Monday, March 29, 2010

Socialist Baby-Killers

I was playing in a local bridge tournament this weekend, and before the first round I was chatting with one of our opponents. The talk turned to health care reform, and we both remarked that we didn't understand all the details yet, but it was pleasant to see that the Democrats had shown some spine and gotten reform passed.

About this time our other opponent arrived at the table. "Oh, I see you guys are a bunch of socialists," he said. "You like all this socialism and this socialist take-over of health care. You're probably baby-killers too, aren't you? Are you guys baby-killers?"

This remark encapsulated what's gone wrong with American politics. Look, there are reasons to like health care reform and there are reasons not to like it. On the one hand, you have to like the idea that most everyone will have access to health care and that your own access to health care will be protected against insurance company shenanigans like barring you for a pre-existing condition if you change jobs or dropping you just when you get sick. (I mean, really, does anyone think this part is bad in itself?) On the other hand, you can legitimately question whether it's going to work. You can wonder if it's going to help contain costs. You might think it involves too much government regulation. And you can be opposed to government telling people that they have to buy health insurance even if they don't want to (although the whole thing can't work without that part).

We could have a real discussion about whether health care reform is a good idea. But it's impossible to have a real discussion when the debate is hijacked by people who reduce everything to negative labels, whether or not the labels actually apply. I particularly dislike people who are obviously just parroting other people's talking points.

People who say that anyone who supports health care reform must be a socialist don't know what socialism is. Socialism is "a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole." A socialist government would abolish private health insurance companies altogether -- and would probably take over the hospitals and doctors too.

The actual health care reform bill that Congres passed doesn't abolish private health insurance companies (much less the private doctors and hospitals). It regulates private insurers by prohibiting them from discriminating based on health status. To make that regulation work, it requires everyone to have health insurance (otherwise only sick people would buy it and the insurers would go bankrupt). And then to make that possible it provides subsidies for those who would otherwise have difficulty buying health insurance. But health insurance will still be privately provided.

Ironically, those who decry health care reform as socialism are the very same people who attack it for allegedly weakening Medicare, which is a lot more like socialism than the health care reform law, because Medicare does involve the government itself providing health insurance. If you're so strongly opposed to socialism, you should be for abolishing Medicare, not for saving it from health care reform.

I'm a strong believer in capitalism, but I also believe some government regulation can help society. I would be happy to have a serious debate with anyone who wants to critique health care reform. I'm sure I would learn a lot from such a debate -- as I said, I don't understand all the details of the new law yet. But I can't stand listening to people who do nothing but spout canned talking points that they don't even understand.


Hildegarde512 said...

Oh, wow - there really are reasonable people out there. Have been so bombarded with crazy fear-mongering email from right-wing relatives I was starting to wonder. Too bad I can't refer them here. You are obviously part of the pinko baby-killing conspiracy and can't be trusted!

Jon Siegel said...

Thanks, Hildegarde. And go ahead and refer them -- we'll see what they have to say!

Anonymous said...

I didn't know Glen Beck played bridge.

innertrader said...

It really gets me when people aren’t aware enough to look around the world and see what’s going on in other health care systems. People come to the USA from all over the world to get health care. This is nothing new and it has been going on for at least 50 years. Most of these medical field customers come from countries that practice European style socialist medicine. Yes, I said “socialist!” I call it like I see it. If the FEDs control who is going to get health care, when they will receive it and how much will be paid for it, that essentially places the medical industry under their control, period!

It is likewise disturbing to me when people aren’t aware enough to even look at the history of their own FED government. Not one FED government agency is profitable, efficient or accountable, period. The Department of Energy was created by Carter to stop or lessen our dependence of foreign energy. They now spend $28.4 Billion a year (a 6.8% increase over the last budget) and our dependency has gone through the roof! Health care will be worse, that is a promise, since it’s about 17% of our economy. I will bet you $50k that health care in the USA will be worse and cost (inflation adjusted) more money in 20 years than it did in 2009. You have 24 hours to respond to this offer.

I’ll also bet you $50k that there will not be ONE single health insurance company left in the USA in 20 years from 2009. By that, I don’t mean a company that is partially owned, supported or guaranteed in anyway whatsoever by the FED government. The FEDs will run the private companies out of business, period! After all, just like the student loan program, why should they make money if the government is going to take the risk. That is why I totally reject any form of government intervention whatsoever, particularly “guarantees!” They “guaranteed” the S&Ls in the 80s and all the BAD mortgages in the 2000s! Why do you think Moody’s was giving AAA ratings to companies with all that bad paper, because it was all government guaranteed! What an insane way to operate in the “real” world!

So, yes, anyone who supports government run health care is a socialist, period! The FEDs don’t hve to officially “own” an industry, all they have to do is “CONTROL” it!

You didn’t even touch on the Constitutionality of the so called health bill. Which is actually called, “The Affordable Health Care Choices Act of 2009," just in case you’d like to read it. First, it will not be “affordable” and there will not be a “choice.” They always mislabel their FED agencies, if you haven’t noticed. Google the statement from Michael Connelly, a retired attorney and Constitutional Law instructor.

".............I could write many more pages about this legislation, but I think you get the idea. This is not about health care; it is about seizing power and limiting rights... Article 6 of the Constitution requires the members of both houses of Congress to "be bound by oath or affirmation to support the Constitution." If I was a member of Congress I would not be able to vote for this legislation or anything like it, without feeling I was violating that sacred oath or affirmation. If I voted for it anyway, I would hope the
American people would hold me accountable.”

I have been in the investment world for 40 years. During that time I have watched ALL of my investor heroes actually leave the country and they have ALL be telling me for years that the USA was “over” and I finally have thrown in the towel myself, it is over! We are now a European style socialist state, period!

I won't be back. I have better things to do, like figure out how to make a living on my own!

Anonymous said...

We do not have outright socialism - except for some partial government ownership in autos and banks.

We have what I call USocialism - US government control of the means of production without ownership.

With the corporate income tax, and capital gains tax, a considerable percentage, probably well over 50%, of the profit belongs to the government.

And with Obama care, the government tells the insurance companies how to provide their policies.

Control without ownership - far better than ownership, but accomplishing the same goal as socialism without the hassles of having to worry about the difficulties good business practices like customer relations and profit.


Anonymous said...

If you don' think the government take over of health care is socialism you get a dictionary.