The Piercing Truth

This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes

Aug 19, 2009

Couldn't Have Said It Better...

Every now and again we get a post in the comments section that really sums up what we believe most (certainly not all) people are feeling. The following post is one such comment that was and is attached to our Town Hall Hoax post and is a response to the first comment in the thread. We think the anonymous commenter's sentiments stand alone and we're not sure that we could have said it any better.
It's one thing to vote for "change you can believe in". It's another thing to try to change what we believe.

This country does not believe in socialism. Never has. Never will. It's one of the many things that makes us a great nation.

The Obama some of us voted for is not the Obama we now have in office. If he did what he said he would do during the campaign (fiscal restraint, govern from the middle, open and transparent government, etc.) his poll numbers wouldn't be in free fall.

Try turning us into a bunch of welfare state, government dependents and you'll find (as you already are) that the MAJORITY of us still have backbones, clear heads and an unyielding desire to be free citizens.

We also vote, pay our taxes (unlike half the Obama Administration) and go to Town Halls since dissent, as it was during the 2008 elections, is so gosh-darned patriotic.

We have no interest in being told by the best and the brightest (who usually are neither) how to live our lives.

We have [no] interest in supporting jokers like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who "worry" about people having government doled out health care while they buy Gulfstream Vs so they can travel like rock stars.

We have no interest in people like you who are realizing that you elected a very erudite dumbass who is now in the process of doing to your party and the U.S. what Jimmy Carter did and, in desperation, resort to BS rhetoric about gun-toting crazies.

Let's see what you have to say after the 2010 elections. I suspect those gun-toting crazies will also be "racists". Because you can't discuss [disagreement] with Obama without being one of those either, can you?


Michael H Schneider said...

It's hard to know where to start my reply, so I'll just start at the top:

This country does not believe in socialism. Never has. Never will. It's one of the many things that makes us a great nation.

I believe that when the people of this nation work together, through our democratically elected government, we can solve problems that would defeat us if we worked individually. I don't know if that's what you're calling socialism. It's what I call civilization.

Americans do believe in socialism - or, at least - in working together through government to improve all our lives.

We have socialized law enforcement.
We have socialized courts and prisons.
We have socialized highways.
We have socialized national defense.
We have socialized navigable rivers and lock systems.
We have socialized food safety inspection systems.
We have socialized medical care for veterans.
All of these (and many others) are socialized in the narrow sense that the means of production are owned by the government, the service is delivered by the government through people employed directly by the government.

The likeliest looking health care reform is not socialized by this narrow definition. Instead, private insurance companies are preserved and medical care will still be delivered by people who don't work for the government. So (a) we do have, and like socialism in some areas; and (b) the proposed health reform is not socialism.

Michael H Schneider

Michael H Schneider said...

We have no interest in people like you ...

Let me tell you about myself. I'm 56 years old. I own my house, I pay my taxes, and for my entire life I've always had an individual health insurance policy through Blue Cross. I've always paid more, often far more, in premiums than I've gotten in benefits.

This year my premium went from $460 to $580 for my $2k deductible policy. Last year the increase was roughly as much by percentage, as it was the year before. At that rate I'd be paying over $40,000 a year for health insurance before I become eligible for Medicare.

I can't buy a different policy. First, I have pre-existing conditions. Second, I looked at the BCBS application. It asks questions such as "have you ever in your life ..." and "at any time in the last ten years ... ." I'm sure I'd get the answer to at least one of those questions wrong, I'd forget about something that happened 9 years ago that seemed like no big deal to me, and when I'd had the coronary bypass BCBS would rescind my coverage because I'd omitted something on the application and I'd have no insurance.

The market has failed for me, and for tens of millions of people like me. I really dont want to have to take a job with some large corporation in order to get into their health insurance group (and that's assuming I could get such a job, which is far from certain).

I, and those other tens or hundreds of millions for whom the market has failed, want to act together through our government to help get us out of this mess. If that makes us bad people, if that makes me someone you have no interest in, then there's something deeply wrong with America.

Anonymous said...

I almost feel sorry for Obama supporters. Almost, but a not a whole lot. So be careful what you wish for: Obama never hid the fact that he's a socialist. Who couldn't see that right from the start? A lot of folks I guess. All I can say is "I told you so." So far he's screwed up the auto industry. He's working on screwing up our health care. I predict after screwing up these things he will move on to screwing up our Second Amendment rights.

Anonymous said...

Sorry...McCain/Palin would've been an even worse choice.

Michael H Schneider said...

Obama never hid the fact that he's a socialist.

What does that mean, and do you have any evidence to support the claim? Or do you merely mean that he supports the government continuing to own and run the armed services and the FBI?

So far he's screwed up the auto industry. He's working on screwing up our health care.

How so? What do you base these claims on?

Anonymous said...

To the poster who said that his BCBS insurance keeps going up and wants the governments insurance policy---Explain to me why I should have to pay for your insurance plus my own. According to this wonderful plan, I get to keep my private policy that I like and keep paying for it. Plus, I get to pay for your 10's or 100's of million other peoples health insurance. Anything else people need. Lets expand this and just take everyones home and auto insurance out too. I wouldn't want people to be under insured or not have it. Why not just take everyones paycheck, pay everyones debts with it collectively, then give everyone the same amount every month. That way everyone gets exactly the same thing and some people just have to work harder to provide it for them. Gee, that sounds fair.

Michael H Schneider said...

Explain to me why I should have to pay for your insurance plus my own.

That's not what anyone is suggesting. Remember that you're already paying for others' medical care, or they're paying for yours. That's what insurance is. It's a bargain where everyone throws their premium into the pool and then everyone's expenses are paid from the pool. The lucky (or healthy) pay more and get less. Every year for 35 years I've thrown more into the health insurance premium pool than I've gotten back, because (so far) I've been healthy and lucky.

We should put everyone into the pool, for two reasons: First, it's the moral thing to do; second, it's the practical thing to do.

First, We're all Americans, and we're in this country and in this life together. If we work together we'll all be better off and happier than if it's every man for himself. Maybe you want a country in which a small number of people live very well, with servants and armed guards and gated compounds while most of the people in the country live in filth and squalor and die young. That's not the America I want.

I want an America where every person can improve their lot by hard work and effort. But I also want an America where we look at the less fortunate and remember "there, but for luck or the grace of God, go I." I want every American to be safe from violence, to have clean drinking water and sanitary sewage disposal. I don't want to see Americans dying in the street from hunger, malnutrition, or lack of health care. An America where I drive a 15 year old Toyota pickup and you drive a brand new BMW is fine. An Amersca where my neighbor dies because she couldn't afford to see a doctor and get $20 worth of anitbiotics, that's not so fine.

The moral thing to do is to work together to provide those things, including health care, for all of us.

Second, the practical reason for putting everyone into the health insurance pool is that it's cheaper than what we're doing now. Americans are paying (very roughly) twice as much money per person as people in other western industrialized democracies, and our system is providing health care that's no better, and in some areas worse, than theirs.

Cost shifting - efforts to may someone else pay - now use up a large portion of every health care dollar. It's a great game of pass the buck (or, rather, pass the unpaid bill). Insurance companies spend (roughly) a third of every premium dollar trying to figure out how to avoid paying claims. Insurance companies squeeze providers, so providers try to shift their costs by charging far higher amounts to the uninsured than they charge to insurance companies.

We're not only paying for these pass-the-buck operations, we're paying for the uninsured in higher taxes and fees. Our property tax bills includes money for UNMH. Our taxes pay for Medicaid and SCHIP and other piecemeal aid. We pay more for everything to cover the cost of the people who go bankrupt because of medical bills, or who simply skip out because they have nothing.

So a better system would save somewhere in the ballpark of $1,000 to $2,000 for every man, woman and child in America every year, and we'd all be at least as healthy (and some of us would be far healthier - I've forgotten the number of people estimated to die in America each year because they didn't have health insurance, but it's in the 40,000 to 100,000 people range).

You, personally, might not be better off. Not everyone benefits themselves, that's the nature of insurance. The lucky and the healthy get less in benefits. If you think it's more important that you personally are better off, even if it means that America as a whole is worse off - well, I hope that most Americans aren't so selfish. And I hope you never stop being lucky and healthy.

Anonymous said...

Michael H. Schneider are you Geraldine Amato?

Anonymous said...

Michael H. Schneider: Quit whining. We all pay into health care and it's there when we need it and we get to see a doctor of our own choice very quickly when we are sick. I have a friend who lives across the pond and there is no such thing as a doctor appointment. You go to a clinic and you wait with all the other sick people until there is a doc. available. No appointments. You just wait and wait and wait.....

Michael H Schneider said...

to Mr or Ms Anonymous: I am who I am. I sign my name.

You get to see the doctor of your choice? That's astounding. I don't know anyone who has insurance that allows that. I, like most people I know, am only fully covered if we see someone on the preferred or participating provider panel. I'm also astounded that you think health care is there when we need it. For many, many millions of Americans, it's not there (or it's there at a price thats light years beyond their ability to pay).

As to health care across the pond, an article recently in the British Medical Journal said:

" The NHS performs as well as or better than the US healthcare system on many objective indicators."

For the full article, see:

Another BMJ articles says:
"More than half (51%) of the people surveyed in 2007 said they were now "very" or "quite" satisfied with the NHS, ..."

According to a survey reported by Businessweek, "Among seven nations surveyed, the U.S. ranks lowest in patient satisfaction with overall medical care." Well behind the UK. I couldn't get the original Businessweek article, that summary comes from a secondary source:

Is "quit whining" considered respectful rational debate around here?

Anonymous said...

Throw the others into the health insurance pool? They could be in the pool if they paid their copays the same as everyone else. Instead, I will be paying my copays and theirs because you are either naive or ignorant to think that the healthcare companies are just gonna welcome these people with open arms for free. Where do you think this money is going to come from? The federal government is going to pay it and where do you think that money come from? Thats right, welcome to more taxes.

Michael H Schneider said...

They could be in the pool if they paid their copays the same as everyone else.

That's simply not true. That was my point about my own BCBS policy: I can't afford the $40,000 a year I'd be paying in 9 years. The $8,000 I'd be paying this year (that's $7k in premiums and $1k in the usual doctor visits, blood tests, preventive medicines, etc. that I incur before the $2k deductible is used up) was a too-big part of my budget. Next year I expect it'd be $10,000. $12,500 the year after. People who are unlucky enough to have pre-existing conditions simply can't get a new policy, and if they're also unlucky enough to have bought into a policy pool 15 years ago (as I did), a pool filled with people who are 15 years older and getting sicker (as older people do), they are stuck in deep, uh, trouble.

... you are either naive or ignorant to think that the healthcare companies are just gonna welcome these people with open arms for free.

Of course the insurance companies aren't going to do that. Insurance companies are in business to make money. So are most hospitals. That's how United Healthcare paid their CEO $324 million over the last 5 years. (1)

We're already paying for the uninsured and the underinsured through the money wasted on cost shifting, and the higher prices to cover the costs of those who bankrupt against or skip out on their bills, and the taxes we pay for Medicaid and for UNMH, and the higher prices we paid for GM cars because of their retiree health care costs, and a thousand other ways. That was my point above.

We're not paying for all the costs of the underinsured and uninsured - that's why tens of thousands of Americans are sufferring and dying each year because of lack of health care. I think that's not something Americans should be proud of.

If, instead of each American paying $6,700 for private health insurance and care, we each paid $2,700 and were healthier and more satisfied (as in England)(2), I think it'd be great. Yeah, that looks like a $2,700 tax increase, but saving $6,700 on out-of-pocket health care costs and premiums looks like a darn good trade to me.

Yeah, if we did that the CEO of United Healthcare might not make $324 million over the next five years. he might have to cut back a bit on his lifestyle. But sometimes we need to ask some Americans to make a small sacrifice for their county.

The underlying data is from Forbes.

(2)numbers from Businesswekk, through the hippocratech link above.

Satisfied Customer said...

Michael H. Schneider: You are misinformed when you say that you don't know anyone that is allowed to see their own doctor. You said you have health insurance--and when you signed up for that health insurance you were asked to choose a primary care physician, right? In case you don't know, that is the doctor of your choice. And explain to me why should I make a "small sacrifice" in my health care? I love my health care. I see my doctor immediately when I am sick, my Rx payments are $4.00. I get preventative screenings annually and I feel that I get what I pay for.

Michael H Schneider said...

Satisfied Customer, you have a different sort of plan than any plan I was offered.

I have a PPP, or preferred provider plan. When I signed up, I got a big list. The health care providers on that list - hospitals, doctors, laboratories, x-ray providers, etc. - are fully covered (after a deductible). That list changes day to day, and I must go to the DCBS web site to see who is on that list today.

And no, I wasn't asked to select a primary care physician. It sounds like you have an HMO type plan, which is not what I have and not what I could have gotten (as far as I know).

If I go to a provider on that list, and only if they're on that list, they've agreed to take the BCBS payment as their full price, and my primary deductible applies. If I go to someone NOT on the list, they can charge me anything they want, and a second deductible applies. In other words, I can see any doctor I want - but if it's a doctor NOT on the list my insurance won't necessarily cover the charge, and it won't cover anything until I've met a whole 'nother deductible.

This happened to my partner, who also has a PPP plan. I had to take her to the emergency room because of complications after cancer surgery. She knew that what was then ARMC (formerly St Jo's, now Lovelace) was the preferred provider for hospital services for her plan. They assigned to her a hospitalist, a doctor, who we thought was also on the list. We had no choice. But the doctor wasn't. The Doc's employer, Apogee Medical Group tried to charge my partner $1,250 rather than the BCBS approved amount of $750, and BCBS said that since the doctor wasn't on the preferred provider list they wouldn't pay a dime, because although my partner had fully met the deductible for preferred providers, a second deductible applied for this non-preferred provider.

I've never heard of any insurance plan that would pay the full fee of any doctor one chose. If you have such a plan, I'm very surprised. There are things in this world I haven't heard of. Me, and my partner, we get to see the doctor of our choice - as long as our choice is on the list.

And explain to me why should I make a "small sacrifice" in my health care?

That's not what I said.

I said that the CEO of HealthSouth might have to sacrifice by taking a pay cut, taking less than $324 million over the next five years, if we got health care reform.

But yes, you might have to make a small sacrifice. That's what it means to be a citizen of this country. You sacrifice your right to drive on the left side of most roads, you sacrifice your right to own nuclear weapons, and you have to pay taxes. In return you get roads and police and a court system and an army to defend the country and all the other benefits of civilization. That's what makes the US different from, say, Darfur. You also get to vote, as do I, on what benefits we want from our government and what price we're willing to pay.

Or, you know, if you get sick or your insurer terminates your plan or you lose your job and thus your employer provided health insurance, you might get a big benefit from health care reform. My belief is that the benefits to most people far, far outweigh the small additional costs that a few might have to pay. Of course, if you really feel bad for the CEO of Healthsouth, or if you are the CEO of Healthsouth, you should do what most people in his position are doing: spending millions and millions of dollars on advertising to convince people to oppose health care reform.

Unknown said...

Michael H Schneider:
You make some good points. There is one, not-so-good, point that I want to address.

My belief is that the benefits to most people far, far outweigh the small additional costs that a few might have to pay.

You might be correct in saying that benefits could be great for many people. And you are correct that a small number of people would have to pay additional costs. My problem with this is that forcing somebody to pay more for the same service is unfair.

Why can't those who want to start a new insurance company just do it and leave those who don't want it out?

Anonymous said...

The reason health care is so screwed up in these USA is BECAUSE THE FEDERAL GOVT screws it up by Medicare and Medicaid and stupid regulations. Think back to the 50s and 60s - doctors made house calls! the Fed s need to get the hell out of our lives. State and local is the way to go. I certainly don't want to pay for insurance for obese smokers who eat crap and lie around all day long. There is no incentive to improve if others reward you and pay for your crappy lifestyle choices. And if you have no money, please DO NOT PROCREATE! What is wrong with you people? The state is EVIL.

Satisfied Customer said...

Michael H. Schneider: OK, OK, the way you describe it, it sounds like your plan sucks and I'm sorry. Having said that I still don't want to have to pay to cover all the people who have crappy health insurance or none at all. Now listen to my situation: I worked hard to get the job I have and I work hard at my job every day. I've been earning a paycheck since I was 16 yrs old. (as my current social security statements indicate!). A perk of my job is health care benefits. I pay my portion and my employer pays the other portion. If that makes me a bad person, oh well. I'm neither heartless nor cheap--I just don't feel it's fiscally prudent for me or my employer to have to pay an additional amount for those that don't have health care coverage. As it is, I pay for social entitlement programs anyway in my taxes. How much more of a tax increase should I have to shoulder to pay for your health care? How much is too much? You say a small amount....small amounts add up to large amounts. As lower middle class wage earner/tax payer I simply do not want to pay to cover the uninsured.

Michael H Schneider said...

My problem with this is that forcing somebody to pay more for the same service is unfair.

I hate arguments by analogy, but in this case I'm going to try one. It's not a great analogy, but maybe it'll help me explain what I'm trying to say.

We have a socialized highway and road system, along with a socialized system of police and courts to keep order on those roads. We all pay for it through a variety of taxes. Some of those taxes are sorta related to use (e.g. gasoline taxes) but others aren't. That means that some people pay more than their fair share for roads, if they're the sort of people who hardly every go anywhere and don't use the roads, and don't buy things shipped over roads. Others pay less than their fair share, if they take road trips for vacations and drive around town a lot and have enough money to buy a lot of things that are shipped by roads.

We could try to have a 'fairer' system, where everyone pays exactly as much as they use the roads, but the system would be a complex nightmare. The administrative costs would eat us up. So instead, we do it very roughly with an assortment of taxes. It's not perfectly fair, some people pay more for the same service, but it works. It works because we all get the roads and police we need, and we all help pay for it, in amounts we can (more or less) afford.

Health care, is, in some ways, like roads. We all need it, in varying amounts. Plus, it has the additional feature of a whole lot of plain dumb luck. With roads, there's some real choice - I can decide not to take a road trip this year, if I can't afford it.

If I get cancer, or I have a heart attack, or any of a large number of other terrible things happen to me, I'm going to need health care. There's not a whole lot I can do about it. Sure, I exercise, I eat healthy, I get my blood lipids checked regularly, but I have a bad family history of heart attacks. Nothing I can do about that. If I'm lucky I'll never need the stent and the time in the CCU - but if I'm not lucky, and I have to pay the walk-in rate, I'm probably looking at $150,000. That's a matter, in large part, of dumb luck and it could happen to anyone.

So yes, forcing some people to pay more for what they have now might seem unfair. On the other hand, they're getting something very valuable in exchange: right now, if someone has bad luck and gets cancer, or has a heart attack, or one of those other things happen, there's a really good chance they'll lose their insurance. If it's employment based, they may be unable to work, and their COBRA benefits will run out. Or maybe the employer will simply stop providing insurance, or will go bankrupt. If it's an individual policy, the insurance company will go over their application with a fine tooth comb seeking some error on which they can cancel the policy. The insurance company can terminate the group and cancel their coverage. If it's insurance through a spouse, they may really want a divorce, or the spouse may die. If any of these, or many other things beyond one's control, happen they're in deep trouble today. Uninsurable. No insurance available on the private market. With health care reform, there'd be something available if bad luck struck, some insurance they could get.

So health care is sorta like roads in that we'll all need it, so we should all pay for it. But in addition there's a big element of luck - a person might need $250 worth of health care, or $150,000 worth of health care. To spread that risk fairly we need a system in which everyone pays, and everyone gets the benefit, even if it's not absolutely perfectly fair. The unfairness of paying more today may well be balanced by the unfairness of getting a big benefit tomorrow, when you get that cancer diagnosis.

I'm sorry I'm writing at such length, but I'm trying to be as clear and specific as I can be, and I'm not a very good writer. It's complicated, and it's not always easy to see all the costs and benefits of either the current system or of the proposed reforms.

Michael H Schneider said...

Think back to the 50s and 60s - doctors made house calls!

I was born in '53, so my memory if the 50s is a bit hazy. However, this seems to be common knowledge:

"Before Medicare, only half of all older Americans had health insurance and 35 percent of seniors lived in poverty. Today, levels of poverty among seniors have dropped by two-thirds and all Americans 65 and older can get health insurance through the Medicare program." (1)

If you think it's bad that the poverty rate for seniors has dropped from 35% to 10%, well, yeah, things were better in the good old days.

I certainly don't want to pay for insurance for obese smokers who eat crap and lie around all day long.

I feel the same way about paying for roads for people who drive Hummers, SUVs, and big pickup trucks. But you can't always get what you want.

I worked hard to get the job I have and I work hard at my job every day.

And you're very fortunate. I hope you never get a cancer diagnosis and have to have chemo, or have a heart attack, or are laid off, or have your company decide not to offer health insurance, or go bankrupt, or be bought by another company that doesn't pay such good benefits, or any of the other things that could suddenly land you in deep trouble.

As lower middle class wage earner/tax payer I simply do not want to pay to cover the uninsured.

This is the heart of the dilemma. We have two choices:

A. some sort of universal health insurance, where everyone pays (in so far as they can) and everyone gets health care services; or

B. Be prepared to watch a lot of Americans die or go bankrupt and lose their savings and homes and everything from lack of health insurance. Right now tens of thousand of Americans are dying every year because they don't have insurance. Yet we're paying for their care, because we subsidize emergency rooms.

So we're paying anyway, and we're paying a lot, and what we're getting is a system that costs way more than it should, lets a lot of poeple die, but lets them die behind a curtain rather than in the gutter where we have to step over them. Is that what makes this country great?

(1)I couldn't find the original source. Here's where I got the quote:

It's repeated here:

Anonymous said...

MHS: You can't analogize infrastructure to health care!

Michael H Schneider said...

MHS: You can't analogize infrastructure to health care!

Sure I can, it's right there in the Declaration of Human Rights: the fundamental right to stretch analogies.

Seriously, as I said, it's not a great analogy, but is there some particular infelicity that troubles you? And I was also analogizing police and court services to health care - are those part of infrastructure?