Thursday, February 25, 2010

But Republicans Don't WANT to Reform Health Care

And this is premised on far more profound disagreements than budgetary concerns. Let me put it this way, if the millions of Americans without healthcare were Al Queda, they would have built an extra wing on to the Pentagon devoted to them and got Lockheed Martin on the phone ASAP.

But they blame these people for their own "failure" (to borrow Glenn Beck's eloquence). Just like they blame anyone who might need social services. They know the "market" can't guarantee these people the help they need. That is their point. They don't deserve our help. 



  1. Dear Mr. President:
    During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.
    While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.
    And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care? I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture", a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me".
    Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.

  2. really, randy? You want to go with the welfare queen critique. Race-baiting is so passe.

    What's interesting about that particular critique is that it is so cherry-picked for maximum blacksploitation. The shiny gold tooth was a particularly nice touch. I actually have a gold tooth and I remember it being the cheaper option.

    I'll bet you didn't consider it racist. The guy who wrote it could even have been black. But in so far as it was a mockery of black culture, and a stereotype of a poor black girl.

    I wrote on this previously when I referenced Bob Altemeyer's work. But among right-wing authoritarians you find high levels of this sort of nativist sentiment. I mean, talk radio is full of angry white guys tirading against the behavior of poor ethnic groups. The fact that this bleeds over perfectly into the modern racists' fascination with Obama's religion and birthplace is just too obvious that there's a link between the right-wing and racism.

  3. “Race-baiting is so passe.”

    Didn’t you just make a racial assumption? If so that is race-baiting and your bias applied a racial component to my racial neutral post.

    “I'll bet you didn't consider it racist.” Your response certainly assumed a racial tone.

    “I mean, talk radio is full of angry white guys tirading against the behavior of poor ethnic groups.” You mean like Alan Keyes, or Al Sharpton?

  4. Oh c'mon, Randy, are you seriously telling me that you had no idea what the ethnicity of that girl was supposed to be? I just don't believe that.

    More interestingly, the author makes a strange point: that our nation's crisis is thought to be a shortage of doctors and nurses. He posits instead that it is a crisis in culture, by which he basically means that if you don't have health insurance it is your own fault.

    You know, it took me a long time to figure out what the problem was between liberals and conservatives. Why do you guys see the world so much differently me? Where you see a disproportionate number of blacks in the ghetto, doing bad things, you generally see them as creating their own problems, and that society (the rest of us) bear no responsibility for them. Liberals like myself, on the other hand, see them as our problem, one created by us, and that we are responsible for helping them fix.

    Now, you would say that they need to help themselves. Since they are actively choosing dysfunctional behavior, it is their problem. This is very logical. But here's the reason I disagree with the premise.

    I don't believe in free will. Most liberals actually don't, even if they might think they do - this is due to the complex philosophical meaning of the term. EVERY conservative I have ever met or read believes in free will. That is a profound difference, and explains 99% of all of our disagreements.

    It's too much to go into here, and I've written a lot on it before. Check out my post here:

    Wikipedia has a good run-down on both.

    In a nutshell, liberals believe that you are a biological/genetic creation. Your life choices are thus determined by where you came from. There is a large body of data to support this.

    Of course, there are reasonable people who will argue that we all have free will - that who we are or where we come from doesn't determine the choices we make. I find this view incoherent. And we can debate that.

    But I think this question is absolutely crucial to understanding the left/right divide. This premise determines everything else.

  5. Oh, I forgot to point out that Jones is incoherent here:
    "More interestingly, the author makes a strange point: that our nation's crisis is thought to be a shortage of doctors and nurses. He posits instead that it is a crisis in culture, by which he basically means that if you don't have health insurance it is your own fault."

    First he misstates what most people say the health care problem is (its actually lack of insurance, not shortages of services), but he then goes on to actually address that problem in his response! Very odd.

  6. Since race wasn't part of my post and you said, "Oh c'mon, Randy, are you seriously telling me that you had no idea what the ethnicity of that girl was supposed to be? I just don't believe that."

    Did you stop for a second and think it might have described a hillbilly? Also does hillbilly note a racial slur too?

    Why do you think different from me, maybe because you still believe the lies you were taught. Socialism fails everywhere it is tried and conservativism works everything it is tried.

    Also to not have morals that move like a tide, you must have a moral law giver and you have simply rejected that as impossible. Yet you take the absurd stance that your position is proper without any moral guide giver saying it is. You simply feel it is so and it is. That is till enough people tell you that you position is improper and you fall to peer pressure to change your mind because you have no rock no anchor to base your moral compass on.

    To know something because you have an unchangeable rock to anchor too is freedom you have yet to embrace.

  7. 1 - Hillbillies, by definition, are ethnically white, and in the more tradition sense, poor. Poor white people generally do not get gold caps, listen to R & B and put bling on their phones. Its a colloquial term, but today it would generally not describe the person in that piece. Hillbillies tend to be the rural poor, and their culture is going to be different than that of those in the city. This girl could have been an inner-city white girl, but she would be a cultural outlier. Bottom line is that whether this is racist is subjective, and you and I are going to apply a whole series our own understandings of cultural politics to it. I'm less interested in that, and more in what the point was supposed to be.

    I used to listen to a lot of talk radio, and it has been a longstanding trope on the right to complain about poor people who waste their money on fancy things. This is argued as a reason not to help them with things like food stamps, child care, health care etc.

    I don't disagree that poor people make bad choices. This is why I refer to their behavior as often being "dysfunctional". The poor have much higher rates for all sorts of things, such as poor diet, poor exercise, poor parenting, poor budgeting, drug abuse, crime, etc.

    But where we appear to differ is that I don't believe they can make any different choices than they do, until they learn how. Actually, this is a point on which I find you (and conservatism) incoherent. On the one hand you believe that the poor, "if given proper motivation or reasonable help would thrive instead of stagnate". But on the other you argue that we should not provide them a safety net, with things like health care and other services.

    You claim to have compassion for these people, but you also seem quite angered by their behavior. How else would they behave, if they do not know better?

    As for socialism, let's be clear on definitions. In its truest sense, socialism simply means the state taking an active role in the common good. This does not necessarily mean ownership of any industry. Most often, it means providing a service that no private industry is able to guarantee at least a minimum for all citizens. So aside from the police and military, you have public schools, transportation infrastructure, libaries, parks, regulatory agencies, and many other social services, including the infamous medicare, medicaid, and in all other modern countries, universal health care.

    There are certainly valid arguments that the government may be the least efficient provider of these services. No doubt private schools, roads, parks, libraries, etc. would be better. To the extent that they exist, profit models in these enterprises face enormous competition from the fact that the government is providing a similar service for free.

    This is one of the stronger cases against the liberal health care reform model. In order to guarantee coverage for all citizens, a "public option" ends up introducing an unfair competitor into a private market.

    But this rests on two premises: first, that the government is necessarily a less efficient (or worse) provider of health care; second, that there is no moral imperative for society to guarantee care to these people (the way we do at emergency rooms). I disagree with both, and we can have that argument.

  8. But on to your last argument about morality. You say that without a "moral law giver", there is no way we can truly know what is moral and what is not, that we "simply feel it is so and it is".

    Poppycock! Without having some direct line to God, how do I know which faith to choose from? Seriously Randy, did you investigate all the possible religions in the world before you picked yours? And guess what, even if you had, how else could you possibly choose without using reason, which exactly the sort of relativism you are decrying! And even if you magically landed on Christianity, which version are you going to go by? Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Evangelical? The only way you could truly follow biblical teaching without "picking and choosing" is to take a fundamentalist approach. Now we're getting serious. Are you really going to follow every commandment in the bible? Good luck! What 99.9% of literalists do is "pick and choose" what they want to follow. The bible has some pretty gnarly ideas.

    Speaking of which, if you actually study where the different bits of the old testament came from, the path becomes quite fuzzy at points. There is much evidence that a lot of what is in there was stuff the Jews cobbled together from ancient writings and laws passed down from various tribes.

    Look, what you are basically saying is that we can't apply reason to our morals. And honestly that scares the shit out of me. This is Taliban stuff right here. Just think of all the terrible stuff that has been done because people were simply "following God's word". I can think of no more dangerous person than he who can't have a reasonable debate with someone without simply pointing at a book and saying "that's why". This is what children do. Fortunately children do not make laws or own weapons.

    I'm not saying it is wrong to look to religious books for moral guidance. But in the end you are going to be using your mind, and applying reason (and a good deal of faith) to whatever you choose. So to insist that religious people have some insight into morality that non-religious people do is absurd. And offensive, actually. But we're used to it!

  9. Oh, and btw you're both entirely welcome to continue the hijack! :)

  10. “In its truest sense, socialism simply means the state taking an active role in the common good.”

    I’ve studied Marxism for years with my cousin and is a member of the SLP. We have traded back and forth for years over what socialism is. He’s for socialism because he thinks its freedom from the state, and capitalists.

    Socialism is, ready for this, socialism is democracy.

    Marx knew socialism would collapse and that would lead to what socialists want and that is communism. Socialism is merely a step to make people revolt at the forced by majority mandates that democracy causes. My cousin would say your definition of socialism is what a capitalist wants you to believe socialism is. He’s right, when you read Marx you begin to see what you feel is socialism is more like fascism.

    Communism is true freedom and the way people take care of each other is because they want too. In other words, the “revolution” is for our minds to be made “right.” Communism is lack of government force, or if you feel like it the stop sign doesn’t mean stop today. Communism is anarchy.

    Try this article for why God is necessary for morals.

    Morality as a Clue to God

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. BTW, Socialists and I mean true believers think that word meanings infringe on their freedom too. So don't wave a dictionary in the face of a Socialist, he'll just laugh at the constraint you allow yourself to be held to. Much like God is a constraint, and is why socialists tend to be relativists and atheists. They have no anchor to judge from so they don't judge when they judge you.

    Confusing yes, until you understand confusion is exactly an outcome they actively seek. Any constraint to a socialist is freedom they must give up. They want to walk outside naked and not have anybody judge them, fat, ugly, or nude.

  13. Wait a sec' Randy, is that you or your cousin who says socialism is democracy?

    America today is basically a democratic socialist state. That is very different thing from communism - what most people apparently confuse socialism for. Schools, parks, libraries - basically anything not involving the military is socialism. This is why its called socialized health-care. Public schools are socialized education, when you get right down to it.

    I'm interested in your moral relativism article. I'll respond when I get a chance. From the first bit I read he seems like he's making the classic mistake I tried to describe here:

    More later.

  14. "For example, when you say that some absolute moral laws exist, you're saying that immaterial things -- like moral laws which aren't made out of moral stuff -- certainly do exist. Therefore, materialism as a world view is false. Instead, it is reasonable to believe in things you don't see and can't test with the five senses. Strict empiricism would be false, then."

    This is ridiculous. First off, you can test all of these things with your senses. 2+2=4 is an abstract concept, yet represents a truth. So do the laws of gravity or thermodynamics. Materialism doesn't refer simply to things that exist in three dimensional space, but a worldview based in evidence-based predictions. Therefore, while 2+2=4 as a concept doesn't exist in physical form, it gives us predictions with 99.999-% probability. There are explanations out there 10x better than I have just done, but that Koukl makes no mention of them points to his intellectual dishonesty.

    With regard to how this actually relates to morality, our morals are fundamentally based in our consciousness. I know that if I stab myself in the leg with a fork it will hurt; I will be unhappy. I do not want to be unhappy, by definition. It is a human want. If I stab you in the leg with a fork, you will be unhappy. I know this with a 99.999-% certainty.

    Just as I experience the pain signals in my own leg via nerve fibers and process them as pain, I experience you via my senses and process you as an individual entity capable of perceiving pain. In a sense this a tautology, as science is based on the combined perception of human consciousnesses, but it is the best we have, and how we define knowledge. To the extend that religious experience can be knowledge, it is just as limited by perception.

    One glaring issue that Koukl left out was a response to the criticism I offered a few posts ago: even if absolute morality exists in the universe how does he know his version is correct? There are many religious texts, each with their own interpretations. His assertion that Hinduism makes no moral claims is absurd. By neglecting to do the most basic research in this regard he is practicing the most vile form of relativism: he chooses what "facts" he wishes to see.

    It should be obvious from the above critique that I believe one can be moral purely through reason and personal experience, as I define morality basically as the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and as an extension, how they would like to be treated, just as you would like people to respect your wishes as to how you would like to be treated.

    But at this point I feel I have bent so far over over backwards to explain what seems eminently obvious, that for anyone to still not see the logic would take a determined chauvinism on their own part. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon attitude among Christianists. (Hence the -ist, ala Islamist, racist, sexist, etc.)

  15. Maybe socialism as defined by your POV is what you think such as parks, police, firemen, ect. But Socialism is the control and ownership of the means of production by the workers.

    GM’s buy out isn’t socialism it is more like fascism. Fascism is the government controls the means of production and owns it too. So parks, police, ect. are not socialism but fascism as is our public education system. Perhaps you could read Goldberg’s Liberal fascism.

    My cousin would be happy to take you to school so you could learn the true meaning of socialism. My my cousin says, there isn’t true socialism there is only socialism.

  16. There are a couple of issues I want to point out in your moral arguments. One is the denial of absolute knowledge. If you can’t know something to be true you can’t know it to be false either.

    Some like a fork in the leg. There are thriving pain dungeons in San Francisco. So there goes your 99,9998%.

    Ted Kaczynski, Tim McVeigh, Mao Zedong, all thought their morals needed acted upon. Yet we judge them from our moral viewpoint. Who’s to say which is right?

    With relativistic morals you have no rock, anchor, or guidepost to claim Ted and company were wrong. Like I told Mr. Campbell it sort of makes me laugh when you make that point.

    Consider a life raft, you must kill someone for the majority to survive. Do your morals allow you to become the next Tim McVeigh? That question is easy if you have a moral starting point.

    That is why our country became so great in such a short period of time was because we subscribed to unalienable morals.

    They don’t change because you are in a life raft.

  17. What, like slavery? You still haven't answered how you're going to get objective access to the correct morals.

  18. !!! You're not making any sense. First you say:

    "Maybe socialism as defined by your POV is what you think such as parks, police, firemen, ect. But Socialism is the control and ownership of the means of production by the workers."

    Then you say:
    "Fascism is the government controls the means of production and owns it too. So parks, police, ect. are not socialism but fascism as is our public education system."

    You're right that it generally means government control over the means of production. But how it is implemented varies by degree. So total control of all means of production would be communism. Control of some means of production would be what we have here and in Europe.

    "Means of production" is basically just the provision of some commodity. A state in which the government does nothing but pass laws and enforce them with a military would be in some sense socialist in that it is providing military service.

    Regardless, if you are against socialism, and public schools are socialist, then are you against public schools?

  19. “So total control of all means of production would be communism.” This a basic error in understanding. Communism is total lack of any rules laws or moral obligations and depends on the moral good of the people. Communism as defined by our capitalist enslavers is some sort of evil plot to enslave us. It is slavery because we must bend to the will of the majority with no inalienable rights protected by laws enforce to protect those rights we hold so precious.

    There is no state in a socialism economic picture. There is no need to enforce laws. Laws are made up in public meetings to benefit the worker’s means of production, that is why it is democracy and why our Framers were so afraid of democracy. Try this link for more of what socialism is:

    I’m not against education, but I’m for education where parents have the control over the means of that education.

    You will never get objective control over morals. Slavery was abolished due to its denial of individual rights a concept that arises out of absolute moral values.

    At best you can have a document that espouses a set of principals that are implemented by a people that hold fast to those principals and seek to spread them equally (think Bible and Constitution).

    Today what we have leaders that pander to the wants and wishes of their voters and the voters with no idea of Founding principals elect those that will get them the most goodies. This is why Ben Franklin said “a Republic...if you can keep it.”

  20. That is one definition of socialism, but not the consensus definition. We can go back and forth all day on different definitions, but what is the point? What matters is settling on a mutually agreed upon premise that can then be debated.

    And I'm still waiting for you to explain how you get access to your one, perfect, absolutely true morality. I used slavery as an example because you claimed the founders had access to absolute morality, yet they obviously were misinterpreting what the rights of man were, and then redefined them. In other words, they shifted the goal line.

    You are claiming that you can somehow know what absolute morality is, but haven't shown how you determine what that is. How do you know that the interpretation you choose to believe is the one truth? It certainly wasn't for the founders.

  21. It is the SLP position.

    Look it up. You have been misled by someone if you think socialism is what you think it is. Best to go to the horse’s mouth and find out yourself.

    As far as absolute morality we could use history as a guide. Europe’s history has been pretty bloody with two major world wars, rampant unemployment, ect and then compare to our history, where we fought a war to figure out if control was federal or state.

    Our history also had us become the dominate world power with a standard of living only the rich had a hundred years ago and has doubled our life expectancy.

    So I’d say if we get back to the traditions our country was founded on and shun this relativist crap we could shine again.

    For proof, look to JFK’s tax cut, Ronald Reagan’s tax cut, and GWB’s tax cut. All sought to get government out of the way while hamstringing it with social spending that forced the debt to unsustainable levels.

  22. I finally dawned on me what you are asking sorry to be so slow. You want proof of an absolute position or an absolute moral position.

    How about child rape; can anyone ever argue that that is a correct moral position? For me abortion is an absolute moral position; violate that and I’ll never vote for you again.

    Well sorry even that isn’t an absolute. Ever here of NAMBLA? The ACLU is proving them court cover for their slogan of “sex before eight or it’s too late.”

  23. Yes, I'm not arguing that there isn't any absolute morality. That's another argument, and I would agree with it to the extent that it is based on what an individual wants, to the extent that they are capable (i.e. not kids), and then more generally things that humans universally experience (pleasure, pain, satisfaction, etc.).

    So, yeah, how would you determine that without resorting to a subjective, or "relative" argument? Remember, the debate is over whether or not we determine what morals are for ourselves.

    Abortion is an excellent example of a moral position that is very difficult to get direction on from the bible. Just look at the incredible diversity of interpretation among the different denominations, and you'll see a variety of disagreements. Some say "though shalt not kill" means "ever", and others say it means "in most cases".

    Bottom line, like you say, you're going to need to start bringing history, context, and reason, etc. into it. At which point your view is "relative" to your point of view.

    As for the Socialist labor party, they are just one organization, and their definition seems no different than communism. Wikipedia is a good starting point for what a consensus view is of the term. If we can't agree on what terms we use in discussion, then discussion is pointless. Our conversation began with health care, and what it means for the state to provide it. Most economies today are "mixed", that is they are a mixture of free market and socialist principles.

  24. Let me see if I understand you correctly.

    1. The Socialist Labor Party isn’t promoting what you absolutely view as socialism.
    2. There is absolutely no absolute morally that each individual can grasp.

    About cover it?

  25. Let me see if I understand you correctly.

    1. The Socialist Labor Party isn’t promoting what you absolutely view as socialism.
    2. There is absolutely no absolute morally that each individual can grasp.

    About cover it?

    That's kind of right. I think the SLP is certainly taking socialist principles to their extreme.

    As for the second, I can't disprove absolute morality, but I am saying that one couldn't know whether their version of truth is the absolute version. Unfortunately the bible isn't all that clear! Talk to biblical scholars and things get real dicey real quick. But now we're heading into what I was trying to address in my last post on consensus: if everyone is required to be moral, does one have to be a biblical scholar to correctly interpret the bible?

    Anyways, all I have done here is make a case against fundamentalism. I haven't begun to address the scientific and historical arguments for where our particular definitions of morality actually come from.

    I can imagine the appeal of a book that told you what to think. Actually, on second thought I can't. It seems frighteningly non-human. We might as well all just be robots.

  26. ***

    Vidoqo: I think the SLP is certainly taking socialist principles to their extremes."

    If by "extreme" you mean to imply that the Socialist Labor Party of America's platform as well as its perspectives relative to modern-day issues and events are firmly and forever rooted within the social scientific findings of Dr. Karl Heinrich Marx, Frederick Engels and, to a lesser though no less important extent, Daniel DeLeon and nothing else, then, yes, I suppose that one could well-describe we Marxist-DeLeonists as "taking socialist principles to their extreme."
    With that having been said, for contextual purposes, Vidoqo, I should like to ask you to please list the titles of all of the original sources of Marxist literature - those penned by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels - that you have read.
    Thank you, sir.


    Too, if by chance there are people other than Randy, Vidoqo and myself who are reading these posts, will please let it be known by way of a quick "hello" or what have you?
    I thank you all.


    Guy Robert Marsh
    Lancaster California
    Member-at-large (since 1990):
    Socialist Labor Party of America (est. 1890)


  27. Guy, there was another from England, named Campbell.

    Vidoqo, meet my cousin, Guy. I told him about you not understanding socialism. Consider Guy an expert on that subject.

    Please pull up a chair and learn something. He has much he will share.

  28. Hi Guy, and welcome.

    I haven't actually read much actual classically socialist source material at all. I've read Marx's Communist Manifesto, but when I tried his more philosophical work it put me to sleep - as most philosophy tends to. I take full responsibility for being a lazy schmuck!

    However, I am pretty well versed in the political arguments for and against socialism, especially as it exists within present day capitalist societies. I find the term itself more useful as a general notion, one that incorporates both social and economic theory, much of which I think is firmly rooted in humankind's innate sense of compassion, and has been around in many forms across many societies since the dawn of time.