09 September 2009

Someone help me out here...

...becuase I'm a simple man. A man of of the land. A moron.

I've been quiet about all of the debate on health care up here in the Land of the Free, mostly because I don't know of a good solution to the problem. Like most problems, it doesn't have a single 'solution', rather a series of actions would be necessary for a 'solution'.

Oh, I've heard all of the crap from both sides on it, though, with no thought given to any pretense of civility or logic.

First off, let's talk a bit about civility, shall we? I know what you're thinking-"Not again, YD. We went through this all before." Then it's time for a refresher course.

We seem to be losing the ability to have constructive debate on any issue here in this country anymore. I hear a lot of people on talk radio, and the gist of what I'm hearing is 'I don't want the government meddling in my affairs! Make sure my Social Security check gets here on time, my roads are plowed and patched, and the mail gets here before my naptime. When's Glenn Beck on?'

To be fair (and balanced), people couldn't wait to pick apart Mr. Bush's every move and call him every name in the book when he was Boss, so neither side can claim innocence.

Polarization will not bring about anything productive. (Yankeedog said, into the wind for all the good it will do).

I've read the last few issues of Fortune magazine, and they've had some profiles of successful CEO's in them. What struck me as interesting is that a lot of them talked about gaining their success by being deft in negotiations. They aimed whenever possible to create situations where everybody got something in a given deal. Everybody chalks a win and no one one walks away empty-handed.

Let's consider a few prominent Americans for a bit.

1) Ted Kennedy, the 'Liberal Lion', late senator from Massachusetts. While not the ablest of the Kennedys, he had friends (or whatever passes for friendship among pols) on both sides of the aisle and at the other end of the political spectrum. I don't what morals he had (not good, I suspect), but he seemed to follow that classic saying-'It's ain't personal. It's just business.'

2) William F. Buckley, Jr., late 'spokesman' for the conservative movement. Buckley could verbally rend someone-or take them apart with surgical precision. He was also known for having dinner parties featuring prominent liberals on the guest list.

It ain't personal. It's just business.

3) I'd make a case for Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. After the Civil War, they had the opportunity (and military strength) to utterly crush the Confederate States, execute the leaders of the Rebellion, and exact reprisals on everyone that served in the Confederate forces. Instead, the Confederates were given as good as could be expected. The officers were allowed to keep sidearms, and any soldier with a horse or mule was allowed to take it home (to help with the harvest). Most of the common soldiers had only to sign an oath not to take up arms against the Union. Indeed, many former Confederate military served in the postwar US military, and one Confederate general served in the US Army during the Spanish-American War.

Perhaps honor meant more then than now. At any rate, showing the opponent some dignity in defeat in this case may have saved countless years in guerilla actions in the South. There were enough problems there at any rate.

I digress, since none of you probably wanted a history lesson. The point and common theme was that the people mentioned above knew and practiced civility (or mastered the art of the deal-perhaps they're one and the same) to their ideological opposites. Evidently this method does, on occasion, work.

Well. Don't reckon there'll be a change anytime soon.

As for health care here-I'm firmly on the fence. Like I said, I don't have an answer. People don't want to pay the cost (real and/or perceived) of a government-run system. There's been a lot of talk of 'rationed care' and 'death panels'. But the system we have now doesn't run all that well either.

Let's compare and contrast a few things:

-A panel of government bureaucrats decides that you're too old and unproductive to expend heroic measures to keep you alive.
-A panel of insurance company bureaucrats decides that you're too high risk to carry, so they deny payment for heroic measures to keep you alive.

-Under a government health care plan, you won't get to use the physicians you want.
-Under the current system, the insurance company will pay benefits only to physicians in their plan. You don't get to use the physicians you want.

-Government health care means 'rationed care'.
-The current system doesn't pay for certain services, so you pay out-of-pocket. Or more likely, don't get them.

-Recently the VA sent 4300 letters to patients informing them that they had ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). It was an error by the government medical bureaucracy.
-Recently here in the QCs a local hospital failed to inform the county Health Department that there was a person in hospital with Hepatitis B from contamination from a local restaurant. It was an error by the private medical bureaucracy.

The question, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is-

What the hell's the difference?

When someone can answer that, then I'll jump both feet into one side or the other. Show me one system is better than the other based on the arguments here (That's a rhetorical question I'm asking my hardcore fellow citizens-you visitors that have your own health-care setup are exempt from answering).

We aren't anywhere close to getting the health-care thing solved. But we'd better start pulling on the same side of the rope a bit more often on issues, or the country's screwed. There are times I despair for us now.

Ending on a better note, we're working 40 hours again, at least for a bit. We've had an influx of orders-and good projects, at that.

Barkeep! Steins of your finest Keystone Light all around!!

yankeedog out.


  1. I'm here so I'll answer anyway. A socialised medical system is always, always better for the low-to-middle income earners of your population. The activation energy of requiring large cash input isn't there to prevent people getting help when they need it. It's not necessarily the highest quality care, but it's better than nothing, which is what you get with a completely desocialised system. And pretty much every other Western democracy in the world has proven that socialised medicine is affordable if the people of the country think it's worth having - from Oz and NZ to Canada and the UK. These are not perfect systems, a long way from them, but they are always better than nothing - which is what a lot of people get under a completely user-pays system.

  2. I posted this as a comment on another blog - i'll put it here as well.
    ( I am not judging the US system, just saying what we have in Oz)
    We have a public system here in Oz, that works in tandem with private insurance. You can choose whether or not to have private insurance. The difference is if i break my leg, it gets fixed immediately whether i have insurance or not, but public means i don't get a private room, i am in a ward & the foods not all that flash. Or if i have an old football injury eg my knee needs reconstructing, public means i go on a waiting list, private means i get it done quicker (and i have my own room). A true example. Guy A has the best private cover you can buy (about $250 a month)and snaps his achilles, he goes to hospital, gets bandaged up, given some drugs and a week later when the swelling has gone down, he goes into surgery to get some repairs done. He has weekly physiotherapy sessions. Guy B has no insurance, snaps his achilles, he goes to hospital, gets bandaged up, given some drugs, a week later when the swelling goes down, he gets a splint, then 6 weeks later he has surgery to get some repairs done. He has monthly physiotherapy sessions.
    I by the way haven't spent any time in a hospital since 1982.
    Public health systems work, they work for the people who are going to use them more than me. The people who are too sick to work because they have any number of debilitating ailments, people who have cancer, people who have heart disease, people who have mental health problems (who by the way are more prone to other health issues). The amount this costs constitutes about 10% of my tax. it's that high because i am single, reasonably paid and have no insurance. There are tax breaks for families, lower incomes and insured people.
    The quality of care in the public system isn't great, but it is a very long way from 3rd world. We constantly complain about the long waiting lists, and a multitude of other things. BUT we would never get rid of it.

    (BTW actually I think Oz and US tax rates are the same even with the health care in it)

  3. I like the way you introduced this disscussion on how entrenced postions lead no where.

    As someone who lives in a country with socialised mediciene I have found the experience positve.

    In regards to the "What the hell's the difference? " the only catagorical intrinsic to the two systems which can not be altered.

    In a private pay system there must be more money spent to provide some profit. In apublic systme it doesn't need that additional cost.

    Any other arguements to efficency, copeditive ness driving costs down etc.. are all conditional on the system. Any program developed for one can be used by the other.

    Private has an intrinisc additonal nessacry cost the other doesn't.

  4. Gents, we agree that there needs to be a safety net of some sort for lower income, unemployed, etc.

    We have a federally-run health system here-the Veterans' Administration hospitals. There are times when it doesn't do a great job. I think people are scared that ALL of the hospitals will become like the VA system.

    My contention is that the supposed 'bad' points of a government-run health care system, we already have to an extent in the current system.

    Any health system already has 'rationed care'. The available 'need' will almost always be more than the 'supply'.

    I have concerns about how the system will get reformed, but I think something will get pushed through this year. We'll see. As you all have noted, no system is perfect. But it would possibly provide peace of mind for people.

  5. I pay about 4K a year in tax. For this I receive adequate education for my children, roads to drive on, public amenities like subsidised power and water and, free health care if I need it.

    For all of these things and more, I am deeply grateful to my fellow humans who also value these things and are willing to share their hard earned coin to chip into the system.

    There is no way I could user-pay to afford such luxuries.

  6. Hello, Hughesy! You grace my blog with your presence.

    Your perspective is interesting and one not mentioned often. Everyone complains about 'collectivism', not realizing that it is required to an extent for most big projects. Individualism is fine-but it's hard to plow the road or raise a barn by yourself. The trick is to balance individualism and collectivism so that individual freedom and entreprenurial spirit aren't quashed, but the needs of the greater community are met.