Monday, March 22, 2010

Exploding head watch



Is it wrong to take joy in the suffering of others? Probably. But when the others are rabid wingnuts, I don't want to be right.

Some PJM wanker:
The current American president is arguably the gravest mistake the American electorate has ever made...This is not the place to run through the chronicle of Obama's blunders, backslidings, broken promises, outright lying, despotic tendencies, shallow education, historical falsifications, ludicrous policies, betrayal of allies, and economic bungling (assuming this is not deliberate)... What strikes me as most ominous, however, is that the American people have elected a president for whom the critical battleground in the world is not the Middle East or Iraq or Iran or even Afghanistan. For this president, the war he is declaring is to be fought right here on American soil against a late-awakened majority of his own countrymen, on whom he wishes to impose a political structure alien to their history, culture, economy, and feeling of exceptionalism.
Bill Whittle, another PJM columnist:
Everywhere I have looked this morning the reaction seems to be more or less the same: a nation of steely-eyed missile men. These Marxist bastards have no idea what is coming for them. No idea.
"Steely-eyed missile men"?



Jan Z in a comment on Victor Davis Hanson
Racism is fueling the leadership, read, Obama. This is all about Reparations plus interest....Ultimately all the government intervention will empower the government to be a single employer...Revenge against all non minority people is what Obama desires from his heart.
A sturdy Viking lashes out with his +6 battleaxe: (via Sadly, No!):
Posted by: Odins Acolyte at March 22, 2010 09:47 A
We have a war now, should this become law. The little liberal weenies who have been crying about illegal wars over seas are about to have a real reason to cry. This shall not stand in my land.

Never.
Merlich:

All across the nation, Americans are cleaning and lubricating their guns and checking their ammo supply.

There will be no election this November. The coming revolution will resemble France in 1789 more than America in 1776.
This one's pretty vanilla, but I love people who say things like this on the Internet, which I seem to recall the government having a hand in building:
Wildman:
We hate universal health care simply because everything the government touches, regulates, manages turns to s@@t. The government has not solved a single social or economic problem in its history.
Oh well, that was a stupid exercise. Here's a real thought to redeem this post. One thing I've learned in following the right -- the factor that is always bubbling under the surface, the reason the US has such trouble enacting basic social welfare legislation, the universal hidden variable of American politics, is the same original sin of the Republic -- racism. Any sort of social welfare is seen as a transfer from the deserving race to the undeserving. The French or the Swedes don't have that sort of problem. This sounds overly reductive but it becomes glaringly obvious if you spend any time on these sites.

13 comments:

hoyhoy said...

I wondered why the Right has been whipped up into such a frenzy about all this.

I got into a bit of a disagreement with a wingnut earlier about how the current bill doesn't go far enough and private insurance companies weren't cost-competitive with government-run ones and should therefore be abolished. You can guess how that went over.

Chris said...

I think you may be overemphasizing the racial aspects of this in your summary. There is certainly objection to what is viewed as a coercive transfer of wealth. But even if this were a nation composed exclusively of white male capitalists, I'm fairly certain there would still be hostility to safety net policies from the same quarters that are objecting now.

mtraven said...

Hoyhoy: whipping themselves into a frenzy is how the right builds themselves up and gathers energy. Perceived enemies build solidarity; if you can paint your enemies as demonic and Hitlerian, so much the better. The phenomenon is not unknown on the left, although the right seems to be a lot better at hysteria. I've written a lot about these political dynamics (under the rubric polarization, the best term I can think of for it).

Chris: the phenomenon to be explained is why the US, unlike every other first-world country, has no universal health care (even now -- the recent bill does not provide that) and other social safety net policies. It could be our sturdy pioneer spirit, or our weird political system which gives disproportional power to rural voters, or something else. Or some combination of factors. My gut instinct is that the racial divides in society make it easier for class polarization to maintain itself and prevents the formation of a universal social ethic of care.

Anonymous said...

"The French or the Swedes don't have that sort of problem."

Only a person ignorant of France would say there is no racial division or antipathy there. In some ways it seems more severe than that in the United States, because the element of religion (the immigrants' Islam vs. the secularism of the native-born) is added to those of color and language.

I'm not as familiar with Sweden, but suspect there is a similar situation there with relation to middle eastern immigrants - as there is in Denmark, the Netherlands, etc.

Both France and Sweden have at their last elections voted out socialists and installed center-right governments (under Sarkozy in France, and Reinfeldt in Sweden). This should be no surprise considering the burden the burgeoning alien underclass in both countries places on their taxpaying populations.

mtraven said...

I know about the immigrant problems in Europe. They aren't really relevant to the present discussion, because the construction of the Eurpean welfare state apparatus predated their arrival. The US minority underclass has always been here and is a major part of the American identity, whether or not it is hidden away in the background by the so-called "real Americans".

Anonymous said...

True, socialized medicine preceded the presence of the alien underclass in Europe.

It also preceded the introduction of modern medical diagnostic methods and treatments. In the late 1940s when Britain's NHS was set up under the Attlee-Cripps-Bevan government, there were no CT scans, no MRIs, no open heart surgery, no pacemakers, no organ transplants. Medicine could not do much for you, but on the other hand it was cheap.You didn't consume hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of it before dying - you just died.

Britain and other countries with socialized medicine have kept it because it was introduced when it didn't cost the taxpayers much, and they have become inured to its rising cost gradually. The analogy is to the old saw about a frog put in lukewarm water that is slowly raised to boiling.

America didn't introduce socialized medicine when it was cheap. That's not necessarily the result of racism - after WWII, this country stuck with its wartime measure of treating employer-provided medical insurance as a non-taxable benefit. The uninsured could deduct all their medical expenses from taxable income - which, given high wartime and post-war marginal rates, amounted to a significant tax subsidy. The result, as compared to Europe's, was that of arriving at a similar end by different means.

When Americans look at the cost of medical services today, it is a much harder sell to persuade them that government should take on this burden than it was to persuade Britons in the late '40s that their government should shoulder the relatively low costs of medicine at that period.


Today, none of the European countries that have socialized medicine pay for it solely by income taxation. They not only pay high income taxes but also swingeing VATs. The latter are substantially borne by persons with more modest incomes. It is a cheap shot to allege that racism alone, or even principally, accounts for American taxpayers' reluctance to embrace such a prospect.

grendelkhan said...

"Steely-eyed missile men"?

It's Bill Whittle. The man is responsible for having purveyed the densest block of wankery ever committed to the internet, TRIBES. What did you expect?

Court Jester said...

Chris: It's the same behavior of voting against self interest (let alone common interest) that was discussed in "What's the Matter with Kansas". Whether it's direct racism, or racism by proxy (mindlessly believing Rush & Beck); it still boils down to an us vs them scenario. And from what I've seen and read, the TeaPartiers really have only one aspect in common with the people they are supporting (Insurance companies, GOP Senators, etc) - race.

They don't appreciate or even understand the differences between facism, Marxism, socialism; they just *know* (i.e. they've been told for years) that they are foreign concepts. And anything foreign must be bad. That's why Obama must be African, and why being compared to "the French" is their idea of a scathing insult. Nevermind that there likely wouldn't be an America if not for the French. It's why they hate the U.N. so much, and why pointing out that "every other developed nation in the world has some form of comprehensive health care" has no effect on them.

Off topic, but it's odd how such xenophobic folks don't mind buying crap made in China when they shop in red-white-and-blue stores like WalMart.

Andrew said...

Both France and Sweden have at their last elections voted out socialists and installed center-right governments (under Sarkozy in France, and Reinfeldt in Sweden).

This isn't an accurate portrait of recent French politics.

Britain and other countries with socialized medicine have kept it because it was introduced when it didn't cost the taxpayers much, and they have become inured to its rising cost gradually.

Even today, very little of "socialized medicine" is expensive. It was in fact controversial when it was introduced. Your argument doesn't work.

It is a cheap shot to allege that racism alone, or even principally, accounts for American taxpayers' reluctance to embrace such a prospect.

The evidence is ample. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, a big reason socialized medicine is cheaper in the countries that have it is that they ration care more effectively than the private insurance companies in the United States do.

Thus the care Britons get under NHS is closer to the care they got in the Britain of 1946 than is the care Americans get today to the care that they got in the America of 1946.

Have you ever notice how many Brits have obviously bad teeth, compared to Americans? NHS dentistry accounts for the difference. Of course, 1946-style medical or dental care is cheaper than 2010-style care. Needless to say, it's also less good.

Rationing is a simple way to contain costs, is part of managed care, and happens with both private and governmental third-party payers; but government can be much firmer about it.

How many Englishmen do you know? I know one who waited the better part of a year for a prosthetic knee he could have had installed just about at will here in the U.S. There are many such stories. Have you ever been to the Mayo Clinic? Noted how many foreigners are there to get treatment they can't get at home?

Blaming racism for resistance to the present bill is nothing so much as a way for its advocates to feel even more smug and morally vain than they already are. There are many reasons to dislike it that have nothing to do with race.

Your attempt to dismiss these arguments by attributing them to discreditable motives is of a piece with the attitudes that have made so many Americans angry with the Democrats in control of the White House and Congress. In the long run, such airs of moral superiority are self-defeating for the political left. As Orwell warned his fellow socialists in "The Road to Wigan Pier":

"The ordinary man may not flinch from a dictatorship of the proletariat, if you offer it tactfully; offer him a dictatorship of the prigs, and he gets ready to fight."

grendelkhan said...

The preceding anonymous comment is grotesquely incorrect on a number of counts.

the care Britons get under NHS is closer to the care they got in the Britain of 1946 than is the care Americans get today to the care that they got in the America of 1946.

In terms of outcomes, this is absolutely false. Britons have the same survival rates and life expectancies you can find in any industrialized nation, which are far better than you'd see in any nation in 1946.

Have you ever notice how many Brits have obviously bad teeth, compared to Americans? NHS dentistry accounts for the difference. Of course, 1946-style medical or dental care is cheaper than 2010-style care. Needless to say, it's also less good.

It's a cultural thing. Brits aren't as into cosmetic dentistry as Americans are. However, you can compare medical outcomes, e.g., by looking at OECD mortality and morbidity statistics.

How many Englishmen do you know? I know one

Oh boy! Anecdotes! They're so much more fun than data!

Anonymous said...

Grendelkhan - As Disraeli said, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. It is easy to use statistics in a way that makes a sow's ear appear to be a silk purse, and to disregard those that portray it in its true light.

The NHS's own "Guide to waiting times" states "your treatment should start no more than 18 weeks from the day that your GP refers you" and boasts that "Being treated within 18 weeks of GP referral is a significant achievement considering that people often waited 18 months or more for an operation during the 1990s." See: www.nhs.uk/choiceinthenhs/rightsandpledges/waitingtimes/pages/guide%20to%to%20to%waiting%20times.aspx

Yes, eighteen weeks is better than eighteen months, but neither seems acceptable to a person used to American-style coverage under private insurance or even Medicare. My late mother had a hip replacement surgery on the very day of her GP's referral to her orthopaedic surgeon in 2004, right here in the good old US of A. In Britain, the NHS bureaucracy might have denied it to her entirely on the grounds that its expense would not be warranted given the remaining years of her life, at age 85. But because she received prompt attention she was able to live until just this past January - nearly six years that were happily spent until nearly the last. If she'd had to wait for her surgery or was denied it, and died as a consequence, she'd have been a drop in your statistical bucket. Anecdotal as it may be, her survival was quite significant to her - and to me.

What about elderly Britons who die slowly and in pain because they have to wait 18 weeks, 18 months, or whatever for an orthopaedic procedure - or don't get it at all because some NHS apparatchik decides they don't deserve it? I suppose that's "a cultural thing" too - Brits aren't into surviving broken hips like Americans are.

grendelkhan said...

My late mother had a hip replacement surgery on the very day of her GP's referral to her orthopaedic surgeon in 2004, right here in the good old US of A. In Britain, the NHS bureaucracy might have denied it to her entirely on the grounds that its expense would not be warranted given the remaining years of her life, at age 85.

You can't rant against socialized health insurance or socialized medicine by comparing it to Medicare, which is essentially what Canadians have, except they have it for everybody, not just old people.

I suppose that's "a cultural thing" too - Brits aren't into surviving broken hips like Americans are.

You can't just discount statistics as being "damned lies" because they harsh your mellow, even if your anecdotes said what you thought they did... which, given that you're describing how wonderful the American healthcare system is for people over sixty-five, they don't. American people over sixty-five essentially live in Canada.