The problem of 45 million uninsured Americans hits home. Hard.

According to the folks at Cover The Uninsured Week there are around 45 million Americans without health insurance. We hear a lot about the pros and cons of trying to establish a national health care system that would guarantee coverage for everyone and the debate about what to do about the uninsured has been going on for as long as I can remember. I haven’t spoke up much about the issue myself because I’m not really sure how to go about solving it. I’d very much like to see some form of national health care for all Americans, but I also understand that the cost could be overwhelming without some serious reforms to go along with it. My apathy was probably helped by the fact that my job provides a pretty decent bit of health care for my family and most of my relatives have got coverage as well.

Today I woke up to news about one of my extended family members who wasn’t as fortunate as I am. My mother called and left a message on my answering machine about a death in the family. Diane, a cousin of mine on my biological father’s side of the family, lost her daughter, Debbie, sometime on Friday. I’ve mentioned before that there was a big age difference between my biological father and my mother which means that my cousins from my father’s side are also older than I am such that Debbie, a first cousin once removed, and I are the same age. I didn’t know Debbie all that well and only met her a couple of times that I’m aware of, the last of which was at my mother and step-father’s 25th wedding anniversary some five or so years ago. She had attended in the company of my Uncle Clyde and I remember her as being very upbeat and fun.

I called my mother back to see if there were any more details and that’s when I learned how Debbie had died. It wasn’t a bad car accident, as I had assumed, or a long term known condition such as a weak heart or cancer. Debbie was killed by pneumonia. That’s right. An easily treatable disease that is normally semi-serious to people our age only if left untreated. Debbie had been sick for awhile with what she believed to be the flu, but she never saw a doctor for it because her family didn’t have health insurance and she couldn’t afford to pay for the office visit herself. Her husband is working a newspaper delivery route that doesn’t offer benefits and I believe she was unemployed. Her kids were at home with her when she died. They called 911 first and then they called Diane who tried to talk them through CPR until the paramedics arrived, but it was to no avail. Debbie was gone before the paramedics ever walked through the door. Apparently Debbie never recognized just how ill she was as she never asked her mother for help. Diane says had she realized how sick her daughter was she would have given her the money to go to the doctor, but Debbie assured her she was OK. She wasn’t OK and she ended up drowning in her bed because she couldn’t afford an office visit.

When I heard this I was stunned and angry. My heart breaks for Diane as I can only imagine the pain of second-guessing yourself over the death of your child. So too for Debbie’s husband and kids. I barely know these people so my sense of loss wasn’t immediate with the first phone message, but it hit home once I learned the details of what happened. This sort of story probably happens many times every day in a nation with 45 million people living without health insurance and that’s just insane.

We are one of the richest countries on the planet and the government seems to be able to magically pull trillions out of our collective taxpayer asses when they need to fight a war over weapons of mass destruction that don’t really exist, but the moment someone suggests we invest in health care for every American there’s suddenly not enough money in the world to pull that off. Seems it’s always a lot easier to find money to destroy lives than to save them. Any one of us could end up in Debbie’s shoes. If I were to lose my job tomorrow then I would be in her shoes. My sister already is in her shoes. It’s inexcusable in this day and age with as well-off as the country as whole is that anyone should be unable to get at least basic health care. There’s gotta be a way to make it work.

The question is: How many more people have to have it hit close to home before it shakes enough of us out of our apathy to do something about it?

148 thoughts on “The problem of 45 million uninsured Americans hits home. Hard.

  1. Like SG, I don’t believe it’s fair to blame the docs – they can’t treat a patient they don’t see.

    Plus, the docs have added the added complication of malpractice insurance.  The bulk of the problem lies in private insurance companies and hospitals who overcharge and nitpick who they’ll cover.

    For every one person who would use their health care benefits responsibly and logically, you’d have twenty-five dumbasses clogging up doctor’s offices to schedule appointments for their ingrown hairs and headaches. 

    That is true, but in countries with universal healthcare, like Canada, people are ranked for care according to seriousness of sickness—most of these people with small problems would leave before they ever got care because they would have to wait until everyone with real problems got care.  I know that Canada’s system has a lot of problems, but, afaik, those are due to the small pop density in many areas—not a problem for most of the US.

    Prescriptions for medicine would be given out like highschool diplomas…Competition would be spurned among the medical field due to the fact that there is no longer any incentive to provide “quality care.

  2. None of this really matters because we already have Medicare and Medicaid.  Anyone who doesn’t qualify for these programs can afford to get private health insurance.  Most will say that they can’t, but that’s only because they value their other luxeries more than their healthcare.

    Sorry to double dip, but this appeared while I was posting…that is a gross misstatement and besides, these programs don’t cover much at all.
    My grandfather relies on this program and half the time he can’t afford food because he has to pay so much out of pocket.  I dont even have time to get into the problems with prescription coverage.

  3. My grandfather relies on this program and half the time he can’t afford food because he has to pay so much out of pocket.  I dont even have time to get into the problems with prescription coverage.

    Then maybe he should go back to work since he apparently didn’t set aside enough for retirement.  Or you could just pay for it, after all you are advocating for the rest of us to do the same.  Why not just cut out the middleman?

  4. CannibalCrowley said: “Then maybe he should go back to work since he apparently didn’t set aside enough for retirement.  Or you could just pay for it, after all you are advocating for the rest of us to do the same.  Why not just cut out the middleman?”

    “Are there no prisons? Are there no poorhouses? They had better go there then!

  5. Then maybe he should go back to work since he apparently didn’t set aside enough for retirement.  Or you could just pay for it, after all you are advocating for the rest of us to do the same.  Why not just cut out the middleman?

    A.  He worked up until last year, when his health got so bad he couldn’t.  But when he was working, he worked as much as he could and still get benefits.  He is past retirement age and has one leg amputated below the knee.  He’s also a veteran.
    Given the pittance he was paid in the military, the factory jobs he’s worked hard at all his life, and the fact he had 6 kids, I don’t think we could have expected him to save much for his retirement.  There’s also the fact that my grandmother died of brain cancer 11 years ago and he had to pay some out of pocket for that.  They took out life ins. on him because they thought he would die first and it’s what they could afford. 
    Give the man a break.

    B. We try to help him by bringing him food and offering money to pay for prescription drugs, but I’m saying none of this should be a problem in the first place.  Maybe my family can afford to help, but not everyone is lucky enough to have a family that cares and has money to spare.

  6. Hey Consig – Ever worked 38 hours in a Quicky-mart? I dont think you have or you’d certainly consider it a high stress job!.Also..thanks for the dope propaganda.Pulling bongs DOESNT make you lose the ability to work.Did they tell you that in church?

  7. Pulling bongs DOESNT make you lose the ability to work.Did they tell you that in church?

    Frumpa, I was not clear.  Some professions require licenses before you may practice them.  Those licenses can be lost or suspended for engaging in such an activity that is illegal, even if only a minor infraction. That was my point.


  8. The poor could do better if they weren’t lazy.
    The wealthy should not have to pay more.
    Healthcare is not a right. It is a privilege.

    Someone mentioned bullshit. So I figured I would too. The three above are pretty good loads of it.

    That the poor are lazy people just leeching off the government and its citizens is such an arrogant and judgmental claim, albeit a very convenient one. To believe that everyone has the same opportunities, that this is one big even-level playing field is naïve at best. There are plenty of poor and even middle-class people out there working their asses off every day who just cannot get ahead. There are also people out there budgeting their limited means for food, clothing, rent, and utilities, and not on “luxuries” as this claim would have you believe.

    The wealthy should not have to contribute more? The hell they shouldn’t. Wealth is built on the backs of people whether those people are directly employed by those wealthy or not. It is called “giving back.” When we think we have no responsibility to our people, then we have taken individualism to a very unhealthy extreme. There is no need to deplete the wealthy of their resources, but there is a need to force them to step up and contribute a little more. Add that to all the dollars wasted by the government on luxurious offices, buildings, luncheons for crying out loud, etc. and the money for something better is there.

    Healthcare is not a right. It is a privilege. As is wealth. Unfortunately though, wealth is not something a person can acquire alone. See above.

  9. I would also like to point out that the vast majority of the Wealthy are that way because of their ancestors and not because of their own efforts.

  10. I started writing a comment about the difference here between conservatives and liberals, but it got more and more bloated, and threatened to expand to include evolution and social contracts, so I put it out of its misery.  Maybe later.

    That said, what this comes down to is that the conservatives here, who presumably have nothing against everyone being as healthy as possible, nonetheless object to having to pay for someone else’s healthcare, because it’s “not my responsibilty”.  There is no logical argument against this position.  It does seem a bit uncharitable to me, but that’s just me.

    The other objection proffered against healthcare is that it wouldn’t work. This argument is specious-  it does work, after all, in Canada and Europe.  Of course it’s difficult to implement and subject to various kinds of abuse.  Even so, national healthcare is one reason I’m glad I live in Europe- it contributes greatly to the quality of life here for myself and everyone else.  Of course it comes at a price- higher taxes.  But I’m more than willing to balance my greed against the welfare of society a little further in favor of society here.

    This leaves the conservatives in the position of saying they’d rather have more money than healthy fellow citizens.  That’s their privilege, of course.

  11. I’m with Zilch. I agree that the peace of mind (both for myself and for others) is worth the extra cost.

    As for rich/more hard-working people paying for other people’s expenses: I understand the argument, but don’t come to the same conclusions as some people here.

    When you get really rich, people have an almost exponential growth in wealth (carefully managed, wealth begets more wealth). I’ll agree that wealth is NOT a zero-sum game where one person getting rich makes other people poor, BUT its not the opposite either. So wealth brings responsibility. And without all the frameworks a state provides, you likely would never have become rich in the first place (or would have had to spend a lot of time defending your wealth instead of enjoying or increasing it).

  12. Also, I think its interesting that this topic is a lot more heated among the regulars than most other things we discuss here.

  13. I would also like to point out that the vast majority of the Wealthy are that way because of their ancestors and not because of their own efforts.

    So you’re of the mindset that they don’t deserve it and so we should be able to plunder their wealth and redistribute it to the more deserving?

    But what if they do deserve it, what if they worked for it? How many wealthy people do you know personally? I know quite a few. I don’t know what you consider ‘wealthy’ but let’s just say over 10 million in net worth…of the four that I know quite well, they spent their childhoods picking cotton or otherwise working on farms/fields. The went to college, sacrificed much that other refuse to do, and made nice lives for themselves (in completely different industries…engineering, car dealerships, poultry plants, stocks, to name a few). And they should very well be able to leave that wealth for their families…the very people who they worked so hard to provide for, their motivating factors.

    So, where do you make the distinction between those that ‘earned’ it and those that didn’t? I don’t think the government should be making value judgements on people’s wealth, redistributing it on condition of who ‘earned’ it. So then, should no one get to keep their wealth? What did these people work so hard for? If it was just going to be taken away from them, they might as well have just worked a mindless 8-5 job their whole lives and had a whole lot more free time, less headache, and less RISK…to arrive at about the same place (since the government wasn’t going to allow them to accumulate wealth while anyone anywhere was still in ‘need’).

    I’m all for taking care of those (through taxes) who CANNOT provide for themselves. But there are plenty that can and for one reason or another choose not to… or did not or will not take advantage of the same opportunities presented to them. Rewarding poor choices is a very bad precedent.

  14. I also know a few wealthy people who got that way by hard work.  But it is specious to force the distinction between letting them keep their wealth or not.  We do tax people to pay for the benefits of a stable society that enables the accumulation of wealth.  Furthermore, uninsured (and often unnecessary) health emergencies drive up everyone’s cost of health care, rich and poor alike. 

    I don’t think the issue or intent is to redistribute wealth, but to charge them for benefits received.  Their low-wage workers who show up and do the job need medical care and seeing to it helps everyone.

    Then there are the elderly who contributed to society in hundreds of ways over their long lives.  Their kids are busy contributing to society and could only see to their parents’ health concerns by pushing themselves further into poverty, with attendent costs, again, to everyone.

    Universal health care benefits everyone, not just the poor but also the middle class and the wealthy.  It need not mean stripping anyone of their wealth.  Also the wealthy will always have access to extremely advanced, expensive health care that the poor will not be able to access.  Some kind of cost-benefit analysis is always applied to public spending (or should be.)

  15. zilch:

    This leaves the conservatives in the position of saying they’d rather have more money than healthy fellow citizens.

    In a nutshell, there you have it.

    My gut feeling is that we may end up as neighbors in a few years, once our obligations to family are fulfilled.

  16. So you’re of the mindset that they don’t deserve it and so we should be able to plunder their wealth and redistribute it to the more deserving?

    You weren’t adressing me, but I’ll answer too, since I have similar views.

    First off, I’ll state that yes, I favor redistributing wealth.

    Why? Because wealth has GRAVITY. Once you get it, by whatever means (inheritance, hard work, luck) you are not only set to make more money per buck than people with less money, you are also in control of the most powerful lever to make sure that it stays that way.

    I am not arguing for confiscatory taxes. But taxes should be progressive (not necessaryly steeply so) because I do believe that as you rise higher on the wealth or income scale, the rate of increase rises steeper too.

    Does a supermodel really work harder than your supermarket clerk? What does she bring to it except the luck of inherited beauty?

    What does a stock broker do to merit millions a year? He’s providing a function that’s valuable? Accepted (even though I COULD debate that point) but he rarely if ever speculates with his own money. So he actually earns money while others take part of the risk (the shareholders and employes of the companies he trades).

    I find that many of the best-paying jobs actually work that way – you get a big share of the money if it goes well, the people you employ under you take a big share of the risk (and when did their wages ever rise as fast as the earnings of the management?).

    As for inherited wealth – well, the gravity argument again. Do we want to redistribute enough of that wealth to ensure that each generation (no matter their parents failings) has a reasonably even starting field?

  17. Sorry to hear about your loss, Les.

    Another Canadian here wading into this issue. The area of Canada where I live is remote (northern) and the regional government uses a tax on alcohol to subsidize our health care, no fees for me or the company. So, when people here say drink to your health, it is literally true.
    Also, due to rising health care costs, they have implemented strategies like tele-health to filter out the emergencies. The tele-health line is staffed by RNs who basically “flowchart” your medical concerns and use the information to provide a diagnosis of whether or not medical attention is required. I have used this service a couple of times and found it quite helpful. Ultimately, however, the decision is up to the individual to decide if a hospital/walk-in clinic visit is required. 
    The trick with health care, IMO, is to find a national system which looks after the well being of the populace, especially the younger citizens who, through no fault of their own, may require medical attention. There are ways to cut the costs and “hide” (booze/cigarette tax) the fees.

  18. Part of the problem is interposing several layers of bureaucrat paper-pushers between patients and their doctors. Giant Corporations calculate profit and loss on operations and illnesses and unilaterally declare some as unoperable, not optional, or unnecessary. Salesmen behind a desk, with no medical training, force decisions down people’s throats. The issue is not health at all, but money. Right this moment we are going to spend millions on an inauguration….millions that could be used to save lives instead of saving an ass from starting a war by lies.

  19. Peter’s hit it. What price shall we put on human life? Sometimes less than the worth we place on a pound of cow.

    I say we approach it as prickly pear demonstrated but start by taxing the churches. Make them put their monies where their mouths are.

  20. Les, I am so very very sorry. What a terrible tragedy to have happened to your family.
    I am posting a link to this now.

  21. So you’re of the mindset that they don’t deserve it and so we should be able to plunder their wealth and redistribute it to the more deserving?

    – Brandi

    Wow brandi, dont put words in my mouth.  I was merely pointing out the inherent inequity of the system, and trying to negate the earlier idea that everyone who is rich earned it by their own efforts.

  22. Brock said:

    start by taxing the churches. Make them put their monies where their mouths are.

    This would be a good idea…I wonder if we’ll try it in Canada. Hmmm…on the other hand….
    The churches would probably want christian money to be spent only on christians, though. Could we stand to have hospitals divided by one’s godly beliefs? Sign at hospital entrance: “Convert or believe in Christianity and be healed here. Atheist burn in Hell”. Yikes…

  23. I may be a little late on this but I really didn’t want to spend the time going through 76 comment.
    I read the first few and kept seeing comments like “the government should pay for this”.
    Just where do you think that money comes from?
    Yep, the government has been so good at managing social security and medicare, that’s what we need, government managed health care.
    I had a close friend who was in the same situation, but after 3-4 days of hearing “oh, I’ll get better” all the time being bed ridden. I personally drove her to the Walk-in medical center and yes, she also had pneumonia.
    Some people are just damn stubborn, like my friend. It’s hard to believe that people would think about the cost when they are that sick.
    I suppose the government should pay for her burial too.  A couple bottles of antibiotics would have been much cheaper.

  24. Hey Abyssstares last time I looked we still live in a democracy. If the majority of us wants state sponsored healthcare and our current crop of corporate tit sucking whores won’t provide it then it is up to US to get off our asses and lobby for it. I worked in the healthcare field for several years after college and saw just as many ‘frivilous’ visits by patients with private health insurance as anything the state or feds provided. In case you have’nt noticed many of these visits are ENCOURAGED by the drug makers with thier ‘ask your doctor bullshit’. We spendt 1.7 TRILLION dollars on healthcare last year that is more than any industrialized nation on the planet and yet overall we rank 12th in overall healthcare quality(NYT Jan 13 or 14). That’s right 12th—what a crock of shit. People like Les’s relative die so some heartless money grubbing asshole at Phizer can make another 0.5% and purchase another rental property or take another vacation or just add another pile of cash to the hoard. Medicare and the VA currently purchase over 50% of all prescription drugs in the US but medicare is specifically forbidden from negoatiting a better price—-this little gem was included in the new medicare drug benefit suppliment passed by congress last year. I see that the ‘free market’ does’nt seem to apply to the American taxpayer. How many billions of dollars will be wasted so the drug companies can keep thier double digit profits? How many Dianes will there have to be before we start valuing people over a corporations earning statement. I’m sure her childern and husband who hearts and souls will forever hold an empty space for thier departed mother and wife will take cold comfort when it is explained to them that she just does’nt have a right to healthcare and in her case a right to live.
    Oh yeah here’s another on for you. Seems that CUBA that’s right CUBA has a LOWER infant moratality rate than the United States does(NYT Jan 14). Go free market GO!!

  25. I also have a view towards the wealthy. Since there are only 3.9 million millionaires(Newsweek ‘03) in this country and about 360 million non-millionaires pardon me if I don’t shed a tear if these beneficiaries of all of our hard work would have to pay say a firm 50-60% tax rate so that the rest of us could have access to the resourses necessary to make our lives richer and a bit easier, as well as, HEALTHIER. Hey, we working stiffs are always being told to do without—what’s good for the gander should be good for the goose!

  26. Cuba also has a massive number of doctors and dentists and such, so much so that throughout east Africa and South America you’ll find Cuban doctors who can’t find work at home.

  27. I’ve read all the comments and many of you make excellent points.  You have giving me much to think about, things that I hadn’t considered from angles that I didn’t see.  I thank you for that.  In my life I have been so poor that I did not have the money to go to the doctor and I was so ashamed that I did not ask for help because I was afraid people would think badly of me.  I became sicker and sicker then I thought fuck pride and called my folks for help. They helped,thinking nothing of it and I got better.  Even now when I’m working fifty-four hours a week and have insurance I find myself having to choose between medication and gas to get to work.  I choose gas to make the money to by the medicine in a couple of days or weeks.  I’m smart, college educated and pretty darn good with money, but sometimes shit happens and things fall apart.  I don’t expect a hand out and I would never take one, but it would be so nice if when people are very ill that they could be assured of the help that they need to get better first and worry about the cost later.  That’s what I hope for.

  28. Most of the uninsured can find the money for cable tv, restaurants, movies, newer cars, entertainment centers, computers, broadband; but can’t be bothered to pay for their own insurance.

    I went 6 years without health insurance until my current job which supplies it for a fee. No it was not because I wasted money on useless things, I barely had enough for food.

    I have no problem paying extra in taxes for some form of insurance that covers everyone. I never want to go through that again.

    Assumptions are always the weakest part of any argument.

  29. Employers are gonna pay for ins. one way or another, and most rich people have employees…so they can either pay into a govt health plan via taxes or they can buy private insurance.  Not much of a difference to me.  Except that with a universal health plan, people might actually get decent coverage from low-wage jobs.

    So then, should no one get to keep their wealth?

    No one ever advocated robbing them blind.  Do you refuse to see why decreasing everyone’s income by, let’s say 5%, still keeps everyone in the same money-having proportions as before?  I would argue that buying power would stay the same.
    Besides, what good is a bunch of money in a bank anyway?  They’re already wearing Armani suits and driving around in Jaguars.  Honestly, I don’t think it would make a huge difference in their standard of living—there comes a point when the money just becomes useless for purposes other than making more money.

  30. Here’s my 2 cents:

    I was employed at a Denver BMW dealer as a tech and in my first 6 weeks there and didn’t have benes yet. I hurt my back and didn’t file workmans comp because   I was trying to be nice to their insurance. I was also trying to continue working through it. Everyone told me that they really appreciate that. After twon weeks it finally got so bad that I had trouble working and was almost blacking out with the pain. So, I missed 3 days in two weeks and they fired me for it.

    I then went to the dr. I spent all of my saved money over the next few months on th dr. meds and physical therapy. I made it much worse my not getting attention at the initial time of the injury.

    9 months later I found an mri lab that would finance me and got that done. So now I need surgery and am trying to find ways to finance that. I have been trying on my own to get better, losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising when I am able. This is severe. When it’s bad I am on the floor with spasyms. Screaming. During these episodes it takes about five days on my back to be able to walk again.

    I had just started a great 50k/year minimum job working on the best cars in the world……..

    When, if, this ever gets better I am going to leave this country and try to live somewhere else.


  31. Seth:

    I would encourage you to seek counsel from a Colorado attorney as soon as possible.  Counsel can advise you regarding several possible avenues for recourse that you may have. 


  32. This is all about priorities and while Consigliere, Brandy, and TheAbyssStares (to name a few) care more about their currency than their neighbors there is nothing that says they have to. I personally feel that greed should be classified as a mental illness because I see peoples slavish devotion to tiny rectangles of ink printed on paper as a type of insanity, hoarding their shiny silver coins like crows to line their nests. And how proud they are of their industriousness! Look how many hours of their lives they sacrifice chasing these little scraps of paper! I guess if I was engaged in gathering up bottle caps and spent all of my productive years chained to my obsession I might lash out when someone tried to seperate me from my precious junk too.

    After reading about the immorality of taking money from these good people to save others from needless death I am torn. On the one hand my heart goes out to Les and his entire family and ALL of the people who die for no good reason, but then I find myself crying at the thought of Consigliere being forced to part with his beloved money EVERY DAY to pay for things like gas and coffee. Emotionally I am overwrought and just can’t find the balance here. Life or money? Money or life? So hard…

    Gee, maybe we can get a committee to study this issue as long as it takes for the public to give up their silly notions of changing their government to do their bidding. Maybe we can give the rich some more tax cuts so they can rain their largess down on the unwashed masses like kings and queens of… wait, THAT doesn’t work. Maybe we should all get a scantron sheet with our taxes each year so WE can choose where our money goes, I mean let TheAbyssStares pay for his presidents wars of aggression and low yield tactical nukes and jerks like me can have our taxes spent on a public school system and national healthcare. I know I will sleep better at night.

  33. First off, my sincere condolences, Les, to you and your family.  That these things happen in the US, which is supposed to be the greatest and most progressive nation in the world, is incredible – and unconscionable.

    The wealthy, almost without exception, are wealthy not because they worked harder than the poor and the ever-more-struggling middle class, but because they have investments that make money FOR them.  It doesn’t require their physical presence; it’s called PASSIVE income, and you’re damned right I have no problem with it being taxed at a higher rate than the income of poor and middle class people whose every dollar is earned by the sweat of their brow, during time spent away from their families because they don’t get paid if they’re not physically present to do their jobs.

    Tax cuts on capital gains and other passive income reward the wealthy for doing nothing while doing relatively little for the people who are required to work longer hours for less pay just to keep the jobs they already have, whose premiums for health insurance have also increased – all of which increases profits for their companies and gives investors a higher rate of return, now taxed at a lower rate.  Is it any wonder that the gap between the haves and have-nots keeps widening?

    How about the capital gains tax goes back up to what it was, so the wealthy can fund their boy’s killer crusade with money they made without lifting a finger, and some of the Fed tax – the money the rest of us generate by selling time we’d rather spend with our families to the companies whose shareholders we’re making rich – can be freed up to help those who aren’t even fortunate enough to have access to a minimum of health care?

  34. Sorry to double-dip, but it also needs to be said that one of the reasons lower-income people are more likely to need health care is because nearly all of the food they can afford to eat is chemical-laden, genetically-modified shit that provides hardly any nutrition while ravaging their bodies.  How many people would need LESS health care if they were able to eat good meat and some fresh vegetables all week instead of being forced to choose macaroni and cheese or MSG & noodles (ramen) because shit food costs a fraction of what decent food does?

  35. Before we go all pinko here and diss the rich as parasites living off the poor, it should be noted that substantial investments involve research, management, and risk.  And their investments often involve creation or expansion of businesses that employ people.  To be fair, they’re not doing nothing.

    Is this comparable to the level of exhaustion of a waitress after an 8-hour shift?  In some cases, yes, but I’d venture to say usually not. 

    Does the risk equal the risk that a working person who must decide (while living on the edge of absolute poverty) to spend $65 on a doctor visit when there is no money to spare?  Very seldom.  Most of them don’t know what “high-stakes gambling” is because they have not had to risk anything essential to life on the quality of their decisions.

    Those rare people who manage to become wealthy in a society of very poor people are called “despots.”  But in a more stable, prosperous society, a far higher percentage of people can become rich.  This makes stability and prosperity components of opportunity. 

    Paying taxes for the creation of that opportunity is an excellent investment.  The more healthy, productive people there are the easier it is for me to make a buck.  Why does any wealthy person not want universal health insurance?

  36. Yep, I’m a trust fund baby who never worked a day in his life that desires nothing more than to be an overlord oppressing the poor, because it improves my sesnes of self-worth when I see others who aren’t doing as well.  In fact, I have this little dance I do each time I pass by a homeless person . rolleyes

    I say, no matter what the issue, let us all attribute the worst motives to those on the other side.  Never consider for a moment that there might actually be a rational opposite to our position.  That way we can ratchet up the heat in the political kitche with emotion.  We obviously need more of that.  As an added benefit, we need not even consider that with which we disagree.

    Eric, I don’t believe government should do for others what they can do for themselves.  I also believe that government is a poor replacement for neighbors helping neighbors.  Since you know not my involvement with my neighbors, I’d kindly ask you not to make any assumptions in that regard. 

    There are tens of millions of people who believe that universal health care is not a good idea.  Obviously, they are not all wealthy, in fact statistically most of them can’t be.  Obviously, some of them must be uninsured themselves.  How could that possible be?  It is not in the self-interest of the vast majority of these folks to maintain this position.  So why do they?  I would encourage you to start there. 


  37. There are tens of millions of people who believe that universal health care is not a good idea.  Obviously, they are not all wealthy, in fact statistically most of them can’t be.  Obviously, some of them must be uninsured themselves.  How could that possible be?  It is not in the self-interest of the vast majority of these folks to maintain this position.
    So why do they?  I would encourage you to start there. 

    Ok.  When Bill Clinton tried to bring about single-payer national health, the AMA and drug companies mounted the largest lobbying and propaganda campaign ever to convince people it was a bad idea. 

    But the simple fact is that national health care works in other countries – not perfectly but a damn sight better than what we have here (a claim borne out by the ratio of what we spend on health care versus what we get in terms of infant mortality, average lifespan, chronic diseases, etc.)

  38. Well, people not wanting universal healthcare does not of necessity imply that they are greedy.  My reason is simply that the government is much more intrusive than it needs to be already.  I distrust the government as well as large corporations.  Some of the largest corporations are insurers.  Being insured doesn’t even necessarily equate to receiving the care you need.  I have a friend who injured his back years ago.  He is in constant agony, but his insurance won’t give the okay on surgery because his condition is not considered “life threatening” or “incapacitating”.  Here are some figures from 2004 for infant mortality and age expectancy.  We are actually quite close to most of the socialized countries.

    Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy for Selected Countries, 2004
    Country Infant
    ity1 Life
    Albania 22.3 77.1
    Angola 192.5 36.8
    Australia 4.8 80.3
    Austria 4.7 78.9
    Bangladesh 64.3 61.7
    Brazil 30.7 71.4
    Canada 4.8 80.0
    Chile 9.1 76.4
    China 25.3 72.0
    Costa Rica 10.3 76.6
    Cyprus 7.4 77.5
    Czech Republic 4.0 75.8
    Denmark 4.6 77.4
    Ecuador 24.5 76.0
    Egypt 33.9 70.7
    Finland 3.6 78.2
    France 4.3 79.4
    Germany 4.2 78.5
    Greece 5.6 78.9
    Guatemala 36.9 65.2
    Hungary 8.7 72.2
    India 57.9 64.0
    Iran 42.9 69.7
    Ireland 5.5 77.4
    Israel 7.2 79.2
    Italy 6.1 79.5
    Japan 3.3 81.0
    Kenya 62.6 44.9
    Korea, South 7.2 75.6
    Mexico 21.7 74.9
    Mozambique 137.1 37.1
    New Zealand 6.0 78.5
    Nigeria 70.5 50.5
    Norway 3.7 79.2
    Pakistan 74.4 62.6
    Panama 20.9 72.1
    Peru 33.0 69.2
    Poland 8.7 74.2
    Portugal 5.1 77.3
    Russia 17.0 66.4
    Slovakia 7.6 74.2
    South Africa 62.2 44.2
    Spain 4.5 79.4
    Sri Lanka 14.8 72.9
    Sweden 2.8 80.3
    Switzerland 4.4 80.3
    Syria 30.6 69.7
    United Kingdom 5.2 78.3
    United States 6.6 77.4
    Venezuela 23.0 74.1
    Zimbabwe 67.1 37.8

    1. Infant deaths per 1,000 live births.
    2. Life expectancy at birth, in years, both sexes.
    Source: U.S. Census Bureau, International Database.

  39. I’d like to see that dance (and might get the chance during the next four years of this administration).

    Now you can’t seriously think I was speaking of your immediate neighbors when I used that word right? So you picked up somebodys mail while they were on vacation or fed their fish or let their guests park in front of your house when their kid graduated highschool. Okay, whatever.

    I was actualy using the word globally as in ‘the fall of man’. I would hope you aren’t reading this asking ‘what man?’ ‘A man fell, is he okay?’ Same with neighbor, I meant that you are not of the opinion that another (unrelated) human life is as important to you as your wonderful money. I get it and it’s okay. It’s sad but hey, some folks wouldn’t waste their piss on a burning hobo… what are you going to do? You can’t help the way you are and I wouldn’t want you to, I just don’t want to be there with you.

    Now just to clear things up when you said Eric, I don’t believe government should do for others what they can do for themselves. does that include dismantling Fire and Police departments? I mean what simpleton can’t throw a bucket of water at a flame and what with all of our tight knit communities I’m sure everyone would pitch in and agree to enforce a set of common laws. Probably could get rid of the FDA too because we all have a nose and eyes right? If food is contaminated we will know because everybody knows what e-coli smells like and if a medication is bad for us those seizures will tip us off right away! Man, once you get started you can see all kinds of useless crap the government is paying for!

  40. I’ve been watching this thread with interest for awhile now and I’d like to pipe in with a few thoughts:

    First, I have nothing in particular against the rich folks out there regardless of how they became wealthy. I don’t think someone who inherited their wealth is any less entitled to it than someone who worked his way up from the bottom. I do feel that those who can afford to contribute more in the way of taxes should be required to do so, but I also don’t feel this means we should overtax the hell out of them just because they’re loaded.

    Second, I don’t think a one-size-fits-all solution is required or would even work. There’s no reason that those of us with decent jobs who can afford to buy insurance (or have it provided through our companies) shouldn’t continue to do so. I do think that some form of basic health care should be available to everyone who needs it. I also feel the current Medicare/Medicaid system is flawed and inadequate as the restrictions it carries force people into having to do stupid things in order to qualify. For example, I have a sister-in-law who had a job as the manager of a group home for mentally retarded adults. A job that doesn’t pay all that well despite the fact that it’s a needed service. The job doesn’t offer much of anything in the way of medical insurance so when she got pregnant she had to quit her job in order to qualify for Medicaid to ensure that she’d be able to afford the prenatal care and delivery. She didn’t want to quit her job, but it was the logical course to take. Does this make sense to anyone?

    Third, I fail to see how taking taxpayer’s money and using it to try and provide health care for everyone is any more immoral or illogical than taking taxpayer’s money and trying to provide for a national defense for everyone. A lot of complaints have focused on the idea that some folks don’t want to have to pay for other folks to benefit by having health care, but that argument can be applied to just about anything the government does. You don’t have a “right” to a national military anymore than you have a “right” to national health care, yet I don’t see too many folks complaining about their tax money being used for the national military which benefits those lazy bum poor people just as much as it does the working stiffs and the rich.

    For crying out loud, I thought our government was founded on the idea that it should be “of the people, by the people, and FOR the people?” Right in the preamble to our Constitution is the following idea: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Personally, I think this would fall under promoting the general welfare.

  41. Warbi, our health figures bloody well ought to be in the ballpark with socialist countries – or better – because we’re outspending them per-capita by a wide margin.  Our health-care spending even went up 8 percent or so during 2003, a year that otherwise sucked economically.

    If you want a rude surprise, try rearranging that list in order and see which countries are above us. (Also if you go back a few years you’ll see that means we’re catching up, not that we’ve always had even approximate parity.)

    So no, we’re not getting inferior health care – it’s “ballpark” to countries that are paying a lot less.  (If you feel that infant mortality nearly double that of Sweden and Japan is OK) My point was the ratio of what we’re paying to what we’re getting, which is “ripped off.”

    Les – general welfare – right.  This thread’s a keeper.  I know a lot of people have linked to it.

  42. I disagree. Where does this end? The wealthier should pay more than the poor for the same loaf of bread…the same movie…the same box of bandaids…


    Well let’s say that Eric brings home $700.00 after taxes and Brandi brings home $1,500.00. They both go to the store and buy a loaf of bread for $2.00. Since the cost of the bread was .0028% of Erics monthly take home versus .0013% for Brandi it essentially cost Eric more money for the same loaf of bread. Same with movies. Same with bandaids.

    I agree, it is bullshit but I deal with it every day and you don’t hear me squealling like a stuck pig. Cause it’s a blog.

  43. Eric,

    To add to your argument having differential health care costs based on ability to pay leads to more general accessibility to a social good.  Differential prices for consumer goods are a differnt matter.  However, differential consumer prices are already exist.  I mean tell me the difference between designer jeans that cost $200 and the jeans I bought at Old Navy (yes I know, Old Navy is bad, but for some reason their pants fit me really well) for $30.  I would say that the substantive difference is who’s wearing the pants.  People who have more money buy $200 pants, people like me who are less wealthy buy the cheaper pants.  If that isn’t differential pricing, I don’t know what is. 

    As for bread, just consider the difference in price of “artisan bread” versus Wonder Bread.

  44. I do feel that those who can afford to contribute more in the way of taxes should be required to do so

    Who has the right to determine “who can afford” more?  Who determines what enough is?  I for one don’t trust anyone, or government, to draw that line.  A fair system should always be our goal.  Figure out those services that benefit everyone equally, and divide that cost equally among those that receive them.  Trying to steal more from some to give to others is unfair at its core. 

    The word “contribute

  45. Here are a few quotes from this thread:

    My insurance company refused to pay the $800+ because it didn’t turn out to be an emergency. I was stuck with the bill which was a serious financial hardship.
    So even if you have insurance,  you can be hedged in by their actuarial attempts at profit and wind up in worse shape.
    They took out life ins. on him because they thought he would die first and it’s what they could afford
    I have been so poor that I did not have the money to go to the doctor
    I went 6 years without health insurance until my current job which supplies it for a fee
    I spent all of my saved money over the next few months on th dr. meds and physical therapy
    spend $65 on a doctor visit when there is no money to spare? [\quote]

    Wow, what the Hell is going on here? How can the medical insurance companies act like this? Simple, they don’t give two shits about anything but making money…the bottom line is the only thing that counts for them. They have lost bags of cash since the last stock market crash, guess who has to make up the difference? They do? Yes, that is correct and your fees will reflect that. The insurance companies, those clever weasels, then blame 9/11 for all the fee increases.
    If someone becomes too expensive, just get rid of them, don’t renew the costly policies (I presume it is a possibility that in the USA one can lose their medical coverage through the insurance company if they make too many claims, is this correct? It’s what I have heard and read). 

    Contrast that to the Pinko, Socialist, Commie system in Canada. When I lived in Alberta, I paid a flat fee of $24.00/month (The family rate was $48.00/month). It is the almost the same as paying a private insurance company; you have a monthly financial obligation, you get medical coverage for doctors visits, diagnostics, operations. However, your fees are the same as everyone else, you will not be removed from the policy despite your health (or lack thereof), you have to trust the government to handle the management of the Medicare system.

    What would you prefer? A managed and regulated medicare system or a profit driven, unregulated system? Did I get it wrong?

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