More Socialism

When you are sitting in your study at home feeling awfully sick, as is the case for me today and yesterday, you ponder why that might be the case; I suspect it has great deal to do with either the intensity of my training, the change in temperature, or the bad political ads being aired. I know it is not the temps because it was 90 degrees yesterday. I suspect the political ads are working me over. I have elected not to endorse any of the candidates for the position of Texas governor. Republican Rick Perry is a cowboy and a good old boy, whereas Democrat Bill White is really not much of a Democrat. Both are airing ads attacking the other for endorsing Obama’s stimulus. Moreover, the two of them have aired attacks against the health care bill which people call “Obama care.” When I hear this, the first thought that comes to mind is uneducated. Okay, maybe that is harsh, but I am only telling the truth. Americans are not big on socialism — so they say. But in truth, the average American knows little about political, historical, and economic institutions.

I love this cartoon below; it says a great deal about the history of American socialism. Take a look at an older post here on the American Socialist Tradition.

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19 thoughts on “More Socialism

  1. Brandon, love the link. That is great. Carson, there is much truth in this satirical cartoon. A bit of a stretch I might add. As for Perry and White, I have been following that race. You cannot blame White and other Dems in very conservative red states for sounding Republican. It is the only way they will get elected. Sure, Texas once had Ann Richardson who was a Dem. Those days are over.

  2. Michael Ramirez (my favorite political cartoonist) is a ninja with a drawing pen. Thanks for linking that, Brandon.

    The Wuerker one above is certainly thought-provoking. Does scale matter in regards to the American appetite for socialism? It can be easier to ride herd on a local system than a federal system. The feds have a terrible record on running anything. I’m not sure the public school reference in the cartoon does the public health care debate any favors.

    Folks are furious at the spending with no results, and it’s been interesting to watch politicians (of any party) trying to decide whether to zig or zag.

  3. Does this mean the students at hchs have been without their fearless leader these past few days? Who will lead them in talks of race or gender?

  4. You’re welcome. Ramirez is a master. “The Scream” above would have been better served by including Social Security and Medicare. I would hardly place local/national infrastructure into the fears of socialism run amok. There is plenty to scream about with health care, however. It will interesting to see how things play out once a Republican House defunds Obamacare.

  5. Will: I have trained well. I do not think I have recovered very well from that last marathon. It is strange — being in bed by 9.

    Matt S: It is way too early to depict the results of the stimulus. The economy works in a strange cycle. Though, it needs a jump start. Look at how much we have tighten up the markets that brought about this matter.

    Brandon: What might be a better solution to the health care matter? I will admit that the government needs to regulate medical insurance practices more. But if we did that, people would still scream socialism.

  6. In regards to your discussion to Socialism, I encourage you to read the book , Ill Fares the Land, written by Tony Judt. It discusses the idea that we, as a frightened and somewhat needy nation post World War II, were quite willing for the government to become involved in our lives (McCarthy era). As we were given more money (from the GI Bill to expanding public services such as new museums and the National Endowment for the Humanities or even the Corporation of Public Broadcasting) the government offerred programs that improved the lives of many-especially the newly emerging middle class. And yet, as Americans gained more and more economic stability and success, our willingness to let the government control “our money” decreased. We were rich- we no longer needed help. He further asserts that the term “Socialism” in the United States took on a much more negative connotation during the 1980’s and 90’s once we gained relative stability both politically and economically. However, now that we have experienced an economic downturn, what do we do? Turn back to the government for help and support in creating jobs and fixing social ills. I just wonder- do we get it both ways? Does one get to villify the government on one hand, and then ask for help with the other?

  7. A better solution for the health care matter would be for health insurance to be more like the other insurance products that one purchases, such as auto insurance. It should be like all other insurance products – there to protect one against financially crushing burdens that are the result of major injury or illness. Routine trips to the doctor for minor sickness should be paid out of pocket or with funds in a health savings account. Let doctors compete on the price of an office visit and not on a $25 co-pay.

    It also needs to be separated from the employer, so that if one changes jobs or loses a job, one doesn’t have health insurance issues. If insurers were freed to compete across state lines and individuals were free to shop around for what they wanted, the market would create products to meet the needs, whether it is a young person who never gets sick and wants to have a plan to cover a major illness or injury to someone much older who needs a plan to cover the expected higher likelihood of illness as he ages. We now have a one size fits all requirement with the legislation that will force everyone to pay for coverage that they may not want or need.

    It certainly isn’t a quick an easy solution, but it would get us closer to controlling costs than what has currently been passed. To many politicians conflate health insurance with health care and talk as though without health insurance someone doesn’t get health care when ill, which is not the case.

  8. Oliver: I have a friend who teaches history and, much like yourself, loves Judt; it is on my must read list. Thus, I cannot comment too much to the work, however, from what you have stated, it seems fitting the negative connotation displayed by the term socialism ca. 1980 is fitting. Reagan comes to office looking to shrink the size of government, thus contributing to the heighten fear Americans had over ideological phraseology.

    I like this interview here with Judt. Check it out. We must chat about this book sometime. OK. I need to read it.

  9. Brandon, I’ve never held a job that comes with health insurance, and I can assure you that if it were “separated from the employer,” one would still have coverage issues. See, you have to pay for it somehow, and if you’re not making money, you can’t pay for it. So not tying it to a job doesn’t keep it from being out of reach for many, many Americans. Additionally, based on my knowledge of medical practices, I doubt the price of an office visit would decrease by much, and I can tell you that on at least one occasion, very recently in fact, a “routine” office visit thankfully that included a $20 copay and not a $95-100 office visit price tag saved my life. Literally saved my life. And you know, I’m one of those young people who never gets sick. And then I did. I would be willing to bet that Edward feels the same after his brain trauma a couple of years ago. See, most people aren’t ever involved in major, traumatic car crashes. They start having stomachaches and then need to have their gallbladders removed. Or they have headaches and need to have a brain tumor cut out. Or they have sharp side pain and need an appendectomy. I know that what I pay in health insurance premiums, out-of-pocket, after taxes, would not amount to a hill of beans in the event of even a smallish medical problem if I were to put that into a health savings account. So, I’m thankful that I have more than major medical coverage so that I don’t die before I know that something major is wrong. I’m thankful that my insurance covers regular PAP smears and other yearly screenings that I could not otherwise afford.

    I realize that a lot of this seems anecdotal, but I feel really strongly that people aren’t forced to be ill or dead because we don’t provide for the least of these. That being said, I also think that insurance needs a MAJOR reform. It is, generally speaking, not the physicians that are making money from illness, but insurance companies. There should be more competition as that would drive down prices, but there should also be help for those of us working for small businesses or at other jobs that don’t provide any coverage and have a hard time paying our $117 a month premiums, but do it so that gallbladder issues don’t kill us.

  10. Brandon: This is an interesting point you make here: “Let doctors compete on the price of an office visit and not on a $25 co-pay.”

    I think the industry should be more proactive in preventative medicine. This would lower cost. But, there still is the matter of the poor. Again, our conversation is still too middle class. What about folks that have little to nothing? The one size fits all argument you addressed is not wholly true. Middle class people still have choices. Upper class folks (a) do not like the expansion of government, and (b) that they are taxed to help those that cannot afford coverage. The numbers have been exaggerated a bit. We are talking 25 – 30 million. Regardless, it seems this is what compassionate people should do. It is why we created a government. To take care of each other.

  11. While it is true that it takes money to buy insurance, there is a possibility that by releasing more individuals into the free market (no more employer-provided insurance) and making the whole thing more of a market (shop for the best deal like with car insurance) that the increased competition would drive the price down—for everyone. There are other cogs to consider in such a contraption, but it’s an idea that should at least be considered.

    There will always be a subset of folks who cannot afford insurance. Picking up the tab for them would be waaaaaay cheaper than trying to cover everyone under a government umbrella.

    While insurance companies make a profit, they are not swimming in dough. While I don’t like hearing that an insurance company can dictate to a doctor what procedure they will pay for, they are not diving into a Scrooge McDuck bank on lunch breaks. My question: why are certain procedures and medicines priced at what they are? If we had a plague wiping out cattle I would understand why a Whopper would cost $20, but why must an MRI cost an arm and a leg? Equipment costs? Malpractice insurance? Price gouging?

  12. Matt, I have a friend who works for an insurance company. She tells me they are swimming in dough. But, that’s only one company, not all of them.

    Also, a little bit of the cost for an MRI is price-gouging. But, a lot of it is that the hospital that does the MRI has to pay its whole staff, not just for the machine, so there’s that. There’s also the fact that not just anyone can build an MRI machine or a CT machine or even an X-ray machine. Yeah, there’s some price gouging. But it’s also damn expensive to build those thing. Research is expensive, but I’m pretty thankful for it as it kept me from having an open cholecystectomy instead of a laparoscopic one, among other things. And, there’s the simple fact that people should be rewarded for their education. You go to school for seven years, take call, deal with people at their worst, and have a crap load (~$250,00) of debt, you should get paid decently.

    I’m totally for releasing it to the public to some extent though. It’s bothered me for a long time that I can only price shop among companies in Arkansas. Also, I hate that so much of this stuff is anecdotal evidence. I’ve got data. I’m just also at work, so I’m only posting haphazardly. Really though, I just don’t want to sound like one of those people who only ever uses anecdotal evidence and talks about how she feels about stuff without any data. So, I’m sorry that I sound like that.

  13. My workplace had to switch insurance providers a few months ago because our current one was almost going to double rates. The fallout from the health care bill is still…er…falling, and the insurance companies are trying to figure out the results. Doubling rates smells fishy, though. That being said, as a group the insurance industry only makes about 3.3-3.5% in profits (based on a bit of Google-searching), which is pretty fair. Speaking of Google…they have a profit margin of 20%. (The cross-industry average is a bit over 2%)

    Good points on the MRI, Kristi. Sometimes you get what you pay for. What interests me, though, is what if two guys each have an MRI: must they price their services exactly the same, or do they engage in competitive pricing to draw customers?

    I like hearing anecdotal evidence! 🙂 I even mentioned my own workplace situation above. The health care system needs work. The health care bill is only making it worse. I dislike the term “ObamaCare” as it makes it sound like the President wrote the whole thing. I’d rather call it “CongressCare — a bill so good Congress opted themselves out!”

  14. Oh, I don’t like this particular health care reform bill. It’s dumb and accomplishes nothing that I wanted accomplished. But, the title of ObamaCare is unfair, since it doesn’t look anything like the health care reforms he campaigned on. But I digress. Also, google doesn’t provide something that helps life to continue. At least, not usually. 😉 It does help me win arguments with my fiance from time to time though, so google is definitely not without merit. But, the issue is health care reform or the lack there of. Something needs to be done. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but something definitely needs to be done. There, that was a helpful answer.

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