Sunday, September 06, 2009

Health Care Choices and "Socialism"

Of late I've gotten complaints about the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan requiring participants with long-term prescription needs to use the Medco mail order pharmacy.

Some participants are angry that they can't go to their corner drugstore anymore and get their asthma medicine, or Lipitor, or whatever.

I get their unhappiness, because options are being taken away; I also get how the Plan is trying to contain the rising costs which are happening worldwide:

Health Care Inflation -- 2008 (est.)

Asia and Africa

China 19.6%

Hong Kong 9.1%

Philippines 11.5%

Russia 15.7%

Saudi Arabia 16.3%

Singapore 7.5%

South Africa 12.6%


France 7.3%

Italy 11.3%

Netherlands 6.0%

Switzerland 6.0%

United Kingdom 8.0%


Brazil 7.2%

Canada 12.0%

Chile 7.1%

Mexico 12.6%

United States 11.0%

Venezuela 25.0%

But this painful global reality doesn't go down well with some participants, one of whom told me on the phone:

This isn't fair! I like going to my neighborhood drug store! They're taking away my freedom of choice! This is socialism!"

I responded that it might be many things, including arbitrary, but socialism it ain't, since this is a private plan (jointly run by unions and movie companies) making private decisions free of government interference.

It's just that when a bureaucracy ... any bureaucracy ... takes actions to contain costs, somebody gets nipped and doesn't like it.

However, it gave me insight into some of the groups yelling at town hall meetings. Many of our citizens, based on my first-hand experience, are a little hazy about what socialism actually is. But it certainly is a fine, all purpose curse word.


Anonymous said...

Wingnuttery is ripe these days, to be sure. But what I don't get is why these people, and the gop support "DEATH PANELS," which they are in the pocket of? Why would they support LESS CHOICE and LESS COMPETITION? That's what the insurance companies do. And their death panels force you to go to ARBITRATION, rather than public court, so they can keep deliberations secret.

I, for one, have read EVERY PAGE of the health care bill over the last 3 weeks. The only thing I don't agree with is the lack of some sort of single payer option, which works very well in a majority of countries it's utilized in. Other than that, iIt's a very good bill. We need to do this--and a majority of Americans support it.

We'd have needed to to this even IF bush & co. hadn't spent us into oblivion. republicans need to swallow their pride and, for once, do what's best for the COUNTRY and it's CITIZENS, and NOT big business. They'll screw you more than they already are.

Anonymous said...

Death Panels! Socialists! Keep your government paws off my medicare!

Anonymous said...

Screaming "socialism" is quite popular these days. More often than not, it means that the person doing the screaming isn't very well-informed.

handel said...

Oh Steve..Sounds like your having a tough time convincing the masses.

Hey...You know, the prez keeps saying that we can all keep our pvt healthcare if we like it OR move to the govt plan....
Tell me...Would we be able to keep our pvt healthplan.
OR would would that be temporary until MANY eventually end up being dumped off into the govt plan?
Am I GUARANTEED to be able to stay on MY own private plan, for the rest of my career with no chance of being dumped into the govt plan?
Lets hear what the union says about this.
(sans double talk if possible)

Steve Hulett said...

Handel, my handel:

There are no guarantees for anything. (Can you guarantee the U.S. of A. will be around twelve years hence?)

I sit in lots of meetings re the MPIPHP plan, and have watched the health coverage slowly decline the last dozen years despite more and more money being funneled into it.

Why is this? Because inflation for health care has run 9 to 9.5% per year for the Plan as long as I've been in this job (and that's less than the national health care inflation rate, in case you're wondering.)

But to your question about guarantees. Don't be silly. There are none.

The MPI Health Plan could easily decline more sharply if funding goes, as well it could if residuals dry up or there are more lengthy strikes (strong possiblity) and the work evaporates for three or six months.

But between you and me and the girls in the powder room, I don't think there's going to be a public option. If there is, I have doubts about how "robust" it will be.

However, I'll be happy to answer your question about the odds of private health insurance surviving after I find out what kind of bill congress will pass. For right now, since there is no bill, I think it would be presumptuous of me to speculate.

(One observation: Since private health insurance co-exists with Medicare -- which as we know old people hate -- it will probably exist under whatever system Congress devises for the less than 65 crowd ....)

See? No double talk. But I can be no clearer than the above because I'm neither psychic nor psychotic.

Hannah Barbontana said...

Wait a minute. How can cost be rising in countries like France, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Canada? They're socialist and have government run health services. I thought that is what is supposed to keep cost down? Since a government option is supposed to keep cost down, why is they rising there so much?

Steve Hulett said...

Just look at the chart above. All systems have rising costs. (And no system is "ideal.")

The difference? The U.S. spends more money for worse results. (#37 per the world health organization) and we have almost double the cost as the next highest spender (per capita), our Alpine friend Switzerland.

Here's one small example of why U.S. costs are higher:

It ain't that others don't have problems or price hikes, because they do. It's that we are spending a hell of a lot more than any other nation, so our real-dollar increases are higher year by year.

Mark said...

Hi Steve,
Why are we only being offered socialism as a choice? We are debating replacing private health care with public health car, so we get their happiness.

Cheap Generic Viagra

Have a good day.

handel said...

I appreciate the lack of double talk.
So instead of the double talk, you give me 'cop out' talk.
No guarantees?
I can guarantee that bureaucracies (such as the union itself)will continue to thrive and spread like a cancer, mucking up things and making everything overly complicated and less efficient.

I can guarantee that when you let the govt take over healthcare, that that will inevitably cause companies to dump their people into a govt plan.

I can guarantee that when that happens, you will have less quality and HIGHER prices...ON EVERYTHING (not just medical, but gas, groceries, goods, etc,etc,etc.

I can ALSO guarantee that when you have ONE option (the public option), that it IS and will always be inferior to a wide variety of options/CHOICES for the consumer to vie for.
If (in the privt plans) one plan is deemed unacceptable, one has the option and CHOICE to shop for one that benefits them.
In the "PUBLIC OPTION", if one doesn't like it....Your STUCK baby! No way out. No other CHOICE.

You speak about inflation like you are some sort of an expert. But yet seem to somehow (be it purposefully or out of ignorance)IGNORE the precedent set by countries that HAVE a universal health care plan.
Our high health care costs ARE high. But do we get less quality?
None of what our prez wants to do does anything to CURB costs. If they really wanted to curb bout sompin like "TORT REFORM".
AHHHH ...Now that would do something about costs. But unfortunately something that would actually make a difference is overlooked because that would hurt a key demographic of the DNC.
Trial lawyers.
It WOULD help the common man tho..
Hmmmm. Priorities?

Your losing the argument. And when/IF you ram this through...
You will ultimately lose the war on health care.

And for the record, I don't think your physic or psychotic.

Just another bureaucrat.

Anonymous said...

You guarantee? Well, gee, thanks. I feel so much better now. I see the light.

What you fail to understand that the limiting of choice that we have had in this country has been our choice of jobs. I cannot think of any greater enemy of a free market than employer-provided healthcare, which is becoming shittier every day, if it is even offered at all. I cannot switch jobs without screwing up my healthcare. There is no incentive whatsoever for me to move on. The right will tell you that if employers want to get the best workers, they have to offer a competitive health plan. In reality, this has been complete and utter bullshit. The only incentive an employer has is to offer the cheapest, lowest cost crap. Anything else would bankrupt any small business.

If you want to talk about socialism, let's talk about corporate discounts for healthcare. You think a corporation with fifty thousand employees pays the same as a small business with three? Really? Give me a f'ing break. The system is already socialist - for big business. And is this system making our healthcare cheaper? It's sending costs through the roof as these corporate raiders pass the costs onto our government. Fear-mongering conservatives are the most ill-informed suckers on the planet.

Anonymous said...


I've never seen you say anything that wasn't a direct talking point of the right wing. In ten minutes I could link everyone to multiple versions of the crap you spew from prominent republican politicians.

Try thinking for yourself once in awhile.

Tort reform? You're either really high, or lame. Why do you mindlessly defend corporations over people, people like yourself that would have no chance under the weight of a conglomerate if they screwed you. The savings from tort reform is almost inconsequential.

And for hannah,

Almost everything inflates, including health care, but the socialized medicine countries stem the tides of uncontrolled costs like why have here. It's not a straight line.

The fact that everything has to be boiled down to a bumper sticker for people to understand it, is scary.

Anonymous said...

Handel can "guarantee" how future events will break with absolute certainty, which suggests that he is in some way prescient. Yet when it comes to "when/IF" health care reform passes, he can't quite see as clearly into the crystal ball. Kinda makes all the other "guarantees" suspect, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Isn't it wonderful when people have such certainty in their politics that it might as well be their religion? Because we all know socialized public libraries put the bookstores out of business. Socialized public transportation put the car industry out of business. There are no such things as private schools anymore. FedEx and UPS don't exist.

Even though socialized health care has worked in every other civilized country [despite inevitable cries of rationing, which occurs here too], that's not even on the table here so what are you complaining about, handel? But at least we should be able to provide a baseline service for everyone and then myriad private plans will still exist to provide above that baseline, just as in the examples of libraries, transportation, and so on. Make the baseline be something that isn't perfect [has rationing, doesn't cover everything, etc.]. Then naturally everyone will want to be above that baseline if it isn't doing the job for them. So middle class people will buy their Chevy plan, upper middle class will buy their low-end BMW plan, and rich people will buy their high-end BMW plan. But at least everyone will have access to a public transportation plan. Would you be able to at least agree to that?

Anonymous said...

The most infuriating thing I find with the right is when you ask to hear their suggested fix to a problem and they give you something that helps the rich instead of the poor. They give you something that doesn't even pass the smell test in terms of what it will do for rich people vs. poor people. They are either that deluded or that disingenuous and it is infuriating.

We would be able to find agreement on ways to cut down on frivolous lawsuits, but to actually suggest cutting off access to the legal system as a last resort? To cut the power of the legal system as a last resort? That is the most un-American thing I've ever heard. And then they have the nerve to only suggest it in one area of law. They certainly wouldn't suggest it in the area of one big company going after another big company.

Have you no shame, sir? Have you no shame?

Anonymous said...

"Am I GUARANTEED to be able to stay on MY own private plan, for the rest of my career with no chance of being dumped into the govt plan?"

Yes. You are--according to the bill going before Congress. Facts are the darndest things.

And as far as "health care rationing," insurance companies are BUILT on rationing, denying payment to maximize profit and using that profit attempting to squash competition. And every health plan offers "end of life" counselling. Death Panels, according to the definition of wingnuts.

Chip said...

"Tort reform" is the biggest phony scheme the right has ever devised.

Every time a serious study is done of this issue, it finds the same result--frivolous lawsuits are dismissed without trial. The court system, and judges, do an excellent job culling meritless medical lawuits from their dockets. Therefore, not much money is ever spent dealing with them.

By and large, the only lawsuits left are ones in which there really is good reason to suspect the doctor made egregious and negligent mistakes. No sane person would suggest that doctors should be protected from such errors as amputating the wrong limb (yet these kinds of mistakes really do happen).

Then again, no one should expect sanity from the rightwing these days.

handel said...

And I'M accused of giving party talking points? Sounds like the lot here is simply reciting verse from the huffpo blogs or 'daily cuss.(Think for yourself indeed.)

No doubt.

I'm not speaking off of any kind of talking points. Its just economics.
Just plain common sense really.
Would 'Tort reform' help. Of course. Much of the high cost is due to FRIVOLOUS law suits and HIGH malpractice insurance that is passed off onto the customer.
Would MORE choice in ins. plans and providers be much better than ONE choice ---the govt plan.... OF COURSE
Please....tell me. ANYONE....who and where are you going to go to if you hate the govt plan? (insert jeopardy wait theme here).
No where. Your stuck.
Now...if a MONOPOLY is bad in any business, why is it somehow ACCEPTABLE for health care?
(again with the jeopardy theme please)

Would it be BETTER still if we tore down the barriers that are up that limit cross state competition. The ability to purchase health insurance across state lines would go a great distance to BRING DOWN COSTS, as well as KEEP THE QUALITY.
Whhhhyyyyy? Because chid'rens...It's competition.
And competition is better and benefits EVERYONE.
None of that happens with the govt plan. None. Ziltch. Nada.

THOSE are just a few things that would bring down costs. NONE of which is talked about by obama OR his minions in the union.
I"m less intrigued by the lemmings and MORE interested in what Hulett has to say on this.

I know steve isn't a moron. I know that he actually KNOWS this. Because it really is just simple economics. But its fascinating to me whenever I see someone who knows the truth...and yet refuses to speak it, due to it going against the party line. and ultimately against THEIR interests.
Which is pretty much to consolidate power.

What'cha say stevo...?
Tell me how wrong I am, and try and do it with a straight face.

Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about not even reading what anyone wrote.

No one is arguing against tort reform purely from an economic perspective. Completely shutting off the legal system from people is immoral and un-American. But if you're saying we're allowed to just do any immoral thing we want to keep costs down, let's cap health insurance CEO salaries at $1. That would bring costs down a lot. (Duh) Why aren't you suggesting that?

A government monopoly is not on the table here. Your railing against it is just showing how completely out of touch with reality you are. The government would only be servicing the market the insurance companies have refused to service. You will have all the choice you want to stay far away from the government plan.

I'm not against cross-state competition, by the way.

Anonymous said...

FYI: my partner, also on our MP plan, had to get their cancer treatment drugs only from MedCo(I don't know why as this was a couple of years ago, but I think it had to do with the specific drug prescribed).

Personally I HATE the idea of having to go mailorder for any prescriptions, but admittedly MedCo always delivered perfectly, no issues. It really wasn't a problem at all.

Anonymous said...


You're not arguing economics. You're arguing a gimmick called supply side economics. A gimmick in which it's largest supporter in the last two decades, Alan Greenspan admitted was bunk, and unsustainable.

Pain, misery, and death should not be a commodity. The fact that you fail to understand this concept proves you're incapable of debating honestly about the subject.

Or to ignorant.

Anonymous said...

None of what our prez wants to do does anything to CURB costs. If they really wanted to curb bout sompin like "TORT REFORM".

Hey Handel, check out what tort reform has accomplished in the states where it's been enacted. Have health care cost increased at a slower rate than in states that haven't enacted tort reform. Nope. Just higher profits for insurance companies and doctors.

Oops, those slippery damned facts. Don't you hate it when they don't align with your deluded ditto-head talking points?

And competition will lower health care costs? Really? We have a system where every single doctor competes with every other doctor. There are no shortage of doctors, so supply isn't limited (except in rare locations, and, ironically, those tend to be locations where health care expenditures are well below the national average). We have a system where there are over 20,000 health care plans in the country, all competing for their slice of the pie. It's really working, isn't it?

Now please, prove what a douche you are and run back to your extreme right-wing blogs for some new talking points.

Anonymous said...

"Every time a serious study is done of this issue, it finds the same result--"

Hogwash. Every version of recent tort reform REQUIRES arbitration CHOSEN by the insurance company of the medical insurance company. They save money by DENYING you the ability to go to court, just as they deny your claims. They're in the pocket of the docters which only want to make more money with less responsibility.

Remember, reagun proved trickle down economics doesn't work.

Steve Hulett said...

Handel my handel:

I have no problem with tort reform.

But it's pretty much a non-issue in real-world terms. 38 states have it, yet the GOP keeps yapping about it.

(As a physician with whom I had lunch two weeks ago said: "Tort reform is a done deal in most states, it's not an issue anymore.")

And the costs of lawsuits now accounts for 2% of health care costs.

But go on chasing Newt Gingrich's tail. It's good for you.

Steve Hulett said...

Handel my handel:

How do you explain private health insurance still hanging in there with Medicare? Kind of undercuts your argument that guvmint care will be the only care.

So, no. If you were honest and used real-world facts instead of a going the propagandist route, you'd acknowledge that private health insurance isn't going away. Even the Congressional Budget Office says so.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand to wade through all of the usual rhetoric so I'll try to make this short and sweet:

Would everyone who loves to fall back on the "This is how they do it in every other civilized nation" argument please, please SHUT THE FUCK UP!

I'll listen to all the other arguments, but ENOUGH with that one. It's sheer idiocy.

The United States is unique in so many countless ways to your other "civilized nations" that their models simply wouldn't work in ours. I'm not even going to bother trying to back up my argument with statistics or "proof" because IT SHOULD BE FUCKING OBVIOUS and if you can't see the differences plain as day, well then you are beyond hope.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even going to bother trying to back up my argument with statistics or "proof" because IT SHOULD BE FUCKING OBVIOUS...

I think we can all agree that SOMETHING's obvious.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:59: If you are saying that the way to go about covering everyone should be different than other countries because we're a different country, that's one thing. But if you are saying that it is *impossible* to cover everyone in this country then you are the one missing the obvious facts in front of you. Different countries have gone about it in different ways, so while it's fine to proceed in our own unique way as well, they've all proved that it's DOABLE. End of story.

Anonymous said...

Man. Erin Brockovich with that new tort reform ending sucked.

Chip said...

Wow, Handel, your fact-free rant sure was impressive. Just not very persuasive.

Ultimately, your argument makes no sense. If private insurers offer a better, more efficient product, then they will be able to out-compete any optional public plan, and neither they nor we have anything to worry about. If they continue to operate in the inefficient, bloated way they have been, then they won't be able to. Win-win for the consumer. Exactly the kind of competition you should be for, if you weren't blinded by your ideology.

The fact is, Medicare (a program its clientele are very satisfied with) operates at a 4% overhead. You want to talk about the inefficiency of government? Find me a private insurer that operates at an overhead even close to that. You won't. The most efficient of them has an overhead of 30%. Money mostly going to things that have absolutely nothing to do with the service they are supposed to be providing.

Anonymous said...

I think extreme libertarians who don't believe in virtually anything Fed should have to declare themselves at the start of any political conversation. That way no one has to waste any time arguing with a brick wall. The ship has sailed, buddy. The Fed already runs tons of socialized programs, including ones of the health care variety, and sooner or later will be providing a safety net health care for everyone as well. Eat it.

Anonymous said...

From Anon.3:45

I wasn't arguing for or against socialized medicine. Of course it's POSSIBLE. Anything is possible. The argument is whether or not it's the best course of action for our nation, and each side to the argument has good points in my opinion.

My point was that the "This is what every other country does so we should do it too" is beyond moronic.

It's that specific argument I'm sick of. There's not a trace of legitimacy to it. There are much better ways to argue in favor of socialized medicine.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 5:51

Of course there is legitimacy to it; no rational person would suggest that other countries' experiences with universal health care isn't relevant to a discussion as to whether we should adopt it. Both pro and con.

It doesn't matter if you, personally, are "tired" of this argument. Tune out, if you wish. It's not as if this is the only argument people are making. I, for one, am interested in the variety of different "socialized" systems other countries have tried, their successes and failures, the differences between them, etc.

And yes, I DO think it is persuasive for people, who would otherwise be ignorant, to realize that this is hardly some radical, untried concept.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. And not to belabor the point, but one of the main arguments opponents have against it is that it may be noble but it's not affordable. So as a counter to that, bringing up other nations is extremely relevant. Because if they've all gone about it different ways and yet ALL have accomplished a version of it, that kind of defeats their argument, don't you think?

People aren't saying to do it only because other countries are doing it. People have tried to do it here for almost a century regardless of any other country. But now that it has been accomplished everywhere else, that is relevant as a counterargument to "It's noble but just not affordable".

Anonymous said...

"The United States is unique in so many countless ways to your other "civilized nations""

No---the U.S. is JUST another better than some, no worse than many. We were established as a secular state, and remain so--thank goodness. But after 8 years of a criminal and shameful administration, we're left with JUST that much more work to do to make our country great again.

John Locke said...

According to anonymous: ["Am I GUARANTEED to be able to stay on MY own private plan, for the rest of my career with no chance of being dumped into the govt plan?"

Yes. You are--according to the bill going before Congress. Facts are the darndest things.]

Actually, if you want some "facts," then I'd suggest you take a look at this bill going through Congress. It's easily to obtain a pdf from the web of it.

I'd suggest you look at it before rambling off about what's in it. I've read it and apparently you haven't. Want proof? You don't even need to go very far in to the 1000 plus pages. Just check out page 16 (sixteen) if you believe that you'll keep your current health care.

You won't. Not if this current bill passes. But at least read what you're defending so you don't sound like the lemming that you are.

Steve Hulett said...

There are multiple Health Care bills in Congress.

And none of them have been put up for a vote. Or have passed.

Even after passing, there is the House-Senate conference committee where yet another bill will take shape.

So it could be ... just a thought ... that you have read the wrong thousand pages.

Steve Hulett said...

And we have run far afield from the original post: a private plan participant complained to me about "socialism" regarding a private plan.

Anonymous said...

And he read it wrong anyway! Not only does it not do what he says, it does the opposite! The page is entitled "Protecting the Choice to Keep Current Coverage" and proceeds to define all existing plans as grandfathered. No wonder nothing gets done in this country anymore. It's filled with idiots! Someone please save us from these people!

Chip said...

Specifically, here is the nonpartisan debunking of the "Page 16" bullshit, which they rated as a "pants-on-fire" lie:

To briefly summarize: What page 16 actually means is that after 2015, all individual private insurance will be required by law to provide a certain minimum standard of coverage (cannot drop you for pre-existing conditions, etc.) Once that date occurs, insurance companies can no longer accept people into the old, unregulated plans, and must enroll people in the new plans that at least meet the minimum standard of coverage.

It's to HELP consumers like me and "John Locke" so we are no longer screwed by insurance companies who drop us for pre-existing conditions or recission. But "John Locke" is such a lemming that he gladly assists the insurance companies in screwing him and his family, and the rest of American consumers, so that insurance companies can continue make wildly disproportionate profits.

It's sad that he sees things through such a paranoid and ignorant lens, that he cannot see when he is actively working against his, and his family's own economic and health interest.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe there are actually people who think that health insurance companies are an indispensable part of our healthcare system.

Health insurance companies aren't doctors.

They aren't hospitals. They aren't healthcare providers at all.

They're simply middle-men. Inefficient, financially-draining middlemen.

They provide no value-added service to your medical care. They exist to deny payment to as many of their paying clients as they can get away with, and to drive up the cost of medical care, while reaping massive profits for themselves.

I'm sad that a completely single-payer system that dispenses with insurance companies altogether is not on the table.

John Locke said...

Yeah, the Insurance companies will screw me, but NOT the government..

Right. At least a company can't send me to fight in a war I don't believe in. A company can't take half my income because it believes it's entitled to it.

And as for that page, you might want to note that it states ANY change in those plans will result in you being put into the public plan. Any change.

If you have faith in a Republican or Democrat government choosing to do what is right for you then you're got more faith in them than me so I'm in no way worried about you calling me a Lemming to them or some insurance company. But I don't trust government and I don't worship it like some people.

If you give a government the power to do everything for you then you abdicate yourself from the responsibility of free will. I don't plan plan on being a serf to the state. My rights don't come from the government and I don't intend on giving them the ability to tell me what to do with my body. When you let a government decide who gets health care and who doesn't, you're saying a bunch of faceless bureaucrats know better how to run your life. If you want to do so, do it for yourself, but don't force everyone in the nation to live like the slave you want to be..

Anonymous said...

We the Shareholders, good.
We the People, bad.

This is exactly why this country is so f**ked up.

Anonymous said...

This is the best country in the world and i am thankful to be born here. American's are getting more active in taking a stand and getting their Republic back on track. Sometimes you have to hit the bottom to wake everyone up and get them involved. Its time to get involved. Reduce the behemoth government and give the power back to the people to decide for themselves what is best for them.

Anonymous said...

Give the power back to which people? The ones who believe in the BS from Rush and Beck and don't know Hawaii is a state? The Electoral college makes more sense to me where I listen to some of these fools.

Anonymous said...

The government *IS* the people, you nutjob. The People are demanding healthcare and they finally voted in elected representatives ready to get it done, until nutjobs like you got in the way. You are the one fighting to stifle the will of the people. And you are the one preventing America from being the best country in the world.

John Locke said...

And you are the one that obviously doesn't know how to read a poll..

Pubic is demanding it? Check ALL the latest polls. Any of them, actually. You're the one who doesn't know what you're talking about.

Being as this is an animation blog, I take it from your comments that you work on fantasies..

Bushisanidiot said...

Sadly, America is full retards.

The ones who elected, and re-elected Bush.

Ok, let me refrase the first line: there's too many retards in America.

I always think of the seemingly endless supply of guests to the Jerry Springer show....

Anonymous said...

Only in America do so many people fight tooth and nail against things that are so obviously in their own economic self-interest. Talk to any relatives you have that live in a country with universal healthcare and tell them how people are actually fighting so hard against it. They will, to a person, laugh in your face. Only in America.

Chip said...

Mr. Locke, you are just constructing straw men so that you can knock them down. Nobody is suggesting the government should "do everything for you," what we were talking about here is setting up an optional health plan, mainly for people the private insurers don't want as customers.

Frankly, if the private health insurance companies didn't engage in so many dishonest recissions and denials for pre-existing conditions, we'd have a lot less to talk about here. This has all come about due to their unethical behavior, not the government's. They are the ones rationing care for millions of Americans.

All the same boogeymen you see with this public plan are all the same arguments conservatives used when Medicare was first proposed in the early 60's. Seriously, listen to Ronald Reagan's speech against Medicare in 1961. It's virtually identical to what you're saying now. NONE of these paranoid dystopian fears came to pass, and today, seniors love their Medicare, and get very angry at any tampering with it. Your fears are baseless, but I realize you will never be convinced.

So no, I don't think we have lost our freedoms and liberties because there's a government-run post office alongside FedEx and UPS. We haven't fallen into collapse because we have government-run Medicare and the VA, alongside private insurers. You are reading a bunch of paranoid bad motives into something that doesn't deserve it.

But according to you, we shouldn't have fire/police departments (and other socialized government services) anymore because of...wars in foreign countries(???). Sorry, I just don't understand how you arrive at these non-sequitor conclusions.

Anonymous said...

Your argument is meaningless to him, Chip. This is a person who does not believe there should be medicare, medicaid, public libraries, public transportation, public schools, the post office, or anything else related to the Fed. If he could, he would turn back the clock on these. But if he can't, at least he wants to stop it from moving forward.

Anonymous said...

"When you let a government decide who gets health care and who doesn't, you're saying a bunch of faceless bureaucrats know better how to run your life."

As opposed to the faceless bureaucrats at the insurance companies?

Anonymous said...

John Locke: Pubic is demanding it? Check ALL the latest polls. Any of them, actually. You're the one who doesn't know what you're talking about..

CNN poll by Opinion Research, 1,010 adults, 8/28-31, +/- 3 pts (pdf):

Now thinking specifically about the health insurance plans available to most Americans, would you favor or oppose creating a public health insurance option administered by the federal government that would compete with plans offered by private health insurance companies?

Favor - 55%
Oppose - 41%
No opinion - 4%

Anonymous said...

Conservatives are just SO afraid of free market capitalism and competition--otherwise, why would they be running SO SCARED? They look the fools they are. They need to be weaned away from the corporate socialism they love so much.

Sick of it said...

In all of the discussions about Health Care, let's not forget why we have employer-provided Health Care in the first place. These benefits, like many others, were hard fought and won for employees by UNIONS. They are not altruistic gifts by all-loving corporations.

Check this out from

"In 1827 several trade unions in Philadelphia banded together to form the Mechanics' Union of Trade Associations, the first U.S. labor organization to unite workers in different crafts. Other cities soon had similar local federations. Besides acting to raise wages and improve working conditions, the federations espoused certain social reforms, such as the institution of free public education, the abolition of imprisonment for debt, and the adoption of universal manhood suffrage."

Wow, what a radical "socialist" agenda.

Those who spew venom on Steve Hulett and The Animation Guild without reason, or for pure ideology (that's you, Handel) are pissing where they eat.

John Locke said...

Anonymous said: "Only in America do so many people fight tooth and nail against things that are so obviously in their own economic self-interest."

Yeah, fortunate me. I love how it's in my interest to have a government be the one that rejects my hip replacement surgery instead of an insurance company. That makes it soooo much better.

Anonymous said: "Talk to any relatives you have that live in a country with universal healthcare and tell them how people are actually fighting so hard against it. They will, to a person, laugh in your face. Only in America."

Gee, maybe you should talk to some of the people in Canada that my uncle sees come across for health care. Like this one lady that was on waiting list for 8 months for a procedure they can get here in a matter of weeks. Trick is, they have to pay for it. Of course, they don't have to pay for it in Canada.. but they can't get it there so why should that matter?

Yeah, now that is health care I can believe in..

Anonymous said...

Yeah, fortunate me. I love how it's in my interest to have a government be the one that rejects my hip replacement surgery instead of an insurance company. That makes it soooo much better...

If your debating skills are any indication, you need more than just your hip replaced. You admit the private insurer would deny you your hip replacement. Yet you fail to show why the government would have a motive for denying this hypothetical hip replacement, the way a private insurer does.

Anonymous said...

I happen to be Canadian and I would kill to be back on their system. Night and Day. You talk about some wait times on *elective* surgeries for a statistically small number of people in the population vs. the US system of zero coverage for almost 50 million and near zero coverage for more than half the population? With 60+% of bankruptcies and most of those from people who HAVE insurance? That is by definition an EPIC FAIL. I will bet anything that even if you asked those people who go to your uncle to choose which system is better, if they had lived part of their life in the US, and were not rich, I'll bet you anything they would still choose the Canadian system in a heartbeat.

John Locke said...

Money. That's why. If you think everything you want will get done for free you really haven't ever lived in a country with socialized medicine.

All you have to do is look at the waiting times for surgery in Canada. They're far more than we have here. The government isn't going to just let you have anything you want. Unless this government has some new revolutionary plan, which I know they don't. Many of the people I've seen touting this are using Canada and Britain as the model. Thanks, but no thanks.

Too many people that want this are imagining a fairy tale world were you go in and get marvelous health care for free and that's not the case. Not in any country I've ever been. Socialized medicine is a way to make it worse for everyone, not better for all.

I'm in no way saying that insurance companies are innocent angels, but I don't believe turning the medical system over to a government bureaucrat is any better than turning it over to company bureaucrat..

Anonymous said...

Spoken by someone who has obviously never lived in Canada or Britain. I read his words and just hear "the world is flat". Forget even Canada and Britain. Every other first-world country has done it in their own way. That's akin to having pictures from space of a big swirling blue ball. But that doesn't stop him. "The world is flat".

The proposals being considered aren't even the Canadian or British way. I wish they were, but they aren't. They are a uniquely American way that has a government option alongside private enterprise. The government portion of it may lead to rationing, but this is for people who couldn't afford anything decent otherwise. It's a major step up for them. The richer can stick to non-rationed private plans. But your fear is so strong that even the mere mention of the word government in any context whatsoever sends you off in an irrational fervor.

If a philosophy leads you to cold-heartedly reject attempts to improve the lives of most of the population, without your attempting to come up with an alternative approach that accomplishes the same goal, you need to take a long hard look at your philosophy.

Steve Hulett said...

Dr. Locke goes the old anecdotal route about how Canadian flee from their health care. Then there's this:

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is trying to persuade Canadians that their public health care system should be privatised, but a new poll conducted by the Toronto-based Nanos Research points to overwhelming support — 86.2 percent — for strengthening public health care rather than expanding for-profit services.

The problem for the Right is, when the hapless Liberals get their act together and actually pass Social Security ... or Medicare ... or unemployment benefits, conservatives have a hard time convincing the citizenry the stuff they like is really awful.

Bush made a strong push to privatize Social Security, and it failed. Now the GOP is defending Medicare because it's smart politics.

Here's a fun factoid: There is one huge, threatening COMMUNIST dictatorship on the globe that enslaves and kills dissidents, and it's China. But you'll hear not a peep from 1) Republicans 2) Democrats, or 3) the Corporatist media about this because there is too much trade and money going on, and China holds a trillion dollars of our debt.

So Glen Beck, Hannit and Rush will rail about a center-left President, rant about artwork at Rockefeller center, and say not a WORD about China. Why? Because his corporate masters won't let him.

It's a horse laugh.

I don't know where the current debate will end up, but it's fun to watch, innit?

Anonymous said...

I'm unimpressed with the idea that Canada's universal health system is somehow worse than our system because of this talk of "waiting periods."

Canada operates on a pretty common-sense triage system. If your injury/illness is life-threatening, you will be seen that day, no waiting at all. And it will be first-class care.

On the other hand, if it is elective procedures--no life-threatening--where the urgency is less, yes, you may have to wait a bit. But it will get done in a few months, and for an embarrassingly low amount of money, compared to here.

Additionally, you never have to worry about losing your healthcare because you lose your job. It's always there.

I'd happily take that system. It's common-sense, very affordable, and bureaucrats are NOT second-guessing doctors' decisions, and interfering with the doctor/patient relationship the way they are here.

Polly Hutchens said...

Yeah, and I guess all those people that sued to have private medical care were just making a big fuss about nothing weren't they?

Fed up with the conditions and inability to get the service they wanted and felt they needed, they sued. Naturally the government fought to let them have the right to pay for their "own" health care. Apparently the Canadian Government thinks you don't have a right to your own body or the right to take care of it as you see fit. The case went all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court.

The Court ruled in their favor.

So much for the wonders of socialized medicine.

Anonymous said...

Part of the American way is people wanting to be able to buy what they can afford and not being told no. So I get why there's resistance to a fully socialized system. But if a system is a mixed private and public system that keeps intact people's choice to pay for care they can afford, why is there resistance to that? It sounds like Canada after this court decision just moved to the perfect system -- a most-of-the-time good baseline for all, with the ability to purchase for yourself if something falls through the cracks. Why is there resistance to a public option *alongside* private insurance?

Remember, the current US system fails miserably for over half its population. Why are we having trouble coming to the conclusion that:

All public -- not perfect
All private -- terrible
Private together with public -- best of both worlds

Anonymous said...

The classless, clownish behavior of the Republicans during Obama's speech tonight reveals in graphic display that their party now consists of nothing but extremist wackos.

The disrespect they showed to the office of the President was completely unlike anything ever shown to Bush--or any president--by elected Congressmen in our lifetime. The lack of basic, decent patriotism that is afforded the President when addressing Congress shows that these filthy Republicans have no patriotism for their country, no respect for the Office of the Presidency, and frankly have forfeited any voice at the table for health care reform.

Like a tantruming brat, they deserve nothing but to be slapped to the corner, and receive nothing. Their input should be ignored, the legislation passed with no regard for any of their desires, and the "Reconciliation Procedure" utilized to ram the bill through Congress.

handel said...

Had to skip a few days (Sorry).
I'm one of the few in the industry that is actually well employed. (is it a coincidence that its in a non union fashion in a non union area/state? Answ: no, because as in most places with a heavy union influence, there you have mass unemployment )

As i said..(Locke) aside, I'm less interested in what those (led by the nose by steve n' co.) have to say.
(Such as "shutting people off from the legal system is blah blah blah...")
Never said that, but that's what said by folks that read the pegboard regularly. said that "tort reform" only accounts for 2%of health care costs.
Now we can go back and fourth on that number, but you are conceding that there is SOMETHING to be said for "tort reform".
My thought way back when- wasn't that a single idea was needed to make real difference in costs. That's the dem way of thinking.

My thinking was to attack it with multiple solutions, coming together to do the job that is WANTED by people.:
Your way (sorry...THE DEMOCRATS way..same thing) does nothing to do any of that. (but it may benefit you financially. BONUS!)

My way (as stated earlier) of combining 'tort reform', Cross state competition (amongst any number of ideas including getting rid of useless programs) would go far to cut costs without hurting quality or adding to the deficit. put much faith into having govt take care of everything. The same govt that handles the post office, DMV, Katrina, and due to reckless spending estimates a 9 year deficit of 7 TRILLION...(oops! I mean 9 TRILLION due to a screw up on counting. well one only has so many fingers to count on dont'cha know! And what the hecky heck, its only a TRILL or two!)
To put so much faith in this same govt, ignoring any any number of examples from other countries that show that this wont work. Ignoring all signs that show that this is foolish..
Continuing to NOT ask the question of "where is the money going to come from?"
All that...leads me to ask:

"whats in it for the union, if this is passed?"

Because to work so hard to push something that would SO obviously hurt so many in your rank and file (not myself. Fortunately I escaped MY pod).

Look at your union ranks. See all those people that are having to leave families to work OUT OF COUNTRY in places like India, Israel, and canada?
Those will grow, if this thing goes through.

Count on it.

But that's secondary to desperately wanting more govt control and a more (financially) large union, I suppose.

Steve Hulett said...

Handel my handel.

Some kind of health care reform will pass. Elections have consequences.

But not to worry. The Roberts court is poised to throw out a hundred years of prohibitions re Corporations contributing to elections -- laws that were pushed and signed into force by Theodore Roosevelt -- so the brief liberal flowering will be over.

And our charming corporatist state will become more corporatist still, and it will be completely fine for the Chinese Red Army -- owner/shareholder of any number of trans national corporations -- to contribute millions or even billions of dollars to American political campaigns.

Enjoy the oncoming wave, because life will be changing. For all of us. And remember that an "activist court" is only activist if a liberal is doing it.

Steve Hulett said...

"whats in it for the union, if this is passed?"

Some sort of universal health care is probably a negative, as far as the union is concerned.

Health care under the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan has long been one of our principle organizing tools.

Last point: There is more animation work in Southern California than ever.

But hey. Don't let facts get in the way of your arguments.

Anonymous said...

Its no secret that there has been quite a movement of work going out of L.A. but that isn't so bad if you choose to live somewhere else. major studios are now allowing long distance working relationships if you can get them.

Tickle Me Nemo said...

Anonymous said: "The classless, clownish behavior of the Republicans during Obama's speech tonight reveals in graphic display that their party now consists of nothing but extremist wackos."

I'm sure you felt the same way when Democrats booed President Bush during his speeches before Congress.. right?

Anonymous said...

Its no secret that there has been quite a movement of work going out of L.A....
Well, it isn't a secret, but it's also not a fact. As Steve said, there's more work in LA than ever before. And the list of shiny, new, low-cost studios that sprout up in the hinterlands, last a few months to a few years, and go out of business (usually leaving a crew who relocated high and dry), grows ever longer.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you felt the same way when Democrats booed President Bush during his speeches before Congress.. right?..

I know you feel comforted by the talking points your rightwing blogs have given you. But whatever "booing" went on at "applause lines" moments in Bush's speeches is simply not the same as an individual shouting during a President's midsentence. Especially to call him a liar. And especially when calling him a liar is itself a provable lie.

No, the disrespect shown to our Commander-in-Chief was indeed unprecedented. And your attempt to minimize this disrespect shows your contempt for the Office of the Presidency, and your disrespect of our country.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure you felt the same way when Democrats booed President Bush during his speeches before Congress.. right?.."

Frankly, yes. But booing is childish at best; shouting at the leader of our nation in the middle of a speech is repugnant. This is where the "us versus them" approach of modern politics has brought us.

handel said...

Well, you don't really touch on any of my points on cost (because you cant).
Instead, you give a bunch of the "corporate blah blah blah" that the union is known for.
I'm guessing in an effort to make it seem as if you HAVE an answer to my points on cost.
(nice try).
So I'll accept your 'roll over and expose your soft underbelly' submission.

And you are correct. Elections DO have consequences. (As everyone now has the buyers regret).
But while elections DO have do ramming through a policy that really no one wants.
I'm looking forward to those consequences. >:) (1994 ALL OVER AGAIN).

You said that :
"Some sort of universal health care is probably a negative, as far as the union is concerned."

If that's so..why is the union pushing so hard for something that ISN'T in their interest. That ISN'T in the rank and file's interest. That will ultimately HURT many in the rank in file?

I'm sure that many of those same 'rank and file' are asking themselves the same question.
Especially since polls show a steep approval decline for the union. Lowest ever level of support?


So again..I ask...
Whats in it for the Union?
But I already answered that question earlier didn't I?

More govt control = a more (financially) large union.

Ayn Rand said...

Reading comprehension not your strong suit?

He said he personally supports it, even though it may rob the union of one of their better recruiting tools.

Let me spell it out for you, since you have neither reading comprehension nor common sense. It means that he personally supports the cause from a moral point of view. He believes that giving the general public greater access to affordable health care is an important moral good, and is willing to support it even if it makes his job a little harder.

He's not saying it will "hurt the union." Where did he say that? He's saying it might potentially make his job a little harder by taking one of his recruiting pitches away. And he's willing to support it anyway because it will benefit society at large.

Ah, society at large. Something Handel couldn't give a rat's ass about. You see, he's a rugged Randian individualist, who leeches off our roads and bridges and sewer systems and traffic infrastucture and police/fire departments and water treatment plants and public schools and airflight control, among many other government services.

Handel, since you're so convinced that the public would find Libertarianism very appealing, why don't you suggest that we take government-run Medicare away from our seniors? Let's see how thrilled they'd be about that?

Indeed, elections have consequences. And as a result, health care reform will get passed, hopefully rammed through Congress, while you cry and moan and stamp your little feet. Ha ha ha!!

Anonymous said...

wow, that is really mature. Must be a kid.

Ayn Rand said...

Try not to cry.

Anonymous said...

Damn, Handel, you got played. Bad. Your pathetic attempts to dismiss and misrepresent Steve's thoughtful comments just got expertly flayed by one of your own heroes. Nicely played, Ayn.

John Locke said...

Anonymous said: "I know you feel comforted by the talking points your rightwing blogs have given you. But whatever "booing" went on at "applause lines" moments in Bush's speeches is simply not the same as an individual shouting during a President's midsentence. Especially to call him a liar. And especially when calling him a liar is itself a provable lie."

Then I guess you were equally upset when Senator Harry Reid called President Bush "a liar and a loser," right? I mean, especially calling him a liar, right?

And as for the Senator calling him a liar, I'm sure you noticed in the sentence before he was called a liar, President Obama said that everyone who was making accusations about his plan were liars. I guess he's going to be apologizing too, hmmm?

After all, you can't disagree with the President and believe that there's another way.. no, you're a liar.

Tit for tat, friend. Tit for tat..

Steve Hulett said...

while elections DO have do ramming through a policy that really no one wants.

I'm looking forward to those consequences. >:) (1994 ALL OVER AGAIN).

No one wants?

The latest Gallup Poll on health care reform, taken Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, before President Obama’s special address on the subject, showed 39% of Americans want their member of Congress to oppose a health care reform bill while 37% want a vote in favor of the measure.

Pretty close split, Handel, if you're honest. (I know you like to deal in fact-free hyperbole, but I prefer the other way. We'll see what the post speech numbers are.)

The Dems could well lose seats in 2010. It's the historical norm, and unemployment will be high.

I've thought for awhile that Obama's administration will follow the Reagan path: Losses at the first mid-term, followed by a strong re-election.

But history doesn't repeat itself, it only rhymes.

Anonymous said...

Reading through this thread only makes me feel like Im living in the movie "Idiocracy."

Tickle Me Nemo said...

Yes Anonymous,

That's right. We're all stupid, but you..

Anonymous said...

Yes Tickle Me Nemo,

That's right. All of these comments have been mature, well-thought out, and lacking in personal insults and self serving diatribe.

Just like this one!

PS) Brawndo's got electrolytes.

Yoddling Thru The Ages said...

So nice to know there are such smart people out there that know how to debate and argue without calling people names. Cause we know, when you start calling people names, you've run out ways to defend your argument..

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