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The Goal Is Freedom: The Welfare State Corrupts Absolutely


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The Goal Is Freedom: The Welfare State Corrupts Absolutely

<h2 class="subtitle">What's wrong with healthcare deform.</h2> By Sheldon Richman • Posted October 30, 2009

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Filed Under: HeadlineTGIF

Let’s begin at the beginning. Medical care is nota free good found in nature. Of course, no one really thinks it is. Butthat doesn’t keep most people from wanting to pretend otherwise, andthe current institutional setting makes that possible. After a while,one forgets one is pretending. Yet medical care goes on being acollection of produced goods and services — subject to thelaws of supply and demand, and requiring resources and labor that comewith opportunity costs. Therein lies the problem.

 

Medical insurance has come to mean getting somethingfor free. The receiver of a service need not ask how it is financed.It’s just taken care of. (Passive voice intentional.) Yes, somebodygets paid, and the money comes from somewhere. That’s okay, as long asit doesn’t come from the covered party. (What would be the point ofhaving insurance?) Don’t bother us with such matters. Let us believeit’s free. Let the insurer figure out the rest. But he’d better keepthat coverage going. And don’t hassle us by not paying all billseagerly and unquestioningly. That’s what he’s there for. Just reassureus that whatever services we consume will be taken care of. We don’twant to know the details. What’s that? The government is promising tocap our out-of-pocket expenses, require coverage for preexistingillness and free preventative care, and extend the same deal toabsolutely everyone? And this will have no negative consequenceswhatever, such as limits on what we can buy or enlargement of thebudget deficit or higher taxes for the middle class — but it willactually save money? Oh thank you, government!

This irresponsible mindset, which is similar to a notvery inquisitive child’s, is what at least two generations ofgovernment intervention in health care — and the welfare state ingeneral — have produced in the American people. Thus the welfare stateretards moral and intellectual development. We expect the State — oursurrogate parent — to make it all right. The demagogues we callpoliticians are happy to feed this attitude because it providesoccasions for the expansion and exercise of raw power while seeming,like Santa Claus, to give away free goods. Of such things longpolitical careers are made.

 

 

Something for Nothing

The healthcare “reform” juggernaut seems to be on an irresistible course. The

1,990-page (!) bill(pdf) released by the House leadership yesterday is just the latestvariation on the corrupt something-for-nothing theme. The detailsobscure the big picture. A modest public option instead of a robustpublic option? Blah blah blah blah blah. The government-run insurance“alternative” was always more signal than substance. Why do you need agovernment “competitor” if the government will be dictating everydetail of the private insurance business under any circumstances? Whatmotivates the public option, I submit, is sheer hatred of private,for-profit business in the medical industry. Of course, we don’t havepurely private, for-profit insurance companies — every state governmentruns a regulated, protectionist insurance cartel. (That’s why the fedsexempted the insurance industry from antitrust; it was a favor to thestate regulators.) But the public-option advocates would oppose trulyfree-market insurance companies. Their true preference is a governmentmonopoly — which is why it is so funny to hear them praise “choice andcompetition.” That’s the last thing they want, but they know that theAmerican people won’t accept their single-payer scheme. Anyone whoreally wanted choice and competition would at least support legalizinginterstate insurance sales. The silence about that is deafening.

Most people get their insurance through their employer,so they won’t have the option of the public option anyway. One of thebiggest sources of trouble in the healthcare system isemployer-purchased insurance — it cuts the consumer out ofdecision-making. Yet this bill, and all the others, strengthen thatperverse system. Some reform. Despite the squawking, the insurancecompanies love the idea of forcing people to buy their products. Thecorporate state thrives.

Like an uninquisitive child, most people seem willingto believe politicians when they promise to subsidize and compel theuse of medical “insurance” while reducing prices without controllingchoices. And while they’re at it, they’ll cut the budget deficit andboost economic growth. One shouldn’t have to be an economist to smell ascam. Exactly how is that supposed to work? They’ll get the money outof Medicare — without degrading the service — and they’ll taxmillionaires, while fining employers who don’t provide insurance andthose of us who don’t buy it. Since the American people aren’t rollingon the floor laughing their you-know-whats off, I can only concludethat the government’s schools have so dumbed them down that they haveno trouble swallowing this patent nonsense.

A final word about the nearly 2,000-page bill. Othershave said it, but it needs to be repeated. No one will be able tounderstand all the implications and consequences of a governmentattempt to design 15 percent of the U.S. economy. Heck, few will read —and grasp– the bill in its entirety. (You also have to read all thestatutes that are amended by the bill.) Enacting laws that no onecomprehends, and that turns over yet-to-be defined powers to others,wouldn’t seem to satisfy the criteria of self-government, the consentof the governed, the rule of law, or any of the other political mythswe live by. I don’t how any theory of political obligation rooted inpopular sovereignty that could regard this bill as morally binding whenit becomes “law.” The process mocks the philosophy expressed in theDeclaration of Independence. It insults the intelligence. It disgraceseverything decent about this country.

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Fuck decency. I want my free health care.

 

Well I know it’s not free. The rich will pay for it. But there’s more of us poor people than rich people. And we’ll just vote their money to us.

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K, again I pose the question: I can't possibly work anymore and government healthcare and drugs keep me alive. Should I and the numbers like me just go off to a mass "poor folks" graveyard and save you taxpayers a few bucks?

 

There was a Star-Trek TNG episode where David Ogden Stiers portrayed a 49 yo fellow from a world where people were required to "terminate" themselves at 50. Maybe that's the ultimate Libertarian solution. Once one stops working for whatever reason, you're outta here.

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Maybe that's the ultimate Libertarian solution.

Eh?

 

Why is that a Libertarian solution? Since the Libertarians view is that the state should not interfere, then how can a state who interferes in the business of the daily life and conduct extermination of a certain group of people be considered a Libertarian view? I don't get that.

 

Here's a short definition of what a Libertarian stands for:

an extreme laissez-faire political philosophy advocating only minimal state intervention in the lives of citizens.

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No government intervention in my life= death. A Libertarian "minimal government" would write all blatant socialist programs like Disability and Medicare out of the budget, no?

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I think Par was shooting more for the working definition of libertarian, which can be best (and most cynically) described as "I'd rather see people starving in the streets than live with the possibility even a single person is getting any sort of 'free ride.'" It may not be Official Libertarian Ideology, but most actual libertarians' problem with government intervention seems to lie in the possibility of someone who's not directly putting into the system getting some benefit out of it. It's the Protestant work ethic taken to its logical conclusion, where Work = Value and those who can't work are, by definition, without value.

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No government intervention in my life= death. A Libertarian "minimal government" would write all blatant socialist programs like Disability and Medicare out of the budget, no?

Eh, yeah. The idea behind the Libertarian ideology is that if the government was smaller it wouldn't interfere as much in business and it would create more jobs and more opportunities so fewer people would have to be starving on the streets. Just to make a little note here, I'm not a true or wholehearted libertarian, but your earlier post looked like the suggestion that a government policy to kill people would be a libertarian view. And what you're suggest here is rather that people will die because the government won't help them.

 

My personal opinion is that the truth tends to be somewhere in the middle.

 

I have a personal experience of living in a socialized country, so I know the good and bad sides of it.

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I think Par was shooting more for the working definition of libertarian, which can be best (and most cynically) described as "I'd rather see people starving in the streets than live with the possibility even a single person is getting any sort of 'free ride.'"

Sure. And the most extreme socialized society is the one where no one is paid any salaries and there are no private companies, instead everyone works for the government which distributes food, shelter, and medical care according to policies established by a small group of top politicians. They decide who will live, and who will die. This top elite would decide who can eat and work, and who cannot.

 

By exaggerating the negative aspects, every political system is corrupt and dangerous.

 

It may not be Official Libertarian Ideology™, but most actual libertarians' problem with government intervention seems to lie in the possibility of someone who's not directly putting into the system getting some benefit out of it. It's the Protestant work ethic taken to its logical conclusion, where Work = Value and those who can't work are, by definition, without value.

Perhaps, or it could be the fear that the government becomes bloated and a top elite is controlling our daily lives. Perhaps it's the fear that we'll have a million laws, and the government bailing out the large corporations because it benefits the country but not the individual.

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Fuck decency. I want my free health care.

 

Well I know it’s not free. The rich will pay for it. But there’s more of us poor people than rich people. And we’ll just vote their money to us.

 

I see it differently. As far as I am concerned the ‘redistribution of wealth’ everyone is so concerned about was not done at tax time, but on payday. The super-wealthy in this country have used their wealth to manipulate the economy into paying them far more than their worth. Taxing them heavily still leaves them far wealthier than most and gives back to the community what was rightfully earned by them in the first place.

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Fuck decency. I want my free health care.

 

Well I know it’s not free. The rich will pay for it. But there’s more of us poor people than rich people. And we’ll just vote their money to us.

 

I see it differently. As far as I am concerned the ‘redistribution of wealth’ everyone is so concerned about was not done at tax time, but on payday. The super-wealthy in this country have used their wealth to manipulate the economy into paying them far more than their worth. Taxing them heavily still leaves them far wealthier than most and gives back to the community what was rightfully earned by them in the first place.

Yes, comrade! Spoken like a fellow Marxist.

 

I think the problem is that redistribution through taxation only shifts power from the wealthy to the government. We simply switch masters.

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The Star Trek episode was a bad example. I meant to emphasize the no work= no value idea more than who was doing the terminating.

And I sure don't trust the states to take up the slack. TN would have a WASP only healthcare system and we here in NC have a female W at the helm. NC "leaders" can't even agree on an alcohol policy: it's town by town.

I sincerly doubt 50 differing state ideas on what were federal matters would be an improvement.

Or, to get really Libertarian, 300 million or so views.

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Hmm. What's it called when you have for-profit corporations deciding who lives and who dies?

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Libertarian principles do not allow for the disabled to be shuffled off and forgotten. In Libertarian principles, people have disability insurance, not government sanctioned compensation. However, I always question the affordability of any insurance. I have not seen affordable insurance and now the government wants to fine people $1,000 a year for not carrying some kind of health insurance. The government is STUPID in any affiliation.

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Hmm. What's it called when you have for-profit corporations deciding who lives and who dies?

The US of A. Another problem socialized medicine could address.

In Libertarian principles, people have disability insurance, not government sanctioned compensation.

And of course since insurance companies are so compassionate everyone will get that insurance.

I had my heart attack two weeks before I was eligible for disability insurance. Think they cared?

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Fuck decency. I want my free health care.

 

Well I know it’s not free. The rich will pay for it. But there’s more of us poor people than rich people. And we’ll just vote their money to us.

 

I see it differently. As far as I am concerned the ‘redistribution of wealth’ everyone is so concerned about was not done at tax time, but on payday. The super-wealthy in this country have used their wealth to manipulate the economy into paying them far more than their worth. Taxing them heavily still leaves them far wealthier than most and gives back to the community what was rightfully earned by them in the first place.

Yes, comrade! Spoken like a fellow Marxist.

 

I think the problem is that redistribution through taxation only shifts power from the wealthy to the government. We simply switch masters.

 

 

I think that's a good observation. But wouldn't a Socialist then counter that at least the government is SOMEWHAT accountable (seeings how they can be voted out)... whereas billionaires (who must work HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of times as hard as you if you really believe that they've earned their fortune) are not?

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Hmm. What's it called when you have for-profit corporations deciding who lives and who dies?

 

It's called what we have now. In fact what we had under Bush (in this area) will only get far worse under Obama. Should be interesting to sit back and watch, and laugh, and mock.

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Hmm. What's it called when you have for-profit corporations deciding who lives and who dies?

 

Capitalism

 

Reverse Corporate Fascism (in our case)

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Yes, comrade! Spoken like a fellow Marxist.

 

I think the problem is that redistribution through taxation only shifts power from the wealthy to the government. We simply switch masters.

 

 

Gotta love George Bush, he started all that "redistribution" you are pissing on. In fact I think the people who are fucking us are pretty smart, and the funny thing is watching Republicans deny Bush did it and watching Democrats play it off like just because "Obama" is doing it we will be good 2 go. Mean while all those corporations, you know the fucks who are really pulling the strings, just keep gettin more power in the form of other peoples' money. Sure the government is growing at an absurd rate, but that's being eclipsed by Corporate power and the consolidation of that power into an ever decreasing number of people. If we where in a healthy environment we would see startups to replace the old failures. But instead... There are these banks and companies that are just "too big to fail".

 

Yay!! Bring on more corruption!

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and the funny thing is watching Republicans deny Bush did it and watching Democrats play it off like just because "Obama" is doing it we will be good 2 go.

 

Funny in a twisted, sickening way. It really is amazing how people will just apologize for or shift blame based on party loyalty and rhetoric when it literally and truly is just two sides of the same coin. This is the fatal flaw of democracy, not the politicians.

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and the funny thing is watching Republicans deny Bush did it and watching Democrats play it off like just because "Obama" is doing it we will be good 2 go.

 

Funny in a twisted, sickening way. It really is amazing how people will just apologize for or shift blame based on party loyalty and rhetoric when it literally and truly is just two sides of the same coin. This is the fatal flaw of democracy, not the politicians.

Jon Stewart is a master of showing the hypocrisy of politicians. They seem to forget what they said, but they also cannot see that actions by different people are the same regardless of who does it. As you said, party loyalty makes people blind and stupid. Well, you didn't say that, but I gathered that from what you wrote.

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Let me say to start this isn't a rant, just an explanation.

 

As you said, party loyalty makes people blind and stupid.

 

I voted straight party democrat in every election since 1976 and I don't consider myself blind or stupid. The Democratic party reflects my personal views better that the alternatives. I firmly believe that government should help the less fortunate and rich folks could make do with one less Bentley if pressed.

Like my de-conversion, I didn't develop this view overnight. Hell, I lived on a commune in the 70's! I'm a lifelong liberal and I will stop voting for the Demacratic party if and when a better option avails itself.

I understand more conservative views and, as Dennis Miller said, "It's just my opinion, I could be wrong."

 

--Larry

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Let me say to start this isn't a rant, just an explanation.

 

As you said, party loyalty makes people blind and stupid.

 

I voted straight party democrat in every election since 1976 and I don't consider myself blind or stupid. The Democratic party reflects my personal views better that the alternatives. I firmly believe that government should help the less fortunate and rich folks could make do with one less Bentley if pressed.

Like my de-conversion, I didn't develop this view overnight. Hell, I lived on a commune in the 70's! I'm a lifelong liberal and I will stop voting for the Democratic party if and when a better option avails itself.

I understand more conservative views and, as Dennis Miller said, "It's just my opinion, I could be wrong."

 

--Larry

Voting party line, when the party lines up with your views, is not blind or stupid - it's strategy. Doing so when the individuals in the party have different views, or when they have demonstrated that they will not act in accordance with the views espoused by the party, is self-destructive.

 

When you don't know the candidates, it is probably reasonable to assume that the party that reflects your philosophy has attracted candidates that reflect that philosophy as well. Ultimately, however, the decision should be based on more than simple party affiliation whenever possible.

 

I, too, am a life long liberal. I inherited it from my father who was a Kennedy Democrat. Consequently, however nice the words sound from a John Birch Society Republican may sound, I would not trust them to take out my garbage, much less run my life.

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Larry, I'm not trying to criticize you here. What Quid was talking about and what I responded to was the idea that under the Bush admin we had massive levels of corporate socialism and redistribution of wealth taking place. This is exactly the kind of thing that GOP voters hate yet their party did it in spades. While they were doing it, the Dem party and its supporters heavily criticized the Bush admin for it.

 

Now we have a changing of the guard and how quickly GOP supporters forget that it was their party that initiated this redistribution of wealth and how quickly they have been able to turn the blame toward Obama.

 

And how quickly the Dem supporters have turned into apologists for policy they were vehemently opposed just one short year ago.

 

Obama took the baton from Bush on this one and both parties get away with a massive fraud on the American public because both party's supporters are willing to apologize for the actions of their own party or shift the blame to the other party when they both do exactly the same thing.

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aLllpEiqrgpQ#

 

It turns out the decision to make the banks whole wasn’t AIG’s. It was made by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, back when its president was the current U.S. Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, and its chairman was Goldman Sachs director Stephen Friedman. (Friedman resigned from the New York Fed in May, after the Wall Street Journal reported he had bought more than 50,000 shares of Goldman stock following AIG’s takeover.)

 

If both parties aren't towing the same line here then why in the heck did Obama appoint Geithner to Treasury when he was clearly one of the main orchestrators of Bush's secretive bailout plan. One that has primarily benefited Goldman Sachs at the expense of the tax payer and AIG shareholders?

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Larry, I'm not trying to criticize you here. What Quid was talking about and what I responded to was the idea that under the Bush admin we had massive levels of corporate socialism and redistribution of wealth taking place. This is exactly the kind of thing that GOP voters hate yet their party did it in spades. While they were doing it, the Dem party and its supporters heavily criticized the Bush admin for it.

 

Now we have a changing of the guard and how quickly GOP supporters forget that it was their party that initiated this redistribution of wealth and how quickly they have been able to turn the blame toward Obama.

 

And how quickly the Dem supporters have turned into apologists for policy they were vehemently opposed just one short year ago.

 

Obama took the baton from Bush on this one and both parties get away with a massive fraud on the American public because both party's supporters are willing to apologize for the actions of their own party or shift the blame to the other party when they both do exactly the same thing.

I think it is incorrect to say that the "redistribution of wealth" perpetrated by the Bush administration and that of Obama are the same.

 

Bush lowered corporate taxes, capital gains taxes and the top rate for personal income taxes for the wealthy. There was indeed a redistribution, but it was entirely "upwards." He was very, very consistent about this.

 

Obama has not taken many actions yet, but if we assume he follows through on his campaign proposals, the tax rate for the wealthy will return to that of the Clinton era, and the taxes for the middle class will either stay the same or decrease. The same applies with many of his other actions, and he is being criticised for redistributing wealth in a "downward" direction - towards the middle class (and poor).

 

To test this, which president wanted to reduce the "death tax" (inheritance tax) which only applies to the extremely wealth?

 

The two parties and presidents have very different approaches, policies and goals, so equating them does not comport with the facts.

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