Friday, July 31, 2009

Thought for Yesterday 7/30/09

Don't even start. Long week. Anyway...

Have y'ever noticed that American political party's "pet issues" are usually NOT things that are especially popular or "important" to voters (statistics-nuts please note use of the word "voters" and not the more all-inclusive "citizens" or "Americans")? Take the Democrats: currently tearing eachother apart over Universal Health Care even though voters tend to be ambivalent about it (I don't say that as a positive or negative, just as a fact.) Or, if you like, the Republicans - ALWAYS ready to go with the less-electable candidate in the name of pandering to the anti-abortion/anti-gay crowd even though neither of those positions constitute an overwhelming voter majority.

Political Parties, it seems to me, are primarily in the business of keeping and holding power (read: their jobs) for as long as possible, and that's more-or-less the explanation for this phenomenon: They both want things that can "shore-up" a go-to base of massive GARAUNTEED votes each time an election rolls around.

That's why Democrats have been obsessed with passing all-encompassing health insurance (again, this isn't about whether or not you think it's a good idea) for decades: A large group of (mostly) impoverished people getting (mostly) free health-care becomes a large group of people who you can scare into voting for you every cycle because "the other guys will take that away from you!" Sure, plenty of Democrats probably think it's the good/moral thing to do anyway (President Obama certainly seems to); but make no mistake: NO idea in politics has traction if it doesn't increase the staying-power of the party. Republicans are running the same exact game when it comes to abortion. They WANT an all-encompassing ban on the procedure so they can turn around and whip up the base every two years by telling them: "If you don't re-elect us, the OTHER GUYS will start KILLIN' BABIES again!"

Meanwhile, the economy is still crumbling, the ecosystem is destabilizing, an American soldier is still being held by The Taliban, and none of our leaders seem to think any of this is priority #1.


John said...

The really sad thing is, both parties major "hot-button" issue is almost completely unresolvable. Universal health care will never work for such a large nation, and any agreement will be made into swiss cheese by special interest groups. Abortion only matters to the religious, and no Republican will be willing to take the raw hatred from the half of America that didn't vote for them.

In a way, it's diabolical. These issues can't be resolved, so the status quo remains, leaving everyone in power.

Platinum Dragon said...

In my opinion, the best way to have a society would be to have all your NEEDS given to you, a house, food, air, but nothing more. Nothing pass what is necessary to live is given. If you want to get even one penny above the other people, it's gotta be worked for.

Fett101 said...

"To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem." - Douglas Adams

Politics has become just another job. Profit before people. No idea what solution would work. Perhaps a computerized AI to run the government?

DocChoc said...

America (and pretty much the world) is ruled by entrenched interests these days and there's really nothing that can change that short of the events of World War Z coming true.

Anonymous said...

Republicans are the dumbest pieces of crud on the planet. Thay are generally smallminded, faith-thumping jacktards, who are probably too stupid to hold office.

The interesting thing in all this is that their stance on almost any and all issues seems to be the wrong one (I.E. Something that limits the rights, freedoms, and prosperity of an individual).

Like all this shite on universal healthcare. It is a good thing, people wont go bankrupt if they're ill. And all these horror stories about canadian healthcare issues is actually pure, unadulterated fabrications. I can tell you they are lies because I am canadian. No one with a serious condition needs to wait. Most of the people who do have to wait have shit that can wait.

hell you don't even need a fucking prescription to buy goddamn polysporin for pink eye. just grab it from over the counter.

Charles Campbell said...

Wow, I was just going to come in and say a couple of things about progressive philosophy, but I have to respond to Anonymous's comments. First, if you're going to be so very insulting, have the courage to leave us some kind of name, even if it is just a net handle. Second, I've read dozens of stories, many by Canadians, about all manner of limitations in Canada. Including the limiting of cancer drugs, the lack of sufficent NCQ units (yeah, birth is one of those things that just can't wait). All of these by respectable publications and journalists. Besides, what can or cannot wait when it comes to my health is my effing decision. It's not yours, it's not the governments, and it's not even my doctor's. It is mine. It is also my responsibility to prepare myself for such eventualities.
Anytime the government takes a responsibility from you, or makes a decision for you, your rights have been violated. This is true no matter where you are, who you are, or under what form of government you suppossidly reside. Anytime the Federal Goverment of the United States of America makes such a decision, it is unconstitutional as well. Just sayin...
However, Bob has it absolulity right. All these 'hot button' issues are to distract us, the American People, from the real problem. The aggragration of power into the hands a few hundred people.
But hey, we can do something about that. Vote Libertarian. Write your congressman and inform him that if power does start coming back to the people, like it is supposed to, then he's out. Remind the President he's there to work for us, not the other way around.
Oh, and if you want to fix Healthcare... CAPITALISM!. It just effing works. Force purchasing accross state lines, provide individuals with a tax credit, create a supsidised pool for the absolute bottom. Stop allowing people to get treatment in hospitals and running away from the payments. Access will increase, quality will increase, and the increase in costs will slow (with advancements and reguler inflation, it is impossible to decrease while maintaining quality).
Subtract violent deaths, and Americans have the longest average life expectancy in the world. We have the best cancer survival rates, we have created every major medical advancement in the past three decades, and we subsidize most of the rest of the world's pharmacutical supplies. That's capatlism at work, my friends. Oh, yes, and a man or woman without home or job can walk into any hospital and will be treated to fullest extent possible. Our system is not perfect. But what it needs is more compition, not less.
And finally, if I may, special interests have absolutly no power expeting that that we have abdicated to the Federal Government.
Jefferson would weep.

Platinum Dragon said...

Charles, unless A LOT changes over one year I'm afraid according to the 2008 CIA world fact book you do NOT have the best life expectancy.

That pleasure goes to Macau, followed by Andorra, and then Japan, (yes the same Japan that got nuked by you guys during WW2, amazing how they've recovered)

According to this source Canada has a overall life expectancy 2.28 years longer than the USA.

And if you average the life expectancy over the 2005-2010 period given current trends. The United Arab Emirates out does the United States.

It's clear you haven't done your research. There are certain things you just can't solve with money, people need to learn that.

Politicians are just the humanoid versions of the Baatezu. Lawful, but Evil entities who are only as good as their word. No more, no less. Sure they'll make a promise to clean up the shoreline, but once it's cleaned once, they're never going to do it again until their next re-election and they have to make promises. They have no interest in the average person, how can a person making 6 figures, who also has the ability to give themselves a raise whenever they feel like able to relate to the average person? They can't, it's that simple. High charisma may make you a good talker, but it's high wisdom you need to be a truly great leader.

Kenpai-senpai AKA ichini-san (< Teh PUN) said...

Hey john, Killing unborn babies matters to many atheists around the world. I wouldn't speak for Billions of people if I were you.

I personally think there needs to be more competition in the health care insustry. I think It's kinda sad that sick people are viewed and treated like 'statistically undesirable' instead of someone's Mom who needs help. Many are against government intervention, but the fact is most insurers wont take you if lung cancer is a pre-existing problem unless THE MAN says they HAVE to. Im all for a non-profit insurance group, where the workers are paid good money and can get bonuses on ethical yet intelligent insurance policies, and Windfall profits go straight into increasing coverage and lowering prices. It make the big boys think twice about rejecting people left and right, but if you didn't want the new insurance you could still keep your old ones.

I just made this up as I typed, but so far It seems plausible.

Aurabolt said...

You know...I would just love to come up to ANY Republican political figure and watch them squirm as I pull out a biology textbook and prove, biologically and outside any religious compunction, that embryos technically within the womb aren't even capable of life process on their own-making the "killing a life" subject mute because they can't think or act normally yet and destroy the Stem Cell argument- and then just to put the nail on the coffin, pull out a legal textbook and prove that the woman's right to act upon her own body without anyone else will is not only a law, but also a RIGHT of the constitution.

Nixou said...

You know, even if it has its problems, it is better to have political parties with a base to pander with than an oligarchy or an hereditary system: those ALWAYS turn elites into a massive parasitic social classes. Of course, you can find individual elected officials who are no better than decadent aristocrats, but on a national, or even continental scale, even the most imperfect democracy is better than the alternative. Besides, the bases themselves are getting better: within the democraties of the world, on the left, the people who believe that a violent revolution and the slaughtering of the wealthy are nothing more than a fringe of nutcase while on the right, the ├╝ber-conservative agenda is not as powerfull as it once was: there was a time when almost everyone was at least publicly agreeing with the idea of executing people doing (or even HAVING) abortions, so let's be at lest reasonnably optimistic.

Anonymous said...

Severely Retarded infants dont think or act normally, can need life support to live, and dont always look 100% human. Yet we dont kill them as easily. Maybe if we stuck them back in the womb before we kill them it wouldn't be murder. It would be Inside the nother and therefore her KONSTITUSHUNUHL WRITE to kill it.

Fett101 said...

When did this become an abortion debate?

infant != fetus.

Anonymous said...

It's Vincent here, couldn't bothered logging on as usual.

The American health care debate looks like absurdist theater to those of us living in any other civilized, first-world country.

I live in Australia, and when I get sick, I know I won't have to bankrupt myself to get good treatment. I also don't need to spend thousands if dollars each year on health insurance. But I still have private health insurance, like many Australians. And because the private health insurers have to compete with the virtually free public system, their rates are very cheap. I pay $600 per year on my private health cover, and this allows me not to wait for treatment when I have a non-serious condition. I can get the best care at the best private hospitals and clinics, for a small cost. And no, Australians aren't drowning in taxes either (perhaps because we don't spend more on our military than every other country put together).

Bob said...

Without tipping my hand too much as to where I stand on Govt. Health care, as a blanket opinion I regard debating it by comparing effectiveness in one country to another to be a logical fallacy in and of itself. The demography, cultural backgrounds, economic makeup etc. of a given society can make a system that works perfectly well in one country a non-starter in others. To use a still-relevant example: Assuming that England's (or Canada's, for that matter) health care system can be easily applied to the U.S. is a lot like assuming that Western-style Democracy can be easily applied to Iraq. Recall how well that's worked out?

John said...


To be fair, your government doesn't have to cover 300 million people and rising, in addition to dumping trillions for everything else. I still agree that we need a smarter government system. Just sayin'.


For the first, I would argue the same applies to the elderly, yet I don't see a mass extermination drive. As to the second, a person's right to act on their own body has always been violated, see drug laws and etc.


It became one because I mentioned it, I think, and just like the politicians wanted, any real dialogue is know smothered under the abortion debate.

Nixou said...

"Assuming that England's (or Canada's, for that matter) health care system can be easily applied to the U.S. is a lot like assuming that Western-style Democracy can be easily applied to Iraq. Recall how well that's worked out?"
One reason that did not work was because the Iraq invasion was never about "spreading democracy". It was about making a bunch a coward turned politicians look like the heroic warriors they never were. besides, History is full of exemples of dictators who ended being replaced by other dictators, like Louis XVI who was replaced by Robespierre, then by Napoleon, the Qing dynasty was replaced by Chiang Kai-shek then by Mao, the Czars where replaced by Lenin then Stalin, the Iran Shah was replaced by Khomeini... So the real logical fallacy was not to say "Western-style democracy can be apllied to the Middle-East", the logical fallacy was "Killing Saddam and destroying his army will unavoidably allow a full fledged democracy to rise"

Vincent said...


Your point about comparing countries would hold a lot more water if EVERY SINGLE other industrialized first-world country on Earth (and many poorer countries too) didn't all have universal health care. The USA is the world's richest country, it can afford to outspend the rest of the world combined on military, and it has a large population but not a prohibitively large one (Japan looks after it's people just fine, and bigger population equals more tax revenue and GDP anyway, so people need to stop giving the '300 million people' excuse).

When every other civilzed, developed country on Earth has managed to find a way to implement universal health care, don't you think that maybe, just MAYBE, the USA has been getting it wrong so far and needs to catch up?

Bob said...

"When every other civilzed, developed country on Earth has managed to find a way to implement universal health care, don't you think that maybe, just MAYBE, the USA has been getting it wrong so far and needs to catch up?"

More than likely, sure. But that doesn't make "it works fine in ______" any less shaky an argument ;)

Population DENSITY isn't the issue, but rather population-demographics. The U.S. has an extraordinarily broad range of cultural and economic subgroups, the differing status and behaviors of which make "one size fits all" systems essentially nonfunctional. The same system that works well-enough for the entire NATION of England would likely not work applied to even the STATE of California.

The Canadian system would probably be the best "fit" for the U.S., but even that would need a major tweaking to deal with America's larger and more demographically-varied below-poverty-line population, to say nothing of somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 million illegal/undocumented aliens (some with citizen-children) who currently make up much of the Emergency Room strain in the major cities.

Either way, I'm at the point where I'd prefer Obama take what he can get on Health Care and move on to some stuff he can actually WIN while that's still possible... because unless Chris Dodd happens to land a plane in the Hudson river within the next few months he's going to LOSE his veto-proof majority in Congress in the next cycle.

Srathnal said...

I would think, given the lively discussion already... Bob might want to re-consider the idea that 'Universal Health Care' is a throw away issue that panders to a few far left and right leaning individuals. Honestly, I've yet to meet someone that is 'ambivalent' about it... heated, sure. Ambivalent... not so much.

white templar said...

2 words: Ron Paul

tyra menendez said...

no one mentioned infant mortality rates?

i think the media has a lot to do with it to. a senator admits to having a long standing affair, but everyone's too busy with micheal jackson's corpse.

Bob said...

"no one mentioned infant mortality rates?"?

Funny thing about that - well, interesting at least - though I'm not sure whether or not it's immediately germane to the topic at hand or not...

Statistically, INFANT mortality rates will almost always be higher in the "developed" world than in poorer or "third world" nations. Why? Because the (essentially)-universal classification "infant" applies to children over 30 days but below (I believe, though the 30 days part I'm sure of) 6 months of age. Children younger than that are classified as "newborns."

As you've probably already intuited, in many (poor) areas where the infant mortality rate appears so low, the newborn mortality rate is usually VERY high (and would be higher were so many instances of newborn death not simply never reported.) It's basically unpleasant arithmetic: MORE sick kids dying as newborns means FEWER sick kids living long enough to die as infants.

Vincent said...

Sure, but the USA still gets its butt kicked by most developed countries in infant mortality, not just by poor countries.

If America has found a way to implement publically funded and governmentally run libraries, police forces, fire departments, transport authorities, port authorities, and schooling systems in every single state of the union, there's no reason why health care shouldn't be workable in the same way too. As Stephen Fry so elegantly put it, if the USA is prepared to pour billions of taxpayer dollars into its military, to combat its enemies, why not spend money on health care, to combat the enemy of disease, or on college education, to combat the enemy of ignorance? (I know the expense of college education is off-topic, but I thought it polite to include the full quote from Fry).

untravaersil said...

I have a little, err, BIG story to share on this issue.

My mom is a nurse who works in the newborn intensive care unit, or NICU, but back when she was in med school, she would work in the Maternity Ward. She remembers her most upsetting day when a schizophrenic asian lady was brought in handcuffed on a pushable bed and was just brought in after her water had broke. This lady had come from a nearby mental institution, and was handcuffed to the stretcher due to a history of violence and aggression. It was my moms job to get the lady situated for the birth (sedatives, paperwork, etc.), as well as address any needs the mom my have.

Shortly after the institution workers moved the stretcher to the room and a guard was standing outside the room, my mom entered the room. She claims the following conversation went as so:

mom: Hello, my name is ***, I am an intern here at-
Lady: No. I don't want you.
mom: Huh?
Lady: I don't want some white lady helping me. I don't tryust you white folk.
mom: I'm... not white. I'm partly italian-
Lady: You're still a white *korean phrase*, you can't help me.
mom: ...and partly black.
Lady: You're not black at all.
mom: Oh yes I am, my father came here from africa.
Lady: ...Was he a slave?
mom: Oh yes. It was terrible.
Lady: Oh my. Well I feel for you *korean phrase*. Sorry I called you white.
mom: Oh Its quite alright...

Note to the reader, both me and my mom are as white as you can get, and this lady was more than schizophrenic.

Shortly after the asian lady gave birth, she was sent back to the institution and the newborn would be taken care of until it could be put up for adoption. As it turns out, that was the sixteenth baby that lady had had, and each one before it was a conception of her trying to get pregnant by randomly fucking other inmates just so she could "Fuck the white man". As to why anyone would want to adopt a child from a mentally insane schizophrenic woman, with an unknown father who is nonetheless guaranteed to be suffering from some kind of mental illness, and a strong chance to pass that on, is beyond me.

This was about 20 years ago.

Does this story have anything to do with the ongoing debate about abortion? not really. But what I want to know is, why should any hard-working, inteligent, productive and TAX-PAYING AMERICAN support this mom and her sixteen (now 36 or more, unless she's dead) mentally unstable children?

I don't care what healthcare system we adopt. But if people like her are let to breed uncontrollably just for the purpose of sucking out taxpayers money, than a change in healthcare is certainly needed.

And while the crazy asian lady is an extreme case, what about the people with diabetes who don't take their diuretics, and return frequently to the hospital to have fluids pumped out of their lungs?

Just pouring fuel on the conversation. Carry on.

Bob said...

FWIW, my own personal "ideal" of a health care system would be a state-level (because the Fed can't run shit) one that offered broad coverage to EVERYONE... with one MASSIVE exception:

if your ailment/condition is YOUR OWN FAULT, you don't get a damn thing. So... catch a disease? Hit by a car? Cancer? Age-related organ/bone failure? Covered. Drug-abuse? Alcoholism? Suicide-attempt? Moronic "Xtreme" stunt gone wrong? NOT covered. You chose to hurt yourself, YOU pay the bill for it. The money saved by NOT protecting the stupid from themselves ALONE could probably pay for care of all the people with LEGITIMATE ailments. Natural Selection is a beautiful thing.

Nixou said...

Bob, you know, everyone who says that until THEY're in need for help because of one of their past behavior. I know a french guy who said exactly the same thing, but when his heavy smocking caused him lung cancer, he was more than happy to have the french state pay for the operation and all the following care. Besides, there is a lot of flaw in your logic: if you've got to pay for cares linked with drug abuse, it means that a poor guy who tried heroine once is screwed while any rich bitch could just go to rehab, back to his/her drug consumption, back again to rehab, etc... for decades. Where is the equity?

Anonymous said...

There is no equity.

Vincent said...

Nixou's point aside, I think Bob's idea sounds pretty much spot on.