Taking a Straw Man to Its Logical Conclusion Leads Down a Slippery Slope

strawmanDan Riehl is in the cross-fire between Alan Colmes and MEDIAite over a rather bizarre argument:

I’m not sure I quite understand this, given that cost is so important as a burden to taxpayers when it comes to health care. If Democrats want so badly to abort babies because of it, why are we bothering with someone who has a broken neck and back at 69? It sounds to me like she’s pretty well used up and has probably been living off the taxpayers for plenty of years to begin with. Aren’t we at least going to get a vote on it?

He’s talking about Harry Reid’s wife, who was injured, along with their daughter, in a car accident last week. He continues:

Come on, Harry – do your civic duty. The nation’s broke and counting on you guy. Pull the plug and get back to work. And don’t bill us for a full day today, either. This is no time to be sloughing off. Air freight her home, you can bury her during recess on your own time and dime. Or are you going to bill us for that, too?

Now, aside from it being poor form to try to score cheap political points off the suffering of politicians’ families — Lara Reid isn’t the Senate Majority leader — the argument doesn’t even make sense on its face.  While I oppose the current health care reform plan, Reid and company are trying to extend care, not limit it.   For that matter, while I’m passionately against abortion in all but the most extreme cases, who’s arguing that it should be performed more often so that we can save money?  Certainly, not any Democrats I know.

Ah:  Dan links to another post, titled “Stupak: Dem Leadership Wants More Children Aborted To Cut Costs.” The substance:

What are Democratic leaders saying?“If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more. That’s one of the arguments I’ve been hearing,”Stupak says. “Money is their hang-up. Is this how we now value life in America? If money is the issue — come on, we can find room in the budget. This is life we’re talking about.”

I don’t know Bart Stupak well enough to dismiss this as a damnable lie.  So, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe someone who is technically a “Democratic leader” said something remotely like that.  Or that he honestly misunderstood someone as saying that.  Regardless, it’s a ridiculous distraction from the real debate: It’s not a significant reason why Democrats support either health care reform or abortion.

In an update, Dan links to a post by Rob Port titled, “Rep. Stupak: Pro-Choice Democrats Say Abortion Funding Needed To Keep Too Many Kids From Being Born” which in turn links to an older post titled “Pelosi: Free Condoms And Food Stamps Better For Economy Than Tax Cuts.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family-planning services. How is that stimulus?

PELOSI: Well, the family-planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now, and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those—one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.

Condoms reduce births and so do abortions.  So, since Pelosi supports giving out free condoms to reduce births, she obviously wants to encourage more abortions!  To save money!  QED.

Surely, we can argue against the Democrats based on their actual policy goals and/or the implications of their actual policy proposals?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John Cole says:

    Is this the first time you have read Dan Riehl in the last 6 years?

  2. steve says:

    There is a line, I can find it if you want, in the Senate bill which makes it illegal to factor in the costs saved from abortion instead of a delivery when insurance companies determine their costs.

    In 17 states, it is currently illegal for any insurance to pay for abortion. I think it is Stupak’s intention to spread this in a back door way through this bill. (The bill also states that states retain the right to make this decision.)

    Steve

  3. legion says:

    A lot of conservatives talk a good line about wanting to go back to an ‘earlier’ set of American values. I’m not saying we should go back to a time when people who said things like that should just get punched in the mouth on principle (tho god know if I was Harry Reid & was in the room when Reihl said that, he’d have needed some dental work), but if conservatives actually excluded vile d-bags like Reihl from ‘polite society’, I’d have something resembling respect for them.

  4. Michael says:

    Surely, we can argue against the Democrats based on their actual policy goals and/or the implications of their actual policy proposals?

    No,you can’t, because the actual differences between what Reid wants and what McConnell wants isn’t enough to get people marching in the streets. If you need to create a public uprising against a bill you oppose, you have to vilify anybody with even the slightest difference in opinion.

    People have real concerns in their lives these days: unemployment, foreclosure, illness. They don’t have time to worry about the intricate fiscal policy around a public option. But when it comes to killing babies for money, well that will get them motivated, won’t it?

  5. Dantheman says:

    “Surely, we can argue against the Democrats based on their actual policy goals and/or the implications of their actual policy proposals?”

    It would be a nice change, after a year of arguing over death panels, whether Barack Obama was born in this country, how the Democrats are trying to take away everyone’s guns, etc. Of course, that would require actually knowing the difference between a moderately liberal like Obama and a communist, something which escapes at least 90% of the Republicans I’ve seen on the internet, including the majority of the Republican commentators here.

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Additionally, you’ll get a lot more hits from being outrageous than by being reasonable. Note, for example, that Dan Riehl got the link.

  7. An Interested Party says:

    Wow! You mean the president isn’t a socialist!? Who knew…

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    No, no, no, you don’t kill babies to save money, you kill old people.

    Babies will grow up to be taxpayers. Old people just die expensively.

    It’s time to turn to that great and profound work of prophecy and moral philosophy: Soylent Green. Give old people a chance to enjoy a painless death while watching a nature documentary and listening to Beethoven’s Sixth. Then turn them into food.

    The one place where I think Soylent Green errs is in understating the need for some clever advertising. After all, the product soylent green isn’t just people, it’s old people, and that’s a hard sell even at Costco prices. So you’d need a slogan like, “Start each day with a heaping helping of ancient wisdom: Soylent Green.”

    Well, something like that. I’m not a copy writer.

  9. carpeicthus says:

    I hate that I even know who Dan Riehl is. How does he have a readership? Is it just the rubbernecking of people looking for the supidest man on the Internet?

  10. TangoMan says:

    The “inconvenient truth” that Riehl underscores with his bombastic rhetoric is that Congress has a.) exempted itself from ObamaCare and b.) all of the “death panel” type institutions which are designed to “bend the cost curve” won’t apply to political movers and shakers and their loved ones.

    If we, as a national insurance pool, have a finite amount of money to allocate for national health care, then a 69 year old woman with a broken back should be very far down the priority list in that the benefits that would accrue from treating her would not yield nearly as much to the national well-being as the benefits derived from deploying that same portion of the finite medical resources to the aid of a younger person.

    Riehl, like Jonathon Swift (of eating Irish baby fame), is making a point with satire. The Democrats are all keen on centralized intrusive bureaucratic decision making being applied to patients via ObamaCare standards and practices, so they should take their own medicine. Secondarily, there is a legitimacy to comment, even if it is in bad taste, in that when people are forced to pay for something for strangers they earn the right to become involved in the process. We see this intrusiveness in many government projects, nationally and internationally. Because medical care is being socialized, Riehl’s opinion on the treatment options for Reid’s wife take the same form as those of bureaucrats trying to influence or outright constrain options for patients, that is they are both interjecting themselves into a private decision because both parties, Riehl and government, are involved due to paying the bills for the patient.

  11. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Now that Madam Speaker has discovered the “reduces cost” excuse in regard to children, I wonder what she has in mind for old folks. And, as my dear old dad used to say, “There’s a difference between a reason and an excuse; an excuse is a bad reason.”

  12. Herb says:

    Surely, we can argue against the Democrats based on their actual policy goals and/or the implications of their actual policy proposals?

    Some people can’t. And those people are annoying.

    Tangoman’s way off the mark with his logic:

    then a 69 year old woman with a broken back should be very far down the priority list

    No, not even in the worst-case socialized medicine plan that exists only in your worst fears.

    But this is good to know, though:

    Riehl, like Jonathon Swift (of eating Irish baby fame), is making a point with satire.

    The good ole satire excuse. The thing about satire –real satire– is that it’s sincere. Sincerity is a rarity in certain quarters these days.

  13. TangoMan says:

    No, not even in the worst-case socialized medicine plan that exists only in your worst fears.

    If this exists only in my worst fears, then what to make of President Obama’s chief medical adviser writing this in the Lancet:

    “However, other things are rarely equal—whether to save one 20-year-old, who might live another 60 years, if saved, or three 70-year-olds, who could only live for another 10 years each—is unclear.” In fact, Dr. Emanuel makes a clear choice: “When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get changes that are attenuated (see Dr. Emanuel’s chart nearby).

    Dr. Emanuel concedes that his plan appears to discriminate against older people, but he explains: “Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination. . . . Treating 65 year olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.”

  14. An Interested Party says:

    Because medical care is being socialized, Riehl’s opinion on the treatment options for Reid’s wife take the same form as those of bureaucrats trying to influence or outright constrain options for patients, that is they are both interjecting themselves into a private decision because both parties, Riehl and government, are involved due to paying the bills for the patient.

    Is there really a need to use a lie, that medical care is supposedly being socialized, to excuse Riehl’s odious comments? I guess some people might believe in…

    Surely, we can argue against the Democrats based on their actual policy goals and/or the implications of their actual policy proposals?

    …but obviously not everyone who comments on this site…

  15. TangoMan says:

    Is there really a need to use a lie, that medical care is supposedly being socialized,

    Dude, if medical insurance wasn’t being socialized then every person would be paying for their own consumption of medical services and paying for coverage of catastrophic risk. The fact that many people want to consume more in medical services than they are willing to pay for, and want to stick strangers with their bill, means, in fact, that medical care IS being socialized. Own it.

  16. john personna says:

    The fact that we’ve had medicare (and state programs) for a half-century means that medical care has been socialized. Own it.

    For what it’s worth I’ve grown pretty apathetic about this whole health care cycle. It’s not because either side’s policies are bad, it’s that neither side bothers to make that much sense. Policies aren’t defined enough to be good or bad.

    And yes the bizarre game, that new programs are socialist while medicare is not, is one symptom.

  17. Janis Gore says:

    I’m still thinking about costs.

    I’ve seen two accounts that colonoscopies cost 12 grand, on paper.

    Down here I had a femoral hernia corrected for about $7,000, cash.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    Medical care has been socialized for the old and for the poor young.

    There is zero chance of the old giving up their socialized health care. Zero. And since the old people are far and away the most expensive segment, and since they are growing in number at an amazing clip, we’re going to have more socialized medical care in the future.

    The question is how to manage this reality. Probably the easiest way to cope is to simply allow a medicare buy-in from the non-elderly. But if we did that then the health insurers would stop making giant piles of money. And of course that is the most important thing: that insurance company executives keep their private jets.

    Everything the GOP is saying and doing has one single, focused objective: keep Cigna and Aetna and BC/BS executives in their private jets. That is the beginning, middle and end of the GOP’s plan.

    So far the forces of status quo have killed off single payer, and the medicare buy-in, and the public option. Now they are hoping to kill any reform at all. Because why? Because Cigna executives don’t like to fly coach. That’s why. Everything else you hear from the right is pure essence of bullsh*t.

  19. legion says:

    The fact that many people want to consume more in medical services than they are willing to pay for, and want to stick strangers with their bill, means, in fact, that medical care IS being socialized. Own it.

    You have _got_ to be kidding me. Yeah, lots of people out there are just _desperate_ to consume more health care than they’re _willing_ to pay for. Get real. Health care, especially catastrophic health care, is _not_ a simple consumer product like a car or a TV set – it’s a necessity of life. I _want_ a PS3, but if I’ve got a hot appendix, I _need_ to have surgery or I’m gonna die. Period.

    Health care is so insanely expensive, even for run-of-the-mill procedures, that it _must_ be subsidized to a significant extent. Or are you really of the opinion that people who can’t afford a $10k operation or a $150k ICU stay at the drop of a hat really aren’t any concern of society when they die?

    Let me explain this once more: If big-‘s’ Society decides it’s worthwhile to subsidize the cost of something, that’s the choice of a free society, not socialism. If every company in the entire insurance industry can’t offer a product most consumers can afford, they should go out of business. That’s not socialism either, it’s a basic principle of capitalism. If the only reason the insurance industry hasn’t had to either change its basic operational concept is a bullsh*t antitrust exemption and additional freebies provided by the government – in direct opposition to the overwhelming desire and best interests of the voting citizenry – that’s socialism.

  20. TangoMan says:

    Get real. Health care, especially catastrophic health care, is _not_ a simple consumer product like a car or a TV set – it’s a necessity of life. I _want_ a PS3, but if I’ve got a hot appendix, I _need_ to have surgery or I’m gonna die. Period.

    Health care is absolutely a consumer good. We all benefit from having our nation’s borders defended. We all benefit from having a military protect our nation. Only you benefit from having your psoriasis treated or having your tonsils taken out. If a physician is treating you, then they’re not treating someone else. Why should some stranger be forced to pay for your consumption of a private good? They’re not better off as they would be with their funding of a public good.

    Was the care provided 20 years ago, in 1990, abysmal? If people want to save on medical treatment, they shouldn’t all demand to be treated with the latest and greatest, and therefore most expensive, procedures.

    Health care is so insanely expensive, even for run-of-the-mill procedures, that it _must_ be subsidized to a significant extent.

    This is insane. Mansions are also insanely expensive, as are Ferraris, so anyone who wants to consume them should also demand that others subsidize their consumption. Right? After all, like medical care, the consumption of these consumer goods also doesn’t benefit the public, only benefiting the designated consumer.

    Or are you really of the opinion that people who can’t afford a $10k operation or a $150k ICU stay at the drop of a hat really aren’t any concern of society when they die?

    People seem quite able to finance new cars, big screen tv’s, vacations, etc, so over their life cycle, starting in their late teens or early twenties, when they are generally healthy, they should be socking away money for just such mid-range medical procedures and also buying catastrophic insurance for the roll-of-the-dice huge medical catastrophe.

    Michael,

    Medical care has been socialized for the old and for the poor young.

    I agree.

    There is zero chance of the old giving up their socialized health care. Zero. And since the old people are far and away the most expensive segment, and since they are growing in number at an amazing clip, we’re going to have more socialized medical care in the future.

    I agree.

    The question is how to manage this reality. Probably the easiest way to cope is to simply allow a medicare buy-in from the non-elderly.

    I agree that the question is indeed how to manage this reality, but considering that Medicare has something like a $64 trillion unfunded liability at present, I believe that your solution is akin to throwing gasoline onto a fire that you’re trying to put out.

    Here’s my working premise – Every citizen, averaged out, should over the course of their lives, pay forward medical savings and then withdraw medical expenses, so that, again on average, they’ve paid for their own consumption of the medical services that they’ve consumed. We have to make provision for people who are born chronically ill, or become chronically ill at some point in their life before they’ve been able to accumulate enough medical savings to fund their care for the remainder of their lives, but such people don’t account for the majority of us.

    It is unconscionable that people, on average, are consuming more in medical services than they are paying for over their life span. This type of arrangement is UNSUSTAINABLE.

    The solution is to introduce price signals into medical shopping and treatment, to introduce different levels of medical care, just as we see different levels of quality and quantity for every other type of consumer good and service and lastly, we need to divorce the consumption of medical care from “comprehensive insurance” and reserve insurance for its most apt purpose, paying for unforeseen medical events.

  21. legion says:

    Health care is absolutely a consumer good. We all benefit from having our nation’s borders defended. We all benefit from having a military protect our nation. Only you benefit from having your psoriasis treated or having your tonsils taken out. If a physician is treating you, then they’re not treating someone else. Why should some stranger be forced to pay for your consumption of a private good? They’re not better off as they would be with their funding of a public good.

    Well, this is where we vehemently differ on principle. When someone dies (or becomes an invalid, or even just can’t work for a few weeks) more than just that person suffers. Yes, their family suffers from both the emotional and financial hardship, but when things like this happen – things that could otherwise be treated quickly or even prevented altogether – society in general does suffer because that person no longer contributes to society. And everyone does benefit from an environment where every working person doesn’t have to worry constantly about any little stumble being a death sentence (more on that later). Or are you going to argue that anyone truly valuable to society already has (by definition) an huge salary and lots of dough stashed away for a rainy day?

    It is unconscionable that people, on average, are consuming more in medical services than they are paying for over their life span. This type of arrangement is UNSUSTAINABLE.

    Wrong. What’s unsustainable is the enormous _price_ of healthcare. There are lots of things that drive that, and insurance is only one factor. Providers are not the only part of the economic equation, Tango – you have to look at the consumers as well, and if your product bankrupts consumers, then the providers are the ones who need to do the adapting. Hospitals, HMOs, doctors, med schools can all adapt to making less money. Joe Sixpack can’t adapt to a broken hip or a sucking chest wound.

    And I still say healthcare is NOT a consumer good, any more than food is. Yes, there are some kinds of food I can’t always afford, but can’t live without any food at all. Likewise, if I have a car wreck & put my head into the window, maybe I can’t afford the plastic surgery to make me beautiful, but I can’t afford not to have the skull fracture fixed.

    But lets look at it from your angle for a second… I mentioned appendectomies earlier – one of the most common, routine procedures around. And if it’s needed, you don’t have any alternative but to die in horrific pain. And without any kind of insurance, that ‘basic’ procedure probably runs between $10-$20 grand. How many people do you know, making less than $200k/year, could afford to pull $20k out of thin air without it destroying their lives? Let alone $100k+ for a significant problem.

    And even if the guy can afford it, then what? If he’s on his back in a hospital room for a few weeks, and in physical therapy for months, he’s not going to have much of a job left when he’s better.What happens if he (or just anyone in his family) gets sick a second time? Ever? Unless they have an enormous supply of money that’s not dependent on a job, they die, that’s what happens. In that system, if you want to live past about 50, you better have inherited a few hundred mil from the folks.

    And what does that do to the economy in general? If people really need to worry about keeping huge sums of cash in incredibly safe & conservative (i.e., low-interest) storage, that money will be effectively removed from the system – contributing nothing, buying nothing, and weighing down the entire country. Now that’s ‘unsustainable’.

    So yeah – a more public system where costs for everyone who _does_ use a system are shared by everyone who _might need_ that system might result in some super-healthy folks never needing what they’ve paid for, and some unlucky folks using more than their fair share. Boo-frickin’-hoo. The whole philosophical concept of ‘society’ is built around sharing costs as well as benefits, and it works because the benefits are vastly greater that way – and benefits include more than just cash. You don’t like it? Go meet up with John Galt on his big old ranch. You won’t be missed.

  22. steve says:

    “The solution is to introduce price signals into medical shopping and treatment, to introduce different levels of medical care, just as we see different levels of quality and quantity for every other type of consumer good and service and lastly, we need to divorce the consumption of medical care from “comprehensive insurance” and reserve insurance for its most apt purpose, paying for unforeseen medical events.”

    The current bill requires hospitals to publicly post their prices. What model are you using for the rest of your proscribed fix? Where in the world does this work?

    Steve

  23. Michael says:

    People seem quite able to finance new cars, big screen tv’s, vacations, etc, so over their life cycle, starting in their late teens or early twenties, when they are generally healthy, they should be socking away money for just such mid-range medical procedures and also buying catastrophic insurance for the roll-of-the-dice huge medical catastrophe.

    The average age for first-time parents in 25. The average cost of delivery, without complications, it around $10,000. Add a few thousand on top of that for prenatal care. The average salary for someone that young is about $24,000/year. Calculate how much the average person would have to save per year to be able to afford their first child out of pocket.

    I was 23 when my son was born, making about $22,000/year (below national average, but not bad for the south). Thanks to a week-long NICU stay, the total cost of his birth was over $100,000. Calculate how much I would have had to save per year to afford _my_ first child.

  24. Herb says:

    Health care is absolutely a consumer good. We all benefit from having our nation’s borders defended. We all benefit from having a military protect our nation. Only you benefit from having your psoriasis treated or having your tonsils taken out.

    Yet more horsepuckey from Tangoman. It’s real easy to say “health care is a consumer good” when we’re talking about psoriasis.

    But what if we’re talking about drug-resistant TB? Go ahead, Tangoman, say “Only you benefit from having your drug-resistant TB treated.” I dare you.

    I mention this only because Tangoman is treading down this path because of his partisan loyalties. (You’re still ruggedly behind Sarah Palin, right T?) Not because of some principled stand on how health care ought to function.

    It’s what allowed him such a huge blindspot in his “only you benefit from your getting your highly communicable disease treated” line.

    It’s more complicated than that, Tangoman, and I think you’ve been listening to the wrong people. (That Betsy McConaughey article you linked did nothing to loosen this impression.)

    With that said, some pushback on what Michael said here:

    Everything the GOP is saying and doing has one single, focused objective: keep Cigna and Aetna and BC/BS executives in their private jets.

    That may be true of Boehner and others, but I don’t think that explains guys like Tangoman. Boehner knows that looking out for Cigna and Aetna might get him some nice campaign contributions, and he’ll have fun on that junket, and maybe when he leaves office he can settled into a nice lucrative lobbying job.

    But what’s Tangoman get out of the deal? He’s going to get screwed over by Cigna/Aetna like the rest of us. Why does he have such a hard-on for killing health reform?

    I think it comes down to ideas. Unfortunately, I don’t think the idea is any more complicated than “I’m against Barack Obama’s agenda.”

    They’ll get over it. I survived GWB, and they’ll survive BHO.

  25. TangoMan says:

    The average age for first-time parents in 25. The average cost of delivery, without complications, it around $10,000. Add a few thousand on top of that for prenatal care. The average salary for someone that young is about $24,000/year. Calculate how much the average person would have to save per year to be able to afford their first child out of pocket.

    There are plenty of 25 year olds who are driving new cars ($20,000+) and living in nice apartments ($1,000+ month rent) or living in condos ($200,000) so being able to save or borrow $10,000 doesn’t seem unattainable.

    Hospitals, HMOs, doctors, med schools can all adapt to making less money.

    With the ultimate consumers of healthcare divorced from the price of the services that they consume, how exactly do you expect this rationalization process to unfold? By fiat?

    How many people do you know, making less than $200k/year, could afford to pull $20k out of thin air without it destroying their lives? Let alone $100k+ for a significant problem.

    If your life and good health isn’t worth the disruption to your life of finding & liquidating $20,000 of your net worth, then why should I, a stranger, give a damn about your life and disrupt my life to partially fund your medical care? This money doesn’t just magically appear to pay for your medical care, it has to be forcibly extracted from strangers, most of whom have better uses for that money, uses which add significant utility to their lives. Why should your life and health mean more sacrifice to me than to you? As for the $100,000 medical event, that’s what catastrophic insurance should be for.

    But what if we’re talking about drug-resistant TB? Go ahead, Tangoman, say “Only you benefit from having your drug-resistant TB treated.” I dare you.

    Expenditures on public health, like vaccination and treatment of infectious disease clearly benefit the public and should be paid for by the public. Treating your foot fungus doesn’t benefit me at all.

    But what’s Tangoman get out of the deal?

    That’s a simple question to answer – good governance and solid principles. Under our socialized medicine schemes we’ve promised to deliver $64 trillion more in medical services to our seniors than we’ve collected in fees and this compares to pre-crash total home equity in the US of $20 trillion. Living high on the hog only works for a while and as always with socialism, you eventually run out of other people’s money to spend.

  26. UlyssesUnbound says:

    There are plenty of 25 year olds who are driving new cars ($20,000+) and living in nice apartments ($1,000+ month rent) or living in condos ($200,000) so being able to save or borrow $10,000 doesn’t seem unattainable.

    Do you have any actual numbers? Or are you just assuming there are “plenty.”

    There are “plenty” of 25 year olds working their ass off, living within their means, and just getting by.

  27. The Q says:

    Tangoman:

    You write: “centralized intrusive bureaucratic decision making being applied to patients”…and I guess you are no doubt referring to the insurance companies no?

    Tman, your ideas = the black dude at Altamont…libs countering your argument = the Hells Angels at Altamont..

    I guess I don’t need to tell you your ideas are getting stomped on and bashed in with pool cues.

    Look, I think everyone would love for the market to furnish health care at reasonable rates with universal coverage, but, like water and electricity, this private model is poorly suited for the task.

    This is why no other country in the developed world has followed our model.

    Is it because they are all idiots? Or because they don’t think families should go bankrupt (50% of U.S. bankruptcies due to such bills)because of medical bills?

    It just a small segment of Republican conservative free marketers who, like the alchemists of the past, just can’t give up on anachronistic ideas?

    However, I will give credit to Darrel Issa congressperson from San Diego county (and repub) who said, “why can’t we talk about spending less money but getting better results from our healthcare industry?”

    He is right.

    Canada, Germany, the UK, Japan, spend between 9% – 11% of GDP on health care, the U.S. going on 18%.

    Just think of all the moronic right wing criticisms of the Canadian health industry (10 year wait for hip replacement etc.)…riddle me this batman, what kind of system would Canada have if they DOUBLED their budget for health insurance?

  28. TangoMan says:

    You write: “centralized intrusive bureaucratic decision making being applied to patients”…and I guess you are no doubt referring to the insurance companies no?

    No, insurance companies would be the decentralized version of intrusive bureaucratic decision making. Don’t like one, then find another.

    Look, I think everyone would love for the market to furnish health care at reasonable rates with universal coverage, but, like water and electricity, this private model is poorly suited for the task.

    This is why no other country in the developed world has followed our model.

    What you’re using here is the Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

    The more parsimonious explanation is that people like to get free stuff and stick other people with the bill and they’re willing to use mob rule (democracy) to achieve their goal.

  29. Michael says:

    There are plenty of 25 year olds who are driving new cars ($20,000+) and living in nice apartments ($1,000+ month rent) or living in condos ($200,000) so being able to save or borrow $10,000 doesn’t seem unattainable.

    If you can’t make your car payments, they take your car back. If you can’t make your rent, they take your apartment back. If you can’t pay your mortgage, they take your condo back. If you can’t pay your baby loan….

    I don’t like the direction you want to take this.

  30. Wayne says:

    Re “Babies will grow up to be taxpayers”

    Not all of them and some who are cost more than they put in.

    A little nitpicking but a “reason” is why something happens or didn’t while an “excuse” is an attempt to avoid responsibility of something happing or not.

    While I’m nitpicking James, you don’t know Stupak enough to draw a solid conclusion but you know all Democrats enough to know that it can’t be a significant reason for them to support abortion. I also like the way you gave him a “benefit of the doubt” while leading on like he is lying or ‘mistaken”. How about giving him a “benefit of the doubt” that maybe he is telling the truth?

    Many of you wail about how so call “Death Panels” being a complete lie. What happen when demand for heath care goes above supply? It has to be ration as it is in most socialized medicine countries. Even today in the private world, many insured people cannot get all the testing and care they desire.

  31. TangoMan says:

    If you can’t make your car payments, they take your car back. If you can’t make your rent, they take your apartment back. If you can’t pay your mortgage, they take your condo back. If you can’t pay your baby loan

    You left out a few examples:

    If you can’t repay the loan you used to fund your vacation trip to Europe, they take away your memories and experiences.

    If you can’t repay the loan you used to fund your education, they take away all of the knowledge you gained in university.

  32. Michael says:

    You left out a few examples:

    I was addressing the examples you gave, so technically you left them out.

    If you can’t repay the loan you used to fund your vacation trip to Europe, they take away your memories and experiences.

    Having never been to Europe, or ever taking on a loan for a vacation, I have no idea how this works. But surely you have to put up something.

    If you can’t repay the loan you used to fund your education, they take away all of the knowledge you gained in university.

    This is more of a gamble, education loans are premised on the fact that those with a college degree are more likely to repay loans. They also have extremely low interest rates, long payoff periods, and are often backed by government assurances. Is this the kind of thing you propose we use to fund the delivery of babies?

  33. The Q says:

    Tangoman,

    You write: “people like to get free stuff and stick other people with the bill”

    You remind me of a guy at a bar who keeps insisting that the bartender is watering down his drinks…after being falsely accused repeatedly the bartender responds..”look buddy, the only reason you’re accusing me of watering the drinks is because if you were a bartender that’s what YOU would be doing.

    Tman, I think you are afraid everyone behaves as you do i.e. screw over everybody else in a Manichean struggle, hence your cynical worldview, which excludes the possibility that perhaps you are totally misguided.

    And to completely show your ignorance of the real world of insurance bureaucracy, you belch..”insurance companies would be the decentralized version of intrusive bureaucratic decision making. Don’t like one, then find another.”

    And just how much interaction have you actually had with insurance companies, especially if you have a “pre-existing” condition or are on COBRA?

    Your advice of “find another one” reminds me of the old Steve Martin line:

    “you can make a million dollars and not pay any taxes..I repeat you can make a million dollars and not pay any taxes. …but you say, Steve, how can I make a million dollars and not pay any taxes?

    “Well,simple, first get a million dollars….”

    Great, useless advice.

  34. TangoMan says:

    Is this the kind of thing you propose we use to fund the delivery of babies?

    What I propose is really quite simple. Most people don’t have babies every year, so the cost of childbirth isn’t an annual recurring expense, which means that one year there will be a significant increase in medical costs which follows years in which there may have been very minor medical costs as well as forthcoming years of modest costs. What is expended in one expensive year is saved in other years.

    Secondly, childbirth does cost money, so where does that money come from?

    Thirdly, insurance should be insurance, rather than a “pay for everything” type of plan.

    Fourthly, a marketplace can provide you, the medical consumer, with a host of different plans with different deductibles, so that childbirth expenses can be managed over a long time horizon rather than expensed as a one-time fee.

    There is a truism here – everyone doesn’t experience above-average medical expenses every year.

  35. TangoMan says:

    “look buddy, the only reason you’re accusing me of watering the drinks is because if you were a bartender that’s what YOU would be doing.

    As the system stands now, Medicare owes $64 trillion more to retirees and future retirees than they expect to collect in premiums.

    The math here is simple – people are consuming more in medical care in their retirement years than they’ve prepaid for via medicare taxes over the course of their working lives. So, when I describe the process of people wanting to get something and sticking others with the bill and using the ballot box to achieve this goal, I’m describing a very real dynamic.

  36. TangoMan says:

    screw over everybody else in a Manichean struggle

    Hey, when you buy a house, or a car, or a 60 inch TV, or go on vacation, or enroll your kids in a private school, or go to fine restaurant, or you screwing over everyone else in a Manichean struggle?

    You and other progressives should really familiarize yourself with “The Progressive’s Dilemma”:

    And therein lies one of the central dilemmas of political life in developed societies: sharing and solidarity can conflict with diversity. This is an especially acute dilemma for progressives who want plenty of both solidarity (high social cohesion and generous welfare paid out of a progressive tax system) and diversity (equal respect for a wide range of peoples, values and ways of life). The tension between the two values is a reminder that serious politics is about trade-offs. It also suggests that the left’s recent love affair with diversity may come at the expense of the values and even the people that it once championed.

    It was the Conservative politician David Willetts who drew my attention to the “progressive dilemma”. Speaking at a roundtable on welfare reform, he said: “The basis on which you can extract large sums of money in tax and pay it out in benefits is that most people think the recipients are people like themselves, facing difficulties that they themselves could face. If values become more diverse, if lifestyles become more differentiated, then it becomes more difficult to sustain the legitimacy of a universal risk-pooling welfare state. People ask: ‘Why should I pay for them when they are doing things that I wouldn’t do?’ This is America versus Sweden. You can have a Swedish welfare state provided that you are a homogeneous society with intensely shared values. In the United States you have a very diverse, individualistic society where people feel fewer obligations to fellow citizens. Progressives want diversity, but they thereby undermine part of the moral consensus on which a large welfare state rests.” . . . .

    Yet it is also true that Scandinavian countries with the biggest welfare states have been the most socially and ethnically homogeneous states in the west. By the same token, the welfare state has always been weaker in the individualistic, ethnically divided US compared with more homogeneous Europe. And the three bursts of welfarist legislation that the US did see – Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, Harry Truman’s Fair Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society – came during the long pause in mass immigration between the first world war and 1968. . . . .

    . . .
    So a disproportionate amount of tax income spent on welfare is going to minorities. The paper also finds that US states that are more ethnically fragmented than average spend less on social services. The authors conclude that Americans think of the poor as members of a different group, whereas Europeans still think of the poor as members of the same group. Robert Putnam, the analyst of social capital, has also found a link between high ethnic mix and low trust in the US. There is some British evidence supporting this link, too. Researchers at Mori found that the average level of satisfaction with local authorities declines steeply as the extent of ethnic fragmentation increases. Even allowing for the fact that areas of high ethnic mix tend to be poorer, Mori found that ethnic fractionalisation still had a substantial negative impact on attitudes to local government.

    You can’t conjure up feelings of community involvement and social cohesiveness in a society where progressives are working their hardest to undermine social cohesiveness by amping up diversity. If you chose diversity, then you sacrifice social cohesiveness, which means that dudes like me don’t want to help fund your foot fungus treatments. If you want dudes like me to pay for your foot fungus treatments then you have to create a social and political environment which works to build social cohesiveness and that type of environment is a death sentence for diversity.

  37. The Q says:

    Thanks Tangoman, ah, now its clear, the truth comes out, you’re nothing more than an ordinary, run of the mill closet bigot.

    I know a lot of pathetic folks like you, taking solace in social theories which intellectualize the hate you feel in democratic institutions which seek to put a stop to this madness of white supremacy.

    Listen ahole, I lived next door to a black family in 1975, in a lily white neighborhood in LA.

    After a cross burning and their cadillac being vandalized twice, they got the f*uc%k out of there.

    I still feel sick thinking about the horror this must have been to them. And the hatred and unfounded anger that resided in the white folk in my neighborhood.

    Don’t lecture me on “dudes like me don’t want to help fund your foot fungus treatments”

    I understand where your dark heart truly resides.

    If your ilk held sway back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, this country would be a heap of dog shit.

    I’ve lived the nightmare of your warped world view, seen it played out in all its gruesome reality.

    LBJ was right when, in a melancholy moment he wailed, “i realize that by passing the civil rights act, we have lost the south for a generation”

    What he meant was by doing the right thing, he had given the white supremacist racists the rope with which to hang the Democratic party, since fearful little men would scapegoat “diversity” to mask their own failings.

  38. TangoMan says:

    Thanks Tangoman, ah, now its clear, the truth comes out, you’re nothing more than an ordinary, run of the mill closet bigot.

    It never fails – when a progressive is losing an argument they resort to name calling. Look, the point here is your call for further socializing medical delivery is lacking the social cohesiveness a society requires to make such a system legitimate. You can bark at the moon all night long, but your barking doesn’t change this fact. The US is a very diverse and individualistic society, and to pretend that we’re just like the Czech Republic or Finland is fantasy.

    Even if that fundamental concern was solved, you’re still calling for massive income redistribution in that most people are consuming more in medical services, over their lives, than they’ve paid for, and this for a very personal consumer good that doesn’t benefit society as do public goods, so the legitimacy of getting some in society to pay so that strangers can finance the consumption of personal consumers goods and services is another bar to legitimacy that needs to be crossed.

    Reform is definitely needed but the progressive plan is, at this moment in our nation’s fiscal history, akin to throwing gasoline onto a raging fire.

  39. The Q says:

    Tangoman,

    This “lacking the social cohesiveness a society requires to make such a system legitimate.” is bullshit.

    YOU can keep harping on this tired old shibboleth “pretend that we’re just like the Czech Republic or Finland is fantasy” all you want…its a trite, formulaic rant of the right intended to legitimize your bigotry.

    You revealed your true colors by bringing this whole diversity screed up….why don’t you just come out and say I don’t want to pay for lazy nig*gers” healthcare.

    I would have alot more respect for you.

    Yes, reform is definitely needed…the reform that conservative Repubs have steadfastly refused to enact when they had the power to do so the last 20 years.

    And now, the infants on the right, instead of debating the real issues, obfuscate with death panels, Obamacare, Sarah Palin’s folksy inanities etc.

  40. TangoMan says:

    . . .its a trite, formulaic rant of the right intended to legitimize your bigotry.

    What’s trite is when progressives believe that they’re more caring and giving people by voting to spend other people’s money on their pet projects. That doesn’t make you more compassionate, more caring, more giving, more involved, etc than conservatives. If you want to prove your compassionate bona fides then voluntarily send your own money to the Federal Government or donate 10% more on top of your taxes to your local hospital. Your personal sacrifice will buy you your credibility on the issue of compassion.

    You revealed your true colors by bringing this whole diversity screed up

    If you want to solve a problem you first need to understand it. To look at social welfare schemes in the international arena which have high legitimacy and think that that same legitimacy can be developed in the US severely misreads the underlying conditions which lead to the acceptance and legitimacy of such schemes. It’s not the schemes that impart the legitimacy, it’s a combination of factors, one of which is the high level of social cohesion in the host society. The US is a very individualistic nation and you can bark at the moon from now until doomsday and that is highly unlikely to change.

    If you really want to develop a solution that will generate buy-in from a diverse public, then you need to make serious accommodation to this fact.

  41. floyd says:

    Given enough time, a hypothetical chimpanzee typing at random would, as part of its output, almost surely produce all of Shakespeare’s plays… let’s keep it up, you just never know!!

  42. Michael says:

    Given enough time, a hypothetical chimpanzee typing at random would, as part of its output, almost surely produce all of Shakespeare’s plays…

    No need for the “almost surely” when you have “given enough time”. That’s the point of the thought experiment.

  43. floyd says:

    In probability theory, one says that an event happens almost surely (a.s.) if it happens with probability one. The concept is analogous to the concept of “almost everywhere” in measure theory. While there is no difference between almost surely and surely (that is, entirely certain to happen) in many basic probability experiments, the distinction is important in more complex cases relating to some sort of infinity. For instance, the term is often encountered in questions that involve infinite time, regularity properties or infinite-dimensional spaces such as function spaces. Basic examples of use include the law of large numbers (strong form) or continuity of Brownian paths.
    For example, imagine throwing a dart at a unit square wherein the dart will impact exactly one point, and imagine that this square is the only thing in the universe. There is physically nowhere else for the dart to land. Then, the event that “the dart hits the square” is a sure event. No other alternative is imaginable.

    Next, consider the event that “the dart hits the diagonal of the unit square exactly”. The probability that the dart lands on any subregion of the square is proportional to the area of that subregion. But, since the area of the diagonal of the square is zero, the probability that the dart lands exactly on the diagonal is zero. So, the dart will almost surely not land on the diagonal. Nonetheless the set of points on the diagonal is not empty and a point on the diagonal is no less possible than any other point.

    The same may be said of any point on the square. Any such point P will contain zero area and so will have zero probability of being hit by the dart. However, the dart clearly must hit the square somewhere. Therefore, in this case, it is not only possible or imaginable that an event with zero probability will occur; one must occur. Thus, we would not want to say we were certain that a given event would not occur, but rather almost certain.

    We’re almost surely getting closer with each keystroke…perhaps,tomorrow, or tomorrow, or tomorrow?

  44. Steve Verdon says:

    FYI: Medicare’s imbalance is now at $89 trillion.

    http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba662

    Public Goods, Externalities, and Private Goods:
    And Tangoman is largely correct, health care is a private consumer good, not a public good. Some aspects of health care may have a postive external benefit (innoculations that reduce the incidence of a disease makes it less likely even the non-inoculated contract the disease), but that means we subsidize those aspects of health care not all of them.

    Child Birth
    This is not something that should be insured since it is something most people actively work towards. It is like insisting on insurance for a demolition derby. If you want to have a child pay the costs out of your pocket. If you can’t afford it, well then don’t have children.

    Reasonable Prices:
    I love this one, it usually can be translated as, a price I want to pay, not the one I have to pay.

    Posting Hospital Prices:
    Another fun one some love to post, however, if I’m not paying that price why do I give a shit?

    YOU can keep harping on this tired old shibboleth “pretend that we’re just like the Czech Republic or Finland is fantasy” all you want…its a trite, formulaic rant of the right intended to legitimize your bigotry.

    No, it is one that Dave Schuler has also brought up in regards to health care systems like Singapore, the Netherlands, and other European countries you going to call him a racist too? What if Dave Schuler right? What if a homogenous society can move towards a given system that a more heterogenous society cannot? Take for example the Swiss, perhaps one reason why their health care system is not as in bad a shape as the U.S. is cultural…a culture that is not the same as the U.S.? What then?

  45. Michael says:

    If you want to have a child pay the costs out of your pocket. If you can’t afford it, well then don’t have children.

    Oh, good idea. Unfortunately people won’t stop having sex because their poor. I guess we can just refuse to provide prenatal or delivery care for poor folks (or bring up the ‘A’ word), certainly that would reduce the number of poor folks after a few generations.

    However, it also means that our population would be greatly reduced. This means that our national production would decline. And when everyone born is born to wealth, it’s going to be awfully hard to recruit an all volunteer military.

    Even with that aside, the risk of birth defects increases with the age of the parents. If we require a decade more of saving before people procreate, we’ll have a much larger percentage of children born with genetic problems.

    Or, you give up a little bit of your hard earned money to give every child born an opportunity to do something great for this country. I know it’s asking a lot, for you to contribute to something that doesn’t benefit you proportionately. I have no interest in wealth redistribution, really I don’t, but sometimes what’s good for the country isn’t good for you. When that happens, you either be a patriot, or an ex-patriot, its your choice.

  46. Herb says:

    health care is a private consumer good, not a public good.

    I think this is debatable in a lot of areas, and it’s a debate that will be rendered moot the second a mandate is signed into law.

    But that’s next week. Let’s talk about this week.

    Is Tangoman correct that he’s paying for someone else’s healthcare? In the big re-distributive scheme of things, probably.

    But when you pay your insurance premiums and your co-pays, who’s healthcare are you really paying for?

    Your own.

    Maybe Tangoman can provide the names of all the people who are getting healthcare on his dime. Not just the amorphous “well, someone is, probably someone I don’t even like!” Let’s get some names.

  47. Herb says:

    Oh yeah, like Michael, Steve’s comment is somewhat laughable:

    “If you can’t afford it, well then don’t have children.”

    If we all lived in a world ruled by reason and perfect judgment…but we don’t. Indeed, the last thing on most people’s mind while they’re engaging in the act of conceiving a child is to wonder whether they can afford it. It’s not a poor or rich thing. It’s a biological thing.

    And your definition of “reasonable prices” is correct. Why sneer at it?

    If a hospital wants to charge ten bucks for a couple of aspirin, that’s their prerogative. But, in theory, I don’t have to pay it. I can suffer the headache, go to Walgreens and buy a bottle of aspirin, or see if I can find someone down in the lobby with a bottle in their purse.

    But what am I going to do when I have breast cancer and need a double mastectomy? Or I just got into a car accident and my spleen is leaking out of the hole in my gut? Am I going to shop around for the best deal?

    And why is it suddenly unreasonable to expect not to get ripped off?

  48. TangoMan says:

    I guess we can just refuse to provide prenatal or delivery care for poor folks (or bring up the ‘A’ word), certainly that would reduce the number of poor folks after a few generations.

    However, it also means that our population would be greatly reduced. This means that our national production would decline. And when everyone born is born to wealth, it’s going to be awfully hard to recruit an all volunteer military.

    I applaud your effort to develop a chain of reasoning, but you skip over too many points that, if considered, would invalidate many of your conclusions.

    -If you’re an environmentalist, then you should be applauding efforts at reducing population.

    -Yes, with fewer people our aggregate national production will decline, but as the comparison between China and the US illustrates, would you rather be a citizen in a nation with 1,300 million people with a per capita income of $8,000 or in a nation with 300 million people with a per capita income of $40,000?

    In a nutshell, when a poor person produces economic value of, let’s say, $20,000 but the social costs they impose on society are $40,000, then society, strictly from an economic point of view, is losing ground by fostering the growth of an underclass.

    If we require a decade more of saving before people procreate, we’ll have a much larger percentage of children born with genetic problems.

    Look, you don’t help your case by exaggerating your arguments. If we each become responsible for our own consumption of run-of-the-mill health care, then the current health insurance premiums that we pay would no longer be as exorbitant, and what you save on monthly insurance premiums could be applied to your expected child birth delivery expenses.

    Fact is, once people account for the expenses of providing themselves with food and the most basic of shelter and the most basic of transportation, it doesn’t take much time at all to save $10,000. It’s just a matter of prioritizing how you spend your income beyond the very basics of survival. If you want to become a parent then you need to save some money and not spend it on a big screen tv, or dvd rentals, or going out to dinner, or whatever.

    Or, you give up a little bit of your hard earned money to give every child born an opportunity to do something great for this country.

    What poppycock. I’d rather spend the money I earn to on giving MY children or my nieces and nephews and my neighbors kids or the needy kids that intersect my life who I want to help, the opportunity to do something great for this country. This is an issue of opportunity costs. The money that your forcibly extract from my, via the coercive power of government is money that I can’t spend as I chose. Which means that my kids may need to take figure skating lessons in group classes rather than with private coaches, or they may have to go to public school rather than private school, or that I can’t afford to take them on a 6 month tour of the world to broaden their horizons and instead will have to take them to the local museum as a poor substitute. Most every parent is faced with resource limitations on what they can spend on their loved ones. Instead, liberal busybodies feel qualified to determine how a portion of the money I earn in free exchange of labor for money is to be spent for the best outcome. The money that is taken from me via coercion is money I can’t spend as I think best, and frankly I know how to spend my income to achieve greater good for me and my loved ones that does Obama and Pelosi and Reid.

    Look, there are plenty of kids in Africa who die from starvation, and it’s quite evident that the majority of the world is not willing to lift a finger to stop this. This same principle of indifference applies in heterogeneous societies. If you feel so strongly about this issue, then do something proactive, like emptying your bank account and sending that money to these children born to strangers. Earn your bona fides of compassion, don’t simply try to purchase cheap points on the conspicuous compassion scale by talking a good game so that you can bolster your ego by appearing to be compassionate. A compassionate person is someone who takes action and endures personal sacrifice, not someone who advocates that money be taken by force from strangers and spent on the issue. Of course, it goes without saying, that the people who follow the latter course delude themselves into thinking that they are more compassionate people than those who disagree with them, but this self-delusion doesn’t really make these folks compassionate, only action and personal sacrifice earn them that badge.

    but sometimes what’s good for the country isn’t good for you.

    This is true. There is certainly a strong case to be made for efforts designed to level playing fields for disadvantaged youth and for providing health care for kids whose parents can’t find the means to do so, or are unwilling to do so, but you know what, such provisions are already in place. As for adults needing to be beneficiaries of redistribution, the case is much, much weaker. This health care debate isn’t about kids, it’s about adults and I see no compelling reason, and certainly no benefit to the nation as a whole, in pouring gasoline onto a raging fiscal fire that is slowly burning our nation’s foundation to a point where there is serious danger for the nation as a whole.

  49. floyd says:

    Tangoman;
    Good arguments, but you must understand that when faced with an armed thief, you must first disarm him, then if you can’t convince him not to steal from you , you can still refuse to comply.

  50. anjin-san says:

    health care is a private consumer good, not a public good.

    Well, I know I am anxious to live in a country where we have people dying in the streets. I am sure most Americans are…

  51. Stan says:

    “…health care is a private consumer good, not a public good.””

    Why not eliminate public universities? Think how much California could save, not to mention my own hard pressed Michigan. Continuing with this line of reasoning, do we really need community colleges? If we eliminated them my property taxes would go down $650 every year. I could save even more if we eliminated the local high schools, the middle schools, and the public library. In TangoMan’s Hobbesian universe, is any education other than rudimentary literacy and arithmetic a public good? Is anything? I’m love knowing how far he’s willing to go. TangoMan, RSVP.

  52. floyd says:

    Stan;
    The question really should be, just how far are you willing to go?
    Should a man be allowed to keep half of what he earns? A quarter? How about 10%?
    Say wow about real estate taxes on grave sites?
    No wait… dead people don’t contribute to society or support thrmselves, so they’ve got a right to a subsidy, right?
    Somebody should tell the redistributionists that there are limits to how much you can reward lethargy and punish productivity before the system breaks, and everybody starves.

  53. Dantheman says:

    “Somebody should tell the redistributionists that there are limits to how much you can reward lethargy and punish productivity before the system breaks, and everybody starves.”

    Of course, when we had a tax system where the marginal rate went up to 90% (in the 1950’s) the economy produced far better than it has in recent decades. Somebody should remind the John Galts of the world that their track record of predicting growth when tax rates were cut, and recessions when they were raised, has had a track record of total failure since the Kennedy Administration.

  54. Stan says:

    floyd, here’s my position. To my mind, a combination of free trade, job outsourcing, and a successful effort by American businesses to control labor costs has lead to wage stagnation for middle and low income workers over the last 30 years. The result has been that people of modest means simply don’t have the money to sustain a buoyant consumer economy. This has been disguised by the movement of women into the labor force and by the growth of consumer debt, but I don’t think we can count on either factor in the future to make up for flat wages.

    As I look at things like the rise in the percentage of people without health insurance (25% in California, according to today’s papers) and the sickening number of people losing their homes, I think one of two things will happen: either the government will succeed in helping people of modest means by programs like health care reform and aid to homeowners, or truly awful things will happen. Examples are increased protectionism, anti-immigrant violence, and a rise in political extremism.

    I don’t want stuff like this to happen. I believe in a middle class society, and I think the way to maintain it is to spread the wealth a little. Conservatives like Bismark, Disraeli, Churchill, and de Gaulle understood this. Why is it so hard for you to grasp?

    As far as the straw man you’re erecting in talking about high tax rates, get real. American taxes are the lowest they’ve been in 50 years. We can increase them a little, and if we do it won’t be a replay of the Bolshevik Revolution.

  55. Michael says:

    If you’re an environmentalist, then you should be applauding efforts at reducing population.

    I’m an environmentalist only to the extent that a healthy environments is beneficial to humanity. I’d rather a damaged environment than a reduced population.

    In a nutshell, when a poor person produces economic value of, let’s say, $20,000 but the social costs they impose on society are $40,000, then society, strictly from an economic point of view, is losing ground by fostering the growth of an underclass.

    What exactly are you proposing with this? Should these people not be allowed to consume more than they produce?

    I’d rather spend the money I earn to on giving MY children or my nieces and nephews and my neighbors kids or the needy kids that intersect my life who I want to help,

    Yes, as would I, but then what about those people that don’t fall under someone’s good graces? Are you okay with the unwanted being denied assistance?

    The money that is taken from me via coercion is money I can’t spend as I think best, and frankly I know how to spend my income to achieve greater good for me and my loved ones that does Obama and Pelosi and Reid.

    Yes, but what about those people you don’t like?

    Earn your bona fides of compassion, don’t simply try to purchase cheap points on the conspicuous compassion scale by talking a good game so that you can bolster your ego by appearing to be compassionate.

    I don’t just talk a good game, my money and my time is where my mouth is. And I don’t think for a second that it makes me compassionate to give your money to someone else, I know it’s not. But again, charity isn’t reliable enough to do what is necessary for society, so giving some part of your hard earned money (and mine) to those that haven’t “earned” it is required.

  56. floyd says:

    Stan;
    Your response is very reasonable, except for the part where you presume to know what I can grasp.
    The question remains, what portion of earned wages should be allowed to be confiscated in order to control what percentage of his life’s decisions?
    Do you believe that no man should reap the consequences of his own actions at least to some degree?
    Now, while I agree that some government is essential to to a decent society, I do believe that it should never reach a point where it eclipses or precludes such things as consequences for both good and bad behavior, or such things as descretionary spending , charity, or choice.
    We are presently, without a doubt, at an historic threshhold in the United States, and are no longer facing incremental changes within a working system based on principle.
    What we are facing is fundamental change which is nothing more than a replay of Bolshevik Revolution, we must choose now whether we will remain citizens or become subjects.
    A great victory for the latter was won in the last election cycle. The question now is.. do we have enough “citizenry” to reverse the damage and choose liberty or Marxism.

  57. TangoMan says:

    Why not eliminate public universities? Think how much California could save, not to mention my own hard pressed Michigan.

    Sure, why not? Numerous studies have shown that the value added by education to a person’s lifetime earnings is, in the majority of cases, negligible. The error of most studies which show that education increases earnings is that they’ve used education as a proxy variable for intelligence. The exception here, of course, is education which imparts specific knowledge that is later used by the person in their career, such as knowledge of engineering, chemistry, medicine, law, etc.

    The higher education industry, again for the most part, is a huge resource suck on the economy. Graduating English majors or African American Studies majors costs both the taxpayers (direct subsidies) and students (direct costs and foregone opportunities) so a decision not to offer public subsidies would, after a period of transition, actually be beneficial for the nation.

    I could save even more if we eliminated the local high schools, the middle schools, and the public library.

    Now we’re down to community level spending which is characterized by a taxpayer having the ability to exercise great influence. If you don’t like the tax burden in your local community, you can move 10 miles over to the next municipality.

    High schools and middle schools, in my mind at least, are a different animal than universities, in that they a vehicles of socialization and imparters of rudimentary knowledge. They serve, in an ideal world, to equalize access to knowledge needed to function in society and thus, while not strictly a public good, they are also not strictly a private good. The level of funding at the community level can be very attuned to the willingness of citizens to fund that level and people are less bound by the tyranny of the majority in that they can vote with their feet while not sacrificing their jobs, their social networks, and their citizenship.

  58. TangoMan says:

    I’m an environmentalist only to the extent that a healthy environments is beneficial to humanity. I’d rather a damaged environment than a reduced population.

    You write that you don’t want a reduced population, so are you OK with the US transitioning to a population level on par with China? Should we work to quadruple our population rather than work to restrict it? The environmental footprint of a US resident is much higher than for those who live in Mexico or Egypt, so if they are net tax recipients and they come here they present two problems, they become a net drain on the fiscal standing of the US and they impose a larger environmental cost to the planet’s ecosphere than if they had stayed in their home country. How exactly are we, as a society, benefiting from adding these folks to our population?

    What exactly are you proposing with this? Should these people not be allowed to consume more than they produce?

    When an equation is out of balance, there are two ways to bring about balance, in this case, either raise average incomes or cut average social costs. Raising average incomes cannot be done by fiat, they must be raised by increasing productivity, so that route is not really amenable to legislative tinkering. On the other hand though, reducing social expenditures is an area that can be tackled by the political process. A secondary avenue of approach is to limit the introduction of new citizens and residents who are net tax recipients, in that the more net tax contributors we add to the nation the stress of the contributor/recipient imbalance is lessened.

    What exactly are you proposing with this? Should these people not be allowed to consume more than they produce?

    In short, yes. Adults are responsible for themselves, that’s what comes from exercising liberty. The alternative that you propose is that I be coerced, with threats of legal violence, to care for another adult. Again, this is a problem of diversity eroding social ties in communities. I’m quite comfortable in allocating some of my personal resources to providing aid to those in need when I can identify with those in need because, there but for the grace of god go I. This is a key distinguishing factor between homogeneous and heterogeneous societies. I live in the society I inherited, and our society has been corrupted by the liberal quest for diversity, so I form my attitudes based on my environment. If I was a citizen of the Czech Republic (95% Czech) or Finland (93% Finnish) I’d likely have greater sense of community spirit because the mores and values of such societies are more tightly constrained thereby increasing understanding, tolerance, acceptance, willingness to sacrifice for the group, etc.

    Of secondary importance, as we see in our own history before the rise of the welfare state, the issue of charitable giving gains importance when individual effort is the last line of salvation and the buck can’t be passed onto a government bureaucracy.

    I’d rather live in a society where charity is willingly given rather than forcibly extracted by a leviathan which knows few limits to growth.

  59. Michael says:

    You write that you don’t want a reduced population, so are you OK with the US transitioning to a population level on par with China?

    Not necessarily, I’d rather that we fine new frontiers for humanity to grow into, rather than just increasing the density of humanity where we are now. But that’s a subject for a nother thread.

    When an equation is out of balance, there are two ways to bring about balance, in this case, either raise average incomes or cut average social costs.

    On the other hand though, reducing social expenditures is an area that can be tackled by the political process.

    I saw that bait and switch. What you didn’t mention was that we can reduce the average expense, which is exactly what the current proposed bill is trying to accomplish.

    A secondary avenue of approach is to limit the introduction of new citizens and residents who are net tax recipients

    Let’s not move the conversation to scary brown people, one thing at a time please.

    In short, yes. Adults are responsible for themselves,

    In which case charity shouldn’t be an option for you either. The fact that it is an option shows that you don’t believe responsibility is always enough, so again, what of the people who are responsible but unfortunate? You say charity is the answer, but then you give us this:

    I’m quite comfortable in allocating some of my personal resources to providing aid to those in need when I can identify with those in need because

    And that is why charity isn’t enough, because you won’t give charitably to people who aren’t like you.

    Of secondary importance, as we see in our own history before the rise of the welfare state, the issue of charitable giving gains importance when individual effort is the last line of salvation and the buck can’t be passed onto a government bureaucracy.

    Yes, how well exactly was individual charity working out in the 1930’s, before FDR instituted the welfare state?

  60. Michael says:

    I’d rather live in a society where charity is willingly given rather than forcibly extracted by a leviathan which knows few limits to growth.

    You’re welcome to go live in one of those societies, they exist all over the world. But I sure wouldn’t want to live there.

  61. The Q says:

    Familiarize yourself with the posting policy here please.

  62. An Interested Party says:

    What we are facing is fundamental change which is nothing more than a replay of Bolshevik Revolution, we must choose now whether we will remain citizens or become subjects.
    A great victory for the latter was won in the last election cycle. The question now is.. do we have enough “citizenry” to reverse the damage and choose liberty or Marxism.

    How utterly appropriate that such comments should be present on a thread about a straw man argument…I mean, really, apart from the most hyper right-wing partisans, who really believes this nonsense? Ask those on the far left who are disappointed that a public option isn’t even on the table in regards to HCR, much less a single-payer plan, and you will see that this president is far from a “Marxist” ushering in the next “Bolshevik Revolution”…

  63. Stan says:

    I’ve now learned that higher education is useless apart from vocationally oriented fields like engineering (my own undergraduate major), medicine, and law. Thanks, TangoMan, for this insight.

    floyd, I really think you’re exaggerating my position and the position of other liberals who post in this forum. I’ve always felt that capitalism was superior to socialism. I think taxes should be as low as possible. I understand the role that acquired wealth plays in investing and in supporting the arts (sorry about that, TangoMan). But I think something’s gone wrong with the American economy due to objective economic factors and to the misuse of their power by America’s corporate leaders, and that governmental action is needed to improve the lot of our middle and working classes. So we disagree, but in a civil way, I hope.

  64. TangoMan says:

    Not necessarily, I’d rather that we fine new frontiers for humanity to grow into, rather than just increasing the density of humanity where we are now. But that’s a subject for a nother thread.

    That’s quite a dodge you’re employing. This is akin to living extravagantly on your credit card and planning on winning the lottery to pay the ultimate bill.

    What you didn’t mention was that we can reduce the average expense, which is exactly what the current proposed bill is trying to accomplish.

    Arguing against the facts, as Obama does, that this bill will save us money, when the CBO is scoring it as increasing our costs, doesn’t add support for your thesis. As we see the in many other jurisdictions, centralized provision of medical services or the centralized financing of a decentralized health care infrastructure, leads to centralized control of rationing, ie. bureaucrats know better how to ration for everyone compared to the rationing decisions being made further down the medical consumer chain.

    Obama can indeed reduce the average expense of health care by giving rationing decisions to his Comparative Effectiveness Boards (Death Panels) and having them, by fiat, impose their decisions on health care consumers. In fact, this process is how Canada was so successful in reducing its deficit – Finance Minister Martin redirected vast sums of money that were being spend on Canadian health care and repurposed those funds to reducing their deficit. He, as you would predict, did in fact reduce the average level of health care consumption in Canada.

    Let’s not move the conversation to scary brown people, one thing at a time please.

    Again you employ a dodge. I framed the issue on the axis of net tax recipient versus net tax contributor. Most of us recognize that our high school students shouldn’t drop out of high school because a.) they will suffer reduced levels of income over their working lives, and b.) they will impose a cost on society which will be supplementing their resources with state-provided resources. With this truism in mind how is it a good idea to allow 20 million illegal immigrants into the country when the overwhelming majority of such illegals have between 6 and 8 years of schooling and don’t speak English? They have less functional knowledge of how to live in American society than do our own domestic crop of high school drop-outs.

    It is not good policy to import poverty and ignorance into society. If net tax recipients are the numerator in an equation and net tax contributors are the denominator, then importing net tax recipients increases the ratio of recipients to contributors. What we should be striving to do is the reverse, to increase the denominator of net tax contributors.

    In which case charity shouldn’t be an option for you either. The fact that it is an option shows that you don’t believe responsibility is always enough,

    Not at all. What you’re doing here is removing liberty from people by denying them the right to partake in charitable giving of their own free will. I’d be very inclined to give charity to a family that is burned out of their home, or where a worker needs supplementary aid to their insurance for being disabled on the job, or to aid a deserving student lacking resources for higher education than I would to a drug addict, or a hobo or a free spirit who wants to commune with nature and smoke grass in the park.

    And that is why charity isn’t enough, because you won’t give charitably to people who aren’t like you.

    Nonsense, I give to charities all the time and they serve lots of people who aren’t like me. The question at the heart of the issue is how much sacrifice I’m willing to endure for myself and my family in order to provide aid to others. That level varies, at least in my case, by how strongly I feel about the recipients. If my neighbor’s house burned down I’d take them into my own home for the months it took them to get reestablished. I won’t do the same for a druggie I find begging on the street. You might chose to do the exact opposite. I might send a $1,000 donation to a young person striving to better themselves where you might just ignore that person.

    As I noted earlier, there a plenty of people dying prematurely because of famine or war or other causes all around the world and the majority of the world doesn’t give a damn. If one of those people manage to sneak across the border into the US why am I all of a sudden supposed to now sacrifice for them? They’re the exact same person before and after the border crossing event. They have the exact same relationship to me before and after the border crossing. If I didn’t feel any bond to them before why should I feel a bond now that they’ve sneaked across the border?

    Yes, how well exactly was individual charity working out in the 1930’s, before FDR instituted the welfare state?

    Evidence from around the world shows that charity worked fine. Picking the Great Depression era as the benchmark is simply loading a question, kind of like asking someone is they still beat their wife. From the London Telegraph:

    The provision of welfare services is not something that started with the raft of legislation that established the cradle-to-grave welfare state in the years after the Second World War.

    In fact, there are very few welfare roles now carried out by the British state that were not pioneered in the voluntary sector which, by the 19th century, had become huge and diverse. . . .

    When the state first intervened in education in 1870, the majority of the nation’s children were literate. They were being educated at the thousands of church schools, charity schools, ragged schools and Sunday schools. When National Insurance was introduced in 1911, more than three quarters of those covered (about nine million out of 12 million) were already being provided with health care and other benefits, including in some cases unemployment benefits, by friendly societies.

    When local authorities first became involved in providing social housing, following the 1890 Local Government Act, there were already thousands of housing societies providing decent and affordable accommodation for tens of thousands of low-income families. Long before the state accepted overall responsibility for the welfare of the nation’s children, there were charities running children’s homes. Dr Barnardo alone presided over what was virtually a national childcare service, supported by nothing but charitable donations.

    These charities operated in a competitive environment. Their donors wanted value for money. Charities which could show impressive results would prosper, as they would attract more donations. Those with a poor track record would close. This created a pressure for innovation and good record-keeping. . . .

    The problem now is that competing approaches are absent, as the state has not only become by far the biggest player in the field, but has forced many of the charities into a subservient position of sub-contractors. The same approaches are prescribed throughout the welfare sector, with the result that nasty side-effects are replicated ad infinitum. With so many charities neutered by subsidy and regulation, it is difficult now to appreciate the dynamic role that they have historically played in addressing social problems.

    Liberal support of social welfare schemes has more to do with power and wanting things done their way than with compassion. When liberals of the past saw medical and child charity provided by religious orders they weren’t objecting to the care being provided, they were objecting to the nature of the care – the religious tint that accompanied the care. They had a better scheme in mind – they would run things without a religious component and they would compel people, through taxation, to support their scheme.

    In the age before the social welfare state, part of good citizenship was to be involved with the community and charity was a key component of good citizenship. Today many people use the excuse that they don’t need to give to charity because they pay taxes. Look at the pitiful charitable contributions of President Obama and Vice-President Biden, two believers in big welfare states.

  65. floyd says:

    “”I mean, really, apart from the most hyper right-wing partisans, who really believes this””

    Barack Obama for one, me for another, along with millions of ordinary Americans.
    Kudos though for, what is from you, unusually civil commentary.

  66. Steve Verdon says:

    Michael,

    Oh, good idea. Unfortunately people won’t stop having sex because their poor. I guess we can just refuse to provide prenatal or delivery care for poor folks (or bring up the ‘A’ word), certainly that would reduce the number of poor folks after a few generations.

    Birth control is decidely cheaper than crapping out a kid. It can also help with the poverty problem. Crapping out a kid while poor is a sure fire way to stay poor. As for dread ‘A’ word are you referring to adoption, that is another option to abortion.

    Really, you subsidize somehting you get more of it. Not that hard to grasp and there is a small mountain of empirical research to support this. You are starting to sound like a creationist.

    However, it also means that our population would be greatly reduced. This means that our national production would decline. And when everyone born is born to wealth, it’s going to be awfully hard to recruit an all volunteer military.

    Oh, so lets encourage the poor to have more kids to feed into our military/industrial complex? Is that what you really wanted to imply?

    There is yet again another option: Immigration. Reforming our immigration policies could ensure a stable population.

    And finally, isn’t a growing population an environmental issue?

    Or, you give up a little bit of your hard earned money to give every child born an opportunity to do something great for this country.

    Why should I pay for other people to crap out kids? Because we need to maintain our military. Do you realize how insane that sounds?

    Herb,

    I think this is debatable in a lot of areas, and it’s a debate that will be rendered moot the second a mandate is signed into law.

    Hmm, I see you are a fan of Newspeak, figures. So if we pass a law calling a turnip a cantaloupe its a cantaloupe then right?

    But when you pay your insurance premiums and your co-pays, who’s healthcare are you really paying for?

    Your own.

    Bzzzt wrong. I’m paying for whomever gets sick. Might be me, or someone else who is in the same insurance program. Is it a type of subsidy…kind of sort of if you squint your eyes. I’m buying protection against the chance that the bad state might occur. That has value in and of itself (peace of mind and all that). So it isn’t the same as a transfer program (i.e. welfare).

    Really, you need to brush up on the concepts you are discussing so you wont look so foolish.

    If we all lived in a world ruled by reason and perfect judgment…but we don’t. Indeed, the last thing on most people’s mind while they’re engaging in the act of conceiving a child is to wonder whether they can afford it. It’s not a poor or rich thing. It’s a biological thing.

    Baloney. People have sex all the time without the intent of having children. This idea that biology takes over and reason is completely turned off is nothing short of an outright lie.

    Well unless you are Floyd’s monkey.

    anjin-san,

    Well, I know I am anxious to live in a country where we have people dying in the streets. I am sure most Americans are…

    Don’t be such an utter moron, you are capable of much better responses.

    Why not eliminate public universities?

    What kind of good is education? A private good? Adding an additional person to a lecture is not that costly. Even grading with well done tests and today’s machinery isn’t that horrible. So, it doesn’t strike me as a private good. Public good? No, eventually you can have too many in a lecture. Public good subject to congestion or maybe a club good since you can exclude people. So no, we don’t have to shut them down.

    Although TangoMan raises a good point. Some majors probably should not be subsidized. Do we really need more art history majors? Probably not.

    To my mind, a combination of free trade, job outsourcing, and a successful effort by American businesses to control labor costs has lead to wage stagnation for middle and low income workers over the last 30 years.

    While these things might be contributing factors your analysis is faulty for a number of reasons.

    1. Businesses have always wanted to control labor costs. See that word cost? Yeah it means firms want to minimize it given a level of production.

    2. You’ve left out health care. Look at total compensation for the past 30 years and you’ll see a different picture.

    4. Outsourcing is nothing compared to technological innovation and progress at destroying jobs.

    5. Also the movement of women into the labor force is another reason why wages have not gone up as much as they might have. Increasing the supply while demand is held constant results in lower prices.

    Stan, your premise is severly lacking thus your conclusion are now in serious doubt. They might still be right, although I personal don’t think so, but you have much more work to do to shore up your position.

  67. Stan says:

    “Liberal support of social welfare schemes has more to do with power and wanting things done their way than with compassion.”

    Thanks, TangoMan, for telling me what I think.

  68. Stan says:

    Steve Verdon, first, I reject the notion that English and the other humanities don’t deserve to be subsidized. The cultural level of our society is low enough as it is. Does it have to get even lower?

    Turning now to your other arguments, university education definitely benefits those who get it, both in terms of enriching their lives and helping their employment prospects. The same is true of community colleges and high schools. By your logic, and TangoMan’s, people should go to grade school at public expense, and the rest should be up to them. We’re already a society of haves and have-nots. Why make it worse? Is this what John Galt would want?

  69. Michael says:

    That’s quite a dodge you’re employing. This is akin to living extravagantly on your credit card and planning on winning the lottery to pay the ultimate bill.

    Yup, I also didn’t get a vasectomy at 22 when I was living in a 1 bedroom apartment. How irresponsible of me.

    Arguing against the facts, as Obama does, that this bill will save us money, when the CBO is scoring it as increasing our costs, doesn’t add support for your thesis.

    [citation needed]

    It is not good policy to import poverty and ignorance into society.

    Yes, let’s turn away the tired, the poor and huddled masses. It’s good policy to leave the homeless and tempest tossed on their own teeming shore.

    Picking the Great Depression era as the benchmark is simply loading a question

    How terribly inappropriate of me, to reference the time immediately before the implementation of a system you claimed changed everything for the worse.

    Our problem, TangoMan, boils down to this: You think covering 90% of the population 90% of the time is adequate, and I don’t.

  70. TangoMan says:

    Stan,

    I’ve now learned that higher education is useless apart from vocationally oriented fields like engineering (my own undergraduate major), medicine, and law. Thanks, TangoMan, for this insight.

    You’re welcome. However, just to show you that I’m not pulling these conclusions from my ass, here’s what some studies are demonstrating:

    Inequality and ability, Eric D. Gould, Labour Economics

    http://economics.huji.ac.il/facultye/gould/inequality_ability_labour.pdf

    Murnane et al. (1995) report that basic cognitive skills learned prior to high school had a much larger impact on the wages for 24-year-old men and women in 1986 than in 1978 in the United States. The cognitive measures they use are basic skills such as following directions, facility with fractions and decimals, and interpretation of line graphs. In other research, Ferguson (1993) finds that adding basic skills into the wage regression wipes out the estimated growth in the return to schooling during the 1980s in the United States.

    RETURNS TO SCHOOLING AND BAYESIAN MODEL AVERAGING: A UNION OF TWO LITERATURES

    http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~mli3/tobias-li-2004-jes.pdf

    Some studies, such as Blackburn and Neumark (1993), Murnane Levy and Willett (1995), Grogger and Eide (1995) and Heckman and Vytlacil (2001) have investigated whether the increase in return to schooling over this period is attributable to a reward for additional schooling, or a changing premium for measured ability. The typical approach in these studies is to allow for ability-education and ability-education-time interactions to determine if the growing return to education has been experienced primarily by those of highest ability. The general conclusion has been that after controlling for ability, the growth in the college wage premium is more modest, and Heckman and Vytlacil (2001) report that the college wage gap has been growing only for those in the highest ability quartile.

    Shrinking Earnings Premium for University Graduates in Hong Kong: The Effect of Quantity or Quality?

    http://hub.hku.hk/handle/123456789/48696

    In 1989, the Hong Kong government embarked on a program to increase the provision of first-year first-degree places from 7 percent of the 17—20 age cohort to 18 percent. The number of university students doubled in five years. Since university places are tightly controlled by the government, the expansion program represents an exogenous increase in supply of university graduates to the labor market. This paper shows that the increase in supply has brought about a decline in the earnings premium for college workers. Moreover, the decline is more substantial among younger workers than among older workers. We also find that locally educated university graduates used to earn significantly more than did overseas graduates. Their earnings advantage, however, had declined between 1986 and 2001, particularly among the younger age group. These observations suggest that the decline in the university earnings premium is probably more the result of declining quality of university graduates than of a labor market crowding effect.

    Ability, Educational Ranks, and Labor Market Trends: The Effects of Shifts in the Skill Composition of Educational Groups

    http://ideas.repec.org/p/wop/jopovw/146.html

    This paper uses educational ranks — cohort-specific relative rankings in educational attainment — as a control for changes in the composition of educational groups.5 This approach assumes that individuals in different cohorts with the same educational rank, i.e. those in the same place in their cohort’s educational attainment distribution, have about the same level of ability. Thus, the ability (or unobserved skill) of high school graduates in 1940 was more like that of college graduates in 1996 than their counterpart high school graduates.

    As mentioned above, accounting for these changes in the composition of educational groups profoundly changes our picture of the U.S. labor market. Increases in the college/high school differential are considerably smaller but more concentrated among younger workers, and it is more difficult to argue that the earnings of less educated groups have deteriorated.

    Interestingly, when the data are sorted by educational quintile, a remarkably different pattern emerges.27 For example, between 1969 and 1989 high school graduates and dropouts experienced declines in their weekly earnings of 2.4 and 8.7 percent, respectively, while the weekly earnings of those in the lowest three quintiles rose by an average of 8.5 percent. These findings suggest that changes in the composition of the less educated may explain their widely documented declines in earnings. Changes in composition also appear to affect differences between educational groups. For example, the log difference between college and high school graduates increased by 8.2 percentage points between 1969 and 1989, while the difference between the highest and middle quintiles decreased by 5.4 percentage points. Consistent with the finding in Table 1 of increasing differences in ability (or unobserved skill) between college and high school graduates, accounting for changes in composition appear to explain much of the recent increase in earnings differentials between college and high school graduates.

    One might wonder whether the strong results for the effects of changes in the composition of educational groups on weekly earnings education differentials hold for other outcomes, such as employment and annual earnings. In fact, the effects of including educational ranks are considerably stronger for these outcomes. For annual employment, education differentials are slightly negative once educational ranks are included suggesting that employment differentials are more closely related to a person’s educational rank than their educational attainment. Moreover, accounting for changes in composition of educational groups results in change in the 1969-1989 college/high school annual employment differential switching from a 1.3 percentage point increase to a 0.9 percentage point decrease.

    Similarly, the results for annual earnings are quite strong. For example, the difference in annual earnings between college graduates and high school dropouts increases by 32.6 percentage points between 1959 and 1989. After accounting for changes in the composition of educational groups, this increase falls to a dramatically smaller 11.5 percentage points. Without question, accounting for changes in the composition of educational groups generates a very different picture of the U.S. labor market.

  71. Michael says:

    Birth control is decidely cheaper than crapping out a kid. It can also help with the poverty problem. Crapping out a kid while poor is a sure fire way to stay poor. As for dread ‘A’ word are you referring to adoption, that is another option to abortion.

    So you’re also of the opinion that poor people shouldn’t have kids?

    Oh, so lets encourage the poor to have more kids to feed into our military/industrial complex? Is that what you really wanted to imply?

    It may surprise you to find that I’m not opposed to an all volunteer army or private defense companies.

    And finally, isn’t a growing population an environmental issue?

    Yes, I just happen to believe that the environments needs to give way to the population, not the other way around.

    Why should I pay for other people to crap out kids?

    Because it benefits you.

    Do we really need more art history majors? Probably not.

    Do we really need art museums and artists? Probably not. Do we need classically trained musicians to keep the music of Mozart alive? Probably not. But these things sure do make society nicer.

  72. TangoMan says:

    Turning now to your other arguments, university education definitely benefits those who get it, both in terms of enriching their lives and helping their employment prospects.

    Life enrichment shouldn’t be subsidized by the public for if that really is the benchmark, then tell me which government agency will foot the bill so that I and my family can go sailing around the world for 3 years. I promise that when we get back that I’ll talk to a lot of people about our experience, thus enriching their cultural lives. I mean it’s only fair that they get their lives enriched by listening to our adventure for they paid the bill.

    Employment prospects improving as a result of education is a mixed bag. Much of the improved prospects have to do with credentialing rather than knowledge mastery. A woman’s studies major might be able to improve her employment prospects by demonstrating a mastery of feminist critique if she is applying to work for Ms. magazine or some radical feminist organization or think tank, but that knowledge doesn’t really improve her earning capacity as a barista at Starbucks. The same argument can be applied to an engineer who disavows an engineering career and instead embarks on a career journey in social work. The difference between the engineer and the woman’s studies major is that larger segments of the economy find value in the knowledge transferred to the engineering student moreso than to the woman’s studies major or the art history major or the English major.

    The cultural level of our society is low enough as it is. Does it have to get even lower?

    This is a cost/benefit question. Nothing comes free in life, so if we accept the startling claim that being educated in post-critical marxist analysis or being immersed in post-colonial studies actually enriches the cultural sphere, we’re still left with the question of whether the resources deployed to achieve that end were well spent and how should the costs of achieving that end be apportioned.

    Frankly, my cultural life isn’t enriched by listening to post-colonialist majors pontificating on their worldview as they’re fixing my coffee at Starbucks. In fact, they suck some of the joie de vivre from my life.

    By your logic, and TangoMan’s, people should go to grade school at public expense, and the rest should be up to them.

    That’s about right. For those who are concerned about “social justice” the solution is simple – remove the legal criteria that undergirds the entire credentialing phenomenon and provide loans to aspiring students.

    If a student believes that, rather than joining the workforce that their personal utility will be enhanced by studying sociology in university for 4 years or more, then let’s give them the loan to do just that and let them pay society back from the enhanced earnings that they think their training in sociology will earn them.

    The cost/benefit analysis is much tighter for some fields of studies than others. That’s my point. My related point is that the taxpayer shouldn’t be saddled with the risk if the cost/benefit calculation doesn’t pan out, for this removes from the student the need to make wise and informed decisions on how to spend their time and money in the trade-off between schooling and employment and leads to millions of students majoring in art history, ethnic and gender studies, the arts and humanities, etc which don’t add much to the aggregate human capital index of the nation, meaning they don’t enhance our labor productivity to the same scale as more marketable skills sets learned in school.

  73. TangoMan says:

    So you’re also of the opinion that poor people shouldn’t have kids?

    Actually, I would think that anyone interested in “social justice” would hold that opinion. Here’s what we see in society today:

    Professional Class

    4 Great-Grandparent couples, each having one child. These children marry, and become;

    2 Grandparent couples, each having one child. These children marry, and become;

    1 Parent couples, each having one child.

    This one child is the beneficiary of the capital accumulated by 8 great-grandparents, 4 grandparents, and 2 parents. In addition to the intergenerational capital flow, there is the benefit of these only children benefiting from a greater share of parental time and parental resources as they’re being raised.

    Now, on the socio-economic flip side, this is what we typically see:

    Working Poor

    4 Great-Grandparent couples, each having four children. These children marry, and become;

    8 Grandparent couples, each having four children. These children marry, and become;

    16 Parent couples, each having four children.

    Unlike the Professional class, where intergenerational wealth transfer is being concentrated after every generation, here the wealth is being diluted. The same concentration-dilution effect is taking place in parental time and parent resources being directed at children.

    The “rules” and “customs” of society are exactly backwards. The poor should be having fewer children and directing all of their resources into those children and concentrating wealth generation after generation, and the well off should be having more children and diluting their resources and their intergenerational wealth transfer. From a “social justice” perspective, the outcomes would be expected to produce greater equality.

  74. An Interested Party says:

    Barack Obama for one…

    What an amazing mind reader you are…next, we’ll be hearing about how he was indoctrinated in Marxism in the Kenyan village in which he was born…

  75. floyd says:

    Stan;
    From what I hear from you, we differ,not so much on the plight, but rather on the approach to rectification.
    I think that we have long since crossed the line into too much government.

  76. floyd says:

    Karnak;
    Not a mind reader like you, just listening to his earlier speeches,but you of course know what we’ll be hearing next!

  77. Eric Florack says:

    Replace Harry Reid’s wife with Mrs Jane Average. Who among you doubts that given the same conditions, the government healthcare cost minders would find it’s just to expensive to keep Jane alive?

    That a question that slime like Colmes dare not consider.

  78. An Interested Party says:

    re: floyd | March 17, 2010 | 10:48 pm

    Do share with us the details of these early speeches when the president supposedly revealed his Marxist tendencies…meanwhile, a reasonable conservative illustrates how the president is no scary socialist, despite attempts to paint him as such…

  79. Stan says:

    floyd, when the health care debate opened I thought the Republicans would back the Wyden-Bennett bill. This would 1) end tax breaks for companies offering health benefits, thus helping to end the link between employment and medical insurance, and 2) offer means-tested vouchers for individuals to buy their own insurance. If augmented by regulation of the insurance market to prevent local monopolies, Wyden-Bennet seems to me to be a reasonable approach. It emphasizes private industry, and I think it would help control medical costs.

    I expected the Republicans to get behind something like this because Mike Leavitt, Bush’s last Secretary of Health and Human Services, said repeatedly that the administration favored the elements of Wyden-Bennett. Instead, the present Republican position on health care reform is pure negation. Tort reform saves bupkis, if you’ll pardon my Yiddish, the same is true for selling insurance across state lines, and Sarah Palin’s claim about death panels is pure idiocy. When I first started to pay attention to politics during the 50’s there were Republicans with some substance, like Robert Taft. Now they strike me as intellectual pygmies.

    I assume from your posts that you’re a Republican, and I infer that your position is simply to say that yes, a problem exists, but there has to be a better way. If you feel that way, what is it?

  80. TangoMan says:

    Comment #1: Of course, when we had a tax system where the marginal rate went up to 90% (in the 1950’s) the economy produced far better than it has in recent decades. Somebody should remind the John Galts of the world that their track record of predicting growth when tax rates were cut, and recessions when they were raised, has had a track record of total failure since the Kennedy Administration.

    Comment #2:Tort reform saves bupkis, if you’ll pardon my Yiddish, the same is true for selling insurance across state lines, and Sarah Palin’s claim about death panels is pure idiocy.

    These are two huge whoppers you’ve launched into this thread and they seriously undermine your credibility.

    The economic data is out there and is easily checked.

    The marginal tax rate was 70% when Carter assumed office. In 1977 income taxes were 10.764% of GDP.

    When Reagan implemented his tax cuts and dropped the top marginal rate from 70% to 50%, income taxes amounted to 11.75% of GDP.

    In 1989, when the top marginal rate was dropped to 28%, income taxes came to 10.165% of GDP, within spitting distance of Carter’s 70% rate.

    Then when the top marginal rate was raised to 31% in 1991, income taxes amounted to 9.535% of GDP.

    The difference in economic performance between the Kennedy era and the present has more to do with the state of health of world trade. Japan and Europe were climbing out of the devastation of WWII so the US dominated international trade and this provided tremendous benefit to our national accounts, and the social welfare state was not the beast it’s become today, thereby making us more competitive.

    Palin’s Death Panel observation was quite apt and there was plenty of supporting evidence provided. Interstate competition has worked to make many industries more competitive and the same competitive factors that are unleashed in other industries are present, and currently leashed, in the insurance marketplace.

    I infer that your position is simply to say that yes, a problem exists, but there has to be a better way.

    If you are standing on a riverbank and see a drowning man and the man standing next to you wants to save the drowning man by throwing him a bag of rocks, you can aid the drowning man by nixing the idea of a bag of rocks being used as a flotation aid. Your idea for saving the man can come later.

    Stopping disastrous ideas from being unleashed is a positive action just by itself even if such action isn’t tied to an alternative.

    That said, there are plenty of conservative ideas for reform, but they don’t coddle the socialist ideals favored by so many liberals and thus the Democratic leaders of this debate aren’t entertaining them.

  81. Stan says:

    TangoMan, I have yet to read anything suggesting that tort reform or selling insurance across state lines will reduce the number of people without medical insurance in a significant way, and I continue to feel that the the death panels claim goes far beyond permissible limits for political hyperbole. Sarah Palin is a demagogue, pure and simple, and her popularity among Republicans is another example of the GOP’s moral squalor.

    I note your statement that there are plenty of conservative ideas for reform. Name them.

    Finally, what exactly is your definition of socialism?

  82. TangoMan says:

    I continue to feel that the the death panels claim goes far beyond permissible limits for political hyperbole.

    There’s nothing stopping people from holding beliefs that ignore evidence so your feelings on this matter, taken in isolation, don’t convey any persuasive merit. Evidence of death panels were pointed to during the flare-up that followed Palin’s incisive observation. People also pointed to death panels in similar systems. In fact, I recall people pointing to the death panels in Oregon:

    The 64-year-old Oregon woman, whose lung cancer had been in remission, learned the disease had returned and would likely kill her. Her last hope was a $4,000-a-month drug that her doctor prescribed for her, but the insurance company refused to pay.

    What the Oregon Health Plan did agree to cover, however, were drugs for a physician-assisted death. Those drugs would cost about $50.

    (Note the poor journalism here – the reporter refers to the State Insurance Dept. as an insurance COMPANY. You have to read to page 2 to realize that this “company” is a state department and spends taxpayer dollars and is designed to help the poor.)

    As for the conservative ideas, you can do your own research.

  83. Stan says:

    You forgot to give me your definition of socialism.

  84. Michael says:

    From TangoMan’s linked article:

    Imagine if the recipient had pinned his hope for survival on an unproven treatment

    And why should any insurance company, private or public, pay for unproven treatment?

    Hey, I’m sick, and I pinned all my hope on consuming 1000 pounds of gold coins. No, it’s not proven to help, but I have hope! Give me the treatment or you’re a death panel!

  85. Michael says:

    The poor should be having fewer children and directing all of their resources into those children and concentrating wealth generation after generation, and the well off should be having more children and diluting their resources and their intergenerational wealth transfer. From a “social justice” perspective, the outcomes would be expected to produce greater equality.

    But when you take per-generational earning into consideration, having more children potentially increases the total amount of wealth in a family. Remember, these people won’t usually have much in the way of assets to pass on, but their final expenses will be roughly equal to that of the Professional class. For the working poor, where retirement/end of life savings don’t exist, it’s better to have 4 children to split the costs of taking care of you in your old age, rather than saddling the entire burden on just one. Imagine an only child of 2 working poor parents, trying to take care of them as dependents.

  86. Dantheman says:

    Tangoman at 8:41 AM,

    I said “Comment 1” and not “Comment 2”, so right off the bat, you are simply confused.

    That said, your comments regarding the percentage of GDP subject to income tax is simply shifting the goalposts from floyd’s original comment that mine was in response to, which was, “Somebody should tell the redistributionists that there are limits to how much you can reward lethargy and punish productivity before the system breaks, and everybody starves.”

    floyd’s comment and my response to it dealt with the growth of the economy. And simply put, the conservative line about tax cuts spurring growth and tax increases slowing it is contrary to the actual history. For example:

    When the 1981 Reagan tax cuts passed, the economy dropped into the second dip of a double dip recession. Had they spurred growth, it would have been avoided.

    In nearly every year for the remainder of Reagan’s presidency, taxes were increased (which likely would have gotten him drummed out the modern Republican Party), and the economy grew rapidly. Had they slowed growth, we would have had a lost decade.

    The 1993 Clinton tax increases were widely predicted to kill the incipient recovery and send us into a double dip recession (I still recall Phil Gramm on one of the Sunday morning talk shows saying it would kill the economy stone dead). Instead, we had the longest peacetime expansion since WWII.

    The 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts lead to a lost decade of some of the most anemic growth in history followed by the greatest recession since WWII.

    The only person serving whoppers here is you, so take it to Burger King.

  87. Grewgills says:

    Adding an additional person to a lecture is not that costly.

    unless there is a lab section

    Even grading with well done tests and today’s machinery isn’t that horrible.

    Only true if you limit yourself to testing recall memory. I am not comfortable removing short answer and essays from exams.

  88. Eric Florack says:

    Well, this is where we vehemently differ on principle. When someone dies (or becomes an invalid, or even just can’t work for a few weeks) more than just that person suffers.

    So, what in situation can such an argument not be made?

    Let’s examine this by means of a couple examples.

    Are we to call the ownership of automobiles a right, since if we don’t provide such to all with government funds, (IE money stolen from ‘taxpayers’)and John Poorman can’t get to his job without taking the bus, other people suffer?

    Are we to call eating at restaurants a right since if we don’t provide such to all with government funds, (IE money stolen from ‘taxpayers’) people running and working at restaurants will suffer?