Category Archives: Socialism

A Sicko Liberal Media

CNN does their fact checking on Sicko. It precisely illustrates why the stupid liberal media is both stupid and liberal.

Like Moore, we also found that more money does not equal better care. Both the French and Canadian systems rank in the Top 10 of the world’s best health-care systems, according to the World Health Organization. The United States comes in at No. 37. The rankings are based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction and how the care’s paid for.

Read those last words. “How the care is paid for”, i.e., the US system is ranked low partly because it’s not socialized. And as I’ve noted many times, “general health of the population” contains no corrections of America’s high rates of obesity, violence, car crashes and drug abuse. And by the way, those things are high because Americans are making stupid choices, not because their healthcare system has failed them.

So, if Americans are paying so much and they’re not getting as good or as much care, where is all the money going? “Overhead for most private health insurance plans range between 10 percent to 30 percent,” says Deloitte health-care analyst Paul Keckley. Overhead includes profit and administrative costs.

“Compare that to Medicare, which only has an overhead rate of 1 percent. Medicare is an extremely efficient health-care delivery system,” says Mark Meaney, a health-care ethicist for the National Institute for Patient Rights.

This is quoted a lot. And it is utter total BS. It is absolute mendacious deception. Yes, Medicare only spends 1% of its budget on it’s administration. The only problem here is that Medicare doesn’t administer Medicare. Medicare is administered by private insurance companies, which spend enormous amounts of money on paperwork and Administration. 1% is what Medicare spends administering the administration.

When I worked in medicine we were constantly in paperwork wars with Medicare. The appeals system was backed up for years. Talking to the Aetna people led me to believe that their administrative overhead was far greater for Medicare than non-Medicare (30-40% was the figure they would give me). This is somewhat exaggerated because Medicare pays very little — they haven’t significantly raised their fees in about 25 years. So the ratio of administration to pay-outs is a bit inflated. But they also provide more care.

Still. 1%? What kind of lazy media take that figure for gospel? Jumping Jesus, does anyone out there think anymore?

Moore focuses on the private insurance companies and makes no mention of the U.S. government-funded health-care systems such as Medicare, Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Veterans Affairs health-care systems. About 50 percent of all health-care dollars spent in the United States flows through these government systems.

Hmm. Do you think there’s a reason he doesn’t talk about them? Like the rat-infested VAArmy hospitals? Or the crummy payments made by Medicare and Medicaid that cause us to cost-shift to people with private insurance?

That’s no surprise given the number of U.S. specialists. In U.S. medical schools, students training to become primary-care physicians have dwindled to 10 percent. The overwhelming majority choose far more profitable specialties in the medical field. In other countries, more than one out of three aspiring doctors chooses primary care in part because there’s less of an income gap with specialists. In those nations, becoming a specialist means making 30 percent more than a primary-care physician. In the United States, the gap is around 300 percent, according to Keckley.

And yet almost every healthcare reform plan — and the current structure of Medicare and Medicaid — is designed to screw the family doctor even more.

There’s a reason specialists in this country make so much: their services are not being rationed.

I hate it when the media talk about healhcare. They are so pig-ignorant of how the business works, they just make the situation worse. I’ll never forget the NBC/ABC/CBS special with Koppel/Brokaw/Rather (I can’t remember which, I was so angry) in which they said a doctor was charging his patient $150 a day for poking his head in her hospital room for five minutes. Ignored in this finger-wagging maneuver:

  • The doctor would have been in the nurse’s station reviewing the chart, giving orders, talking to nurses and doctors and deciding her course for about 15-30 minutes.
  • Medicare probably paid about $75 for the visit, if they paid at all, no matter what the doctor charged. A lot of doctors charge their full price so they can keep track of just how badly Medicare is screwing them.
  • If anything bad had happened to the patient, the nurses would have called the doctor at home at 3 am to get orders. And most of the time, he’d give the right ones. For no extra charge. Try calling your auto mechanic at 3 am about your transmission.
  • Listen, media. Do you think you could do some fucking research? I don’t mean going to various liberal think-tanks so they can tell you Medicare only spends 1% of its money on administration — a claim so ludicrous, you’d think even our flunky media would see through it. Why don’t you send a reporter to work in a hospital or a doctor’s office, to fight with insurance companies and to watch the malpractice lawsuits stream in. Then you might do some actual reporting.

    Oh, that liberal media!

    The Answer

    This is fairly typical of those who would defend or at least seriously contemplate socialized medicine:

    I have little direct experience of government work, but both my parents have worked in state and local government (in a state energy office and a city welfare program) and I saw them working hard, being frugal in their work, making a lot happen with a little, accounting for every expense.

    No one has ever said . . . OK, no one who’s reasonable has ever said that government employees are evil. My experience has been that ineffecient, nasty and wasteful government employees are rare.

    No, the problem is fundamental. We have an education system full of nice, dedicated, hard-working people that is a disaster. A post-office filled with decent people that is incredibly expensive. And a military filled with good people that wastes billions.

    Hell, even most Congressmen aren’t bad people. But we’ve got $70 trillion in unfunded liabilities to show that it’s a bad idea to give them too much money and power.

    Everyone who encountered a socialized medical system will tell you that the people within are nice. People tend to be when they’re spending other’s money. I’m sure many of the people who ran the Soviet farm program that starved millions to death were just trying to do their best. And I don’t know a public school teacher who doesn’t work her butt off.

    No, the problem is not bad people. The problem is that collectivism doesn’t work and never has and never will. We hear excuse-makers using this all the time — the idea that good people will make the system work. And it fails to happen every single time.

    My own brief experience in consulting was, by contrast, one of huge amounts of waste: high-priced plane tickets bought at the last minute for no reason other than laziness, luxury hotel rooms, excessive quantities of staff, lavishly paid for by giant corporations and all to give them messages they wouldn’t act on, but needed to have hired in to check a box or cover their asses.

    Don’t get me started on consulting. But in many ways, this is precisely the point. One of the biggest problems with health care today is that the consumer is too far removed from the process. Most people have no idea how much their insurance is shelling out. Most people have no idea how much their insurance costs. So decisions on cost are made on the corporate level, not the consumer level.

    The solution to this is not to get the consumer further removed from the process.

    HMOs — and remember that Hillary in 1993 wanted all of us to be in HMOs — are the worst of all possible worlds. The consumer has no power at all. The business makes all the decisions. And people are forced by their employer to stick with their HMO, no matter how crappy they are. And so the HMO employees get, to quote this reader, luxury hotel rooms and first class tickets, while some poor shmuck with cancer suffers.

    All this suggests to me that much of the difference between efficiency and inefficiency, or smart and dumb decisions, in any given sector is cultural, dependent on local group and individual choices, on access and accountability, rather than a necessary structural effect of the profit status of the enterprise.

    So the solution is to impose a uniform culture on everyone? We’ve seen what happens when you do that to education (thank you, NCLB). Or farming. Or culture war issues.

    With socialized medicine, we will get the worst of all possible worlds. Inefficiency? Medicare wanted us to discharge patients after a breast biopsy and bring them back weeks later for mastectomy, rather than doing both at the same time. Dumb decisions? I will never forget Medicare telling us that removing a bowel obstruction wasn’t medically necessary.

    No one is going to claim that a privatized consumer-oriented healthcare system is going to be perfect. But we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You think healthcare is expensive and inefficient now? You just wait until it’s free.

    Wednesday Linkorama

  • National Review on “universal health care”.

    The health-care debate has centered on the uninsured. That so many people do not have health insurance is a consequence of foolish government policies: regulations that raise the price of insurance, and a tax code that ensures that most people get their insurance through their employer. If you don’t work for a company that provides health insurance, you’re out of luck. People locked out of the insurance system still have access to health care. But they often end up in emergency rooms because they did not receive preventive care.

    In several states in this country, it is against the law to buy health insurance that doesn’t have aromatherapy coverage.

  • The Justice Department is prosecuting accountants who find legal loopholes to save their clients money. Tell me again how Bush is a conservative?
  • The immense wave of regulation from Washington has only gotten stronger under Bush. Tell me again how Bush is a conservative?
  • Americans are the most charitable people on the planet.

    Gaudiani said Americans give twice as much as the next most charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the U.S. ranked first at 1.7%. No. 2 Britain gave 0.73%, while France, with a 0.14% rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany.

    Throw this in some euro-weenie’s face next time he talks about how greedy and uncaring Americans are.

  • Bam!

    John Stossel tears David Brooks a new one:

    Now David Brooks is a bright guy, so I wonder how he can blame the free market for failing in this way. He continues, “Despite all the incentives, 30 percent of kids drop out of high school and the college graduation rate has been flat for a generation.”

    Excuse me, but why is that the market’s fault? Government dominates education in America. K-12 education is a coercive, often rigidly unionized government virtual monopoly that fights every attempt to experiment with free-market competition.

    Read it.


    Why would I never join a union?

    Shit like this.

    Amicus, Britain’s second-largest trade union, boasting 1.3 million members, has voted to throw its support behind the increasingly authoritarian government of Hugo Chavez, proclaiming that “International solidarity with the people of Venezuela is vital if the revolution is to survive.”

    Christ on a Crutch, what is wrong with these people?


    Sullivan has some great comments.

    Like Sullivan, I’m pessimistic about our future in health care. I feel that we are likely to get some form of socialized medicine. And it will only be after it’s too late to go back that Americans will realize what they’ve lost. The sob stories in Michael Moore’s movies will change from people being denied healthcare by HMOs to *everyone* being denied healthcare by a faceless government agency. Experimental procedures won’t bankrupt you, they just won’t exist.

    But my biggest point is on the innovation-killing aspects of “universal health care”. In many ways, the movement to socialize medicine is another of the “fuck the future” policies that are driving me crazy. Budget deficits, open-ended foreign wars, unfunded liabilities. It’s apparently not enought to rob the unborn of all their money. Now, in an effort to get cheap healthcare today, we are going to stifle innovation and invention. At least when our grandchildren are dying of drug-resistant typhoid, we can be grateful that we got numerous erections and lowered cholesterol.

    There is no cost in the world greater than opportunity cost. People in socialized medicine systems see the great state apparatus — they do not see the privatized system that could be in its place. People in this country see the great Medicare. They do not see the system of private insurance which would be infinitely superior.

    The biggest cost of socialized medicine and price-controlled drugs will be the innovations we *won’t* get, the things that *won’t* be there for our children and grandchildren. Cures to cancer and Alzheimer’s; perfect asepsis; technology to slow or even stop aging; surgeries that are less invasive and painful.

    If we stick with the system we have now — perhaps with reforms to get the consumer closer to the spending, rather than futher away — our grandchildren will look back on our present healthcare the way we look at leeches and hacksaws from the 19th century. But socialism will gobble that bright future up. It will stagnate innovation and progress.

    Is our healthcare so good right now that we’re ready to stick a fork in it?

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the biggest reality on healthcare is how spoiled rotten the American people are. I heard the repugnant Richard Roeper reviewing “Sicko” the other night and he pronounced our healthcare system “a disaster”. Try telling that to people like Sullivan, who are alive because of expensive innovation — or my wife who is controlling her MS with expensive meds.

    We spend more money on our cars than we do on our bodies. A history and physical is less than a year’s maintenance on a typical car. You will pay less out-of-pocket for life-saving surgery than you will for a high-end automobile. But it’s still too much for most people.

    Whenever people complain about the cost of healthcare (and our insurance just laid out ten grand to bring our daughter into this world), I’m forced to ask:

    How much is your life worth?

    Thursday Linkorama

    An analysis of just how much seniors are going to rip us off with Medicare and Social Security. Nice to know that the debate in Washington is over who can make this situation worse.

    Center for New American Security has, what seems to me, a reasonable plan for getting out of Iraq. Money quote:

    Some may suggest the United States should withdraw only when victory is achieved but “there will no American victory in Iraq in the terms defined by the Bush administration,” the report concluded.

    I discovered this because Neal Boortz endorsed it. I think this is what the Right is looking for right now. A way to get out while still declaring victory. This report suggests phased withdrawal, timetables, etc. — everything the Right has railed against for years.

    Sand may be a greater menace than sharks. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

    Scott Adams gets to the heart of environmental hypocrisy and panic-mongering.

    Virginia school has a zero tolerance policy . . . on touching. Ugh.

    Nanny State Empowerment

    The latest from Oceania Britain, is a campaign against drinking.

    Britain still subscribes to a system where health care is for the most part socialized. When the bureaucrat-priesthood of the National Health Service decides that a certain behavior is unacceptable, the consequences potentially involve more than scolding. For example, in 2005, Britain’s health service started refusing certain surgeries for fat people. An official behind the decision conceded that one of the considerations was cost. Fat people would benefit from the surgery less, and so they deserved it less. As Tony Harrison, a British health-care expert, explained to the Toronto Sun at the time, “Rationing is a reality when funding is limited.”

    But it’s impossible to distinguish such cost-cutting judgments from moral ones. The reasoning is obvious: Fat people, smokers and — soon — drinkers deserve less health care because they bring their problems on themselves. In short, they deserve it. This is a perfectly logical perspective, and if I were in charge of everybody’s health care, I would probably resort to similar logic.

    But I’m not in charge of everybody’s health care. Nor should anyone else be. In a free-market system, bad behavior will still have high costs personally and financially, but those costs are more likely to borne by you and you alone. The more you socialize the costs of personal liberty, the more license you give others to regulate it.

    Do you really want Barrack Obama or Mitt Romney bossing you around about your health?

    Friday Linkorama

    Sue and I are watching Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! series during feeding breaks. Tonight we watched the show focusing on Norman Borlaug. Read Easterbrook’s outstanding profile and get angry at the enviro-assholes trying to keep Africa in starvation.

    That’s real racism.

    Why is it that being a commie is still fashionable while being a Nazi isn’t?

    The Bushies boasts about bigger welfare rolls. Only this Administration would crow about increasing poverty.

    You have got to be fucking kidding me.


    What does a baby-driven sleep-deprived blogger do? He links!

    Reason has more on the students punished for excessive celebration. It makes some good points, but I am still sympathetic to the students. Stopping “Students crossing the stage were dancing and flashing hand signs; friends in the audience were jumping up, whooping and raising a racket with air horns.” does not mean you stop all cheering.

    Cato fisks Romney on health care. I swear. This election is looking like a choice between the little socialists and the big socialists.

    I suspect the rise in violent crime has little to do with Bush. Social factors are critical here – especially the rise of Meth. Yeah, the libs will go on about poverty and race and Katrina or something. But our economy is healthy. No, I don’t think this is Bush’s fault.

    But you KNOW that if violent crime had gone up under Clinton, the Right would have blamed him in a heartbeat.

    This is why things like TABOR, which set strict spending limits and refund tax excess to the taxpayers, are critical.

    The typical Fairfax homeowner is paying $4830 a year in property taxes. The FCTA points out that “if during the past seven years the Supervisors had held real estate tax increases to the rate of inflation, which averaged three percent per year, the typical homeowner would be paying $3,079.” … The supervisors–in Fairfax County and everywhere else–respond, “Would you have us close fire stations or fire teachers or throw widows out in the snow?” Somehow they never discuss, as another item in the FCTA newsletter does, the fact that salaries and benefits have increased far more than population growth or any other measure over the past seven years.

    If you give government money, it will spend it. Part of the reason for our massive federal deficits now is because Congress responded to the budget surplus with an orgy of spending rather than a tax cut. And when revenues dropped to normal growth, deficits returns — as every Libertarian predicted.

    Even thought I somewhat support the death penalty, I have to disagree with SCOTUS on death penalty juries. Jurors judge the case and the law and a prosecutor’s fucking job is to persuade them that the defendent deserved to be killed. Banning jurors who even question the death penalty is rigging the deck and very likely to produce “hang ’em high” juries that have very high false conviction rates.

    Michael Moore. As pig ignorant as ever.

    Another sex crime outrage.

    This is fricking hilarious.

    On Your Own

    Conservatives are piling on Hillary’s comment that Bush wants an “on your own” society while she wants a “we’re in in together” society.

    There are three pieces of specific bullshit I’d like to address that everyone seems to be missing.

  • To call the current Administration an “on your own” society is horse manure. They didn’t leave Terry Schiavo on her own. They don’t want to leave three-week old feti on their own. They have jacked social spending through the roof, created the biggest expansion of socialized medicine in forty years and created or supported faith-based initiatives, bans on gay marriage, federal control of education, federal marriage counseling, etc. etc. The problem with this Administarion is that they won’t ever leave us “on our own”.
  • Second, we can not “be in it together” under government any more than Mr. Clinton could “feel our pain”. Suffering, tragedy, loss, struggle, desperation, adversity are things we will all face, no matter how much the Hillarys of the world try to coddle us. And no matter how sanctimonious Mrs. Clinton gets, that suffering can not be shared. How can she share my suffering . . . she doesn’t even know me! And given government’s record on these affairs, government can’t even ameliorate pain and suffering, let alone prevent, cure or share it. Only in the extreme circumstances of the Four Horsemen — things like natural disaster, drought, war, crime wave, etc. — can the blunt instrument of government help (when it’s not sending truckloads of water away from starving people).
  • Most importantly, the one thing everyone is missing on Hillary’s “on your own” nonsense is the insulting tacit implication that only government can help people. The United States is, in terms of private donation, easily the most charitable nation on Earth. But in HillaryWorld, there is no such thing as private charity; no such thing as private organizations like the Red Cross or Salvation Army; no churches or community centers; and vanished are the millions of Americans who donate billions of dollars and billions of hours to helping their fellows. (Granted, many liberals thinks this because they themselves give so little of their time and money to charity). No, in HillaryWorld, if government isn’t there to catch you when you fall, you’re “on your own”.
  • This contrast between “on your own” and “we’re in it together” has provoked a response from conservatives — real conservatives — because it exemplifies everything that’s wrong with liberal thinking. It is condescending, arrogant, presumptuous and ignorant.

    The only surprising thing is that it wasn’t President Bush that said it.


    Cato takes apart the latest stupidity on oil, the idea of passing an anti-trust law against OPEC.

    econd, what exactly gives the Congress the right to impose its economic regulations on state-owned companies that, for the most part, aren’t doing business in the United States? Do all national governments have this right, or only the United States? If the former, what’s to prevent Saudi Arabia from declaring it illegal for U.S. banks to charge interest on loans — an activity ostensibly banned in many Islamic countries? If the latter, then it’s a naked statement that U.S. policy is premised upon the idea that the biggest guy on the playground makes the rules for everyone else whether they like it or not. That is, might makes right.

    There is no limit to Congress’ arrogance. Or stupidity.

    You Can’t Resist

    A post that pits breasts against government now can you?

    You have to love this. The government is paying lots of money to make poor children less healthy. Wonderful.

    I love this not just because it involves breasts but because it illustrates to me the fundamental problem of government. We have here a program that is well-intentioned. How can you argue with a program that feeds poor infants, shielding them from the bad life choices of their parents? It is well-funded, well-supported and popular.

    And it’s harming the very people it intends to help. The kids lose because they drink formula instead of breast milk. The taxpayers lose because they are forking over money for this nonsense. Mothers who are unable or unwilling to breastfeed lose because the formula is more expensive. The winners are the government employees, the formula makers and the politicians.