chance to listen and to ask questions.
If anyone has ever heard John Dingell,he anwers all questions very throughly.
Your concerns are important, but how can anyone get information or ask questions if it is just a mob action?
These THUGS will find they do not get their way at this townhall. They are welcome to ask questions, but not disrupt.

kevins said...

Vonroy...you make good, clear, cogent, logical points. Be prepared, however, because guru has no used for your type. He will call you a rightwing whacko, a racist, a thug, etc.

The argument that Bush or his policies caused the recession is lunacy. It shows a naive understanding of economics and gives Bush, or any president, way more credit or blame than they can possibly deserve. (And I say this as someone who voted for Gore and Kerry...guru will never believe this; because I don't buy into all of his false stories, he assumes I am an "extremist rightwing whacko.")

Much of our economic problem, particularly in Michigan, has to do with the shifting manufacturing base.

On a global scale, our problem had to do, ironically, with the fact that for awhile worldwide financial fortunes reaching record highs. People all around the globe literally had more money than they knew what to do with. They were looking for safe harbors but not excited about small returns from traditional banks or CDs. So clever people started packaging up real estate and mortgage portfolios. The idea was good, but grew too fast and a lot of shady, unsecured financing went into place. It was all fun and games since everyone knew housing prices never went down. But then.....

It's a complex story, but anyone who thinks an American president or a political party caused or could have prevented this is dumber than guru. Or are we saying that Bush also caused the problems in Japan, Russia, England, mainland Europe?

I realize I risk the wrath of guru by daring to bring facts into the argument. After all, this is a pretty sophisticated blog, since guru can say shit even when his mouth is full.

kevins said...

Interesting, bluzie. They apparently are THUGS when they disagree with you, but heroic union Supermen when they agree with you.

I've been at rallies, debates, speeches where union types have been recruited to spice up a crowd. It has been a scary experience.

I am sure you didn't mean it this way, but bluzie you sound as though you are positively giddy at the idea of the union types physically beating down those thugs or to "engage" them "head on."

bluzie said...

I am just writing the headline, you can take from it what you want. You are correct, I do want insurance that John Dingell will be afforded the right to speak at his townhall meeting. I was very happy upon reading the article. I have never liked bullies and this mob action is nothing more than a bunch of bullies, stopping our elected officials from dialogue with their constituents.
I applaud our men and women of the unions to protect our freedom of to partake in townhall meetings without disruption.
Everyone is welcome at townhall meetings but a disruptive mob cannot be tolerated.
John Dingell is a treasured member of congress, he will be heard. And if you know anything about John Dingell he always listens and answers questions.

Communications guru said...

Jim kind of answered this, but I’ll throw my two cents in, too. Thanks Jim.

Just like I have been telling every one who claims not to be a thug, if you go and act like the people who were at the townhall meetings highlighted on MSNBC then you are a thug. Second, this is not “Government run health care.”

1. Your claim that, “health care quality will deteriorate” in every other industrialized country with universal health care is not backed up by the facts. The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. health care system 37th in the world.

2. There is no “loss of freedom.” The government is not “taking over health care” under the public option. Note the word, “option.” Like Jim said, Medicare, rated the best health care plan by users, does not tell seniors what they can eat, smoke or anything else. Now, private insurers routinely tell you what medical procedures you can have. This “MANDATORY "Counseling" session” you are talking about is just about things like living wills that both parties have been pushing for the past 20 years. I have no idea where you got that false crap on the Netherlands. The only thing I can guess is that euthanasia is legal there, just as it is in Oregon and Washington. The public option will not cause “private insurers to cease to exist.” That may be the case under a single payer universal plan, but that’s not on the table. I would have no problem with that occurring though.

3. Well, I spent 20 years in the military, and I have never heard any major complaints about the VA. I do know it’s overworked because many veterans are part of the 50 million Americans who do not have access to health care and it is underfunded.

4. There is absolutely nothing to back up your wild claim “that health care in other countries is outrageous for mediocre to poor quality of care.” We are rated 37th, 37th. No, it’s not “documented in Canada, Britain etc.,” and if that’s the case then do it and document it.

5. More than 50 million Americans do not have access to health care, health care premiums for family plans have increased 78 percent in Michigan since 2000 and insurance giant United Health Group Inc. reported a second quarter profit of $859 million, a 155 percent increase from the $337 million earned during the same quarter a year ago. It will take more than a few changes to fix that broken system.

6. It is optional. That’s why its’ called a public option.

7. I don’t know about Congress. They actually have a government health care plan.

Communications guru said...

No problem, there was no oversight of financial markets, no oversight of the banking industry, tax cuts for the richest 1 percent and a useless war that squandered a budget surplus and created a deficit, to name a few.


Re: "but right-wingers had no problem...". Ronald Reagan's deficit spending is not strongly disapproved of. Are you serious? Reducing “taxes for the wealthy are honorable,” but passing the burden on to the middle class is also honorable?

Re: "The free market for health care is not so free." No one said profits are not a good thing, but profits should not go up 155 percent in one year when premiums are increasing 73 percent. What’s the "whole picture" in a 155 percent profit increase in one year?

Re: ”First, no one is making that argument." – ?.

Re: "But, Medicaid is the most popular health insurance program in the U.S., based on patient surveys." Correct. By the way, Medicare is not free.

vonroy said...

I am puzzled as to why you claim there was no oversight of the financial markets and banking when in fact this is a very heavily regulated industry in the USA.

I did not say "Ronald Reagan's deficit spending is strongly disapproved of", I did say "It should be.." ... so maybe we agree on this point? I would rather greatly reduce or eliminate the tax burden than shift it. But so long as we have it, I do indeed favor removing the graduated tax so that all pay a proportionate amount relative to their income or expenditures. As it is, the rich pay proportionately more which is already unfair thus the proposition at hand is making the tax burden more even (which increases taxes for middle and lower income individuals who are presently paying less than their fair share). This is fair, and efforts to do so are indeed honorable.

I say profits are good, and in this I am not alone. Suppose a large company does 100 billion dollars in business in one year, and the year end financial statement shows a profit of $0.02 - so the company would have basically broken even. Now suppose further, that in the following year the company profited $100.00. Profits would have increased by 500,000 percent. It is surely not fair to have a 500,000% increase in profits - is it? The 155% year on year profit growth figure you so often quote is just as meaningless as the 500,000% year on year profit growth described here. A calculation of return on capitial must take into account the amount of capitial invested and revenue attained. In any case if capitial returns only a very little, as you think is appropriate for health services, its owner may well decided their are better uses of the capitial, he may correctly choose to liquidate the investiment and employ the capitial in other ways that better meet consumers desires.

I take the question mark on the third point in your prior post to mean that I did not express myself well enough. To recap: You said `No, it’s not “foolish to argue a government health care service is "better.”” First, no one is making that argument.' I pointed out that your statement is wrong as shown by the counterexample of Jim who was making such a point when he said 'Even Bill Kristol admitted that the government runs a BETTER health care system than private insurance companies.'

Thank you for agreeing with me that Medicare is not free, and agreeing that it is very popular with patient surveys. However, you have a serious ommission in your failure to respond and grapple with the point of assessing the costs of the program and whether or not consumer has the freedom to judge if the services provided are worth the costs.

Communications guru said...

Re: "The VA can buy drugs in bulk and drive the cost down, and no one has that kind of buying power." Truer words were never spoken. You can’t be serious? You just bitched about not driving down costs, and now you complain that the drug companies are not getting huge profits. First, almost all of the medical research is from taxpayers, yet drug companies get the profits. Second, I always thought companies had no problem selling in bulk because it ensured there was a constant market for their product and it was cheaper to produce a 100 items than just one. Besides, Bush’s gift to the drug companies was the Medicaid drug benefit that is lining their pockets at taxpayer expense because the drugs are being purchased at retail.

Re: "The U.S. spends about 16 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care, more than any other industrialized nation in the world, yet more than 50 million Americans do not have access to quality health care." Correct again. If we are spending that much money, there is no reason everyone should not go without health care.

Re: "There is a problem even though you refuse to acknowledge it." Then answer the question.

Re: "I don’t consider Social Security to be theft, and no one but you does."
That is perhaps the stupidest thing I ever heard. It’s an insurance policy that you pay into all of your working life.

Re: "The government does not own health care providers, and doctors are not government employees." True, and this is not “socialized medicine.” Personally, we don’t need for-profit health insurance providers.

Jim said...

Vonroy -- Here are some links to articles about the shortcomings of Austrian economics. There is much more out there that I have read but I don't have time for an exhaustive listing. Also, I could not find a link for Milton Friedman's criticisms of it so I have provided a link to Wikipedia that provides two references.

http://www.slate.com/id/9593

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austrian_School#cite_note-Friedman1969-63
See #64 & 65

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116355956112023480.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

http://world.std.com/~mhuben/austrian.html

It's not my contention that all of Austrian economics is a waste but much of it appears so. There are some valuable contributions amongst the rubble.

Jim said...

Kevins -- Please feel free to enlighten all of us as to what brought about the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression since we are woefully uninformed......I'm betting that you don't have the first clue as evidenced by you post on the subject.

I'll be waiting........

Jim said...

Vonroy -- you said: "I am puzzled as to why you claim there was no oversight of the financial markets and banking when in fact this is a very heavily regulated industry in the USA." (emphasis mine)

While, on its face, this is somewhat true, IMO it is totally disingenuous to make this claim. Are you familiar with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000?
No? It was Phil Gramm's baby and it was a large piece of the puzzle that was the near collapse of our financial system. Among other things, this Act created the system that allowed CDOs and derivatives to get out of control and remain virtually unregulated.

Further, under Bush, the leverage rule was lifted by the SEC in 2004(?) by my recall. This allowed Lehman Brothers and many others to increase their leverage from what was a limit of 15 to 1 (again, by memory) to no cap at all. Lehman was leverage on the order of 140 to 1 when it collapsed. The head of the SEC at the time quit because Bush and his minions would not allow him to do his job as a regulator. Time had some excellent coverage of this subject if you would care to read it.

There are many other examples of under-regulation and lack of regulation but I only have so much time. Let me know if you would like any articles on the above topics and I can dig some up.

Communications guru said...

Ah, brett throws in his baseless accusations, and as usual has nothing but personal attacks.

Communications guru said...

The only thugs are the people who are trying to disrupt and shut down the meetings, brett. Excuse me if I’m skeptical of your claim that “I've been at rallies, debates, speeches where union types have been recruited to spice up a crowd. It has been a scary experience.” If you want to see something scary, go to a townhall put on by a Democrat. The goal is to ensure people who support health care reform and those who really want answers stay away.

I can’t speak for Bluzie, but I’m happy the union members are there with the recent rightwing examples of violence, such as the murderer of Dr. Tiller, the guy who shot up a Unitarian church because he hated liberals and gays and white supremacist who just shot up the Holocaust Museum. It’s reassuring they will be there to slow down the attempt at intimidation and possible violence.

Communications guru said...

Like I said before, neither one of us are economists, but things like Wall Street bundling sub prime mortgages as investments is one example.

“Eliminate the tax burden?” How is that possible? The fact is the top marginal tax rate was higher under Reagan than Obama.

I also say profits are good, and in this I am not alone. To try and downplay UnitedHealth Group’s $859 million profit for a quarter, a 133 percent increase, is ridiculous, especially when you consider how many customers they lost with 140,000 people a day losing their health care. In fact, profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007.

It’s pretty clear people are happy with the services provided by Medicare and they are worth the costs. Give consumers a choice, and that’s why I support health care reform.

vonroy said...

Communications Guru --
Re: "You can’t be serious?"
I am. I have no complaints about health companies having huge profits - they do not. Nevertheless, you correctly perceive that I would not complain even if they did.

Medical research should not be funded by taxpayers in the first place. If it were not, the alleged problem of drug companies profiting from taxpayer research would vanish. The alleged problem here is yet another example of a pretext for the inexorable expansion of government interventions. Expansion happens with all government activities and this health care program will be no different. The left's endeavors to defend the bill based on what it does not do is short sighted - the egregious record of government expanding operations is something which is a very legitimate concern.

Re: "I always thought companies had no problem selling in bulk..."
Why do you say that selling in bulk would ensure a constant market? It is not cheaper to produce 100 items than 1 item, rather the overall cost is greater - although indeed the cost per item is less. Manufacturing costs are reduced by mass production, and this is often a significant component of cost reduction. However, it stretches my credulity beyond the breaking point to believe that this per unit price reduction is sufficient to offer any substantial benefit.

Medicaid should be abolished too.

Re: "If we are spending that much money, there is no reason everyone should not go without health care."
I disagree, there are very good reasons for some going without - for your statement entirely disregards the cornerstone of a free market which is private property rights. Those who own the health care resources can and should have sole and unalienable discretion about how the resources that they own are used. Health care is an individual benefit and should be appropriated according to voluntary agreement between those providing and those purchasing the services.

Re: "Then answer the question" - I'm sorry, but I'm not sure where to find this question in your prior messages, would you be so kind as to requote it for me?

Social security is nothing but a ponzi scheme on a grand scale, those who enter first benefit at the direct expense of those who enter later. There is no option for individuals to opt out of the program, and hence I as a person entering later on am being expropriated by those who are receiving the benefits I am now involuntarily paying for.

Why do you single out for-profit health insurance providers as bad? Given your latter post you seem to think it is appropriate for other industries to operate on a for profit basis. Do you not realize government intervention which eliminate profit in health care will drive resources away from health care to more endeavors that are more profitable? You are still not citing statistics in a meaningful way to support your contentions regarding UHG. First: the 133% (or was it 155%?) value is meaningless because investors ultimately do not really care at all how many percent a profit changed by - they care about the magnitude of the profit in and of itself relative to the cost of capital. Second: Lost customers doesn't necessarily mean anything one way or the other as lost customers is as much lost revenue as lost expense. Third: Stock market prices are speculative in nature and fluctuate widely due to many effects - these do not well correlate to what you need to measure to establish your point.

Re: "Eliminate the tax burden". I erred here - I favor eliminating the income tax.

vonroy said...

Jim - thanks for your reply, I'll try to read up on the links you sent tomorrow.

Jim said...

Vonroy -- I have to say that I disagree completely with just about everything in your last post.

"Medical research should not be funded by taxpayers in the first place. If it were not, the alleged problem of drug companies profiting from taxpayer research would vanish."

Totally incorrect. 70-80% of new drug discoveries are made with public funds -- NIH, university research, etc. Were it not for this, we would be as conservatives contend, screwed. The private sector is amazingly bad at discovering new drugs; this is why Pfizer buys every company that has a decent pipeline -- because they suck at it. Drug discoveries are in the public interest and should be publicly funded. A better solution would be a modified patent agreement so that big pharma can make their money back with a profit but not hold the public hostage by preventing competition with generics.

"Medicaid should be abolished too."
This is completely unethical. Medicaid performs a valuable service by providing medical coverage/assistance to the poorest members of our society. That's what it means to be part of a society -- we pay taxes for things that benefit the whole of it, not just ourselves directly.
Let us not forget Mahatma Ghandi who said, "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members."

"Social security is nothing but a ponzi scheme on a grand scale..."

Perhaps you have not studied what life was like for seniors before Social Security......you should. While I agree that some rule changes should be made in Social Security, in no way could I agree to abolish it.

Why do you single out for-profit health insurance providers as bad"

Simple. For-profit health insurers should be limited to selling small policies that add some additional benefits to a standardized, single payer health care system as is done in many other countries.

Health care is a right in any modern, first-world country and it should not be a wholly for-profit enterprise. The private markets are good at some things but providing health care is not one of them. They are akin to a bookie collecting the vig on every bet placed and they are exceeding wasteful -- i.e. denial of care or insurance, mountains of paperwork and wasting 30-50% of every premium dollar received on something other than providing health care. Medicare is an order of magnitude more efficient.

"I favor eliminating the income tax."

Okay Ron Paul, what do you suggest for a tax base? I'll be interested in hearing your answer.

While your considering that, you might do well to remember this quote by Warren Buffet:

"Let's say that it was 24 hours before you were born, and a genie appeared and said, 'What I'm going to do is let you set the rules of the society into which you will be born. You can set the economic rules and the social rules, and whatever rules you set will apply during your lifetime and your children's lifetimes.' And you'll say, 'Well, that's nice, but what's the catch?' And the genie says, 'Here's the catch. You don't know if you're going to be born rich or poor, white or black, male or female, able-bodied or infirm, intelligent or retarded."

vonroy said...

Jim -

Thanks again for sharing the links:

1. I read the slate article by Krugman, and also a rebuttal by Gordon Brown [http://blog.mises.org/archives/010379.asp]. There are a couple critiques by Krugman that I will be looking further into, however, by and large Krugman misquotes the Austrian theory by entirely ignoring the key concepts of cantillon effects and originary interest.


2. I passed over the Friedman links, as I couldn't find a full text version without paying a sum of money which I'd rather not spend.

3. I'm not sure why you included the WSJ article in the list for this article exonerates Hayek (Austrian) with respect to Sachs (Keynesian) critiques.

4. I read over the first link to John Quiggin's article. He seems to have a better understanding the Austrian view than Krugman, yet in my opinion his objections unsustainable and well refuted in this rebuttal: http://mises.org/story/3466

Re: Medical research: Indeed drug discoveries are in the public interest, but it should not be publicly funded. Realize that the consumers demand for drugs is not independent of the costs needed to discover and provide these drugs. A publicly funded research system is always an involuntarily funded system. The private sector alone can match investment according to consumer demand because it has price information based on voluntary payment which the government programs do not. The 'better solution' offered suffers from the problem of having your cake and eating it too. The idea that big pharma is going to earn money on sales of products while the public is actually buying cheaper generic drugs seems to me to be a contradiction.

Re: Medicaid: I do not think it charitable or generous when one offers up other people's money to pay for benefits they would like to give to someone in need. Charity is to be done with one's own money voluntarily, taxation as such is simply a form of theft.

So are you saying that the working principle is that any good or service which is deemed a "right" should be non-profit? I disagree that health care is a right, and I'm not sure how you have come to the conclusion that it is. We probably do not have any common ground at all in a method to establish what rights exists and where they ultimately come from. Would you be so kind as to cite a source for your comparison between medicare and the alleged inefficiency of private markets?

Regarding the income tax, I suggest elimination of all non-constitutional functions of the federal government: i.e., the department of agriculture, department of education and all education expenditures, economic stimulus, social security, medicaid, medicare, and all health expenditures, all welfare expenditures, research and development of all sorts, grants, subsidies, IRS, FDA, FED, NASA, etc,. etc,. the constitutional functions that remains can be funded on tariffs and the sell off of government property to cover phase out costs (i.e. extant government pensions).

kevins said...

Vonroy and Jim,

You two often completely disagree and you take issue with each other's core beliefs. Yet you are having a civil, educated debate.

No allegations of Nazism, liars, whackos, thugs. Instead, a call for reason and education.

Congrats.

vonroy said...

Jim - The first several paragraphs of section #2 of this article gives a reasonably good treatment of "the right to health care" (http://mises.org/story/3613). In my opinion it fails in its omission of recognizing that rights come from God, who is the creator of all men. If you are willing to discuss rights any further I would suggest using this we could use this as a staring point. Otherwise, I will conclude by saying that it was a pleasure to discuss the previous with you. Best Regards. vonroy.

Communications guru said...

Re: "You can’t be serious?"
Health companies - specifically helath insurance companies - are making huge profits at the detriment of people’s health and the economy.

If medical research was not funded by the government we simply wouldn’t have the advances we have. It’s not an “alleged problem of drug companies profiting from taxpayer research.”

Re: "I always thought companies had no problem selling in bulk..."
It simply is cheaper to produce 100 items than 1 item, and your proposal to eliminate Medicaid is ridiculous.

Re: "If we are spending that much money, there is no reason everyone should not go without health care."
I stand by that statement, and health care should be a right.

Social Security is a part of the social safety net, and it is also an insurance program. That is correct, those who enter first benefit at the direct expense of those who enter later, and that’s the way it should be. You can opt out if you want, but somehow I don’t see that happening.

Why do I single out for-profit health insurance providers as bad? Simple; for the very false talking point you, or opponents of health care reform, are pushing about a public option; they get between the doctor and the patient, for one. No, “I don’t “realize government intervention which eliminate profit in health care will drive resources away from health care to more endeavors that are more profitable” because that’s not true.

“They care about the magnitude of the profit in and of itself relative to the cost of capital?” I’m not sure what that means, but they more than doubled their profit in just a year. I don’t know what else to say about that.

Re: "Eliminate the tax burden". You erred again.

Communications guru said...

And no allegations of child molesting, liars, thugs and socialists. Instead, a call for reason and education.

kevins said...

I'll quit alleging your lies when you quit telling them...or admit to your past ones.

Again, as you know, I've never made an allegation that you are a child molester. Never. You keep bringing it up, which is kind of strange, but you know I've never made that allegation. I don't know why you keep pulling it out to play with it.

Communications guru said...

Sorry, brett, I have never lied. When a mistake has been brought to my attention, I have corrected it. And yes, you made the disgusting false charge numerous times like the anonymous coward you really are.

vonroy said...

Communications Guru -

I've started to draft a reply to your prior post, but I probably won't be able to complete it until near the end of the week due to an urgent home repair that has come up, which I'll need to work on for a few evenings.

You've made the assertion that a right to health care exists, and in the meantime I was hoping you would be willing to share some more information about the nature of the right that you believe exists. Some of the questions that I have for you are:

1. By whose authority is the right granted?, and how do you know it actually exists? (Here you may wish to cite Natural Law, the Law of Nature, Religion, or Government Decree)

2. Is this right universal? Does it apply to all men who live in all places? Does it apply to all men who have lived at all times in the past?

3. Does the right exist for the case where only one or a few individuals live in isolation from all others (think Robinson Crusoe)?

4. Does the right include some or all medical services? By what test or principle does one know which particular services as individual has a right too?

5. Do individuals always have a right to an unlimited quantity of medical services which qualify?

6. How does one know who is obliged to provide the services? Does an illegal alien have a right to claim support in the USA? Is it base on the jurisdiction of a government authority? - for example does a legal resident who has never contributed to the costs (i.e. immigrant, or impoverish) have a right to demand services? Does a resident of one state have an obligation to provide for the right to medical care of one in another state?

Communications guru said...

That is correct, right to health care exists. You don’t believe that? So, you believe only the rich should have access to health care?

1. The Declaration of Independence where it says, “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” And the preamble to the U.S. Constitution where it says “…promote the general welfare.”

2. I live in the U.S.

Irrelevant.

Illegal aliens are not covered in these bills. However, I’m CPR qualified, and I wouldn’t ask fore somebody’s’ green cars before I offered aid.

vonroy said...

If you had quoted the entire sentence from the declaration, it would show that the founding fathers believed that there are certain unalienable rights that "all men" have due to the fact that such rights were given to them by God - "their Creator". The founding fathers are explicit that they were not inventing or creating these rights by authoring this document, but rather they were discerning and recognizing those rights that God himself gave to all men.

Your reply leaves me wondering if you believe illegal aliens do not have a right to health care. If so, it seems to me to stand in direct contradiction to the "unalienable" adjective in the declaration of independence. Do illegal aliens have a right to health care? Do you think the rights of illegal aliens are being violated by their exclusion from the bill?

These are not irrelevant questions, because the extent of this alleged right is in direct proportion to the cost that will be shouldered by those who will be required by law to provide services to those who demand their "rights" to be satisfied.

Communications guru said...

It makes no difference if I quote the entire sentence from the Declaration or not; health care is a right.

What I believe is what I said; life-saving care, but they are not covered under this proposal.