The Hunger Games

We had our Annenberg Innovation Summit yesterday and it was a smashing success. So today for the first time in two weeks I went to the movies. I saw Hunger Games, because I am going to give a lecture on Monday on technology, politics and the future. The movie is the latest in a long line of dystopian science fiction films from Metropolis to Bladerunner. I long since came to the conclusion that science fiction is our way of writing about our fears about the present. Metropolis (1927) was about the exploitation of the masses in a machine age. Bladerunner (1982) takes the metaphor farther by imagining machine made humans, called Replicants. Both invoke world’s of such radical change, that we don’t recognize our self in the protagonists.

But Hunger Games is radically different, because it essentially is about the 1% vs. the 99%. It is about what could happen in the world we are experiencing today. The Hunger Games is in essence a story about Bread and Circuses. As the Poet Juvenal wrote of the period in 140 BC Rome when the politicians were for sale and the people didn’t care as along as the bloody entertainments kept coming.

… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things:bread and circuses

We start the movie in an Appalachia not too far distant from the haunting Walker Evans photos of the Great Depression. Dirt poor coal miners living under constant police presence. All power and money resides in the Capitol–a New York on Steroids. The Capitol is filed with a society of the very rich that are every bit as decadent as Rome in Calligulas’ time or New York in Andy Warhol’s prime. The Hunger Games are a combination Reality Show and Gladiator match. The contest creates a kind of  Lord of the Flies world with knives, spears and (most importantly) a bow and arrow that our heroine wields beautifully.

But finally it is a story of teen empowerment and rebellion. It is a vision of a future of the total failure of democracy because security of the rich was more important. That’s a very dark belief that obviously millions of young readers of the novels have bought in to. That the movie made $150 million in its first weekend is testimony that some profound mental shift has happened in the society. 1%-99% metaphor has sunk in to the collective consciousness.

Now that it is obvious that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, this same metaphor will dominate the political debate. Mitt is the candidate of and for the 1%. Look at his tax policy, which will enrich them and his hawkish military policy which will continue the 65 year Military Industrial Complex boondoggle, further enriching them. Finally his oil and environmental policies are made for the Koch Brothers and their friends in the oil and gas business.

The trick for Obama is to make the connection to the 18-24 year olds who didn’t get a chance to vote last time. These are the kids lining up for Hunger Games. I sense they are ready for Obama’s message. But he has to take on the Inequality Issue head on.

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74 Responses to The Hunger Games

  1. Rick Turner says:

    Ever see “the 10th Victim”?…surely “Hunger Games” owes a big debt… Marcello Mastroianni and Ursula Andress…in a way done as a spoof, but the theme is virtually identical. 1965…Distopia for the pre-Warstler types… Classic scene with Andress killing one of her victims with a couple of bullets from her nipples…err…bra. Madonna eat your heart out…

  2. Rick Turner says:

    And are we not there with this whole astoundingly still legal “Ultimate Fighting” “sport”? Boxing is bad enough with the atrophied brains. Pro football, too, with the “paid to injure” scams. It does take the lizard brains off of their real problems, though… Nothing like adrenaline for a legal drug with a commercial every few minutes…

  3. JTMcPhee says:

    “Red Dawn, I think you really need to meet my friend Soylent Green here. Have a sit, Mr. Terminator will slide over to make you a spot, and let me buy you a Bloody Mary…”

    Fucking stupid humans.

  4. Flint Dille says:

    Actually, I think its about the fear of Big Government and people fighting over healthcare when the death panel blimp flies over. Let’s face it, the movie is a Rorschach. But either way around, the ‘don’t go to Las Vegas’ in a recession the 1%ers in the Administration are on the giant airship.

  5. Rick Turner says:

    We have two parallel big governments…only one is the multi-national Wall St. crowd.

    It’s just like the fear of governmental “death panels”…we already have death panels; they’re called insurance companies.

  6. Rick Turner says:

    Ahhh…and the problem with the lobbyist promoted insurance companies is that they love to narrow the pool to only those who will not likely ever collect. They love to keep excluding people to better the bottom line…those of you who might ever want to collect on insurance are excluded! Brilliant.

    Flint…have you ever tried to collect on any insurance policy you may have bought into? That friendly insurance agent disappears like yesterday’s coastal fog. Now you get evil incarnate: “The Insurance Adjuster!”… And this mother-fucker is all about adjusting against your favor…

    I’ll take government “Death Panels” over “Insurance Adjusters” almost any day…

    And you, Flint, are going to die. Get used to the concept, and maybe you’ll find peace…which is not evident in your posts here. Oh, Morgan…you, too!

    Happy to meet you in the by and by.

  7. Fentex says:

    I don’t think The Hunger Games is about the 1% vs the 99%.

    I think it’s about responsibility and dealing maturely with adversity, the rotten situation of The Hunger Games is just the challenging environment in which Katniss’s challenges are set.

    This is a typical use of fictional worlds – often the world is not the point and the world of The Hunger Games doesn’t survive much contemplation. Suzanne Collins did not carefully construct a coherent world in which to set her story (and it falls apart in detail in the third book) because her story isn’t about that world.

    Just as much SF is about a modern person put in a challenging environment I think Suzzanne Collins was interested in telling a story for young people today by giving them real heroes to consider.

    Seeing todays battles in someone’s fictions is how an idea catches a wave and profits from attention, and authors who continue with the material often adapt to their readers feedback – but The Hunger Games is a completed trilogy. I’ll be curious if Ms. Collins returns to that well.

    I saw the movie a week ago and boy did the marketing find it’s audience. As I arrived at the theatre teen girls were leaving as a horde, and arrivng as a horde. 90% of the audience were 13-ish year old girls. And more arrived as I left.

    I didn’t know he books were so well known (I don’t recall how I happened across them) and I guess not everyone there had read them. So I’m thinking the movie was very effectively marketed to it’s expected audience and so well I expect it’ll be a case study for others.

    I find it interesting their were hardly any boys in the audience (and I was likely the oldest person there) – which is interesting because if the movie had been promoted on it’s violence you’d expect boys.

  8. Clay McEldowney says:

    Jon – you were doing well in your blog until the last two paragraphs.

  9. Petruk says:

    I’m a progressive democrat, but if you think that this administration has done ANYTHING substantial to address Gini Co-efficient, well, I don’t know what you’re smoking. Fact is that the 1% is still doing much better than the 99% since Obama took charge. The Dem merely pretend to care better than the Republicans. Obama and the dems had the chance to end the Bush tax cuts – instead, they extended them.

  10. Rick Turner says:

    Any love of Obama is the idiocy of hope.

    Still, he’s hopefully a little bit better than any real possible alternative from the right unless America wakes up and starts drinking the coffee instead of the Cool-Aid. I’ll reluctantly vote for him.

  11. len says:

    For every one willing to pick up the bow, 99 are willing to clean the plates of the people on the podium.

    If there is a sea change, it is not what goes on at t innovation conference. That is more of the same: stuff for money. It is what goes on in the arts: the willingness of the artists to go local, to quit dumbing down, to react artistically to what is going on in front of them. The Powers that Be in the major centers of art production are every bit as much spinners as the people who make “grass roots” videos for the candidates in the latest season of charades.

    The sea change is becoming willing to take whatever comes as long as we can maintain the individual ability to tell the story we see in front of us warts and all instead of worrying what will bring the 13 year old girls to a self-induced orgasm in the theatre.

    … we’ve lost interest in the national charts, nobody reads them anymore. They are totally irrelevant. That’s a great thing. So we’ve seen it come full circle, we’ve seen the historic evidence of who we were as individual groups, local groups, southern groups, western groups, mountain groups, and became fairly stupid for a while, fairly innocuous, fairly uneventful. We’re back to a time now, where on a larger scale, people can say something again. – ADG

  12. John Papola says:

    Now that it is obvious that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, this same metaphor will dominate the political debate. Mitt is the candidate of and for the 1%. Look at his tax policy, which will enrich them and his hawkish military policy which will continue the 65 year Military Industrial Complex boondoggle, further enriching them. Finally his oil and environmental policies are made for the Koch Brothers and their friends in the oil and gas business.

    Romney and Obama are indistinguishable. Obama has governed as king crony. I don’t know why you think that this type of cookie-cutter trope punditry is worth your time (or anyone else’s), but it’s the worst. This is NOT a “change” election, just as 2008 wasn’t. It’s more of the same.

    There IS a real divide of a 1% vs. 99% sort. But it’s the entire political establishment and their corporate cronies versus the rest of us. It’s us versus them. And “them” includes Barack Obama and monstrous political money machine as well as (of course) Mitt Romney.

    But hey, sticking that truth doesn’t play as well to people’s red/blue tribal nonsense, including your own, Jon. I guess it’s just easier to demagogue. I don’t expect this to get better as we get closer to November. I expect it to get worse. I don’t really hold it against you personally, Jon. But it does relegate your blog to my “more of the same” pile.

  13. John Papola says:

    PS. It’s not about taxes. It’s about spending and where that spending goes. Whose pockets it lines. That’s where the analysis should focus. And on that count, Barack is a bankster and a corporatist. Of course, his polices and appointments make that punishingly clear to anyone paying attention. But sure, keep the trope going. So long as he’s looking to tax the rich, right? Has progressivism really been reduced to nothing more than the politics of envy and spite? Since the anti-war movement gave up in 2008, I guess I know the answer to that.

  14. Alex Bowles says:

    I suspect the film appeals to people who are realizing that college is no longer a ticket to middle class security, since middle class security no longer exists. They see college for what it has become – training in preparation for a viscous battle among their peers to win one of the terrifyingly limited number of safe seats in a winner-take-all economy.

  15. John Papola says:

    @Alex Bowles
    What exactly is a “winner take all economy”? Sounds like some zero-sum action going on.

  16. Rick Turner says:

    Just heard that Romney’s Bain Capital owns Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend…and some suppliers are not happy about the margin squeeze. One guitar company has had to stop including cases with guitars in order to maintain their own margins at anything like a healthy level, and of course, now they’ve had to double the number of SKU’s in their catalog. And, of course, they’re now getting the calls: “Hey, a case should have been included…it used to be!”

    This is the race to the bottom at work.

  17. JTMcPhee says:

    @Rick Turner
    And Minute Maid orange juice now comes in a 59-ounce container (not the 64 ounces that used to be a “half gallon”) for the same (and increasing — haven’t you heard there’s a “shortage”?) money. And Sunkist Tuna now comes in a “5 ounce or a little smaller” can (Sorry, Charlie, once again) instead of 6 ounce like the old recipes call for. Re the orange juice, I first noticed the reduction in what-you-get-for-what-you-pay maybe 9 months ago, and pointed it out to a guy standing beside me before the array of dozens of juices (which were mostly still 64 ounces per half gallon, back then). He indicated it was no big deal. I asked him what he did for a living, he replied “I’m in marketing. This is just all part of the game.”

    Free market capitalism at work. I wonder if steering wheels will soon be extra-cost options on Chevies…

    Oh, who fricking cares?

  18. Alex Bowles says:

    @John Papola A few weeks ago, Emmanuel Saez of UC Berkeley published an paper that confirmed what many already suspected: only the rich are recovering.

    In 2010, average real income per family grew by 2.3%, but the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery.

    To put that in perspective, the fraction of total income growth captured by the 1% during the Clinton expansion (1993 – 2000) was 52%. During the Bush expansion (2002 – 2007) the 1% captured 65% of the new income. Under Obama, this figure has jumped to a whopping 93%.

    Some attribute this to the weakness of a corrupted President who has become entirely dependent on campaign donations from Wall Street. Others see a well-intentioned man who is doing his best in the face of unprecedented GOP intransigence. Regardless of the spin, the fact remains: those who were winners before the recession have taken (virtually) all the gains made during the “recovery”.

  19. len says:

    Romney’s Bain Capital owns Guitar Center and Musician’s Friend…

    Aha. The evil plot is uncovered. :) Fact is, when Guitar Center comes to a mid sized or smaller down, it is a disaster for the local music shops that operated by being full service to the local bands and students. It destroys the infrastructure and opens a hole in the tribes’ ability to look after each other. Say what we want about selling in quantity, as long as the local shops have control over what is in the inventory, it much more nearly matches what we need day to day both in the range of instruments, but more importantly, all the little bits you have to go get frequently.

    It’s easy to compare them to wal-marts and mom an pop shops, but it’s more complicated and subtle. The smaller shops usually enable the experienced repair guys and techs to have other means of income so it rots down more than the retail; it takes out the mechs and techs.

  20. JTMcPhee says:

    “rots down more:” teaches whole new generations that MP3 is music.

    But then the models based on concentration (of retail operations, “the media,” the various War Departments, and other means of grabbing all the Real Wealth) are what have been so wonderfully Successful. I wonder how much Innovation is going into that irreversible, heavily catalyzed reaction. Not a lot of Deferred Gratificationists left, as the skills at manufacturing demand and suckering the Many into confusing I WANT with I NEED, all across the planet.

    And once again, the Players all know that the Game will end in a major disaster, but either by preparing their lines of retreat and arming up their security staffs, or knowing that they are likely to be comfortably Passed before the G-string twangs and thus beyond consequences and retribution, it won’t be before they enjoy endless perfect meals and perfect wines and perfect cigars and perfect babes and cars and watches and infinity pools (carefully cleaned and maintained by the “help”) and sunsets and all that shit, without a care in the world…

  21. Rick Turner says:

    Alex—?Regardless of the spin, the fact remains: those who were winners before the recession have taken (virtually) all the gains made during the “recovery”.” And those winners don’t get it that the wealth doesn’t get spread around evenly; they have zero empathy for the “didn’t get a piece of the pie” folks; and they have great enmity for anyone wanting to legislate spreading around the wealth in the form of “income redistribution”.

    We’re at a time in history when 100% employment @ 40 hours a week simply is not necessary to the continuation of society. Productivity has surpassed required consumption. Consumption is now a psychological game…false needs are promoted…bread and circuses, indeed. We have enough wealth on the planet to take care of everyone…and do so quite well. Human greed is the only thing that gets in the way of Heaven on Earth.

  22. Roman says:


    “The trick for Obama is to make the connection to the 18-24 year olds who didn’t get a chance to vote last time. These are the kids lining up for Hunger Games. I sense they are ready for Obama’s message. But he has to take on the Inequality Issue head on.”

    Which ‘message’ are you referring to? Hopefully not the ‘1% vs 99%’ meme. It’s DOA. After all, who didn’t dispatch the DOJ, FBI etc. to ferret out the financial crisis war crimes? ‘War crimes’? When the side-by-side comparisons are done, which do you think has taken the greatest toll; Iraq, Afghanistan or the ‘Great Recession’? Obama has done more to protect and promote the 1% than both Bushes combined.

    IMO, record low turn-out in Nov among all age groups. There’s too much competition for our attention to be bothered; too many smart phone apps, texting, business miles etc. And why bother? Too many fingerprints this time around…

    Obama dissed ‘restoring hope’ so many times that most have simply tuned him out. Even the most loyal have grown weary. When was the last time an ‘interventionist’ chatted you up on Obama? Been to a ‘book party’ recently? Nope. 2012 isn’t 2008.

    “The trick for Obama is to…” hope Axelrod & Co. are successful at gelling Mitt’s gaffs and inconsistencies into an image more uncomfortable than his own. Otherwise, IMO, most will opt for the ‘traditional’ presidential candidate (think hair). ‘Metrosexual’? Been there, done that, and it hasn’t worked out so well.

  23. Rick Turner says:

    Once again, the Obama team is proving to be incredibly inept at countering the Right message…this time on gasoline prices. Why Obama doesn’t have a small bright team of scrappers coming out after every stupid-but-appealing-to-the-red-staters Republican comment is beyond me. There is an arrogance to the left that is utterly self-defeating. It’s that lack of understanding that it’s the lizard brain that the right is capturing. The right goes for the Goebbels approach…scare ’em and make ’em believe that we’re the saviors and the only saviors. The left tries to capture the intellectual high ground…lofty ideals…big words…believing, for instance, that if 98% of climatologists agree that global climate change is at least partially caused by the hand of man, then everyone should agree with that. But the lizard brain wants that 2% possibility to be real. It’s the psychology of the lottery…the bread and circus approach. But the house (read the 1%) always wins…

  24. len says:

    A good friend of mine who is Jewish lives in Pennsylvania. She sat in my living room yesterday and explained that in Pennsylvania where they know the man, he is roundly reviled except by the very most conservative. She says the real depth of his disturbing social beliefs have yet to be plumbed but the Pennsylvanians are very familiar with them. Of Romney, mostly just yawns; he is the deluxe model of the flip-flopper and stands for everything most of us loathe.

    With that field, it’s easy to become complacent that Obama is going to be reelected. What disturbs me is his camp is letting the one thing he did get done, health care, slip away in a stampede of misinformation and outright lies. The gaffe with the mic and the Russian fellow was also disturbing. Too many amateur moments = Jimmy Carter.

    I get the impression that neither party wants to win but the women are going to insist on Obama as the “he hasn’t screwed it up too badly, hasn’t been caught in bed with a goat or a juvenile, and seems to be able to make up his mind who among our enemies is worth whacking”. The economy seems to be turning around based on all of us who lost their jobs being willing to work for about 35% less money which means in two-income houses, someone is working a second or third job and yes, the kids are staying longer. Lose that health care benefit that keeps them on our insurance and both will be working nights and days, latch key kids become a problem, school systems get pushed over the edge, and so on.

    IOW, the situation is tight as a drum head out here (and I live in a town that has jobs) and it won’t take much to put a big rip in the boomskins. Unless Romney suddenly morphs into Reagan, Obama is right to take the attitude that “we’re getting better and can get better still if you don’t let your frustration overcome your common sense and give the town back to the horsethieves”.

  25. len says:

    “know the man” = Santorum

  26. Roman says:


    Santorum’s long-term prospects will be decided once and for all on Apr 24 when PA casts its primary votes. Unless he has a strong showing, his five minutes are up (they’re up already, but the MSM needs to keep the meme alive for a few more weeks).

    I’ve been mulling your comments concerning the power of women in Nov, and can’t get a firm read either way. No doubt, they’re a force to be reckoned with if crossed, but I don’t think either party will be called to atone for their sins in Nov, at least not yet.

    This is purely anecdotal, but I sense more double-income families now than in 2005, and more women are doubling up now than men. Again, this is more of a ‘lunch counter’ observation than anything else.

    If true, there may be a sharp back lash in Nov. The ‘reproductive rights dust up’ was just that, a ‘trumped up dust up’. But pulling a double on a warehouse floor, or in the ER, etc. while Dad (if he’s around) drives truck, and granny watches the kids, is real, and for many, not the life they want for their family. Many are sick (literally) of living in ‘survival mode’.

    If someone offers a better vision of that reality, “why not give him a chance?” will be the 2012 refrain.

    Plus, ‘that hair’! It was Obama’s ‘voice’ in 08′. In 2012, it’s Mitt’s ‘hair like my (grand) father had’.

  27. JTMcPhee says:

    Or hair like Reagan had. Robomommoney’s gonna have to work on that little Dutch knowing “aw, shucks, I’m just doing this for you-all, got it under control,” half-wink and twist of the Hairhead. So fucking reassuring, wasn’t it?

    Re “survival mode,” too bad those little inconvenient truths I keep yammering about get swallowed in the sucker-bait bucket:

    1. We really are all in this together, whether we want to be or not. Even the management of the Soylent Corporation discovered, finally, belatedly, that some of them were going to be pretty frickin’ uncomfortable, compared to the gluttons that preceded them, toward the bitter end.

    2. There really is enough of everything that matters to go all the way around the table, if only the most of us can keep the very few of us from scraping all but crumbs onto their custom, deluxe, exclusive plates, and then suckering the most of us into fighting each other for the crumbs. (What did the chart show, that 93% of the increase in ‘wealth’ over the last decade or so got sucked up by the top 1%? and that what we have, in Gini-land, is — wait for it, you libertarian Ideal-ists — a problem of DISTRIBUTION, both legal, and spatial, and equitable, and even survive-able. Leading to a growing evacuation of the “legitimacy” that is the sine qua non of governance.) “Honest transactions,” my aching patoot.

  28. Rick Turner says:

    John Papola, I could not agree more that it’s a spending problem, not a taxation problem. Funny how close the cost estimates of our Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan misadventures come to national debt issues. And if there’s a problem funding SSI and Medicare, just lift the cap on earnings where those fees are no longer taken out. Just treat it like the retirement plan it really is. Apply SSI and Medicare taxation on up to $500,000.00 in income. That’ll fix it. And raise benefits.

    Funny how quiet the “privatize Social Security” crowd got when the stock market went belly up. Now they’re murmuring a bit louder. Time to shut them up again, but hopefully not with a crash.

  29. John Papola says:

    @Rick Turner

    Don’t lift the cap on social security. Wind it down and eliminate it. Replace it, medicare, medicaid and welfare with a guaranteed minimum income ala Friedman’s negative income tax. If you want to be less radical… then means-test SS to ensure that it only goes to the poor and raise the retirement age. Sucking more resources into the government is a wasteful mess. And you KNOW they’ll just give them out to cronies and fight more horrible wars with the money anyway. Starve the beast.

    Meanwhile, private equity investment STILL would have massively beaten the return on social security, even WITH the stock market crash.

    Or, we could all just play the fake liar politics of the mainstream “left” and “right” where Bush was a “deregulator” and Obama is for the “99%”. Pay no attention to the fact that Obama’s SEC appears to be actively protecting the crooked 1%.

    The talk about Romney and Bain Capital is nonsense. Wanna talk about politically influential criminals ripping people off and getting away with it? How about Obama’s buddy Jon Corzine, my former Governor? THERE’s a full criminal who stole from his customers. He didn’t just invest in assets that went bad. He literally defrauded them.

    Romney sucks. But he’s an angel compared to this clown. And yet it’s getting very little coverage.

  30. Rick Turner says:

    If the right wing argument re. ObamaCare is that forcing people to carry health insurance is unconstitutional then why don’t they protest against the mandate that drivers have automobile liability insurance? In California it’s illegal to drive an uninsured car. Why should it be legal to walk around in an uninsured body? The consequences are the same…we, the public, get stuck with the bill if there’s a problem. How can the lawyers parse this any differently?

    Hey, I’d love not to have to pay those quarterly car insurance bills. But you know what? I don’t think driving uninsured is ethical…never mind the financial risks or legal issues. I don’t think that living in a society without health insurance is particularly ethical, but given that it is optional, the game is played by really skewed rules.

    Why should a health self employed person pay more than a corporately employed person in the same health bracket? Simple…the capitalist system…as played here in Amerika, is fucked up. It’s NOT a free market economy. It’s a barely disguised oligarchy…which you can spell “oiligarchy” if you like… And there are those trying to add “theocracy” to that description.

    If they start quoting Scriptures, look out for your wallet…and then your freedoms…

  31. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    Yeah, I know how seductive the whole Rugged Individualist Honest Transactions Drown The Baby Anarchy thing is. It’s almost better than SEX, a much more prolonged experience once it gets started. What a Rush! I even used to resonate to Rand, back in the day, and had a passing fling with the Ubermensch. Smash it, destroy it, Destruction Is Creation, Night is Day, Woowoow Wahooo!

    Yah, those 401ks and IRAs have done really well with your kind of people at the helm, right? Much better than SS, which as you know has been pillaged by more of the kind of people who will always end up mostly on top, the fuck-ers rather than the fuck-ees, the kind of people who flourish in the environment you contend for. Gee, no (well, barely visible) visible “fund management” fees and costs and churns and self-dealing and all the rest, so “we” should be so happy to turn over to the Vampire Squids the little remnant of the New Deal (say it over a couple of times — New Deal, New Deal, New Deal — doesn’t it make you grind your teeth in frustrated rage that any of it’s still on the books?) social contract that kept the lid on Ragnarok the last time your Robber Barons of Arm’s Length Transactions (their long arm holding the rest of us by the throat) had their relatively unbridled (though aided, full well, by their theft of Legitimate Government that time too) running of the table.

    Why not, once your people are ensconced On Top, just default on the whole SS thing? Tell the world that everyone is On Their Own, now, the money (the kind people earn for doing the nation’s work, hour by hour or under one of your Arm’s Length Bargained Salary Deals with fixed pay for infinite work hours, not the “made” money from CDOs and CDSs and suchlike) is spent. Would your people end the withholding for SS and Medicare, even though the enforced savings and services were off the books, or just re-name it, as some kind of user fee? Gee, I wonder… It’s such a nice steady income stream…

    And I can just BET that Ron Paul and his little side-shit-kick would be cutting back the War Games, once they were in the Oval Office. Yeah, they will complete the apotheosis of the Imperial Presidency, dissolve Congress (keep the Supremes, they vote the Right Way), Bring The Troops Home Pretty Soon, stand down most of the MIC, de-invoke the demons released out of the Pentagram, and rule by what do they call that little unreliable Italian car, with its own Imperial heritage? Oh yeah, “fiat.” Or maybe prove that the whole lot of them have feet of clay, themselves included? Nah, they’re too Noble for that…

    What you are selling is No Solution, which I bet you really know in your heart of hearts, though it is, of course, if implemented, a Huge Opportunity for the Worst of Us to steal from and defraud the Most of Us. And gee, if one is well-armed, and has their Armageddon Bunker all stocked, and lives over an artesian well, and all those other conditions, hey, sitting out the Newness will be a piece of cake, right? What are those “Tremors” I feel?…

  32. len says:

    Many are sick (literally) of living in ‘survival mode’.

    Boy howdy is that the understatement of the year as my dear wife complains they won’t let her work a third job and I can’t leave the house except to go to work.

    We are a nation that has become more and more like the enemies we engage, step by miserable step, as Congress takes away our freedoms and our bully boy employers take away our incomes. We can afford three wars but we can’t afford health insurance or education. We are working out seniors into early graves while we tell our college graduates there are no jobs but they should not protest because that is un-american.

    Reelect Obama. Fire Congress. All of them.

  33. Alex Bowles says:

    Regarding “survival mode”, and what people doing anything to get into the top 20% (formerly known as “the middle class”) are so desperate to avoid:

    The gal conducting our training reminds us again that we cannot miss any days our first week. There are NO exceptions to this policy. She says to take Brian, for example, who’s here with us in training today. Brian already went through this training, but then during his first week his lady had a baby, so he missed a day and he had to be fired. Having to start the application process over could cost a brand-new dad like Brian a couple of weeks’ worth of work and pay. Okay? Everybody turn around and look at Brian. Welcome back, Brian. Don’t end up like Brian.

    That’s from a recent MJ report I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave, charmingly subtitled “My brief, backbreaking, rage-inducing, low-paying, dildo-packing time inside the online-shipping machine.”

    Elsewhere, William Lazonick identifies the root of this unchecked abuse like in “financialization”; the management philosophy (for lack of a better word) that encourages executives to “base all their decisions on increasing corporate earnings for the sake of jacking up corporate stock prices.”

    When the shareholder-value mantra becomes the main focus, executives concentrate on avoiding taxes for the sake of higher profits, and they don’t think twice about permanently axing workers. They increase distributions of corporate cash to shareholders in the forms of dividends and, even more prominently, stock buybacks. When a corporation becomes financialized, the top executives no longer concern themselves with investing in the productive capabilities of employees, the foundation for rising living standards for all. They become focused instead on generating financial profits that can justify higher stock prices – in large part because, through their stock-based compensation, high stock prices translate into megabucks for these corporate executives themselves. The ideology becomes: Corporations for the 0.1 percent — and the 99 percent be damned.

    This state of affairs is not without a constellation of deliberately legislated policies that have been passed by a thoroughly captured and now reliably pro-corporate GOP. Perhaps the most telling indicator of this bias can be found in the almost perfect party-line vote in the GOP-dominated House that struck down legislation banning employers from demanding access to the otherwise private sections of staffers or prospective staffers Facebooks.

  34. len says:

    March them into the sea. Then throw in the blood of their stockbrokers.

    I watched as Intergraph was hollowed into nothingness under that mantra. What was a top technology company and employer is now a shell of Indian software and employees and foreign owned.

    If you vote Republican, you deserve your misery.

  35. JTMcPhee says:

    A few humorous words at the end of the workday:

    If we hug the memory of our own grief to ourselves, we can close our minds to other people’s wretchedness. The Golden Rule requires us to use our afflictions to make a difference in the lives of others. We cannot allow ourselves to feel paralyzed by the
    immensity of global misery.

    Enmity shapes our consciousness and identity. The people we hate haunt us, they inhabit our minds in a negative way as we brood in a deviant form of meditation on their bad qualities. The enemy thus becomes our twin, a shadow self whom we come to resemble.

    Nations may also feel deep antagonism toward people they have wronged, and the enemy may become so central to national consciousness and identity that he becomes a second self. If we want to achieve reconciliation, not only do we have to struggle with the enemy, but we also have to wrestle with ourselves.

    The twelfth step is to love your enemies. The Golden Rule teaches that “I” value my own self and my own tribe and nation as much as you do yours. The great sages who formulated it believed that if “I” made my personal and political identity and survival an absolute value, human society would be impossible, so they urged us all to yield to one another.

    The Dalai Lama suggested that the concept of war has become outdated. Warfare is an integral part of human history, but it no longer makes sense in our global society. If we destroy our neighbors or ignore their interests, this will eventually rebound hideously back on ourselves.

    Tyrants cause their own downfall because when a ruler tries to impose his will on other people, they automatically resist him, so a discerning ruler would resort to arms only with regret and as a last resort. There must be no triumphalism, chauvinism, or aggressive patriotism; he knows that he must bring hostilities to an end gently. Bring it to a conclusion, but do not boast; bring it to a conclusion but do not brag; bring it to a conclusion, but do not be arrogant; bring it to a conclusion, but only where there is no choice; bring it to a conclusion, but do not intimidate.

    A wise ruler does not try to make the people what he wants them to be, but takes as his own mind the mind of the people. The only person who is fit to rule is the man who has overcome the habit of selfishness.

    We can stop the vicious cycle of attack and counterattack, strike and counterstrike that we see in the world today only if we learn to appreciate the wisdom of restraint toward the enemy. We have witnessed the result of hard-line policies inspired by a righteousness that can see only the worst in the enemy. We have seen the danger of ruthless retaliation that drives people to despair, ignores their needs, and refuses to take their aspirations seriously. We have become aware that when people feel that they have nothing to lose, they resort to hopeless, self-destructive measures. Try to wish for your enemy’s well being and happiness; try to develop a sense of responsibility for your enemy’s pain. This is the supreme test of compassion. If you have the will and determination to overcome your own hatred, this can over time change your patterns of hostility, suspicion, and disgust. We are bound together with our enemies because we share the same predicament. Today some of the Israelis and Palestinians who have lost children in the conflict have come together, their suffering creating a bond that transcends political divisions, in order to work for peace. On the Indian subcontinent, Indians and Pakistanis, shocked by the terrorism they have both experienced, are campaigning together for peace between their countries.

    Like I said, humorous. Right?

  36. Morgan Warstler says:

    My mother is head of English Dept in NE Ohio HS.

    The school let any Sophomore who read book go to special screening – 270 out of 400 or so went.

    Definitely an anti-big government message. One noted by kids in a school that has more than 50% of class gong vocational.

  37. len says:


    Yes, hate and bitterness create the shadow soul. It becomes an ornery thing and no doubt the weight that Thoth measures.

    On the other hand, for those for whom absolute purity demands too high a price, sometimes you have to fight. Make it count. We Are Leghorn. :)

    But for those for whom the fight has become all of their being, all of their meaning and all of their fortune, I have nothing but compassion. They live in hell, they are their own devil and though they hold the key, they can imagine no other existence and therefore don’t even know there is a door. Once the soul dies, whatever remains, God anilhilates. So however hard it is, light a candle for yourself that you may find the door.

  38. John Papola says:

    @Rick Turner

    If the right wing argument re. ObamaCare is that forcing people to carry health insurance is unconstitutional then why don’t they protest against the mandate that drivers have automobile liability insurance?

    This is softball. Require auto insurance is reasonable because driving a car puts OTHER PEOPLE at real risk. You know, it’s externalities. Secondarily, the government builds and maintain the roads, so it has the “right”, given that fact, to determine the rules of their roads. I imagine that private roads would likely have similar mandates. You could call it “discriminatory” rules even.

    Healthcare, meanwhile doesn’t inherently externalize any costs unless you’re talking about contagious disease. Living an unhealthy lifestyle and getting diabetes doesn’t need to impact anyone but you. The fact the government, signed under Reagan, mandates that ER’s must accept everyone doesn’t change the argument. It just shows what a scam the GOP is, since all of these mandates started with them. Oh, and I believe that unnecessary utilization of emergency rooms for non-emergency care is NOT dominated by the uninsured… it’s dominated by the INSURED Medicaid participants. So the notion that forcing everyone to buy insurance will somehow reduce the cost-shifiting from people exploiting the ER mandate appears to be false.

    I don’t want a cruel world. I don’t want the truly poor and helpless to be left to die. What I want is a system which puts constant pressure on the healthcare providers to compete and innovate and drive down their prices. That will make better healthcare more accessible to all and to ever increasing numbers. I see that as the job of a freer, more competitive market. For those who are stuck in deep poverty or have genetic disorders that make them uninsurable, I’m comfortable with the compromise of a guaranteed minimum income. But honest people need to understand that all forms of benefits attract people looking to exploit them. And there are real disincentive entitlement effects that harm the very people we want to help. Pandering those away is frankly, the true evil. We know that spoiling our kids make them into helpless brats. We should hold adults to an even higher standard, not a lower one.

    And MOST of all… we should do EVERYTHING we can to make sure that the government we have isn’t structured in such a way that it empowers the already powerful to protect their positions, which is what most of the modern state seems built to do.

    Social security, actually, is a relatively solid program on this front (though not the disability coverage). It’s automatic. It’s equally applied to everyone. It has a minimum of discretion. It’s not really “insurance” the way it used to be when 65 was the average life expectancy and thus it was genuinely insurance against the unforeseen potential of living longer than the average. But we can find common ground around a social security-for-all model that replaces most of what the government currently does and radically shrinks the intervention of the state. We’d be a freer country with such a move.

  39. Rick Turner says:

    Gee, I thought our private enterprise medical system with it’s corporately owned insurance companies was the best in the world! What am I missing?

    OH, the exclusion of all those people with pre-existing conditions!

    Uninsured people using the ER puts me at financial risk…and you, too, John. We pay for it one way or another. I don’t want to, anymore than I want to pay for some idiot who turns his brains into road kill not wearing a helmet while on a motorcycle.

    And I’d love to see a single payer health care system that rewards those who refrain from smoking, who maintain reasonable body/mass index, who don’t do crazy extreme sports shit, etc. Charge everyone the same, and then offer yearly “good lifestyle” rebates. Or build in a medical tax for high risk recreational activities. There should be a broken bones tax for skiers, a pulped brain tax for motorcyclists, etc. Hell, they do the equivalent of that with Workers’ Comp insurance. Check out what roofing companies pay for WC! And a diabetes fee for the obese.

    That kind of thing would level the playing field quite nicely, and those of us who do get to the gym frequently would love it. Even us seniors who do that…

  40. rhbee says:

    I hadn’t read the books, and still I went to the movie and I ain’t no spring chicken. Lots of folks, all ages seemed stunned by the actually movie. It was so boring, boring to the point where I realized I would have to read book one. Meanwhile, my candidate for best movie on this utopic idea is “Wild in the Streets.” That’s where I think we are.

    My 26 year old son proudly wears his Romney t shirt as he heads out the door to run in a Susan B. cancer marathon. He saw the Hunger Games and couldn’t figure out how Katniss could look so healthy with those Appalanchian backdrops.

    Yeah, but enough of that. I am going to dance class with my wife and forget about this calamity of a world for a while. My own version of a bready circus.

  41. John Papola says:

    @Rick Turner

    Did you even read my post? The uninsured aren’t the main ones abusing ERs, insured medicaid recipients are. Obamacare expands medicaid. And what is this fiction of which you speak? We don’t have a private enterprise healthcare system. Not even remotely close. We have a mess that’s mostly socialized with faux “private” enterprises shoved through employers and regulated to such an extent that they are “private” in name only.

    Single-payers sucks. Socialism has no means of calculating real supply and demand for an economy as vast as healthcare services. What you’re asking for is tyranny by central planners whose fundamental and inherent lack of knowledge will lead inevitably to needless rationing, dramatically less innovation and worse healthcare for everyone. It’s one-size-fits-none. But it WILL be even more corrupt, since only the politically connected will see a doctor in a reasonable time.

    Having crooked bullies trying to puppeteer our every move in the name of our own good is a terrible vision. They don’t know our own good. These are the same clowns that subsidized corn syrup into existence. They released the “food pyramid”, a complete farce. They pushed through fake non-science on fats leading to heart disease. Monopolies become bureaucratic and then corrupt. That’s the state in a nutshell.

  42. Rick Turner says:

    John, do you have any friends in countries with single payer systems. I know dozens of folks in Australia, Canada, England, and France, and none of them want our “system”. Everyone needs to be in and insured and paying for it one way or another. Universal health care. We have to let people die and not spend a bloody fortune on the last desperate three months of false life; get over it, you’re going to fucking die. We have to reduce the utterly incredible amount of paper work in doctors’ offices and hospitals. We have to make people somehow responsible for bad decisions in life-style. You smoke? You’re morbidly obese? Pay for it…

    John, you live in a socialist society. You’ve got police, you’ve got fire fighters, you’ve got streets and street lights, you’ve got parks, you’ve got an army, etc. Get over it, man, you live in a socialist world. The only issue is where you draw the line. That line is being defined by a bunch of idiots who shout “freedom”…when all of our “freedoms” are necessarily compromised by having to live with others. The libertarian “totally free” ideal is a pipe dream. Stop drinking the CoolAid. Stop smoking that shit. It’s false. You want to be free, go buy an island and live a la Robinson Caruso. Alone. Please…

  43. John Papola says:

    Why yes I do. Canada’s system is a disaster with wait lists for family doctors, as is the UK. Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin wrote in a 2005 decision striking down part of Canada’s healthcare law that “patients die while on the waiting list” and that access to insurance is NOT access to healthcare. The UK is even worse, since it’s fully socialized, not just “single-payer”.

    I do know that France’s system is probably the best single-payer in the world of that kind and I’m intent on researching it more. I know that they have a more decentralized approach and French citizens actually spend a comparable amount out-of-pocket with Americans on healthcare, so there are at least some market price forces at work and there’s a secondary private insurance market there as well.

    That said, even with our messed up system, US-based firms have contributed the overwhelming majority of medical advances and discovers on both the procedure and pharmaceutical side. Once such things are discovered, the marginal cost for these centrally planned systems to copy/buy them is very low. But once the world’s R&D engine goes single-payer, the unseen consequences of loss will be very bad for everyone.

    We have to let people die and not spend a bloody fortune on the last desperate three months of false life; get over it, you’re going to fucking die.

    Thank god you’re someone willing to admit that we live in a world of tradeoffs. But why the hell should anyone want unelected bureaucrats making those decisions clouded behind the socialist calculation knowledge problem? Why not allow a freer system that incentives better health with lower prices and premiums and discourages poor health with higher prices and premiums? I know the answer: so-called “fairness”. Equality by way of equally-available inferiority is a terrible goal rooted in envy-above-all.

    As for our “socialist society”… I oppose it, obviously. The freer the better. It IS a spectrum and I want us moving toward more freedom and peace and away from the dictates of ignorant/corrupt planners and busybody bullies. Yada yada on the police and fire. Guess what? They’re incredibly inefficient. I’m not a gradeschooler. I’m not going to pander about the sanctity of police and fire. There’s a ton of terrible police brutality and abuse as well as nepotism, excess and waste. Fire seems better, in part because it’s often volunteer. But there’s still a ton of boondoggling going on there. Neither is in the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America, so the pandering about how risky the jobs are compared to others is just that, pandering.

    Telling me to go live on an island demonstrates intolerance, Rick. I want to help my country become a freer place. I’m not going anywhere, and I’m not miserable either. I’m grateful for the blessings we do have.

    Spend some time with the Fraser institute data on economic freedom mapped against every conceivable measure of wellbeing. They highly correlate. Freedom is a worth goal. The more the better.

  44. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    You’ve locked your targeting mechanisms and tractor beams on one of the very potent mythiwords in the Patriotic Lexicon.

    Just curious, you being a sort of libertarian with a long history of debating definitions, with your clear understanding of how ruling the terms predestined the outcome in forensics, how you define “freedom,” since definitions, and the nominal agreement on terms if you want people to join up, are so very important in the march toward the Ideal…

  45. John Papola says:



    I find excessive debates over definitions to monumentally boring. I generally chafe at the degree of that hair-splitting among many like-minded friends. And I am surely no expert in all things libertarian.

    Freedom, in my view, is the right to pursue one’s own ends by whichever means one can peacefully acquire or employ. In a sense, perhaps that is a better definition of “liberty”. In a deeper sense, I think freedom is a state of mind in which one maintains the ability to hold their own opinions, form their own unique thoughts and not give in to propaganda, peer-pressure or self-deception/delusion.

    There is another form of freedom, which I prefer to call “autonomy”. And this is being the state in which one already has the means to achieve their ends. I don’t think freedom and autonomy are interchangeable concepts, which is how I believe many leftist thinkers use the term. Why? Because our ends can be of infinitely dimension and at any given time the existing means are always scarce. To say that freedom IS autonomy is to put the idea of freedom in a box defined by scarcity. As such, there can never be freedom in such conception, for our physical reality compels us to have needs and wants. We need to eat and have shelter.

    Now, in common usage, one can easily say something like “I’m not free to take that call” or “I’m not free to make that appointment”. Such wording is actually talking about autonomy, because surely it’s not talking about the kind of freedom as in “a free society”. Autonomy is free as in beer. It’s not freedom as in liberty.

    I don’t know if that’s useful to you. It’s a bit of me groping around my thoughts out loud. Take it as that. I’m a student of these ideas, not a master.

  46. John Papola says:


    Jump to 50 minutes in Hayek’s interview with Leo Rosten. He discusses how a rich society could (and probably should) provide a guaranteed minimum income to assure security from privation. Morgan and I are not alone in our hair-brained ideas. We steal them from the best.

  47. len says:

    Freedom, in my view, is the right to pursue one’s own ends by whichever means one can peacefully acquire or employ.

    A step back from that is the phrase I heard working at a famous technology company: “if it’s legal, we’ll do it”.

    The chasm between that and “peaceful” approaches is profound and goes directly to the issues of big government, little government and the rights of voluntary associations over ostensibly free people.

  48. JTMcPhee says:

    I guess one is left, willy nilly, and however boring it might be, to engage in “excessive” (however one, or the other, chooses to define that term) debates over definitions, like that word “peaceful,” which with “freedom” and “liberty” are fogwords that I’m sure JP knows instinctively what he means by even if it’s hard to state, that I bet have a lot to do with activation of certain parts of the brain that are affected by endorphins,

    (“The term “endorphin rush” has been adopted in popular speech to refer to feelings of exhilaration brought on by pain, danger, or other forms of stress, supposedly due to the influence of endorphins. When a nerve impulse reaches the spinal cord, endorphins that prevent nerve cells from releasing more pain signals are released. Immediately after injury, endorphins allow animals to feel a sense of power and control over themselves that allows them to persist with activity for an extended time.”)

    Or maybe modify the movements of serotonin and/or norepinephrine, into and out of those little receptor and ejector sites on all those cell membranes.

    One interesting singularity, the notion of a person becoming the “master” of an idea like “freedom.” A feelgoodfogword that nobody is likely to ever agree on a meaning of, even while they find reasons to cooperate to do stuff, bad or good as you care to define it, to (or they might say “for”) other people, in the sacred name of.

    In the end, I guess, it’s pretty much a matter of what you can get away with, or force down someone else’s throat, or one of those other exercises of “I want what I want when I want it and as much ans I can get of it.”

    And John Denver’s character asks George “Oh God” Burns if he (God) ever made any mistakes. And the instant answer is “The avocado. I made the pit too big.” I would have asked a follow-up question: How do you, O Omniscient and Omnipotent, feel about the limbic system and the opposable thumb and the erect posture NOW (if that adverb has any meaning to You, O I Am that I Am)?

  49. len says:


    Yep, some of us looked at the early web troll wars as a form of endorphin addiction and used various rhetorical tricks to wean them down. Some (the fellow who coined the word blog being the most notorious in my memory) will not be weaned and will do anything to keep the rush going. Morgan reminds me of Jorn a bit in that no matter how conciliatory one is, he works the offensive to restart the addiction. Even Berners-Lee (whom Barger worshipped) tried to cool his jets and it didn’t work. I imagine Whitney Houston had similar issues.

    It’s behavioral warfare using the neurological responses, aka, a hissy fit. As you know, this is why zen masters assiduously teach breath control as a means to remain non-reactive. I taught my kids zen early on to offset their mother’s rage addiction. As they get older, the results are mixed but better than nothing. After too many years of this, there is no coming back and it hollows out their soul (the habituated personality complex dominates the behaviors much as one sees demon possession working in fantasy and sci-fi). You can think of it as a self-reinforcing cycle of tornadic storms in the human brain. Given the right conditiions, they become the red spot on Jupiter and while they may move, they never stop. This is why Rush Limbaugh and his sort are a clear danger to a culture.

    If this manifests in the work place, it becomes bullying of the type that rates a Title VII response so one has to document it. Here is where Morgan et al take a big risk: having these online means they are public documents and can be used in court. If he ever gets a co-worker or employee who wants to take his money, this is the way to do it because they can hang him with his own posts as a history of supporting evidence.

  50. len says:

    BTW, my original point was “freedom under law” so the contest becomes control of passing and enforcing laws. Thus the system we have today. It can and has worked but the concentration of wealth has coupled to the starvation of media for more money in a highly competitive business and we have yet to adjust those couplers to ensure our legal systems aren’t crushed in the middle of the grinding stones. Not understanding the emergence of couplers that don’t fit the economic models is what is missing in most of these discussions and theories.

    There are no pure economic systems in practice. None. At scale, mixing is inevitable because of locality and dimensionality. Again, dynamic systems are not resolved; they are tuned.

  51. JTMcPhee says:

    I remember Worgon getting so exercised at something I typed that he promised to come find me a kill me. I kept a copy on one of my backup disks. And more recently, and maybe a bit more subtly, he assured me he would “write my obit.”

    Re dynamic systems and “tuning,” does that notion stand when the level of complexity and momentums/a reaches the state we are currently in, us 7+ billion humans, too many of us insistent that we have the “right” to take for our enjoyment and delectation (intentionally mostly redundant) much more than what is required to let us “eat to our hunger, and drink to out thirst?” Even the best and brightest of us are limited creatures, in processing power, memory and bandwidth, and of course our Ancient Programming and Neograspisms kind of keep even those folks from sensing which string or strings, among so many, needs a few more ergs applied to it, or backed down a bit.

    There’s more than enough, of everything that matters, to go all the way around the table, but the few have all but emptied the platters and they are smart enough to blind us to the theft and tricky enough to get us fighting over the scraps…

  52. Fentex says:

    Single-payers sucks. Socialism has no means of calculating real supply and demand for an economy as vast as healthcare services.

    This argument against national health systems makes several unwarranted assumptions.

    A national health system does not replace all health transactions and markets and is not concerned with attempting to eliminate problems of supply and demand.

    It exists to make the supply to constant demand of minimally useful health care efficient.

    In doing so it drives down costs helping insurance cover that supplies further demand function competitively.

    It may not be the only option for cost effective health care, but it is a proven option. Completely free market effective large scale health care being conspicious by it’s absence for comparison.

  53. John Papola says:

    Fentex, the problem is one of agency. Who is doing the price shopping? Who is bidding? Who’s got skin in that game? There is a great deal of potential variation here, and my harshest critique is for the version of “single payer” which is synonymous with “free healthcare”, aka, the consumer pays next to nothing and the “single payer” really pays it all. That’s going to be subject to socialist calculation problems and generally leave everyone worse off over time.

    Now, if the “single payer” is merely offering some kind of high-deductible catastrophic plan where most healthcare spending remains out-of-pocket, there can emerge a real price system because there won’t be as much agency mismatch (the consumer of the service is the payer and thus has an incentive to economize). I believe this is similar to the Singapore approach.

    That would be WORLDS better than what we have in America today. WORLDS. Today, we have 50% of healthcare spending done through the centrally-planned Medicare system with it’s bureaucratic procedure-based fee system. The price system isn’t functional in the US for this reason. The spending agent isn’t the consumer and the result is a lack of competition on price or searching for price. Hence the run-away price increases.

    Now, all insurance causes this principal-agent problem. But private market insurance would naturally (and this is clear from US history), cover MUCH less than it does today. That’s because the state has turned “insurance” into mini-socialism through mandated “coverage” of procedures which aren’t insurable. The result is excessive spending, wasteful consumption and rising prices. When married with the state restrictions on the supply of medical providers, the whole this sucks.

    Real private insurance overcomes the agency issues because the insurers actually can compete with one another. We see this in the rest of the insurance market, such as car insurance, life insurance, etc. So terrible planning by insurers gets punished by losing customers to their better-managed competitors.

  54. Rick Turner says:

    You just made the case for the individual mandate by citing car insurance. It’s mandated, and therefore everyone is in the pool. Also, you pay for bad behavior…get too many speeding tickets, and watch what happens.

  55. Rick Turner says:

    And once again there is this use of the buzz-word “socialism”.

    John, what’s wrong with “socialism”? And more importantly, how do you define it? Does the concept include a police force? Fire fighting? Roads and streets? Civic, state, and federal parks? Schools? Libraries? Industrial regulations? Oversight of banks and other financial institutions?

    As far as I can tell, the definition of socialism is defined as bad through the use of some sort of arbitrary lines in the sand, and as we know, lines in the sand shift.

    Show me a country with all-private health insurance where it works well, where everyone is covered, and where health standards by reasonable metrics are agreeably superior. The countries that have measurably better AND cheaper health care than the US (and that would be over 30 of them) ALL have single payer systems.

    The libertarian utopia is an utter myth kept alive by those who have blinded themselves to evidence and understanding of the foibles of human kind. Libertarians would open the gates of hell and let the predators among us loose to wreak havoc on society.

    OH, and nationalize the power grid, too.

  56. John Papola says:

    @Rick Turner

    Rick, socialism is state ownership of the means of production. It’s come to often be used as a label for “social democratic welfare states”, but that’s not exactly right. One can be a relatively open and low regulation, decentralized-power economy with relatively high levels of redistribution (see denmark or Sweden).

    The problem with true socialism is that it concentrates power in the hands of totalitarian central planners and despots (Stalin, Hitler Mao, Kim Jong il, Pol Pot, Castro,etc). If most important decisions are being made by central planners, for those plans to have any hope of succeeding they must be followed. That means the subjugation of individual’s plans and purposes. We are made into serfs, which Stalin and Mao’s gulags made terrifyingly manifest. Nifty ideas like the division of political power and real democracy don’t work in real socialism, and you see this bias even in legislation like Obamacare, where the IPAB is granted a high level of “indepedent” legislative power, justified by the claim that it needs to make decisions free from “politics” (which is democracy).

    Rick, history makes clear that it is socialism which has unleashed the worst predators in history to wreak havoc on their societies (see the above list). As Lord Acton said, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Meanwhile, there is very strong correlation between higher degrees of freedom and high degrees of income, absolute living standards for the bottom 10% of the population, life expectancy, lower infant mortality, etc, etc. Freedom works, and the freer the better. Political power attracts bullies, powermongers and scumbags and the more concentrated and absolute the power, the worse these worsts of us behave.

    Now, even if you luck out and get a benevolent dictator, if they are going t be a central planner, they’re going to fail. The reason is that socialism can’t calculate or leverage dispersed human knowledge. An economy of millions of people means that you have millions of individual subjective preferences and millions of different ends being sought. It’s impossible to aggregate that data and then translate it into a planning program. What does it in the market is the system of prices. Prices reflect the supply and demand for each good, and their relation to one another enable both the efficient use of our scarce resources AND the near-automatic creation of granular incentives for producers to create more of what is in demand and less of what is not, while they temper the demands of more scarce goods and redirect those demands to less scarce substitutes.

    The resulting emergent order cannot be simulated by planners. Imagine, for example, trying to have one man micro-orchestrate 100 people skating on an ice skating rink. Think of how quickly he would need to crush their individuality and force them all to skate in a militaristic line, lest they all crash under his ignorant stumbling. Without private property, there can be no market for trade out of which prices emerge. No prices means no reality-based signals on supply and demand.

    We see the results of this in the night sky over north Korea. We saw it in the barren shelves of soviet grocery stores, the starving masses under Mao’s “great leap forward”. The soviets union used to import sears catalogues to try To a lesser but related extent, we see this inefficiency play out in Canada where basic healthcare services are needlessly rationed such that wait times can be years for treatments which in the US happen in weeks. All the while, the private market for animal vets delivers healthcare services quickly and cheaply, often with the same technology and techniques. You can hear the history of folly as our government replaced market pricing with procedure fees and nonsense in healthcare here:

    Health insurance IS NOT HEALTHCARE just as college is not an education. They are means, not ends. Being “covered” with a six month waiting list just for diagnosis is worse than not having coverage but being able to save up enough to pay cash in 3 months.

    Meanwhile, pre-1960 America had a relatively free market in Medicare care provision, 50% of all healthcare spending was out-of-pocket and the result was easy access to care. Doctors visits were less than today’s co-payment. Doctors and hospitals provided mountains of free care through their offices and private clinics. You could deliver a baby with a hospital stay and be left with a bill below $2000 dollars. Providers had to compete and didn’t have to maintain billing departments larger than the provider staff. It was much more “libertarian” and much better than today. America in general is the shining proof of libertarian ideas. The land of the free became the land where the poor look rich by historical standards. No, there’s never been a perfect system, but such claims that we need perfection to prove that more freedom is better are a nonsensical argument. Of course, this argument is usually made by those who claim that the stimulus succeeded even though the economy got worse after it was passed (and worse than they projected it would get had they done “nothing”).

    Now, to say that we have “socialism” because we have a public police force is just bizarre, though again it doesn’t take much to see that our police forces are bloated, wasteful and tragically mismanaged (war in drugs, anyone?). I could play the anarchist and say that the market could and has provided all of these things and still does today. I could point out the massive inequality in public education, police treatment and coverage, city utilies and more, because they’re real. We have socialized K-12. It sucks unless you live in a rich neighborhood. How is that equality? The bureau of reclamation destroyed our western water supplies and water, which is generally socialized, is equally generally poorly managed and trapped in an innovation-free zone of sloth.

    Still one can surely agree that having public services does not mean “socialism”. The classical liberals werent advocating anarchism. Neither do most libertarians. It’s a silly straw man to say “well we have public police, therefor no libertarian principles apply”.

  57. John Papola says:

    One more thing…

    You can’t actually fund a full blown “social justice/democracy” welfare state off of the “rich”. The real data shows that such systems are actually perversely regressive. The USA has the western world’s more progressive tax burden distribution. To fund their increasingly bankrupt ponzi schemes in Europe, those states drain the coffers of everyone.

    Ignore the simpleton Reagan worship and look at the data, which I’ve seen elsewhere. Here’s the money quote:

    Nowhere is the political debate over income inequality more detached from reality than the call for the top 1% of American income earners to pay their “fair share.” The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data on the ratio of the share of income taxes paid by the richest taxpayers relative to their share of income show that the U.S. has the world’s most progressive tax burden.

    The top 10% of earners in the U.S. pay 35% more of the income tax burden than in Sweden and 22% more than in France. These figures—from the 2008 OECD publication “Growing Unequal?”—include all household taxes imposed on income at the federal, state and local level, including social insurance taxes.

    In an eternal irony unique to large welfare states, it is the expansion of government in the name of the poor and middle class that always costs poor and middle-class families the most. When the U.S. collects 16.1% of GDP in income taxes, the top 10% of taxpayers pay 7.3% and the other 90% pick up 8.9%.

    In France, however, they collect 24.3% of GDP in income taxes with the top 10% paying 6.8% and the rest paying a whopping 17.5% of GDP. Sweden collects its 28.5% of GDP through income taxes by tapping the top 10% for 7.6%, but the other 90% get hit for a back-breaking 20.9% of GDP.

    If the U.S. spent and taxed like France and Sweden, it would hardly affect the top 10%, who would pay about what they pay now, but the bottom 90% would see their taxes double.

    To paraphrase Bastiat: the welfare state is the great fiction by which everyone speaks to live at the expense of everyone else.

    The public discourse is so utterly ignorant and divorced from real information, it’s shocking. Surely that’d part of why public policy is so ridiculously awful. Ignorance + hubris = DC.

  58. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    Yah, and if “we” ran things according to the paradigms and algorithms you contend for, maybe the operative adjective would be something like “horrific.” Or (pick one or more among the following:) abhorrent, abominable, appalling, awful, beastly, bloodcurdling, cruel, detestable, disagreeable, disgusting, dreadful, eerie, execrable, fearful, frightful, ghastly, grim, grisly, gross*, gruesome, hair-raising, heinous, hideous, horrid, loathsome, lousy. And that’s just the first half of the alphabet. Since your “principles,” when applied, are pretty much the guts of what brings and maintains various “Gilded Ages.”

    Unfortunate that “public discourse” is, like, IYACC, totally fucked, I guess because that whole chaotic fractal flood does not flow in the little channels you constrain yourself and would constrain everyone else to. Nah — humans are too dumb and greedy and short-sighted and self-interested and cunning to really be too much of a bother to ol’ Mother Earth for too much longer…

    Any luck figuring out “debt” and the multifarious nature of “money” yet, or just smugly happy with your prior positions?

    Purblind ( * dogged / enlightened = Libertarian

  59. John Papola says:

    I’d rather be an idealist libertarian then a scorched earth nihilist. At least I have hope for a better world rather than none.

  60. JTMcPhee says:

    Our host notes at the start of his post that the “Annenburg Innovation Summit was a smashing success.” I’ve made no study of what the Innovators do there, but might I wonder if any part of it includes institutional wisdom of the sort being expressed by Jon Gertner?

    We live in a world dominated by innovative U.S. companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook. Silicon Valley’s relentless entrepreneurs have continued to churn out startup companies with world-changing ambitions.

    But we idealize America’s present culture of innovation too much. In fact, our trailblazing digital firms may not be the hothouse environments for creativity we might think. I find myself arriving at these doubts after spending five years looking at the innovative process at Bell Labs, the onetime research and development organization of the country’s formerly monopolistic telephone company, AT&T.

    Why study Bell Labs? It offers a number of lessons about how our country’s technology companies — and our country’s longstanding innovative edge — actually came about. Yet Bell Labs also presents a more encompassing and ambitious approach to innovation than what prevails today. Its staff worked on the incremental improvements necessary for a complex national communications network while simultaneously thinking far ahead, toward the most revolutionary inventions imaginable.

    Indeed, in the search for innovative models to address seemingly intractable problems like climate change, we would do well to consider Bell Labs’ example — an effort that rivals the Apollo program and the Manhattan Project in size, scope and expense. Its mission, and its great triumph, was to connect all of us, and all of our new machines, together.

    In his recent letter to potential shareholders of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg noted that one of his firm’s mottoes was “move fast and break things.” Bell Labs’ might just as well have been “move deliberately and build things.” This sounds like the quaint pursuit of men who carried around slide rules and went to bed by 10 o’clock. But it was not.

    The whole article appears here:

    “Smashing success.” Yeah, I know, just old fogy stuff. Yearning for healthier models, and all that.

  61. JTMcPhee says:

    @John Papola
    And there’s the substance of the difference, I guess: All you got is binary choices, hard rules, an adamantine lexicon, and doctrine. Along with the facile puff of that “I’m RIGHT” jab of a false assignment of values. I know humans could “do better,” with a lot less net pain. I just don’t see much evidence, except in small local counter-entropic domains, that anything like that is at all likely. And it’s not for want of looking.

  62. JTMcPhee says:

    And anecdotes are not all there is to reality, but as a user yourself, they are at least illustrative. Case in point: “For Apple devices, Tampa’s iHospital is a place of healing”

    My two takeaways from this unconscious squib is two-fold: the “i” Anxiety of AppleAddicts, who per the story pace the “waiting room” like the most angst-riven, apprehensive of parents/loved ones, hoping for “recovery” of the thing “they would be lost without,” and I bet that’s not just a reference to GPS and mapping.

    And more to the point about the nature of our species: The innovative genius behind this iHospital is CEO Ross Newman. Who had his own trip to the “humanhospital” thanks to an infection to his thumb, from a cut he got from a shard of a screen of an iPhone. That the human fraction of the Cracked iNterface did not acknowledge (per the CEO, a commonplace in his business) that the phone was dead because the clumsy iOwner had DROPPED IT IN THE TOILET, presumably before flushing.

    Shame and pride and dissembling-with-harm, all in one neat package, compete with fecal pathogens. I wonder if the iOwner ever washes his iHands after iWiping his i$phincter, or ever applies an antiseptic to that iCase, with all its little germ-traps…

    Let’s see, in libertarian cant is it the case that the DiDs (Doctors of iDevices) should simply always don double-gloves (thus internalizing a not-insignificant cost) when doing repairs of potentially iShit-bearing iDuds that involve minute screws, tiny bits of hardware and broken glass? What part of the fair&honestcontracting dogma is that encompassed in? And is there a remedy for the iBreach of the iMplied iTerm of iSterility?

  63. len says:


    There are questions of scale and value in the questions. Scale as it applies to mechanisms that have affective (stimuli that alter probability of a choice in a single round of play) and effective choice (stimuli that can alter probabilities over multiple choices) given a directed goal (desirability by some authority over the set of choices (choice of choice)).

    Yes, it is possible to tune systems at very large scales given affective relationships among groups or sets of sets in the root domains. Identifying and analyzing these with particular emphasis on the reward that engenders the response is the big job. Remember the Febreeze example: what it was designed for (eliminating odor) and the property that sold it, an artificial odor that is interpreted as fresh and adding to the environment of social desirability (a tangible so observable and therefore interpreted as a reward) are two differents aspects of the product. It is the round edge of a fabric deodorizer (if you can’t sell the act, sell the style: see blues and jazz).

    If one works backward from value theory, one finds ethical topics that illuminate many of our discussions, particularly the natualistic fallacy or the is-ought fallacy where natural properties (observables) are conflated with moral properties (goals). Behaviorists separate these and chain them into schedules to tune a domain of interactors. The emergence of unintended consequences is mitigated through careful design and testing of the schedules in smaller scales before applying them to large scales. Rapid prototyping has a place in art, politics and science.

  64. Fentex says:

    Speaking of Obama and his policies, in light of recent news I am no longer willing to give him any benefit of what doubt remains:Obama is a totalitarian thug.

    I am no longer certain he is obviously a better choice than a Republican candidate.

    Obama’s unrelenting assault on dissent in the form of active prosecution of whistleblowers which may see the only person prosecuted regarding the torturing of prisoners being the person who revealed it was occurring puts Obama beneath respect and calls into question the utility of choosing him for what he gets right in the face of his brutal assualt on fundemental freedoms of speech.

    If Republicans, as demonstrated by Bush can be seen to have more respect for fundemental principles of free speech and disagreement among citizenry one has to wonder how valuable a few steps in improving the commerce and health of citizens is.

    Even if useful in the long term they pale compared to upholding fundemental principles that set the long term health of the Republic.

    Right now I think the odds on Republicans executing another pointless wasteful law make an argument for voting for Obama being still the lesser of two evils persuasive, but he absolutely is not a good choice.

  65. JTMcPhee says:

    That’s process. I guess my concern is, if in fact the whole thing can be “biased” and “influenced” thus, and I take your informed word on that, just who in among all the “sets” on the stage is the stage manager, who the auteur, who the chooser of choices, the “decider,” if you will. In our bodies, there’s a “manager” called the homeostatic processes, that bias the living system in the direction of health and strength (with limitations like telomeres.) I guess whether it’s chimerical or actual (at some level of truth that is so very obscure to most or maybe all of us), there’s a “mind” and maybe a “soul” of some sort that can drive the drama in a variety of directions, not all of them so hot from the standpoint of survival of the organism and the next few stages up the ladder of complicated-entity-ness. With my acknowledged cynical bias (that old “disappointed romantic” thing again) I don’t see any part of the “superego” of us so variable and adaptable and generalized creatures that moves in the direction of sustainable survival for my accident-of-birth species. Just these growing hordes of self-interested, self-centered, self-pleasing zombies and vampires, and more hordes aspiring to that state of Blessed Sacramental Undeadness.

    You note the “fallacies” of the naturalistic and is-ought sort, that I guess are supposedly overcome or gotten around or ignored as trivial fribbles by whichever Philosopher Kings might be arraying the choices of choices and the means of means. All I know is observation and my internal take on what I see and feel. By my little lights, pain is a “bad,” as is fear and horror. Other folks get off on those. But I have, would and will do a lot to spare others what to me, and to most of the people I can observe, are “badness.” And of course it’s complicated.

    Why is the underlying, horrifying, compelling back story of so many novels and tales in other media the idea that some little individual or group, having mastered some esoterica of science and technology or economics or social psychology, is on the way to waving a magic wand on a scale that flushes away all the bits and pieces of billions of lives that I guess we are supposed, for selfish and altruistic reasons, to value, to want to continue, even if parts of us hate and want to kill other parts of us? The “Illuminati,” the sulfurous boil of apparent Opus Dei, the “Communist Menace,” Tom Clancy and Dan Brown and a host of others feed the frenzy. Don’t remember the title or author, whoops, there it is, “Rainbow Six,” but one that sticks in my memory is where a little group of “I want it all for myself environmental extremists/eco-terrorists” plan to use the mist crowd-cooling system at an Australian Olympic games to disseminate a virus (to which they have immunized themselves, of course) that spreads by air, contact etc. and incubates for several weeks before killing its host, so the attendees can get home with their load of pathogens and share them freely. I worked with a multiple-life-sciences Ph.D years ago who seriously contended that humanity is a plague species and that the best thing that could be done for the planet would be to develop that same virus, and gee willikers, there’s little storefronts in Malaysia that will assemble genetic material to one’s specifications, and I doubt that anyone with a bent bent is unaware of the availability of those little tools, and I know that many now have the smarts to know how to use them… And I doubt there’s a “secretive, elite, international team of counter-terrorist heroes” on the case. They’re too busy opening everybody’s e-mail and ogling the millimeter-scan images from the airport…

    Maybe the order you allude to is just window dressing for a Deeper Magic…

  66. len says:

    That’s process. I guess my concern is, if in fact the whole thing can be “biased” and “influenced” thus, and I take your informed word on that, just who in among all the “sets” on the stage is the stage manager, who the auteur, who the chooser of choices, the “decider,” if you will. In

    Everyone is. It’s a matter of sorting out which choices are being sorted and then thumping on the levers that bias the cascade to favor some vector. The Overton Window is one model. As an analyst, plot the domain space and start counting the frequency and amplitude of hits rewarding or punishing having a id card in that space.

    Now what makes a domain sensitive (affectively effective)? Events that are pre-set. Like polishing wood to make it resonant. Pick your own picture.

    The Trayvon Williams case is a clearly sensitizing event. Trouble is it is sensitizing a racial domain and all members in that domain. This is trouble for Obama. If he distances himself from events with no comment, he is uncaring. If he takes the side (and seems to have) of those calling for Zimmerman’s Head before due process has worked, he is a bad lawyer and a worse leader. If the New Black Panthers do what they are saying they will on their Internet radio, something worse than some events we’ve seen go unnoted by the mainstream media will make even bigger hits on the Internet (already are on Facebook).

    Santorum is out of contention and that takes several topics he espoused off the table for this cycle unless Romney does a Nixon-Robs-Wallace and picks up the Tea Partiers. A decision on that would wait for something that sensitizes a domain. So depending on which side you want to play what card, you may or may not want to play pull treegroes. Farrakhan is speaking in town tonight at Alabama A&M. If he plays his usual set (the one that upset Univ of Berkeley) and that makes national news (it won’t but it is being watched here with trepidation), that’s an event. If the NBJ do their voodoo, that’s an event.

    Where does that move the window? Bingo! Domestic terrorism. Something for enough indies to fear (say let’s close that gender gap, mitt) something familiar, they would want to feel safe. And that worked rather well for GW.

    Be very very careful about topics we give weight. It’s been an awfully dry season and global warming is not a bad metaphor evoke what is happening emotionally in this country.

    If I were Zimmerman, I’d be hiding too. Justice is not a natural process. People do it. Or don’t.

  67. len says:

    This is one case being pushed on FB. Note they quote the first part but leave out the “mostly true” analysis at Snopes that points to facts: the perps were prosecuted and the prosecutor didn’t find it necessary to call it a hate crime given the evidence already provable. But it’s easy to see where this is headed. Places that are already sensitized to this notion that the Obama DoJ has pals in the domestic terrorists groups will lap this up like gravy on a biscuit. Those that believe blacks can’t be racists will point to that outcome as a means to brush it off. In the final analysis, the DoJ is or isn’t prosecuting race cases where the blacks are the racists. Anyone here want that debate over say debating health care and the economy?

    The problem of running campaigns like this is they push all the buttons they can but they don’t sit down and sensibly discuss “everyone plays by the same rules”; instead they play the wrong game consistently to keep everyone “sensitive”.

  68. John Papola says:


    I agree with you completely. He’s a totalitarian. Romney will suck. But it doesn’t matter. Obama must be punished for his governance. If he’s re-elected, it will teach him and his predecessors that all of his horrifying assaults on liberalism are perfectly fine.

  69. len says:

    The Romney campaign is Anything Is Better Than Obama. The Obama Campaign Is Not Another Bush. So we have two wimps and a mad as hell electorate. A full goof, a nahnahbooboo election. Real inspiration. Anyone got a blunt and a lighter because it’s going to take some brawny buzz to get this party started?

    At the same time CNN discusses the Homeland Security IDIQ for purchasing 250 million hollow points (an IDIQ specs a maximum purchase limit not a purchase) and scares us, LZ publishes this

    sayng it’s a two way street after watching the video of the tourist being beaten. He mentions the case I referenced above. He is black, gay and concerned like some of the rest of us that if race becomes a dominating meme, things can go off the rails in a big way. Domestic terrorism is high on the list of concerns of HLS because anyone who studies the subject seriously knows it’s a real possibility and we need to talk ourselves out of it instead of playing “pull the triggers, we’re with you all the way here across the bay.” In Florida, three of the county EOCs went to full emergency status before they arrested Zimmerman. Let’s see if justice still works after that much hullabaloo.

    I’m not sure Obama’s a totalitarian. I think he’s a tool and an asset but then most of our Presidents have been that since Kennedy. I’m not sharp enough to say how that changes but I’m reasonably astute at picking out the patterns in the signals. We keep being played because it makes us feel important to be part of that game. As a citizen, we should be aware. As an artist, we should reflect. And sometimes we should play it slow and sleepy before they hit the parking lot and start fights. I’m repeating myself, I know, but I think any of us, second-rate or A-list should be considering not just who we want to elect but what we want to be and how we want that to affect those around us. A little less strident and a little more love would be a good thing right about now. At least a bit more laughter. It makes the monsters smaller.

    I’m chemoed up and full of steroids, tired and burned out, but I’d rather record something fun than something serious. I’d rather send them out to have sex than have fights. Going all hippie, but make love not war seems like a better idea, and watching the world heating up from the South Pacific to the Middle East to the coast of Florida, we sure could use a global Woodstock right about now. I just don’t know if there are any fields big enough or any bands that popular and there sure doesn’t seem to be any music we’d all want to play. We’re all in our own little solos. We have lost the beat. No grooves; no moves.

  70. Rick Turner says:

    Well, my Blue Cross MedicareRX premiums just went up 39% (yesterday’s mail), AND I just got a bill for the $320.00 that it doesn’t cover for the shingles vaccine shot I got at my doc’s a month ago. Now that’s a dystopian modern reality, innit? What do you think it would cost MediCare and Blue Cross if I actually came down with Herpes Zoster, aka shingles? It would mean another 25 years of constant regular doctor’s visits, prescription meds that would be covered, and a lot of pain for me. How’s that for the efficiency of the capitalist system, Papola?

    Hey, I can afford it, but it makes no sense in the overall economic sense of what’s right all around…for me and FOR SOCIETY…whoops, that gets close to Socialism, doesn’t it?…except it is a job making thing for those 2.1 admin folks for every physician rather than increasing the efficiency of service delivery. Yeah, our medical system is a jobs program! But not for health care providers…it’s a make work program for the equivalent of shovel leaners…a bunch of paper pushers and computer data entry drones. It’s totally UN-productive.

    So will my costs go up another 39% next year…and the year after that…and after that, ad infinitum? No, because there will be a fucking revolution sooner than later behind this shit. The 1% better strengthen the walls of the gated communities and put a lot of Kevlar in their limos… At this rate, the shit will hit the fan…or the van…

    There is absolutely NO evidence that libertarian principles can work in the real world. And I don’t support a lot of the European Socialist model either…other than the Germans seem to have won WWII by working their asses off. If they hadn’t taken on the burden of East Germany, they’d really be doing well. Socialism can be done a lot better than we see in Europe. Libertarianism has yet to prove a thing…other than selling a lot of books for Ayn Rand.

    I’m all for private enterprise being the source of capital. I happen to think it needs to be balanced by public ownership of the delivery infrastructure…roads, highways, skyways, rail rights of way, and utility grid. And I don’t see medicine as being a part of a ruthless for profit system. And I support quality public education. That served America very well for many score years.

  71. Rick Turner says:

    Here ya’all go:

    Yeah, 1:5 docs to paper pushers. Ahh, the efficiency of the capitalist medical system! Probably doesn’t include all the marketing and advertising types working for the incredibly lean insurance companies… And for this we get to be way down the world ranking in infant mortality…either 33rd or 49th, depending on which chart you like:

    And try life expectancy:

    Wow, we’ve dropped to 39th since I last looked!

    And I didn’t run the numbers, but it looks to me like nearly all the countries doing better than the US have…yes, drum roll please…socialized national health plans! Wow, Papola! It must suck to have single payer health care! You have more chances of your newborn being alive and you have to live longer. Aww, shit… I wanted to be a freedom loving libertarian, and to have dead babies, and to die young…

  72. Rick Turner says:

    Oops, that’s what I get for switching back and forth between a PC and a Mac:

    Longevity/life expectancy:

  73. Rick Turner says:


    Yeah, we’re about 30% + more expensive for significantly poorer observable and measurable results. I’m sure that could be turned into some sort of efficiency ranking that would sink us way into 3rd world territory…

    Hey, Libs! Whatcha got that’s going to beat those numbers? Magical thinking? A right wing audacity of hope?

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