In Health Reform, the “Free Market” Isn’t Always the Answer


n the health care debate, there’s plenty of talk about so-called “market” principles as being especially desirable to improve quality, and contain costs. Any form of “government” is considered bad. Whatever the big insurance companies want is considered “good” because they are typically for profit firms.

So, it is indeed curious to read David Leonhardt’s column in the biz section of this mornings New York Times in which he uses none-other than Richmond as an example of efficient allocation of health care resources. And guess what? It’s not exactly market driven.
Richmond, he writes, is an example of how “it’s possible to cut medical costs without harming patients.” This has been achieved by reducing the number of available beds in local hospitals. In 1996, Richmond had about 4.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 residents. Now it has about three beds per 1,000.
Yet (without naming sources of his data), Leonhardt claims that Richmond has a better than average reputation for delivering decent health care, notably treating heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia. The quality of care is better than average for similarly sized U.S. cities, he says.
How can this be? The short answer seems to be that medical care in Richmond and Virginia is rationed by the GOVERNMENT — specifically through the Certificate of Public Need system that’s used by 36 other states. In it, the state determines if a planned hospital or even MRIs in doctor’s offices are needed. Hospitals usually get what they want, but the CPN system is so onerous that many don’t even try, especially smaller physicians groups that may want to market something like a CAT scan or MRI device.
The result is that Richmond is dominated by a small number of group practices, one of which provides most of the area’s orthopedic care and another than provides most of the lung care. This may sound restrictive but one result is that there aren’t many rogue medical groups marketing unneeded procedures to rake in bucks and pay off their expensive machines, according to Dr. Marc Katz, a local cardiac surgeon. Another built-in cost containment factor is that Virginia has a $2 million cap on malpractice awards.
The CPN doesn’t always work. More certificates granted recently have cost Richmond its 69th lowest ranking for Medicare spending in 2007 while it as 37th lowest in 2006.
What’s the lesson? It could be that market economics do not always hold the answers for everything under the sun. In medicine, like most things, there is a :built it and they will come” syndrome, meaning that if you let everyone and his cousin erect expensive centers, they will be used regardless of whether they are needed or not.
Look what happened to the telecommunications industry a decade ago. Fiber optics cables were seen as wonderful profit makers since they could handle a lot more phone calls than copper wire or satellites. But everyone and his cousin bought in and soon the world was tangled in huge glots of unneeded fiber optic wire. Lots of companies went bankrupt such as WorldCom or Virginia’s own Teligent.
You might say that the market worked because it shook the suckers out. True, but that’s a risky procedure when you are dealing with the public’s health.
My only complaint with the Leonhardt piece is that it might encourage medical monopolies. About 18 months ago, the Wall Street Journal ran a provocative story out of Roanoke which described the greedy practices of Carillion, the dominate hospital and medical group there. Its cannibalistic monopoly actually raised prices for procedures since there was no competition.
That’s the critical nut. You need a balance between limited resources to make better use of them and still allow some competition.
But the overriding point is one that many conservatives miss. The free market is not always the best answer.
Peter Galuszka

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104 responses to “In Health Reform, the “Free Market” Isn’t Always the Answer”

  1. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Aaargh! Peter, please stop referring to the medical system in Richmond, Virginia or anywhere else in the U.S. as a "free market." It's a mixed market, with market elements embedded in a heavily regulated system and dominated by a federal government buyer.

    It's interesting to see that Richmond has fared well in this mixed market. Perhaps Certificate of Public Need has had beneficial effects by limiting the number of beds in the region. But COPN also limits innovation by preventing "focused factory" medical providers from competing with the established providers.

    Regina Herzlinger and Elizabeth Teisberg have both written extensively about what a market-oriented health care system would look like and, trust me, it's nothing like what exists today. It would take the economic equivalent of a heart, lung and kidney transplant to get there.

  2. I don't think the free market advocates _really_ think the free market does a better job at healthcare any more than they'd admit we don't need an FDIC or a Nuclear Regulatory Commission or that the food industry would VOLUNTARILY provide nutrition information or that drinking water providers would actually VOLUNTARILY test their water for contaminates.


    What the "free market" folks are really saying – at the core of their angst – is that they intensely dislike the idea of paying for others.

    These are the same folks who voted against Medicare, against MedicAid, against SCHIPS (for kids) and against Social Security.

    it's the same exact mindset.

    The "belief" in the "free market" system is Conservo-talk for "take care of yourself and don't expect others to".

    which.. I happen to agree with in the bigger scheme of things…

    but the folks with this philosophy are wimps.

    they really don't believe in their own principles.

    because if they did – we'd not give "free" care to the indigent at all.

    Those folks WOULD DIE on the steps of the ERs.

    No money – no treatment.

    You cannot have any middle ground on this.

    If your philosophy believes that you WILL help those, who for whatever reason, cannot or will not help themselves, then you've crossed over the Rubicon.

    From that point on, the argument is how much care and how much it will cost.

    and here's where we come to:

    " Aching tooth turns into a $44,000 bill"

    before you read this – REMEMBER – we say we WILL HELP those can cannot/will not help themselves and that we WILL NOT let them die at the entrance to the ER.

    The question at hand in the story above SHOULD BE – how could we have avoided the 44K cost of treatment?

    And the Conservative types will blather all over themselves talking about a dumb system and how the guy really didn't take care of himself and a litany of other blather – EXCEPT the primary point – which is – why did we have to pay 40K for a helicopter instead of making sure this guys teeth were tended to?

    Anyone who thinks the "free market" would fix this is dreaming UNLESS you believe the free market would never have given him a helicopter ride.

    But you'd be wrong on that issue because that helicopter PRIMARILY serves the FREE MARKET to begin with – right?

    so even for people who DO HAVE insurance, we do what if they don't get to primary care and get treated when they should?

    Why, of course, we let them mess up their own health and then because they are "covered" by a "free market" insurance policy, we'll helicopter them to the hospital also – even if in doing that it adds tremendous premium costs to others.

    Why? There is a very simple "free market" answer here folks.

    It's profitable.


  3. Gooze Views Avatar
    Gooze Views


    AARGH!I never said that the current systewm is exclusively market-based. What I am pointing out is that just about every conersvative, such as you and Eric Cantor, always are whining about getting the "government" out of health care.
    LG is right. If you had a true "free market" system, the most expensive, and perhaps most needed, treatments would be resewrved for the wealthy, sort of like first class on an airplane.

    Admittedly, socialism is no better. When I was dating my Russian wife and had a sports injury she gave me some ointment. "It's Central Committee salve," she said.
    Peter Galuszka

  4. well yeah.. except in Europe, the wealthy can get twice as much health care for their (Euro) dollar!

    the problem with our system is that it's biased towards expensive treatments.

    Those Conservative yellow-dogs passed Medicare Part D off budget, without PayGO rules as a GIFT to the their beloved private sector.

    This is why every other commercial you see on TV now days is about some wonderful brand name drug and our yellow dog friends … you know …the ones who are rapidly opposed to govt hand-outs.. in the case of Medicare Part D – they could not wait to fall all over their self-righteous behinds to have taxpayers subsidize these drugs.

    Now That's their idea of the pvt sector!

    there is no teat like a govt teat.

    Bad if you let the poor use it – Good if you let the pvt sector use it.

    There ought to be a name for this.

    What a dope I am.

    there already is.

    It's called Republicanism.

  5. Peter:

    You were doing pretty well until you went to your telecommunications example. Then, your analogy fell apart.

    But let me begin with Health Care – Jim Bacon is right. There is no free market for health care in the United States today. In fact, there is no industry that operates in a free market. I am a software guy. The software industry is not operating in a free market. Congress and the Obama Administration recently required that all American incorporated companies repatriate the profits earned on sales of their products overseas so that those products can be taxed in the US. This dramatically affected software companies which often have substantail sales overseas. Let's leave aside the fact that this will result in more and more companies incorporating outside of the United States. That's a given. Instead, let's just use this as an example of regulation in the supposedly free market of software. Here are a fre more examples:

    1. The FDA has extensive rules regading the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.
    2. The Department of Justice reviews ever significant merger or acquisition and opposes quite a few of these shareholder approved transactions.
    3. Congress has passed various investment tax credits favoring some industries over others.
    4. R&D tax credits are available based on certain rules (regarding the approach to R&D) set by the US Government.

    Virginia is not immune from this endless meddling either. I believe that Barnie Day recently wrote that there were over 5,000 pages of Virginia regulations applicable to Virginia's small businesses.

    Government is like a cancer that has metastasized to every organ of the American economic system.

    The question is how much regulation is appropriate – not whether regulation is appropriate. The pigs at the trough in Congress have rigged every game, regulated every industry and paid hommage to every special interest already. The pathetic case of Ben Nelson's vote is but the latest example of this legislative treason.

    I would strongly suggest that all of the socialist leaning Democrats who understand neither economics nor demographics spending a liitle time reading Thomas Sowell (or Thomas Paine for that matter). If either of the Thomas' are a bridge too far – perhaps just listen to Jim Bacon. Our present economic system in general and our deficits in particular are based on an assumption of a rapidly growing work force as the vehicle for repayment. However, a combination of medical science and longevity make that assumption false. I would also suggest that all of the "all free market, all the time" Republican Greedipalists take the time to reread The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Or perhaps the more modern Stolen Without A Gun. The profit motive is a power incentive. In fact, too powerful. Too powerful to be allowed to operated unchecked by the people's representatives. Unfotunately, neither the clown show in Richmond nor the goat rodeo in Washington are examples of the people's representatives. Rather, they are the cancer that is caused by excessive and lengthy inhalation of the spew from special interests.

  6. easy for Groveton to say….

    what DID he say?

    did he say "some" regulation is needed but "too much" is not?

    here's my question –

    What is better off with less regulation?

    no.. saying "anything" is not allowed.

    you have to support your choice(s).

    then the big Kahuna question.

    Do you think an unfettered, unregulated health care industry would do better than what we have and do better than what the Europeans have?

    Triple Double Bonus Question:

    Name the LEAST REGULATED healthcare system in the world – that is a real functioning system.

    Quadruple bonus – on the subject of regulation in general.

    Doesn't regulation actually provide jobs?

    how many industries and small businesses exist to provide services for regulatory compliance?

    so.. for example.. how many private, for-profit, water testing labs would there be if the Feds did away with the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974?

  7. Summary – the big question is NOT whether there should be regulation of health care. Of course there should be regulation of health care. Requiring doctors to have MDs seems like a prudent regulation to me.

    The question should be whether the present health care bill creates too much, too little or just the right amount of regulation.

    However, our elected officials cannot (as a group) be trusted. They do not act in the interests of their constituents. Therefore, I believe that any legislation created by these pawns of the special interests to be intentionally flawed. And until we fix the problems with the calibre of our elected officals I oppose ANY substantial new regulation. Of ANYTHING.

  8. this sounds a lot like the tea party motto…

    what has changed with respect to our legislators being "trustable" between now and before?

    and what do you think might happen in the future to make them more trustable?

    or… more likely… does the idea of "trustable" very in our own minds depending…… ?

    If people are "shocked"… "shocked" at the current political offal in process… all I can say… is where have you been dude?

    did you suddenly realize that turnip trucks have been circling your domicile?

    Remember.. back in …1965… more than 40 years ago.. deals were cooked and that crop of "untrustables" slid that nasty Medicare legislation under our doors.

    Then we've got those ghouls that passed SCHIPS in the nineties… and HORRORs.. that nasty law actually required that young people get "free" health care…

    I dunno guys… I'm trying really hard to see just how bad the politics are now that they were not before…and I'm not getting it.

    You say Harry Reid "made deals"… gawd o'mighty .. CALL THE LAW… what does he think he is anyhow – a politician?

  9. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    Not getting it? You are in good company. Health care is going to be the least of our problems.

    First from the left comes a long read that is pretty informative.

    Next we have one from the right, who goes beyond the health care debate to the health of the nation.

    That guy was an optimist compared to this one.

    And EMR if this author is right you may finally get your Trilogy. The question is whether Kunstler suffers from Cassandra's curse in a modern day tragedy that news reports say could open where it all began, the Theatre of Dionysus.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Statist ALERT…

    Power and control… Either give
    liberty up or fight it!

    Resistance becomes duty.

    Wilkes 45

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    Peter – One factual correction. The original Teligent did not use fiber optic connections to reach customers. It's business plan featured wireless connections, LMDS, MMDS and other radio services.

    I also have been informed that we've used up much of the spare capacity in fiber optic networks — at least in key locations. But you are correct. For a number of years, a lot of companies went under deploying fiber optic cables.


  12. I'm not into the gloom & doom scenarios. I'll admit that things are tough and may get tougher but we were living over our head already for more than a decade anyhow.

    Between doing two wars and Medicare Part D and totally wiping out the surplus we were handed and willingly agreeing to go along with sub-prime credit-default lending to keep the housing boom going – what did we really expect?

    and where were all the gloom & doom folks back when we were running up the deficit and playing with mortgage fire then?

    I don't recall many hand-wringers when Bush was savaging the budget – why?

    the current run up in the deficit is – according to many economists – necessary to keep us from slipping into even worse economic circumstances – a depression.

    we are still not totally out of the woods according to some.

    Even the folks who support this spending admit that downstream, we're going to have to deal with the caused deficits but in their judgment – they've chosen the path with the lesser economic harm.

    the less worse of the bad choices…

    but listening to the naysayers.. none of this would have happened had we not been "Obamaized".

    why wait until now to begin the gloom & doom?

    and what would you say if Obama announced that we have to start sending troops into Yemen and Somalia "off budget".

    so.. looks like it's okay to triple out output of China-financed Humvees but one penny for stimulus or healthcare is downright cancerous…

    geeze.. only 3 more years of listening to this "woe-is-us-we're all gonna die" whining.

  13. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    "where were all the gloom & doom folks back when we were running up the deficit and playing with mortgage fire then?"

    In Virginia, they were whacking the heck out of the Republican Party and tossing incumbents off a cliff.

  14. what can I say. When Virginia voters were presented with Gilmore of the same.. they urped.

    and then they had a chance to rectify their mistake when Kaine ran and once again they took the Dem.. then two Dem Senators..

    in the meantime.. Bush and his majority in Washington were doing what to the budget?

    who was sounding the alarm back then?

    in my mind.. the only truly righteous complainers are those who were also on the record during the Bush years.

    those guys I respect for adhering to their principles and keeping a consistent approach – no matter who the guy in charge is or his political stripes.

    but those guys that swing on their principles giving Bush a "bye" and then nailing Obama for doing similar…I dunno guys..

    like I said.. ya'll had 8 years to do Healthcare Tort Reform and allow/force Insurance companies to offer across State-lines and deal with pre-existing conditions…

    8-years.. NADA, ZIP, and NOW…the sky is falling…


    do you understand why some of us are a tad bit skeptical of the sincerity in the current sky-is-falling hand-wringing?

  15. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    "do you understand why some of us are a tad bit skeptical of the sincerity in the current sky-is-falling hand-wringing?"

    Sure, I can understand that. I've been a hand wringer for at least 5 years. It's why I have been so critical of the GOP and their big business budget buster ideas. It's why I thought doing two theaters of war at the same time was lunacy. Why I picked Jim Webb over Allen. And why I showed up on BR.

    I'm not alone, with economists from all over the world concerned we are facing something far worse than the last depression. Even guys like Krugman were with us before their little meetings at the White House. And CNBC went from Ban Bernanke to little green shoots overnight with Ratigan's move to obscurity at MSNBC.

    Then there is the GOP. They are good at mouthing populist and conservative values, but actions speak louder than words. When they had the chance to lead, citizens got knifed. And they haven't changed a bit. Look at what McD is advocating, and he hasn't even become governor yet. He has a serious case of Obama syndrome when it comes to Virginia's throne. Then his AFP minions are busy setting up a Governor's Re-election Machine over at RPV to ensure the GOB's are never again challenged by the peons.

    I laugh when the Repubs get all indignant about the state of the economy, like all this happened since last January. It's too bad the GA doesn't televise their charade in a CSPAN/Local format, then I could have three channels of political sitcoms to watch.

  16. Larry G Avatar

    Darrell.. if you have been hand-wringing for 5 years. you are true to your principles and righteous in your concerns.

    For myself, I'm particularly concerned about the deficit and totally agree that longer term, if we do not deal with it, we're going to have very serious problems.

    But I do accept the current administration and economists views about the govt having to step in … beyond that point…it's an argument about what specific things to do or not do – but all of them will result in deficit spending.

    I do believe that if the govt had not stepped in that it would have resulted in an economic death spiral.

    I also believe as I said earlier that in the future, very serious cuts will have to be done.

    Finally, healthcare AND Medicare will have to balance premiums with payouts.

    I'm perplexed at the folks who say that Medicare is going broke and in the same breath castigate those who say Medicare benefits will have to be cut.

    That effectively leaves us with no answer.

    so I ask… those folks.. what is YOUR solution… and now days.. they don't have one – because their motivation is not to deal with the problem anyhow.. they had 8 years to deal with it and did not.

    Nope.. their motivation is to use this issue as a political sledgehammer against the current administration IMHO.

    The answer to healthcare is the same answer that we used with social security AND Medicare and that is to force everyone to pay into the fund via FICA-like deductions….. and then … to force higher co-pays for non-essential services or some such approach.

    It's not any more "illegal" or "unconstitutional" to do this for healthcare than social security in my view.

    and we are justified in doing this because in the end, the rest of us pay for those who will not set aside for the future – and not only that.. we pay a LOT MORE because with healthcare – the guy that has no insurance coverage SKIPS Primary Care and waits until his illness is very expensive.. then hands the bill to us.

    I think we are so busy worrying about the idea of paying for others when they don't deserve it – that we've lost sight of the bottom line issue which is, at the end of the day – the folks with insurance PAY for the ones without – your only choice is how much.

    Do you want to pay for Primary (preventive) Care and/or force these folks to set aside enough of their income to help pay this expense…

    … or do you want to essentially deny a way to deal with the issue and then have your own premiums continue to go up – to pay for the ER care?

    .. as more and more people lose their insurance, the dynamics are going to work more and more against the people who manage to keep their insurance….

    .. if you care about deficits – this dynamic is more toxic than the credit default swaps.. IMHO…

    we have no choice but to do SOMETHING rational to deal with it or health care costs are going to just as surely kill our economy as deficits will.

  17. Groveton Avatar

    This isn't all that hard:

    "If people are "shocked"… "shocked" at the current political offal in process… all I can say… is where have you been dude?".

    The difference is that Obama (like that elitist pig Roosevelt before him) is legislating change om a grand and irreversable scale. Hence, his devotion to special interests is more painful to the United States than the business as usual politics of most presidents … like Clinton for example.

  18. Larry G Avatar

    " The difference is that Obama (like that elitist pig Roosevelt before him) is legislating change om a grand and irreversable scale. Hence, his devotion to special interests is more painful to the United States than the business as usual politics of most presidents … like Clinton for example. "

    is that the same Clinton that turned over a surplus budget to that dumbhead Bush?

    "grand and irreversible"?

    oh you must mean Social Security, the FDIC, Medicare, SCHIPs, the Nuke Regulatory Commission, the Army Corps of Engineers, etc, etc…

    Nutrition Labels?

    bad deal right? we need to get a guy in who will undo all of this and take us back ?

    Sorry.. not buying it…at all

    .. but I have to ask Groveton and others.. since you obviously feel betrayed by Obama…

    what exactly did you expect Obama to do – that he has not?

    I'm just perplexed here.

    I think he is proceeding pretty much the way he said he was but certainly not at the scope and speed his base wants.. and he is being influenced by folks on the right…

    what has he NOT DONE that was the reason you did vote for him?

    I think blaming him for the response to the economic meltdown ( do we stimulate or not? ) is a policy issue – really no different that financing the war off budget.

    This is ironic – to me.

    The folks who are complaining now were apparently just fine with committing trillions of dollars to go take down a despicable dictator – on a LIE –

    but a different president spending trillions on a bailout of our economy is apparently unforgivable?

    again.. I have to ask – why the double standard?

    If you kept your tongue when Bush and Republicans were savaging the budget on a lie and on a give away to big Pharm… why is your tongue now going overtime?

  19. Larry G Avatar

    and just to be clear.

    I am no particular fan of this President.

    He's going to be an important artifact of history but experience-wise – he's pretty thin (good thing for advisors) and performance-wise, the jury is out and will be for at least another year or two.

    but the double-standard in my view is so OBVIOUS.. that it cannot be ignored….

    If you take away what he has done about the economic meltdown and it's impact on the longer term deficit and focus on what else he has done…

    only a single thing – healthcare –

    and as most folks realize – the President cannot do any of that alone and is pretty much going to have to accept what is presented to him.

    He's not driving this train. In fact, his supporters are clearly upset with him for taking such a passive role in healthcare…

    yes.. it takes 60 Senators and yes.. we see politics at it's worst – but folks – where were you for the last 8 years of the same kinds of tactics?

    I'm not justifying the tactics.

    I'm pointing out that the tactics have been there all along for more than a decade – remember when the Republicans held the vote open late at night until they turned votes around?.

  20. Anonymous Avatar

    A free markt requires that the buyer have a choice of vendors and that the vendors are not unreasonably excluded from the market.

    Our present system offers neither of those conditions.

    Ideally, a free market offers the best of all worlds becase it will automatically produe the maximum avaialable benefit at the lowest cost.

    But when it fails, one must satifice for the next best condition.

    The Republicans have neither done anything to promote more of a free market situation or to search for the next best answer.

    If the present bill does nothing more than eliminate cherry picking, insurance recission, and denial ALL coerage because of minor preexisting conditions, then it will probably cost more than what we are paying now.

    But we will also have more coverage.

    Some would have us believe that we face a choice: we can take our chances on individual medical related bankruptcy, or we can have collective medical related bankruptcy.

    And yet Canada and Europe seem to have found some kind of middle ground, along with Japan, Taiwan and other countries.

    What we are trying to do is not impossible, but it is probably expensive. The present bill is an atrocious example of partisan sausage making.

    The only compensation lies in the fact that so many are opposed to it that there must be some good in it.

    If the conservatives, the liberals, the insurance companies, and the providers all hate it, then that is probably a good thing.


  21. Anonymous Avatar

    I think it is ironic that the Republicans suggested that insurance companies be allowed to sell across state lines: a reveersal of their usual states rights position.

    And probably emblematic of the desperation they face.

    It is equally ironic that the Democrats have also rejected the idea of medical co-ops, which you would think various shades of socialists and communists would jump at.

    Time for a third party. These two have utterly lost their bearings.

  22. Anonymous Avatar

    Nutrition Labels?

    Margaret and I got one f those soup mix packages as a gift, and we made chicken noodle soup out of our left over Christmas dinner.

    It was so salty we could not eat it.

    Then we looked at the label.

    Sure enough, there it was in black and white: ONE six ounce serving supplies 34% of your daily sodium needs.



  23. Anonymous Avatar

    "I think we are so busy worrying about the idea of paying for others when they don't deserve it – that we've lost sight of the bottom line issue which is, at the end of the day – the folks with insurance PAY for the ones without – your only choice is how much.

    I'd make the same argument about toll roads.


  24. Anonymous Avatar

    Some Republicans have seized on the uninsured number to attack the health-care legislation, even though they oppose mandating the purchase of insurance and covering illegal immigrants. "After raising billions in new taxes, cutting about a half-trillion dollars from Medicare, and imposing stiff new penalties for people who don't buy insurance and increasing costs for those that do, 23 million people will still not even have health insurance," Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said before the Senate vote.

  25. Groveton Avatar

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

    — C. S. Lewis

  26. Larry G Avatar

    do ya'll know what social security is?

    It's a FORCED SAVINGS PROGRAM aimed at those who would not set aside money for their own retirement – and who.. when they no longer could work – would expect others to help them.

    If you killed social security – you would end up with old people living in cardboard shelters under bridges and the mortuaries swinging by every morning to pick up the ones who did not survive.

    Now.. some of you might love the quotes about how the govt is 'sincere' in it's desire to help but has proven to be and will always be hopelessly inept but what is the alternative to picking up dead geezers under bridges?

    I say, it's social security or something like it where – yes.. the big, bad evil government forces … yes FORCES innocent people to give up part of their paycheck to pay for ss rather than having enough to pay for their cigarettes AND big screen TVs instead…

    Now.. if ya'll want to go to the systems they have in some of the 3rd world countries where the old, weak and sick go put up cardboard shacks near the dump.. then .. sorry.. I'm not with you…

    I vote for forced savings plans for old age AND for healthcare.

    the same way that I vote IN FAVOR of higher bank fees to cover FDIC, higher prices on food to pay for the work required in generating those nutrition labels and higher gasoline prices as a result of forcing the fuel companies to not use lead for octane

    etc etc, etc,

    ya'll need to get a grip on why govt is needed.

    I'd be the FIRST TO ADMIT that there is a long, long list of things the govt does not well..

    but what is the alternative?

    ya'll are spoiled…

    ya'll read those food nutrition labels – I KNOW YOU DO!

    and then you turn right around and curse the govt – the same govt that FORCED ..YES – the FORCED all those pvt companies to pay the money required to generate the info on those nutrition labels..

    so.. we're schizoid… here

    notice, I use the word "we".

    the next time you get into your car and pull that seatbelt around you – I want you to curse the big, bad govt for not only requiring them – but actually requiring that they meet certain standards.

    yes.. sit there in yer car and say ' DANG THE GOVT for making me wear this DANG Belt '.

    I'm not sure who said that but I like that quote better than Grovetons.

  27. Larry G Avatar

    Everytime you yahoos pull up to a traffic signal that turns green from red – you are depending on the govt to make sure that when you get the GREEN – the other side gets the RED.

    Now this might be a small example but there are places in this world where there is no signal or if there is – it may or may not insure the GREEN and RED work correctly.

    I ask you – who do you trust to make sure that GREEN won't kill you?

    When you pour your glass of milk or diet 7-up.. how do you know that it's highly unlikely that either of them have a parasite or stomach-rotting chemical in them?

    I don't know what the right mix of govt/pvt sector is and I certainly agree there are a multitude of things that we don't want the govt involved in but to be truly HONEST and REALISTIC .. there are some things that matter how bad the govt does this.. that we know for a fact.. it would be far worse with the pvt sector.

    If the pvt sector did air bags for cars – only folks like Groveton would be able to afford them – because they would not be massively mass produced but instead be $4000 options that most folks simply would not buy.

    That airbag in your car was FORCED ON YOU by your govt …

    was it not?

    was that an inept thing for govt to do?

  28. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    "do ya'll know what social security is? It's a FORCED SAVINGS PROGRAM "

    If SS was a forced savings program the money would still be there collecting compounded interest, for the day we retired.

    Instead the money is long gone, blown by the government. The payments we make today help ensure today's elderly aren't living in cardboard boxes. The rest comes from the Fed's maxed out Visa card.

    Tomorrow's elderly won't be so lucky. Fewer workers will be expected to not only pay for their own retirement, but to also keep the Fed's foreign loan sharks happy. Throw in the bumbling state and local governments, tomorrow's workforce will be in no position to help anyone. Adding insult to injury, cardboard boxes will be hard to come by in our new Eco-friendly world.

    Speaking of maxed out, Virginia's credit card is close to having a rate increase. The result of course is that s**t rolls down hill, which is bad news for all those local governments that suck out half of the state's budget.

    And what about the college students qualifying for the big money jobs that are expected to pay for all this. Mom and Dad are broke and so is the state.

    Maybe Grandpa will rent the dining room since he's the only one with any money.

  29. Larry G Avatar

    Darell.. what you say would be true is NO MONEY was coming into social security and that's simply not true.

    every paycheck still has FICA on it and in that column is real money going into the govt coffers.

    "going broke" does not mean that there is NO MONEY and none coming in – in this case.

    If we DO HAVE money coming in then we do have options for controlling the pay out and that means SOME pay out even if it mess LESS pay out.

    now those options mean, without other changes, lower benefits – but it does not mean NO BENEFITS.

    It does not mean cardboard boxes.
    What it means is that instead of that 4000 square foot home, some may have to downsize to a 1500 square foot or HORRORS – a 1000 square foot townhouse or even an apartment – you know like much of the rest of the industrialized world lives (most live in 1/2 the size dwelling that we do).

    instead of having a 40K SUV, you may have to get a 3 year old econobox or HORRORS keep a your car for 10 years instead of trading it in every other year. – you know like folks in Europe do.

    Enough of the gloom & doom! Less does not mean NONE!

    It's true.. we may not be as rich a nation – collectively or middle-class as we might have been in the past but geeze guy.. we don't go from where we are now to Somalia or Sudan standards either.

    sorry I'm just not into the anti-gov, gloom&doom, "we're all gonna die next year" narrative….

    I mean GEEZE.. some of the complaints I'm hearing now days seem akin to some blonde suddenly realizing what the fuel tank on her car is for….and going into depression about it.

    TRUTH: The US poo smells too.

  30. Darrell -- Chesapeake Avatar
    Darrell — Chesapeake

    Krugman takes off his cheerleader uniform, at least for one day.

    Tell us Obe-Wan, how do we climb out of the pit by devaluing our dollar when every other country currency is doing the exact same thing? There is no export driven recovery because the relational value hasn't changed. There must be a different way.

    C'mon I know you can say it. The way out of an exchange rate currency crisis is to not have the exchange in the first place. "A level playing field, or why the grumbling over the dollar's reserve status". Shouldn't that be the real title of Krugman's speech tomorrow?

    The Euro value of the losses in Greece are the same value as in Germany. The problem of course is that any governmental response to those losses must be an EU response, much to the chagrin of doubtful German citizens. Unlucky for them the problem states are now looking to separate from the Euro, creating even more currency speculation and a massive influx of impoverished migrants.

    Which brings us back to Krugman and his three generations of financial crisis. Exchange rate speculation deepens a global financial crisis. However a common currency socializes losses among all parties. Reference: Washington DC vs. the American people.

    I would say there is a fourth generation to consider, because it's going to take that many global citizens to pay our way out of this mess.

  31. Larry G Avatar

    it's true. you're borrowing against the future…… on a national enterprise scale.

    The kids will have to work it off.

    If we were doing this so we could buy up kumquat farms and produce paddle wheel river cruisers just so we'd have the world's biggest fleet of kumquat-carrying river boats.. then you'd get no argument out of me about the wantonly irresponsible fiscal policy.

    we actually have some imperatives from a higher calling – realizing of course that to a certain extent it's in the eye of the beholder.

    I'm convinced of two things.

    that we almost went into a depression and that government spending was required to arrest the death spiral.

    ..that in the next 20 years, if nothing is done, there will be no productivity gains that will be used for anything other than higher and higher health care costs.

    .. I'll admit.. that not everyone subscribes to the above views….

    ..and that probably explains the grumbling I hear…

  32. Anonymous Avatar

    you are depending on the govt to make sure that when you get the GREEN – the other side gets the RED.


    When was the last time you came to a sign that says "State Maintenance Ends Here" — and the road got better at that point?


  33. Anonymous Avatar

    "Adding insult to injury, cardboard boxes will be hard to come by in our new Eco-friendly world."



  34. Anonymous Avatar

    "What it means is that instead of that 4000 square foot home, some may have to downsize to a 1500 square foot or HORRORS – a 1000 square foot townhouse or even an apartment – you know like much of the rest of the industrialized world lives (most live in 1/2 the size dwelling that we do).

    instead of having a 40K SUV, you may have to get a 3 year old econobox or HORRORS keep a your car for 10 years instead of trading it in every other year. – you know like folks in Europe do."


    Yes, and that will have a huge impact on paychecks and therefore FICA payments.

    We will wind up with truly socialized retirement — like folks in Europe do.


  35. Anonymous Avatar

    We can increase the size of the workforce by simply legalizing allthe illegal workers, and collect FICA from them.


  36. Larry G Avatar

    okay. scratch the cardboard and insert shipping supply container.

    of we could do what the Japanese do:

    so this is how they'll fix Social Security.

    they'll cut benefits and after you've received benefits in the amount of what you paid in… they'll offer you a capsule, with an on-site cafeteria and medical clinic and free Wi Fi and Cable TV.

  37. Larry G Avatar

    collect FICA from "illegals".

    RH you miss the point – but a country mile.

    The companies that hire "illegals" do so so they DON'T have to pay the FICA….

    got it?

    and if the Govt decides to do what you'd suggest, we'd kick off a whole new outrage for the tea party folks to go bananas over the big bad govt stomping on hard working small business owners.

  38. Groveton Avatar

    Forced savings?

    I neither need nor want the government to force me to save. I have been saving ever since I had a paper route. Social security is an entitlement program. It is welfare for the elderly – whether they are needy or not. It is the Silent Generation taking from the Baby Boomers with Generation X absolutely robbed blind. I'll get a fraction of the money back that I put in. My children will get back none of the money they put in.

    I'll sign a binding agreement with Barack Obama today. I'll swear off any benefits from the money I have already contributed. He and his cronies can keep the cash they've already taken. But I won't pay any more. Instead, I'll take the money I would have paid and save it myself. Additionally, I'll sign an agreement that if I end up broke I'll sneak over the border into Mexico and never return to the US. No American money will be spent bailing me out of my bad financial decision to save myself instead of trusting the always reliable government.

    Why won't Barry let me do this? Because this has nothing to do with savings. It's a tax. It's an entitlement program. It's headed for insolvency and its accounting is fradulent. Finally, when did US Congressmen start paying into Social Security? 1983. Meanwhile, the rest of America started paying social security payroll taxes in 1937. Why did Congress wait 46 years before jumping on the bandwagon of this brilliant forced savings idea?

    Maybe because they've known it's a con job all along?

  39. Larry G Avatar

    for you – it turned out to not be a forced savings program but could you have guaranteed your lack of need for it way back when?

    No matter – it works like insurance… in fact, it is actually called insurance.

    Everyone has to pay early on because no one can tell who will later on not need it.

    sounds a lot like buying car, fire and life insurance to me….

    in fact, a lot like the state telling you that if you are going to drive a car – that YOU WILL participate in insurance as a protection for others.

    Obama is merely the next President in a long line of Presidents who had nothing to do with the creation of social security nor robbing it so why select him out?

    Remember Mr. Bush's solution?

    "let's invest in the stock market"

    isn't it funny that at the very time he was trying to convince us to do that – that we had the folks actively engaged in the housing ponzi scheme and Bush knew it and did nothing about it?

    Now, Obama wants to do something about it and he's said to be poking his nose where it does not belong – that the govt should not be "regulating" the folks who did the credit default swaps.

    go figure .. he gets blamed no matter which direction he takes.

    sounds fair to me….

    BY THE WAY – Congress started paying into social security at the same time that the rest of the Federal Employees did when the Feds converted the retirement program from a defined benefit to a defined contribution with a social security leg – just like a large number of private employers did – which I'm betting was also done by Groveton's company.

    Prior to that – Federal Employees did not pay into social security – AND they did not get it.

    I'm one of them.

    I get no Social Security, never will.. unless I go back to work and double dip…

    so.. fire insurance dictated by your mortgage company are "forced" for the very same reasons that the government "forces" social security

    the mortgage company does not care how safe you say you will be – nope – you WILL BUY INSURANCE….because the mortgage company has no idea who will actually not have a fire and who will.

    the govt feels the same way. They don't care if you tell them when you start working that you WILL save for your retirement because they know that if they don't force you to save – that you and others like you will come back later and say that you are destitute and need help.

    We went through this. We had "poor houses" .. and get this.. they were not run by GE or McDonalds.. they were run by – guess who – the government and funded with taxes imposed on others.

    this is the very same govt that "forces" those air bags on your vehicle against your Constitutional Right to not be forced to buy something you don't want.

    where are the anti-gov folks on all of these govt-imposed things?

    would they take away the air-bag law and condemn Warner and Webb if they refused to go along with it?

    we're got a national case of stupid these days.

  40. Groveton Avatar

    "No matter – it works like insurance… in fact, it is actually called insurance.".

    First, it was savings … now it's insurance. What next? Dessert topping? Floor wax?

    "Everyone has to pay early on because no one can tell who will later on not need it.".

    What did Americans do for the 150 years that the United States existed before this abortion came into existance?

    "Obama is merely the next President in a long line of Presidents who had nothing to do with the creation of social security nor robbing it so why select him out?".

    Because Obama is adding yet another chapter to the Book of Permanent Entitlement Theft with his so-called health care plan. We can't afford the entitlements we have now – why does adding another make sense?

    "Prior to that – Federal Employees did not pay into social security – AND they did not get it.

    I'm one of them.

    I get no Social Security, never will.. unless I go back to work and double dip…".

    Lucky you … perhaps you are part of a solvent retirement plan and won't have to double dip. I have been paying social security taxes all my life and I won't get virtually anything back either.

    Social security is a tax masquerading as a benefit used to fund ghastly federal deficits.

    As for fire insurance, auto insurance, etc. – I have a choice in all of those. I can pay off my mortgage, take the bus or buy the product from dozens of different companies based on their capabilities. Just give me the same thing with social security – a choice of an alternate to government run programs.

  41. Larry G Avatar

    Groveton -Savings IS PERSONAL Insurance.

    Insurance is pooling your savings

    What America did for 150 years is what 3rd world countries do right now and we – along with all industrialized/developing countries went this way.

    I ask you again – what did Obama say BEFORE he was President about his intentions with regard to heath care – that you failed to grasp and voted for?

    I thought he was pretty clear about his intentions – not only with health care – but the role of govt as …not passive….but activist …no surprises here – between the candidate – and the President, eh?

    so what changed or you?

    Did you not understand what he was saying as a candidate or have you had an epiphany?

  42. Larry G Avatar

    The basic question here is what should be done with folks who will not save for their retirement and healthcare?

    If our policy was to stay out of the downstream consequences – let them die in the street or outside the ERs – then the folks who are opposed to SS and HC would be totally correct in their logic.

    But once we cross the line and say that we will not have them dying in the streets and at the ER and we will do "something", we have agreed to make the govt the responsible party.

    Can we agree on that ?

    Name a country that has such policies. I think there are more than a few – right?

  43. Anonymous Avatar

    "What did Americans do for the 150 years that the United States existed before this abortion came into existance?"


    I think it was called the poorhouse.

    This house is constructed of wood, twenty-two by one hundred and twenty feet, two stories in height, connected with a farm of one hundred and forty acres, yielding an annual revenue of $500. The basements are only occupied for domestic purposes. In the house are eight rooms or wards, warmed by stoves, but not at all ventilated. In the largest of these rooms forty-five paupers are placed in the winter, and twenty in the summer. This room is mostly filled with invalids, is in size about twenty by thirty feet, with low ceilings; the air confined and altogether most unhealthy. The number of inmates was one hundred and twenty-seventy males and fifty females; of these forty are foreign and eighty native born; forty-five are under 16 years of age. The sexes are kept separate. They are under the care of a single keeper, by whom is kept the usual system of registration. The average number of inmates is one hundred and seventy-five, supported at an average weekly cost of $1.25, aside from the products of the farm. As far as able the paupers labor on the farm and about the house. No authorities have inspected or visited the house during the year. It is supplied with Bibles, and preaching is enjoyed on Sundays."


  44. Larry G Avatar

    we could do this.

    then any older people including those in wheel chairs and walkers who lacked SS and HC – and children willing to become financially responsible for them would have that as an option of last resort.

    The problem is that we have a bunch of hypocrites who are opposed to SS and opposed to HC but not opposed to Medicare – which is the same exact kind of HC they are opposed to.

    They're opposed to what we have – on the principles that it's not govt's job but then they espouse no practical solutions – like poor houses.

    so basically, they're opposition – with no real principles in my view.

    'real' principles in my book, means that if you are opposed to something – that you also are in favor of a different solution – and that forms the basis for a different political party solution

    and you run on that – win or lose – you run on your principles.

    The current crop of opposition are in my mind essentially political vandals…

    they want to make a point but they're really not interested in contributing a better/different solution.

    They don't want to talk about poorhouses and how to run them – even though their positions, without further articulation points directly to poorhouses.

    I say. get on with it.

    Be honest and up front about what you want – and work for it.

    You might lose but you'll have real principles …and if you are right – more and more folks will sign up for your solution.

    right now, we have political vandals running around spouting anti-gov/anti-Obma rhetoric with no beef behind the blather.

  45. Anonymous Avatar

    "Just give me the same thing with social security – a choice of an alternate to government run programs."

    OK, here are two choices:

    The Bernie Madoff Fund and Bear Stearns.

    And talk about choices, with social security you have the choice of these or any other investments you choose – in addition to Social Security.

    How does social security limit or deny you the ability to provide for your own future security?

    It doesn't. Unless you are making a very narrow claim: that all you can afford to invest is what government is presently taking for social security. If that is the case then your argument boils down to the diference in return on what you will get from Social security vs what you might get from the Bear Stearns/Bernie Madoff marketplace.

    And people forget that there are other facets of social security that Groveton is ignoring, like tthe disability insurance it provides, coverage to your spouse long after you die, and coverage for your parents and grandparents whom you might otherwise have had to support.


    "An employee earning a below average wage of 26000 per year (adjusted for inflation and average real wage growth), in order to get the benefits Social Security will guarantee to him and his wife, would have to invest his 6.2% payroll tax and get a steady 12% return on investment per year every year above taxes and fees.

    That same employee without a wife would have to get 10%.

    A self employed person, investing the entire 12.4% payroll tax, would have to get 8.5% if married, 6.3 % if single.

    An employee earning the average wage of 44,000 per year, adjusted, would have to get 10.4% married, 8.5% single; self employed married 6.7%, self employed single 4.5%.

    An employee earning 70,000 per year, adjusted would have to get 9.2% married, 7.3% single; self employed married 5.5%, 3% single."


  46. Larry G Avatar

    " And people forget that there are other facets of social security that Groveton is ignoring, like tthe disability insurance it provides, coverage to your spouse long after you die, and coverage for your parents and grandparents whom you might otherwise have had to support."

    these are socialist concepts – no?

    Are you in favor o taking money from others to pay for these folks because their extended families refuse to assume financial responsibilities for their extended families?

    this is exactly what Groveton and others ARE talking about no? – which is the idea that govt (taxpayers) will look after those who cannot or will not look after themselves and their families.

    do you think we should pay for a window's living expenses if her husband did not provide properly for her?

  47. Anonymous Avatar

    "Social Security's inflation-adjusted rate of return is only 1.23 percent for an average household of two 30-year-old earners with children in which each parent made just under $26,000 in 1996.1 Such couples will pay a total of about $320,000 in Social Security taxes over their lifetime (including employer payments) and can expect to receive benefits of about $450,000 (in 1997 dollars, before applicable taxes) after retiring at age 67"


    So, 1.23% – After inflation – with virtully no risk. What are TIPS paying these days?


    "Had they placed that same amount of lifetime employee and employer tax contributions into conservative tax-deferred IRA-type investments-such as a mutual fund composed of 50 percent U.S. government Treasury bills and 50 percent equities-they could expect a real rate of return of over 5 percent per year prior to the payment of taxes after retirement."

    I'm not sure I believe that, today, although it might have been true at the time it was published. After the recent wipeout any one who had been following a strtegy that returned 5% is probably still well below that now.

    Over my lifetime of investing I've done better than 5%, even after the wipeout, but I would hardly call my strategy conservative.

    But then, one reason I could AFFORD to make more agressive investments was that I knew I already had a conservative one (social security) to fall back on.


  48. Anonymous Avatar

    I'm not saying what I think one way or another, I'm only pointing out that if you only consider the cash amount paid in with respect to what you are actuarily likely to get back after retirement, then you have not figured the full amount of benefits that you are paying for.

    We can concede that social security is not a private account, where your money is individually accounted for. We can concede that government does not have to segregate its other operating funds from your account funds in the same way that (government requires) brokerage houses do. we can concede even that You MIGHT have done better IF you invested a similar amount of money more agressively and IF you shouldered the risk of doing so.

    But even if you did all that, you might fail, in which case the idea of you assuming your own risk goes to pot: someone else would still be paying for your poorhouse.

    Gee, if you really wanted to come way out ahead of the game, then get the government out of the defense business: after all we can each assume our own risk, right?



  49. Anonymous Avatar

    I get no government retirement, and have only social security, plus my own savings.

    But if I left the public workforce sand went into government long enough to get another pension, would that be double dipping?


  50. Anonymous Avatar

    More Description of the Uster, New York Poorhouse:

    "During the year have occurred twenty births and fifty deaths. The paupers have suffered considerably from the small pox during that time. There is no pest house provided.

    Of the inmates fifteen are lunatics–three males and twelve females; all are paupers. Five have been admitted during the last year. They receive no special medical attendance, but a male attendant supplies their ordinary wants. Ten are confined in cells, and one restrained with chains. Beside the main building are several small old buildings on the premises, in one of which–a very poor one–were twelve cells for lunatics, very open, and where it is barely possible to keep them from perishing.

    In the houses are twelve idiots–four males and eight females; two of the females are under 16 years of age.

    Three-fourths of the paupers are reduced to their present condition by intemperate habits."

    New York, even then, was a liberal state. I wonder what the poorhouse in Mississippi looked like?


  51. Larry G Avatar

    "double dipping" – I'm not rendering an opinion good or bad but if you end up with a govt pension AND social security – you are, by definition double dipping.

    If I were King.. double dippers would ONLY get back what they put in – and not a dime more though.

  52. Larry G Avatar

    " I wonder what the poorhouse in Mississippi looked like?"

    for blacks or whites?

  53. Larry G Avatar

    You could provide to EVERYONE a program like the TSP – Thrift Savings Plan offered to Fed Employees which has 7 different funds to choose from ranging from Govt. Securities to risky index funds.

    But like with the Fed program – the problem is that the program is VOLUNTARY AND you can pull the money out if you take the hefty penalty.

    And that's the problem.

    The same folks who would sign up for a sub-prime ARM loan would, if they had the opportunity, gut their own funds to spend instead of maintaining it.

    This is why I call SS a forced savings plan.

    and do you really want folks who would sign up for a 500K home on a 10% ARM to be given direct access to their set-aside money for retirement and HC?

    If our national policy was to let them do that but also tell them that if they end up destitute that no help will be given and they will die in the streets if they screw up

    then we would have a rational, self-consistent, justifiable policy.

    So the folks at Heritage and other conservative folk would let those who ought not be allowed – play with fire..

    This is why we have housing vouchers and food stamps rather than direct financial transfers.

  54. Anonymous Avatar

    As you can see from the descriptions, the purpose of the poorhouses was basically to allow them to die on the streets – while preserving us from actually watching it happen.


  55. Anonymous Avatar

    if you end up with a govt pension AND social security – you are, by definition double dipping.


    Why is it double dipping if you paid for two scoops?

    On the one hand we complain because we don't get back what we put in, and then we turn around and complain that some people don't get back twice what they paid in: we pejoratively refer to getting screwed twice as double dipping.

    "Boy, the food is terrible here"

    "Yeah, and the portions are so small, too."

    Which is it?

    Why is it NOT double dipping if you get a government pension or SS AND you have "your own" savings?


    Notice that the Heritage foundation analysis calculates its low rate of return based on the employer and the employee contributions.

    Implicitly this assumes that without social security what is (by law) the empoyers contribution would wind up in your paycheck, for you to invest.

    I doubt if anyone believes that would happen, in practice. After all, if it is the employer's money and they are being forced by law to give it to (your) social security account, why would they add it to your paycheck?

    Part of th e problem with this whole discussion is that we are being deliberately schizophrenic about WHOSE money it is to begin with and WHAT it is we are buying with it.


  56. Anonymous Avatar

    "…those who ought not be allowed "

    How do we decide who that is? SS doesn;t prevent any one from playing with fire, except to the limited extent their money is protected by SS.

    Should we have stepped in and prevented Bernie Madoff's wealthy investors or Bear Stearns wealthy investors from palying with fire?


  57. Larry G Avatar

    how do we decide?

    you don't.

    that's the entire premise behind insurance.

    everyone pays premiums and then the folks that have a loss get compensated …

    imagine this.

    you have an employee and he tells the company – "I want the money you are setting aside for my pension and I want the money you are paying to provide me with health care.

    That's in essence, what is being advocated here with regard to SS and HC.

    If we passed a law – outlawing SS and outlawing any company providing health care benefits and it would be up to each individual to take care of their own needs…. then we'd have in essence what the Conservatives are advocating as a political philosophy.

    the only one that I know of who is man enough to admit the truth of his position is Ron Paul.

    The rest are closet folks…

    they code their words and phrases to be things like "more self reliant" and "no more nanny state" but virtually none of them are willing to come right out and say what their philosophy would actually look like in society – except for Ron Paul.

    Now the biggest credibility that these folks and Ron Paul have is this – not even Mr. Paul can say – "We should have a policy like country "x" that has proven to be the best model world-wide for not have a nanny-state".

    Nope.. these folks want us to be on the bleeding edge – but of course other than Mr. Paul, none will admit it.

    At least give the Dems credit – they ARE truthful about what they are after.

  58. Anonymous Avatar

    If they pay into one plan that pays them pack 1.1% after inflation an they pay into another plan that pays them back 1.11% after inflation, why does it make any difference what the ratio of the two plans is?

    Why would you choose to penalize one person and give him zero return, just because he paid into two plans?

    If that's the way you feel, why not scrapt the plans, as Groveton suggests, and just put him in the poorhouse?


  59. Anonymous Avatar

    "This is why we have housing vouchers and food stamps rather than direct financial transfers."

    Aaahh, but school vouchers are off limits?

  60. Larry G Avatar

    " If they pay into one plan that pays them pack 1.1% after inflation an they pay into another plan that pays them back 1.11% after inflation, why does it make any difference what the ratio of the two plans is?"

    you forget the last ratio – 0.0%

    which is what you get if you decide to not participate at all…

    That's what has been suggested – to let the individual decide not only what ratio they want (or not) but actually to decide they don't want ANY ratio but want the money up-front instead.

    The fundamental issue here – is this – should the govt have the right to force you to save for your retirement?

    Any my response has been that if you think this is wrong – then that's fine but then you must live with the consequences of such a policy – which is poorhouses and the such.

    don't be opposed to the forced savings approach then argue about what policies we will use to avoid having poorhouses.

    Such a philosophy is corrupt.

    in other words – be a man – man up on your philosophy.

    like I said.. there is one true man – Ron Paul – the others are philosophical weasels.

  61. Larry G Avatar

    I'm not opposed to school vouchers as long as those schools must take all comers and cannot cherry-pick the demographics

    AND they must produce – results – at least equivalent to the public schools.

    In other words, they must test – NAEP and they must meet the performance benchmarks.

  62. Anonymous Avatar

    "I want the money you are setting aside for my pension and I want the money you are paying to provide me with health care."

    Like I said, it is schizophrenic.

    This boils down to "I want your money."

    Even if you would prefer to spend it on health care and retirement, because you believe that brings your firm better employees.

    Never mind that you are required by government to do so.

    The emplyee thinks (and Heritage seems to agree) that just because government mandates the employer to spend some money certain ways (on behalf of the employee?) that this suddenly makes it the employe's money.


  63. Anonymous Avatar

    " If they pay into one plan that pays them pack 1.1% after inflation an they pay into another plan that pays them back 1.11% after inflation, why does it make any difference what the ratio of the two plans is?"

    you forget the last ratio – 0.0%


    You are changing the argument. I'm only asking why you think double dippers shoulg get no more then they pay in when single dippers do get more than they pay in – even if they pay in to a private plan.

    What has someone who opts out and spends all his money got to do with how we treats someone who happens to have two careers and saves in both of them?

    I don't see where either the antagonism towards double dippers or the jealously of double dippers comes from.


    How about this plan, calulate SS payouts retroactively.

    When you get ready to retire you provide to the government your entire private savings and investing history. Government then matches your proven earned ROI for all the money you have contributed. (But not what your employer contributed because that is his money not yours.)

    If you are a slumdog who never saved anything then you get back what you paid in with 0.0% ROI. that way the conservatives can't complain, except then they would invent something else to complain about.


  64. Larry G Avatar

    "… that this suddenly makes it the employe's money."

    it's their compensation – and it comes in several flavors of which currency/hard cash is but one.

    Unemployment and Workers Compensation are two more where the govt is essentially sayin – "for every employee, you WILL set aside money into a fund to take care of that employee if and when he can no longer work".

    Let's be honest … because this is what it is and it's been that way for a long, long time – and it's that way in every other major developed (industrialized) country and it's considered a hallmark of a mature civilization.

    I know of no developed country that does not have this approach.

    All the countries that do not have this approach have much more fragile economies and governance except for the heavy-duty dictatorships and royal-ruled nations.

  65. Larry G Avatar

    I misunderstood the analogy you advanced.

    double dippers… the SS needs to be secondary and means-tested IMHO.

    it's designed as a safety net for those who have no other savings.

    I would give double dippers the option to take the minimum payout as an annuity or a lump sum – the way – you can do with other pensions also.

  66. James A. Bacon Avatar
    James A. Bacon

    Larry, what's so awful about "cherry picking" demographics? Another word for that is segmenting the marketplace. The alternative to fashioning products or services for market niches is to create one-size-fits-all for everyone. In the realm of consumer products, what you end up with is… Cuba.

    Your problem isn't cherry picking demographics, it's reimbursing charter schools on the same basis for all students regardless of what it costs to provide the service. In that case, the solution isn't preserving the status quo, it's reimbursing schools at different rates for taking on different types of students. Higher reimbursements for disabled students. Higher reimbursements for socio-economically disadvantaged students.

  67. Larry G Avatar

    I think another good analogy here is what is known as "while" insurance.

    You pay into it and if you croak you get the benefit but if you don't croak – you get back some of your premiums.

    This is done usually as a 'for-profit' activity.

    but if you did this as a non-profit but mandatory activity – it would be very similar to SS and universal HC except it's a lifelong proposition with any payouts at life-end given back to the younger folks.

  68. Larry G Avatar

    re: "cherry picking".

    tax dollars are spent to produce an educated workforce – not educational amenities for the Hoi polloi.

    you have to ask yourself what the purpose of the tax dollars is for.

    I don't pay tax dollars so your kid can reach his self-actuated nirvana state.

    I pay tax dollars to produce a workforce where each person has the wherewithal to be self-reliant whether they be a PHD or a plumber.

    I don't mind you paying extra at all to get better for your kids but don't come to me to pay for special schools for your kid that has the effect of turning the public schools into educational poor houses.

    I like the idea of competition and I would agree that the public schools have some fundamental structural problems with operations but again, why do most of my local taxes go to schools in the first place?

    not so your kid can take Business 301 in high school.

  69. Anonymous Avatar


    I tend to agree with you that tax dollars should be spent on schools that do not cherry-pick students. However, the Commonwealth already does fund public schools that cherry-pick students – the Governor's schools, with the prime example being TJ here in Fairfax County. As I'm sure you know, TJ has elaborate screening methodologies.

    If we fund TJ with tax dollars — and I think we need to do so — how can we also say that Charter School A or Private School B cannot do likewise? I don't have an answer, but a double standard troubles me.

    Public policy is tough.


  70. Larry G Avatar

    TMT – I'm aware of the Governor's schools and what I view is their discriminatory practices which I think are wrong and encourage a modern day version of "separate but equal".

    I'm not at all oppose to offering advanced classes and in fact think that if we do not we are, in fact, dumbing down the curricula but access to these classes needs to be completely open to all demographics and they should be parent-funded with the subsidized lunch concept employed for those of lesser means.

    In other words, we do want an advanced path – for ALL KIDS regardless of their economic circumstances.

    but we cannot fund these things on the nominal public school dollar if it results in damage to the basic public school curricula.

    I think it is totally ironic that the No child Left Behind was directly pointed at this problem.

    Most suburban schools PRIOR to NCLB were perfectly willing to do just that.

    We had schools that had 1/3 of the students scoring in the highest percentiles while another 1/3 was 20-30 points down and many eventually dropped out.

    but here's the ultimate irony.

    For those who seem to prefer the "school within a school" idea .. when their kids grow up to earn those big bucks – guess what happens?

    there is enormous pressure to tax them to pay for those who are not self-reliant because they lack a proper education and prisons – the number one employer in the state of Va.

    Every kid in Va with a normal IQ needs to graduate with a decent education and yes.. the parents play a role but kids with bad parents should not be consigned to a life of sorrow for their parents sins either.

    Many a kid who came from disadvantaged parental and economic circumstances was able to achieve – as long as he/she had access to a decent education.

    we cannot allow the public school system to be turned into an educational institution of last resort for those who are economically or parentally disadvantaged.

  71. Groveton Avatar

    1. Separate but equal is a perfectly moral philosophy so long as it is applied to talent rather than race, religion, etc. The state has every interest in funding schools like TJ where the children with the greatest aptitude for math and science can participate in an accelerated program of math and science. It is clearly in the best interests of the United States to provide accelerated education to our smartest citizens.

    Do you believe that the Naval Academy should administer admissions by lottery?

    2. I am heartened to know that Roosevelt's entitlement programs have won the war on poverty in America. Or, was it Johnson who won the war on poverty? It's so hard to keep the socialists straight. We need socialist trading cards – like baseball cards. They could have stats on the back about how much they increased taxes, inflated the deficit, transferred to special interests, etc.

    Oh yeah … back the great victory on the war against poverty.

    Here's the modern version of the Ulster poorhouse….

    I guess the great Roosevelt safety net of entitlement hasn't made it to present day Atlanta. If you put "crack house" into the YouTube search argument you can see plenty of other videos from around the country.

    3. Larry – why do you assume that present day Mississippi is more prejudiced than other places (like Virginia for example). My feeling is that Virginia has been the most racially prejudiced state in the US for the last 40 years. If Arthur Ashe had hailed from Jackson instead of Richmond do you really think there would have been more of an objection to putting up a statue of the man? People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And Virginia is very much of a glass house.

  72. Anonymous Avatar

    it's their compensation – and it comes in several flavors of which currency/hard cash is but one.


    This is what I mean by schizophrenic.

    No, it is not their compensation, by law. Same with Unemployment insurance: the state goes to great lenght to tell you it is insurance, paid for by your employer: it is not "your money" that you have some kind of right to.

    For example, I can choose not to deduct the empoyees protion of FICA from his pay check, and just pay the whole bill myself. It saves a lot of paperwork, but if I do that, then I have to declare the additional portion I pay as income to the employee and deduct from that as well. But the portion I pay on his behalf is not his money and he pays no income tax on it.

    Now, we all recognize that money is fungible, and one way or another it all comes from the employers pocket. Therefore the claim you made is popularly made: it is really money the emplyee earned: it is his compensation.

    But it is precisely becasue money is fungible that we cannot make that claim: we have no idea where the employer got the money he uses to pay the employers share.

    if the requirement to pay the employers share went away, there would be no guarantee that the employee would ever see it.

    Your position seems reasonable and it is widely held, but it is not supported by law.


  73. Larry G Avatar

    well.. if you're making the claim that talent only comes from those of means then your separate but equal is an oxymoron.

    separate but equal didn't work originally for the same reason it does not work now.

    and no.. I make no distinction to where it may or may not be practiced geographically.

    but FYI – Annapolis does use a type of lottery… not solely oriented to "talent" as I recall.

    I'm not sure how "talent" is recognized in the raw academic form anyhow.

    I like the way the military does it. You take the test and they don't care if you are blue, back, smelly or pretty.. if you pass the test – you've got the right stuf.

    we should do schools this way.

    and especially so – Charter Schools and no other way with vouchers.

    fair and square – on the academics no matter if mom&dad are Hoi polloi or hock pooee

    If you want my opinion about the legitimacy of public policy that rewards ignorant 13-year old having offspring for Uncle Sam to give food stamps to .. I'm with you.

    but once that kid is here.. you can decide if you want to pay 40K a year for the rest of his life to imprison him or 40K per year for 12 years to educate him…

    if you know better economics on this – do let fly.

    They do the same things with upscale communities and their schools in Mississippi as we do in Virginia as far as I know.

    I've never considered Virginia particularly enlightened about race relations except when the Fed Civilians and Military in the NoVa area hire and promote but we know some of the history of even NoVa when it comes to race relations don't we?

    Tell me which President – did his own version of the war on poverty by mandating equal treatment of blacks in the military?

  74. Larry G Avatar

    Just FYI:

    Lynchings, by State and Race, 1882-1968 (blacks):

    Mississippi 539
    Virginia 83

  75. Anonymous Avatar

    "for every employee, you WILL set aside money into a fund…."

    Precisely. That money then belongs to the fund, not to the employee. This is what conservatives commplain about: taking money from them and using it for socialist purposes.

    But then they turn around 180 degrees and claim that IF I had ALL that money, mine and the employers, THEN I (individually) could do a lot better with it.

    The Fund, meanwhile is making exactly the same claim: IF we had all the money from the employes and employers then WE could do much better with it (on average) because we know from history that many people will not save on their own.

    Even if we agree that SS is a mess or a potential mess we can't look at it out of context: we have it because what we had before was even worse.

    But, I think you are feathering the conservative nest if you think that SS is some kind of (socialistic) fund or government money, rather than OUR money. You think that everyone should pay into SS but that only those not wise enough to save on their own should get money out: that it should be means tested.

    It is bad enought that SS forces you to pay into a plan that pays you back less than you might have had, but then to suggest that it should ONLY pay back to those that don't have other resources just compounds the conservative headache.

    Better that it should guarantee everyone something, which they can build on or not, according to their wishes and ability. It is bad enough that it doesn't pay us well on our money, why throw a bone to the other side and let them also complain that it not only pays them NOTHING, but takes THEIR money and gives it to others?

    The funny thing about this is that it is the conservatives who are essentially complaining that the government is being too conservative with their money.

    Bottom line, I think we should stop worrying about double dipping or means testing: it doesn;t buy us anything and it is counterproductive.


  76. Anonymous Avatar

    Lynchings, by State and Race, 1882-1968 (blacks):

    Mississippi 539
    Virginia 83


    How much is that per capita? What's it got to do with anything?


  77. Anonymous Avatar

    Higher reimbursements for disabled students. Higher reimbursements for socio-economically disadvantaged students.


    Whie we are at it, how about higher reimbursements for schools catering to highly talented students.

    While we are at it, how about Mo Money? For everything.

    How about a two tier system. First part is we allocate a certain amount per student, in vouchers, that the parents can spend anypalce they think will give their kids the best advantage. If their kids really need a lot of help, well, it is their kids, they can pay the difference.

    Then you have a second tier where parents can plead their case. Faced with limited resources ad virtually infinite needs in some of these cases, here is where one size doesn't fit all.

    You can spend a little extra on some kids to good advantage, while huge resources lavished on others will produce little or no results. In this tier, parents (and probably lawyers and other lobbyists or consultants) can promote the childs interests while th keeper of the funds keeps an eye on the societal interest.

    It is disheartening, to say the least, to discover you are on the losing end of triage, but that is the situation we face.


  78. Anonymous Avatar

    "…with any payouts at life-end given back to the younger folks.


    Isn't that what life insurance does?


  79. Larry G Avatar

    with the exception of whole life – life insurance… you pay for the insurance. and the money is gone… the only way you get it back is if you suffer a loss.

    Social Security is this way.

    you pay into it – on the premise – that if you have a loss – they will step in with a safety net.

    they won't make you "whole" unless you're on the bottom tier to start with.

    you can make the same argument about keeping your own money – and getting a better interest rate on it – and …self-insure yourself also.

    you could do that with your mortgage/fire insurance and car insurance also…

    oops.. no you can't because you really don't own the house until you've got equity in it and driving a car without insurance risks other people who might be hurt due to your negligence and you'd not be able to compensate them without insurance.

    You could also do what social security does for your survivor – just purchase enough term life insurance to give her the equivalent annuity that would accrue from the lump sum payout.

    The point here is that there are a LOT of different financial vehicles to provide for you and your dependents future .. all available on the market.. all it takes is money and your own commitment to make it happen.

    The problem HAS ALWAYS been – that people don't do what they are supposed to do – and then other taxpayers get the bill to rescue them.

    What SS does – is it's preempts irresponsible planning on the part of some – at the expense to others – and it does this as the lesser of the evils.

  80. Anonymous Avatar

    Here's the modern version of the Ulster poorhouse….


    I think the question was what did we do before SS, and the answer was te Ulster – style poorhouse.

    Haven't seen the U-tube but I assume your point is that the modern verson isn't much better.

    Except that nowadays we don't put everyone without means in there indiscriminately. SS allows many to manage in genteel poverty on their own whereas otherwise we would have to take over total control and responsibility.

    SS is probably a lot cheaper.


  81. Groveton Avatar

    I like the way the military does it. You take the test and they don't care if you are blue, back, smelly or pretty.. if you pass the test – you've got the right stuf.".

    Basically the same as TJ. People complain that Asian Americans are over-represented while others are under-represented at TJ but the answer has been – tough. You take the test and if you do well enough – you get in. Good. This is not an all or nothing proposition.

    As for lynchings in Mississippi vs. Virginia – I specifically wrote that I consider Virginia more racist over the last 40 years. You data ends 42 years ago. There is no doubt in my mind that Mississippi, at its worst, was the epicenter of racism in the United States. However, Mississippi (like many other southern states) came to its senses sooner than Virginia. I believe that this inability to evolve at a reasonable pace is due to the excessive influence that a few families exert on the Commonwealth of Virginia. This excess was epitomized by the Byrd machine. Bob McDonnell can go pound salt as far as the governor term limit debate goes. The only question in my mind is why we don't have term limits on state delegates and senators too.

  82. Anonymous Avatar

    What SS does – is it's preempts irresponsible planning on the part of some – at the expense to others – and it does this as the lesser of the evils.


    But why does it have to be at the expense of others?

    Why can't you preempt irresponsible personal planning and still have those that add good planning on top of SS earn the same as the bad planners?

    Why make it MORE socialistic than it is?


    And it does it as the lesser of two evils.

    Not good enough. Social policy needs to show a net positive benefit, not just a smaller loss.

    Neither side in this argument is offering very good metrics, but the conservatives are simply postulationg that all of society would be bettter off if only THEY were allowed to be better off.


  83. Groveton Avatar

    The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property.

    John Locke

    The reasons conservatives dislike social security center around property rights which, as John Locke's quote explains, for the rational of entering into societies.

    When the government takes my property to absolve others from the consequences of their poor behavior (in this case – failing to save for their own retirement) it diminishes my freedom and runs contrary to the fundamental principles upon which the United States was founded.

    Other points:

    1. Karl Marx was a vocal critic of John Locke.

    2. Thomas Jefferson wrote; "Bacon, Locke and Newton..I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences". Note: The Bacon in Jefferson's quote was Francis Bacon, not Jim Bacon.

  84. Larry G Avatar

    re: "taking property".

    when we decide policy that says that we, as a nation and as taxpayers, will NOT stand aside while the old, weak and sick die in the streets an outside of the ERs – we have decided to take property for others.

    Then the argument is how much.

    You can have your property taken for $200 worth of primary doctor care – or .. you can wait ..until that sickness turns into 40K worth of medical care.

    which of the two do you want?

    remember.. way back when – you did already decide that you would give some of your property to prevent dying the in streets – right?

    SS is one more step – a preemptive step that says BEFORE we talk about me giving my property to keep you from dying in the street – I want YOU to set aside some money for your needs instead of blowing it all and not saving any of it.

    Now.. if you think this is a wrong policy – then you need to go back to the part about whether you will let them die in the streets – and change your mind.

    This is what I mean by being true to your stated philosophy.

    Don't say you believe in one thing then get a wobbly on what it takes to truly ascribe to that belief.

    No Conservative these days – no matter how much he believes that we should let people die in the street before we give them our property – will – say this in public and run for election on it.


    they're philosophic weasels.

  85. Groveton Avatar

    Larry – Your mistake is the belief that the government taking more property will somehow result in fewer people "dying in the streets". How is the "war on drugs" going? How about gun violence, especially among the young? Gangs? The government has gotten bigger and bigger. Have the problems gotten smaller and smaller?

    Health care in America needs to be re-invented. Health care in America needs to transform from disease management to wellness maintenance. Unfortunately, Obama was too busy hanging out with his centi-millionaire friends from Hollywood and Wall Street. So, he left the task to an observably corrupt and incompetent Congress. The result? Observably corrupt and incompetent legislation. The present legislation will increase California's deficit by $3B (it's presently $20B). Does this kind of legislative bungling sound familiar? Kind of like the General Assembly's transportation bill or the abusive driver fees?

    I guess every American generation needs to elect a socialist to the presidency. My generation elected Carter. Now it's Obama. The good news is that their administrations are lighthouses for the future just like a shipwreck is a lighthouse to the sea.

    Obama had the opportunity to be a real leader but he abdicated his responsibility. Instead, he spent his time on PR events and left the heavy lifting to Congress. As always, Congress failed miserably. The only good news is that the legislation in its present form is probably unconstitutional and will fail any number of legal challenges. Once again – sound familiar?

  86. Larry G Avatar

    Groveton.. I can see how you get confused about things.


    I'm not sure what you think are the solutions to drug use and gun violence if not the govt unless you think the govt's involvement is the reason for it.

    but at any rate – neither of these have anything at all to do with other – very successful – govt involvement in issues wide and far.

    For instance, there is no dispute that mandated seat belts and air bags save money and save lives.

    Govt in 16 other industrialized countries – HAVE DEMONSTRATED that govt-operated healthcare results in 1/2 the costs of our system AND their people live longer AND they have less infant mortality.

    Govt "works" guy.

    wanna let the folks who ran the credit default swaps operate the FDIC system?

    How about our military? best in the world or a bunch of incompetent screw-ups?

    How about our military health care system?

    a failure that needs to be privatized and let soldiers and their families seek pvt sector insurance?

    see.. the problem here is what I call the half-full/half-empty syndrome.

    I admit.. sometimes it's awful easy to be pushed into looking at the half-empty perspective and no probably few of us will every really love our govt in ways not patriotic…

    as far as legislation that will be found illegal.. perhaps.. but we've not yet seen the final version… anyhow.

    but you have no alternatives anyhow.

    you had eight years of the "UN-socialist" Bush/Congress approach to healthcare and what did they do?

    and for some reason. you think that if/when this "socialist" President will get tossed – that your hero "un-sociaists" will return to do health-care RIGHT?


    you are such a kidder guy.

    The Republicans are big FAT zeros when it comes to stuff like this.

    If/when they get back into office, they will do NOTHING ..just like the Republicans in Virginia DO NOTHING about Transportation.

    I feel for you guy – I really do.

    There used to be real live fiscal conservatives wearing the "R" on their uniforms but their brethren have run them out of town on a rail with the phrase RINO branded on their foreheads…

    the Republican Clan is now a band of anti-govt vandals who will kill the middle class, get rid of any/all regulation that business tells them to and kiss Limbaugh butt as long as he tells them to.

    I'm going to love watching you approach the upcoming elections when you realize just how ODIOUS your "antidote" to Obama will be…

    Pray for Reagan II fella…or perhaps Evita Pallin.

  87. Larry G Avatar

    " Health care in America needs to be re-invented. Health care in America needs to transform from disease management to wellness maintenance"


    Now all you have to do is convince all those Republican businessman who run for-profit heathcare enterprises.

    you know.. the same guys buying the millions of dollars of bald-face lying ads on TV about pulling the plug on granny when granny is already on Medicare and the like.

    Face it Guy. These guys had 8 years to do "something" and what exactly did they accomplish?


    and before that?

    they fought Hillary-Care and killed it.. and when they did they said that Hillary-Care was the WRONG approach or to put it in your words – that we needed to "reinvent" healthcare.

    so what did they do when Bill & Hillary departed the scene?


    so NOW.. you're telling me that when we get rid of Obama and the Republicans return – that they will "fix" healthcare.


  88. Groveton Avatar

    OK Larry –

    Let's bring this closer to home.

    Here's a good article for you to read:

    Here are the two important quotes:

    "“Unemployment has hovered around 20 percent in Martinsville and the surrounding county for the past 10 years. Perhaps the most difficult concept to grasp was that no savior was going to ride into town and turn the economy around.”.

    “”The response that we’re getting is, ‘We live here. We grew up here. We’re not leaving,’ ” Councill said.”.

    Unemployment has been at 20% for 10 years! Back in the boom days, during the bubble … still 20%. But the people who live there don't want to move.

    Who should pay for their retirement costs? Isn't their decision to "stay put" despite chronic unemployment a personal choice? Over the last 10 years there have been plenty of jobs in NoVa, plenty in Tidewater. But, I guess, there are plenty of people in Franklin who don't want to be inconvenienced by moving somewhere else within the same state to find employment.

    The US economy is in the midst of a long term upheaval more traumatic than any since the industrial revolution. People must be willing to move to where the employment exists. They must be willing to endure inconvenience in order to support themselves. If you subsidize anything else you commit national economic suicide.

  89. Larry G Avatar

    well.. you're right of course but I would posit that quite a few people HAVE moved.

    but the folks in Martinsville and places like them simply don't have the education to go to a place like NoVa and compete for a job that would provide them with enough money to find a decent place to live.

    they'd probably join the ranks of the already large thundering herd of commuters.

    a better plan might be to move a major govt agency to Martinsville – a win-win … for both Martinsville AND NoVa.

    but I get your major drift here…that we are reaching the point (already there?) where there are more people getting entitlements than there are working people to provide them.

    We simply must have a system where the majority of people are working and are providing for themselves.

  90. Anonymous Avatar

    "The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property.

    John Locke"

    Correct. It is the main reason we have government.


    Having made that concession, the rest is merely a matter of deciding the correct amount of government.

    According to the GAO, government has no business enforcing policy that does not create a net public benefit.

    I concur, for what it is worth.

    By entering into the correct amount of society, then, we may actaully incur GREATER protection of our property than we would have otherwise.

    I woud add that not only must we provide a net benefit, there must be no negative benfits: the winners must be ale to pay off the losers, fairly, and still come out ahead.

    If you meet those two conditions, no conservative can have any real objection to government.

    But those are two conditions that liberals fail to comprehend. There are real conditions under which we can pool resources and come out ahead (allof us) by virtue of the economies of scale.

    It isn't necessary to steal from the rich in order to make the poor better off. You do not make the poor rich by making the rich poorer, but you can make the rich even more wealthy by making the poor better off.

    Until the environment runs out of carrying capacity.

    Not only that, but we must count among our most valuable properties the property of peace of mind. One reason we had poor houses was primarily to lock away the unfortunate so that we did not have to be confronted by them: it disturbed our conscience.

    Conservatives dislike social security because they are only looking at part of the equation, not because it makes them worse off.

    HAving said that, we have a long way to go before we agree on the GAP for social policy.

    TC = PC + EC + GC and what we are looking for is lowest TC, without cheating anyone in the process.

    PC is the production cost of some minimum standard of social welfare. As Larry points out either people die on the streets or they don't. It is the minimum amount required to keep people fed, housed, and clothed in more than rags.

    EC is the external costs of failing to do the above. It is the cost of stepping over homeles people on our way to work, and it is the cost of having various kinds of homes in our neighborhoods.

    Government cost is the administrative costs of making sure that PC happens and EC does not get out of control. And for doing the accounting that makes sure we are not stealing from people by holding up impossibly high standards.



  91. Anonymous Avatar

    "When the government takes my property to absolve others from the consequences of their poor behavior ……."

    You assume it is only poor behavior that results in bad consequences. idon't know what "poor behavior" disabled me for three years with RA, but I know it nearly landed me in the poor house.

    I was lucky. Very Lucky.

    Certainly there are contributing factors, but it is just as likely caused by a tick.

    Your comment sounds to me 19th century quaint, …."Three-fourths of the paupers are reduced to their present condition by intemperate habits."

    OK, Tiger woods is no pauper, but he was reduced to his condition by intemperate habits, too.

    I'm pretty sure Groveton could be better off if not for HIS intemperate habits as well.

    What we are talking about is how far it is to the bottom. With an inch of water under your keel you are still afloat, and after that you are a shipwreck.


  92. Anonymous Avatar

    … the only way you get it back is if you suffer a loss.


    "…with any payouts at life-end given back to the younger folks.


    Larry, you like to argue for arguments sake. I don't see nay conflict between those two statements.

    All you have done is introduce a new variable, which is term life insurance.

    Term life insurance is a lot cheaper because it does not guarantee a payout at the end: it is a crap shoot.

    But, given that ther is a payout, it is not to the customer, it is to his survivors.

    It isn;t a win win situation, but it is a transper to the next generation. This is something people forget when the talk about the debt we are handing our children: WE ARE HANDING THEM WEALTH SUCH HAS NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE.


  93. Anonymous Avatar

    You can have your property taken for $200 worth of primary doctor care – or .. you can wait ..until that sickness turns into 40K worth of medical care.

    which of the two do you want?


    All my argumets with Larry seem to have seeped in.

    It is a question of accounting.

    What we need to do is argue over (and resolve) the accounting rules before we argue over the value on the bottom line.

    There is no better example than the various ROI's reported for social security.


  94. Anonymous Avatar

    "Larry – Your mistake is the belief that the government taking more property will somehow result in fewer people "dying in the streets". How is the "war on drugs" going? How about gun violence, especially among the young?"


    Groveton: you should have picked examples that were not primarily the fault of failed policies on the part of conservatives.

    If it was up to liberals, drugs would be legalized and taxed. And the manufacture of guns would have gone the way of the manufacture of DDT.

    (I like the British system: you can own all the guns you want, but they treat ammunition like a prescription for heroin. You cannot buy a new bullet without an affadavit showing how you used the last one.)


  95. Anonymous Avatar

    Health care in America needs to be re-invented.


    Nah, the British already did that for us. All we need to do is learn from the Japanese, and copy with improvements.


  96. Anonymous Avatar

    "Health care in America needs to transform from disease management to wellness maintenance."


    The Chinese pay their doctor every month, and they stop paying him if they get sick.

    In America we pay the insurance comapany every month and they stop paying us if we get sick.


  97. Anonymous Avatar

    "The government has gotten bigger and bigger."


    So has the population, and the costs associated with government. We used to have Wyatt Earp delivering summary judgement.

    Now we have twenty four months of trial lawyers. And we have the modern Wyatt Earps on videotape.


  98. Anonymous Avatar

    For instance, there is no dispute that mandated seat belts and air bags save money and save lives.


    So did the center tail light. That was a stroke of bureaucratic genius.

    You could put speedometers limited to read out 80 MPH on that list. Lord knows how many kids that one saed from a sure death trying to "bury the speedometer'.

    Loobyists killed that one. for no reason other than marketing.

    You could put the 10 MPH bumpers on that list too. They probably saved only a limited amount of injury and death but millions in property damage.

    Just today I saw a rear ender between two high end vehicles that was just a fender bender but those particular fenders probably cost $10,000 apiece. And as a resut of the "high property damage" ach acar was b;ocling one side of the exit ramp, causing a bakup of a half mileor more,with all the hazards attendant to that.

    Government should have rammed the 10 MPH bumpers down our throat like it did the air bag. And nitrogen systems for ampty airliner fuel tanks.

    All based on science driven results.


  99. Anonymous Avatar

    "So, he left the task to an observably corrupt and incompetent Congress."


    OK, so which side of congress has done the least to get something workable through?

    Obama was smart enough to know that health care was poisonous. By leaving it up to congress he wnsured that Americans got what they wanted….. even if it doesn't work.

    When it doesn't work, Americans will focus on the problems and fix them. Who knows, maybe the eventual fix will be health savings plans like the Republicans want.

    FORCED halth savings plans, just like the SS REpublicans hate.


  100. Anonymous Avatar

    "Isn't their decision to "stay put" despite chronic unemployment a personal choice? "


    Could be.

    Could even be a rational personal choice.

    Considering they would have to give up every thing that their families have worked for, for generations, just to start over in an apartment in NOVA, owned by a capitalist and a land speculator.

    I"LL BET THEY COULD Abolish their problems ina heart beat if they issued a ten year mratorium on enforcing the zoning laws. You know, reduce government interference.


  101. Anonymous Avatar

    You think I'm all wet on the illegals, but they would not be illegal if we legalize them, and tax their shirts off.



  102. Anonymous Avatar

    "People must be willing to move to where the employment exists. They must be willing to endure inconvenience in order to support themselves. If you subsidize anything else you commit national economic suicide."

    Sounds like socialism to me. Why should I give up everything my family has workd for for two hundred years jsut because I could get a job in a printing plant in Decatur?

    For the national benefit, of course.

    Why not a programming job in Bhopal?


  103. Anonymous Avatar

    I have to side with Larry on this. His synosis of the Republicans respnse to health care reorm during the Clinton years was accurate.

    The liberals completlely misunderstood the public perception of the role of the first lady and the conservaives capitalized on it.

    To the detriment of everyone.

    Then, ehne they had their chance they dismantled as much government as they could, instead of working on health care, which slearly stood to eat us alive.

    And now they want an instant replay of their success on Hillarycare.

    But now, times are different. We now stand to allow the doctors, insurors, hospices and mortuaries to eat up every cent of gain inthe GOP for the next 25 years,

    Either Conservatives haven't figured that out yet or the figure they have enough capital to weather the storm.

    Obama is smart enough to let them stew in thier own juices. If he comes out of this with a health car plan so bad that it only rduce the horror storis by 5%, then he has hit a home run.

    The mob, shoe is now old, conservative, but looking out for thmeselves will see who is buttering their bread and wh is stealing it.


  104. Obama has stated no one is talking about government taking over health care, which anybody who has watched this man’s actions and words knows nothing could be further from the truth.

    Have a great weekend.
    Health Insurance

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