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Healthcare row gets physical?

Mark Mardell | 15:51 UK time, Thursday, 3 September 2009

We are used to terms like "Nazi" being bandied around in the health debate at overheated town hall meetings.

But a new way of persuading opponents has just emerged - biting off their finger.

It reportedly happened in California and the man took his detached little finger to a local hospital to be sewed back on.

I don't yet know how he fares. But as we in the media are always on the look-out for real-life case studies to illustrate political debates, this seems ideal.

Did he have insurance and did it cover Severed Pinkie Syndrome?

As he was 65, was he covered by a government-run, taxpayer-funded scheme?

And can any Americans out there explain why this debate has got quite so heated?

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  • 1. At 4:16pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    I think there's another pending question or two to be asked by the inquiring journalist. . .

    When I nearly half-severed my thumb a couple of years ago (slicing a beef joint, not intentionally a finger joint) there was a) a lot more blood on the kitchen floor than there is in that photograph. And b) I didn't hang about to find out how long blood takes to dry and go brownish (did a quick gallop to my GP's surgery to get it sewn up sharpish, for free, of course, being NHS) but it also looks suspiciously bright, unless someone photographed it within minutes . . .

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  • 2. At 4:43pm on 03 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    "As he was 65, was he covered by a government-run, taxpayer-funded scheme?"

    Yes, Medicare covers all those over 65. However, one may assume he went to the emergency department which would be obliged to treat him, regardless of insurance. The Los Angeles Times picked up KTLA's story (KTLA being small, local channel) and reported that there is an eyewitness account of the incident which differs in the details.

    Apart from that, wouldn't it have been more appropriate to reflect on what this day, September 3rd, 2009, is? Few Americans recognise it, but it is the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of WWII. It was during that period that the Beveridge Report was commissioned and published, leading to the creation in 1946 of the National Health Service, coming into force two years later. Does it take a war on a global scale to prompt a health service for the USA or can it be done in peacetime? Veterans, the elderly and members of Congress are funded, so why not the rest? I'd bet that the anti-healthcare protesters take full advantage of Medicare when they turn sixty-five, yet they would deny it to those younger.

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  • 3. At 4:58pm on 03 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Some people are getting NO health care. they want it. those with it for free are saying NO.

    When No attacks a Yas they better be careful. Most of the Nos are older.
    Now If the older guy had retaliated and bitten off the younger guys finger the young guy wouldn't have the ability to go into the hospital and not loose everything.
    lucky it was the Over 65 on medicroney that got bitten.
    The aggressor was the oldie. He just didn't expect the person he attacked to attack back because he was old.

    I get angry because the facts the discussion and the future of my health the health of my family and all others is at risk because a few that Have say "have not " to those that have nothing.
    Age is a big divider here. and one that can lead to one conclusion. Americans are not as nice as previous reporters have tried to suggest.
    they just like hurting people through proxies.OR they are incredibly ignorant.

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  • 4. At 5:00pm on 03 Sep 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Political debate in the US has always been vigorous, but perhaps more so since the right wing took over the Republican party in 1980 and drove out the moderates. I don't believe there is much actual difference, only more exposure through more efficient media. There were certainly many Americans who despised Franklin Roosevelt, who was more radical than Obama, but they didn't get on television.

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  • 5. At 5:05pm on 03 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Americans have an almost pathological mistrust and even fear of our federal government. We identify it as the chief threat to our freedom, more than any foreign power. We lost the ability to defend ourselves from it somewhere around the second world war. The idea of the well-regulated state militia enshrined in the 2nd Amendment is obsolete. World War II made the weapons of war too expensive and the federal government far too wealthy for any state or group of states to resist.

    Americans believe their freedom depends on the control they have over their local governments, and most of us are unhappy when Washington imposes federal control over any part of our lives against our will.

    Federal control of healthcare gives Washington control over the health of Americans, but that's not seen as a good thing in many quarters. Those people feel that it gives Washington the means to kill us off if we don't do what they say. That's why the (ridiculous) talk of "death panels" has resonated so strongly.

    I find it paranoid, myself, and yet, I'm happier when Washington leaves civil government to the states.

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  • 6. At 5:06pm on 03 Sep 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    I should add that one should not generalize from individual anecdotes. In a nation of 300 million people, there are bound to be many people at the extremes of behavior, and lots of opportunity for unusual incidents such as the one reported here. The most bizarre incidents will be the most widely reported.

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  • 7. At 5:07pm on 03 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    MM

    Covered by gov run YES.
    lol glad you noticed that.

    My contention is that the rise in Healthcare costs during the last decade is what has led so many families to loose everything.
    It was the basis for many of the credit card debts . Not only freespending partying (which there was loads of) credit hogs.
    The house bills couldn't be payed job losses while sick undiagnosed because coverage was dropped.
    There have been people dying to see a fdoctor.
    Yes there is real anger and manufactured anger manufactured by the right. to get oldies angry (how many will have a heart attack while fighting this battle ) the GOP has and the media including your predecessor have tried at all turns to "present a FAIR and Ballanced" report that has quite frankly been in the middle but not fair.

    Someoen tells a lie the answer is. "that's wrong" or I will not air that lie again.
    but the media by suggesting that the anglo/american Nay sayers have a point while not really agreeing that the reformers have a point.
    yet those ney sayers are the ones that make up the problems.
    "death tribunals" etc.
    and almost all the ney sayers I have seen have coverage.
    Then them same folk try to claim to live in the most generous nation in the world.
    LOL

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  • 8. At 5:15pm on 03 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 9. At 5:16pm on 03 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark Mardell:

    Healthcare row gets physical?

    I think that the healthcare row has been getting physical for a while now....

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 10. At 5:18pm on 03 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    DC the linked piece was interesting .Backed up now by your link.(virtual pudding)
    they both say the 65 year old attacked and got what he deserved.;)

    I wish the guy had done something to the bit he had to make the guy remember for the rest of his life he attacked.
    pushing into the road should be considered attempted murder as throwing someone on a tube line would be considered.
    loose a finger and Go to jail.
    If a finger is in the face I find it hard to complain that he Bite the other guys finger. I suspect it was more of "removed oragne guy's finger from mouth"" prevent orange guy ripping an eye out."
    all self defence I hope to hel that the 65 year old has real jail time instead of being told"you're too old we need prison room for them tearaway youth"

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  • 11. At 5:22pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    GH1618: shades of Joe Biden here. . .they might not have got on TV, but did they get on the newsreels?

    What I don't get is why there is so much "vigorous" debate about health care, of all things. Unless it's a plot by the big pharmaceutical companies to sell more pills to reduce the high blood pressure an awful lot of people seem to be suffering from.

    (Get your free conspiracy theory here! Lifelong subscription only $100 dollars a month!)

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  • 12. At 5:30pm on 03 Sep 2009, thuning wrote:

    The most one sided debates in US history have always been the most violent as the "debate" over slavery has shown. Those with the indefensible position resort to violence after their inane arguments like "blacks aren't people" or "Obama will kill us all" don't work. That violence effects recourse to retaliation and the cycle of violence begins.

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  • 13. At 5:44pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    5. At 5:05pm on 03 Sep 2009, AndyPost wrote:

    Americans have an almost pathological mistrust and even fear of our federal government. We identify it as the chief threat to our freedom, more than any foreign power. We lost the ability to defend ourselves from it somewhere around the second world war.

    This kind of argument always mystifies me. Why should you need to 'defend' yourselves with guns against a government you elect? That's what people who are called 'terrorists' do, isn't it?

    If you don't agree with what an elected President, or government, wants to do, you can elect one who proposes to undo it next time, can't you? Or am I missing something about American 'democracy' here?

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  • 14. At 5:58pm on 03 Sep 2009, jsuman wrote:

    To understand why the healthcare debate is so heated you just need to look at our media outlets. The United States has a very unregulated media, to the point that pundits flat out lie and get away with it.
    Right-Wing talk radio uses bold, loud, and often offenceive language to keep their listeners hooked. It is basically propaganda, and it works. People who don't understand that their medicare is government run show up to town hall mettings and start screaming at congressmen. They merely copy the language and additude of their information sources: right-wing pundits.
    Imagine your sisters house is red. Now, she hears on the news that the government wants to paint it blue, and that if and when the government paints it blue, it is going to kill your mother. She believes it. Now try to have a conversation about painting her house blue.

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  • 15. At 6:05pm on 03 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    13 lol Squirrelist.

    It's not easy to get.
    One day "we are the greatest nation,always will be" the next " but we can't trust the Gov."
    "we are the most charitable" but we wont agree to fund that for sure just in case we feel like letting the who evers die"

    See in a real democracy like the USA. when the other side wins the rich get richer by pulling all their dosh and hiding it until the economy goes belly up at which stage they can buy all the poor people for pennies on the dollar.
    Real government would interfere with that so best to just diss it and hope that with the Guns we can get a real bit of justice.

    Then there is the side of
    "americans can wreck any thing, good or bad.they are naturals at it. trained from birth"

    though that might be considered a little ant american.

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  • 16. At 6:20pm on 03 Sep 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Mr. Mardell wrote above: " ... as we in the media are always on the look-out for real-life case studies to illustrate political debates, this seems ideal."

    We have a term for the practice of seeking the most sensational "real-life case" to illustrate a point. It's called "tabloid journalism."

    Here is an example of another approach to journalism, by an op-ed writer who is trying to shed some light on what is actually causing the debate to become so heated: Paul Krugman

    The difference between Krugman's and Mardell's approach to this issue illustrates very nicely the point I made in my remarks on the first of Mr. Mardell's threads.

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  • 17. At 6:21pm on 03 Sep 2009, Ricter wrote:

    I pretty much agree 100% with post 14 from jsuman but I'll add that the educational system in the US is failing and parenting has taken a back seat to working full time and buying stuff that you don't really need. American children fall further behind with each generation. When you combine the inflamatory media with a population that is becoming increasingly less-educated, along with a regular exposure to violence in movies, TV, music, news, etc. Then it's not surprising that this debate has become physical and ugly.

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  • 18. At 6:32pm on 03 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    jsuman wrote:
    "To understand why the healthcare debate is so heated you just need to look at our media outlets. The United States has a very unregulated media, to the point that pundits flat out lie and get away with it."

    I would offer the view that "regulated" media is not widely known for its adherence to truth. In the end, someone is always paying for "news" to be broadcast, whether it is a political party or corporate advertisers, so it is unlikely you'll ever encounter media that is purely objective.

    As Murdoch said when accused of bias against palestinians in his media empire, "Do you know how many palestinians advertise in my papers?"

    But I still don't understand why the democratic party is unable to bring its folks into line on this issue. If the party could maintain discipline on health care, there would be no public debate worth commentating upon. It would just be the law that is made by the party in control of government, after they won a resounding mandate in elections.

    A few nutcase fringe whackos would be screaming at their televisions, and nobody would care.

    But instead, the very same media which idolized Obama and fell over itself to get the democrats into power seems to be doing everything it can to derail substantial changes to health care.

    I guess the question from the democratic party bosses would be "Do you know how many homeless people sponsor our party?"

    I think Bill Maher has this issue by the short and curlies. As he says, America has one party which is sponsored by corporate america and which represents the interests of large pharmaceutical and insurance companies, the democrats, and it has another party representing a few isolated crazy people with radical ideas, the conservatives.

    Like Bill, I just raise my eyebrows when Obama is called a socialist. He's not even a liberal. His entire political life has been spent amongst the elite of organized corporate politics.

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  • 19. At 6:34pm on 03 Sep 2009, rambler480 wrote:

    as an american, in regard to public policy, so much of it is all about who owns the media. news corporation (FOX news) has connections and holdings in the defense industry (more war/military equipment, more $$$) and the health insurance industry (they'd have to lower ballooning premiums to compete if reform goes through) just to name a few. why would FOX promote reform if they'd lose money?
    the media ownership of these industries used to be considered a "conflict of interest." we don't hear that term anymore. the truth is out there, but it's scary, no one wants to think the U.S. is run by executives of large corporations. politicians take money for re-election campaigns from these corporations and do their bidding. and though our constitution ensures the public will be informed, with entertainment taking the place of news these Neo-Con shock jocks are no different than Howard Stern; selling controversy.

    older americans especially, have bought into the rugged individualist viewpoint (focus on "me and mine") of corporate interests (against reform) which is interesting, considering those over 65 already have "socialized" medicine; it's called medicare. even though only the top 5% would be taxed, Neo-Cons have the masses convinced that taking care of people takes away freedom. it's warped. obama has been routinely called a racist by glenn beck ("obama has a deep seeded hatred of white people") and sean hannity. US media covers conservatives yelling at town hall meetings, yet NO mention has been made by ANY major news networks about the 350 candlelight vigils held across the country yesterday supporting reform. manipulate media and you manipulate perception. manipulate perception and you manipulate the masses.

    the marriage of money and politics seems to be an eternal one. keep in mind that ours is an indirect democracy, we depend on those we elect to speak for us (as opposed to direct democracy) But with political campaigns becoming increasingly expensive, politicians seem to need these bribes just to keep up with the mudslinging, and character assassination campaign ads. many corporations are ethical AND still quite profitable. it can be done. but as long as our press is linked to these unethical corporations, profit will come before people (and truth) every time. so much of it isn't what the y report, or the lies, it's what they don't report. that's why i'm an american who gets much of his news from the BBC, NPR, and PBS.

    to Britons, i recommend checking out www.newshounds.us and mediamatters.org

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  • 20. At 6:40pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    14. At 5:58pm on 03 Sep 2009, jsuman:

    But you can't blame Limbaugh and Beck and people like that for it all can you? The healthcare kerfuffle seems to have unleashed all kinds of other latent prejudices, against immigrants (largely, it appears, from Mexico), abortion, disabled people even, in one recent NJ 'town hall'.

    Though I agree that the weaseling of much of the US media hasn't helped. (The oft-touted idea that they 'report the facts' and then choose to report the 'facts' of who shouts loudest, finger amputation and 'death panel' accusations instead of what the plans really are.)

    (Oh, and while I'm thinking about the NJ one, I do wish people would stop using the word 'handicapped' over there. Horrible word. I'm disabled. Nothing to do with golf or my hands. OK? Oh, and the NHS hasn't proposed to have me put down, btw. I chatted to my 'death panel' -- aka GP -- only yesterday, and she didn't mention it. Just arranged another set of tests for November, suggested a different--and more expensive, though I get them free--drug to try for a couple of months, and asked if I might want to see a consultant again before then.)

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  • 21. At 6:46pm on 03 Sep 2009, U14125895 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 22. At 6:48pm on 03 Sep 2009, rambler480 wrote:

    above all, i think it's a cultural thing, and our (U.S) "culture" has become our pop culture. many americans are mad with greed, the delusion that money equals happiness is prominently displayed in our culture's unhealthy obsession with celebrities. materialism is our new nationalism, we are taught to be consumers first and citizens second (if at all). and any political scientist will tell you, the more you distract people, the more you can get away with.

    i have several friends who have moved out of the country, lost hope. unfortunately it really doesn't matter if the president is progressive, the media and special interests still control perception, and perception is everything.

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  • 23. At 6:49pm on 03 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark:

    We are used to terms like "Nazi" being bandied around in the health debate at overheated town hall meetings.

    That term in the text; Which I will not used or mentioned, is the term most people who are showing their distaste regarding the idea of health care reform in the United States.....

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 24. At 6:56pm on 03 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #7. fluffytale: "MM Covered by gov run YES."

    Medicare is funded by the Federal Government but not run by it - individual physicians, consultants and HMOs are reimbursed for their services. There is no governmental intrusion into what treatments are provided. With the British NHS, the government of the day has a direct influence since under the NHS Act (and its variations) the Secretary of State for Health is permitted to add or remove regulations without consulting Parliament. The present "National Framework" for long-tern care came about precisely because of that. Its provisions are not a result of primary legislation, but of secondary legislation in which Parliament played no part. The "National Framework" is a direct result of the Labour Government. Medicare does not operate in the same way!

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  • 25. At 7:07pm on 03 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 13, squirrelist

    "This kind of argument always mystifies me. Why should you need to 'defend' yourselves with guns against a government you elect? That's what people who are called 'terrorists' do, isn't it?"

    While we've produced our fair share of terrorists, that's not the issue here.

    I believe this stems from the same deeply held feelings that found expression in the American revolution. The United States was born out of a desire to rid ourselves of a strong central government thousands of miles away from us. At that time it was London. Now, it's Washington.

    My father, for instance, believed (as I do) that it is a duty of every American to serve when called up by the feds. His father, however, according to mine, wouldn't have even considered fighting what we would have referred to as "one of Washington's wars", and from what I understand, he wasn't alone. While the patriotism that welled up after World War II overwhelmed this conviction, I argue that it's still there and quite strongly felt.

    Scan the U.S. Constitution some time. It's made up mostly of limitations imposed by the People on the power of centralized government. The People have a right to government by their consent. For that to be true, the state has to have the majority of responsibility for the governance of the People in it. The feds are too far away. It's also true that the federal government's mandate (as set forth in the Constitution) doesn't include things like healthcare.

    Lastly, we actually don't elect most of the federal government. As a Coloradan I'm represented by only seven Representatives (out of 435) and two Senators (out of 100) in Washington, while we have complete control of our state government. I'd rather have the latter make our laws obviously.

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  • 26. At 7:16pm on 03 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    16 that article by paul was good.
    just noticing what some bloggers said right at the beginning of the HC debate on the old JW site.
    The birthers are the anti Healthcare protesters.

    not particularly revealing to some but I suspect to some others a total shock.

    Yes most of tha attcks and the reports saying don't spend any money keep it safe are derived from the minds of some total racists.

    many were pro hillery anti obama people.
    (if any or many of them were genuine)
    I would ask if the billery die hards are amoungst the ney sayers.

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  • 27. At 7:20pm on 03 Sep 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    democracythreat (#18) "But I still don't understand why the democratic party is unable to bring its folks into line on this issue."

    As I wrote earlier, this is a consequence of our separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of federal government, and also because of the federal system. The Democratic Party (and other parties as well) is a confederation of 50 state parties. Although the chairman of the National Democratic Committee was appointed by Obama, and is an Obama loyalist, he has no power over individual Democrats in Congress. They are responsible to the people who elected them, not to the party. Each house of Congress is independent of the other and independent of the executive branch. Although the Democratic caucus controls each house, neither the Democratic President nor the Chairman of the DNC has any power to coerce, only to persuade.

    Politics in the US federal government does not work the same way as in the parliamentary democracies of Europe. That's just the way it is.

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  • 28. At 8:02pm on 03 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    In order to understand why the democrats are not able to able to get their folks in line, I did some research.

    Mark, you might want to take some notes here.

    I was aware, from the media, that a faction within the Democratic party called the "Blue Dog Democrats" was responsible for making a partisan vote impossible for the democrats.

    What I did not know, until I researched it for myself beyond the media, was this:

    "In the summer of 2009, The Economist magazine said "[t]he debate over health care... may be the pinnacle of the group’s power so far" and quoted Charlie Stenholm, a founding Blue Dog, as saying that "this is the first year for the new kennel in which their votes are really going to make a difference."[8]
    The biggest single source of finance for the Blue Dog Political Action Committee is the health care industry. They donated $1.2 million dollars in the 2009-10 election cycle.[9] In July 2009, Blue Dog members who were committee members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee successfully delayed the House vote on the Health Insurance Reform Bill (HR32)) until after the Summer Recess.[10]"

    Check out the second point. The blue dogs are funded by the medical industry.

    So, the real story here is that the medical community, the owners of it, DO NOT WANT REFORM.

    They want the system to stay as it is. They like things the way they are, and they have turned their pet democratic politicians against Obama.

    This story isn't about what "the people" think. This story is not about public concern over healthcare spending.

    The clear fact, for those who wish to research the issue beyond the mainstream media, is that this story is about one thing and one thing only: corporate funding of major political party representatives.

    The medical corporations have sponsored this faction, and now this faction are derailing Obama's health care reform. In short, the medical corporations are derailing health care reform.

    Google "Blue dog coalition", if you want to do the research for yourself. My source for the above is WIKI, and the sources quoted in that wiki article are the LA Times and the Economist.

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  • 29. At 8:11pm on 03 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    "NAZI..."

    I guess it's worth reminding some people that this is a short for National Socialists.


    Ad since we are just commemorating the beginning of WWII it might be also worth noting that this conflict was started by two powers; both with nationalistic, (or, more precisely chauvinistic) socialist regimes.

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  • 30. At 8:41pm on 03 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 22, rambler

    "... our (U.S) "culture" has become our pop culture."

    Whenever is the culture of a population not defined by what's popular within it?

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  • 31. At 8:50pm on 03 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #29. powermeerkat: "since we are just commemorating the beginning of WWII it might be also worth noting that this conflict was started by two powers; both with nationalistic, (or, more precisely chauvinistic) socialist regimes."

    Germany was one party, Britain the other. Are you seriously suggesting that the British Government in 1939 was Socialist? If so, you are completely and utterly wrong. The Conservatives under Neville Chamberlain were in power and found everything smacking of socialism abhorrent. Churchill and Chamberlain would roll over in their graves if they knew they were ever to be considered socialist! Perhaps you had some other nation in mind - the USSR maybe, which later became one of the Allies and lost more personnel than any other country.

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  • 32. At 8:59pm on 03 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    I have read a few posts referring to Americans being a generous, charitable and giving people. Can any Americans tell me if and why they feel they are particularly "giving"?

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  • 33. At 9:02pm on 03 Sep 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    It is no surprise that "Blue Dog" Democrats receive funding from the medical industry, as their (self-proclaimed) fiscal conservatism makes them more palatable to that industry than the more liberal members of Congress. Whether they are actually fiscal conservatives is open to some debate. Here is the opinion of the (conservative) Wall Street Journal on the subject: WSJ

    I looked up the Congressional districts of the Blue Dogs from California. They come from conservative areas of the state which could easily vote Republican, and likely would if the Democratic candidate were a (so-called) "tax and spend liberal." The Democratic Party is a "broad tent" party, which is what has enabled them to take back the Congress from the Republicans, who have emphasized purity in recent years. In the US we have only two dominant parties, so we have factions within the parties, especially the Democratic Party. In a parliamentary system which allocates seats proportionally, there are more parties, and coalitions are formed between the parties rather than between the factions of the dominant party. Understanding this difference in how seats are filled in the legislative body is essential to understanding how American politics works.

    The UK (and some other countries) represents a third case, where the legislative and executive bodies are closely coupled, but where the seats are filled by district. In all cases, the structure of the government is a primary determinant of how the politics works within it.

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  • 34. At 9:10pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    29 Powermeerkat:

    Hang on a minute, before we end up bogged down in WW2 again. Just because it was the "Nationalist Socialist Workers' Party' doesn't mean it was socialist in the usual meaning of the word. And what on earth do you mean "started by two powers . . .with. . .socialist regimes" anyway?

    The countries that declared war on Germany 70 years ago today were Britain, France and members of the then British Empire. None of which had AFAIK 'socialist' governments or 'regimes'. Has somebody been listening to Pat Buchanan rewriting history by any chance?

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  • 35. At 9:24pm on 03 Sep 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    One observation I would add on the Matthews article from the Wall Street Journal to which I linked is that even a well-defined faction such as the "Blue Dog" Democrats does not vote as a bloc. Solid voting blocs are unusual in American politics.

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  • 36. At 9:25pm on 03 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 32: moon,

    'I have read a few posts referring to Americans being a generous, charitable and giving people. Can any Americans tell me if and why they feel they are particularly "giving"?'

    It's estimated that President Bush's AIDS initiative has saved 10 to 15 million lives. I paid for it through my taxes.

    What have you done lately?

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  • 37. At 9:28pm on 03 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    ref. 31: David,

    "Germany was one party, Britain the other."

    No, Russia was the other. Britain wasn't involved at the start of the war in Europe, just Poland, Russia, and Germany.

    You could also argue the Japanese had started the fight well before that.

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  • 38. At 9:34pm on 03 Sep 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    Here's an interesting item from The Washington Post on the subject of health-care industry financial support for members of Congress, for the benefit of those who like to fret about the influence of special-interest money in politics.

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  • 39. At 9:35pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    25. At 7:07pm on 03 Sep 2009, AndyPost wrote:

    "While we've produced our fair share of terrorists, that's not the issue here."

    In broad terms, and principle, yes it is. That's exactly what numerous governments have been calling people who take up arms to resist one especially after 9/11. Why should Americans who claim their own elected government can properly be overthrown by arms be called anything different? Unless it's 'anarchists'?

    "Lastly, we actually don't elect most of the federal government. As a Coloradan I'm represented by only seven Representatives (out of 435) and two Senators (out of 100) in Washington, while we have complete control of our state government."

    Well, I and about 60,000 others are represented by one elected MP out of 645, so I don't see how you can be 'less represented' by 9 out of 535?. Looks a pretty generous proportion to me. Anyway, if you don't elect them, how do they get there? Unless you mean you want to elect everybody in the Federal Government from President down to the local FBI's office cleaner every four years?

    I'm obviously out of the loop here, somehow.




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  • 40. At 10:07pm on 03 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #37. AndyPost: "Britain wasn't involved at the start of the war in Europe, just Poland, Russia, and Germany."

    What revisionist history book have you been reading? Both Britain and France declared war on Germany - Poland did not. She was invaded by Germany on September 1st 1939 and Britain sent an ultimatum to say that if there was no withdrawal by 11 a.m. on September 3rd then a state of war would exist. Since there was no response, at 11:15 that morning, Chamberlain addressed the nation and world, saying "no such undertaking has been received and consequently this country is at war with Germany." Sirens were immediately sounded, apparently in error, but war (albeit called "phony" for awhile) existed. And you say Britain wasn't involved!

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  • 41. At 10:12pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    37. At 9:28pm on 03 Sep 2009, AndyPost wrote:

    "No, Russia was the other. Britain wasn't involved at the start of the war in Europe, just Poland, Russia, and Germany."

    I was rather afraid that was it.

    You could also argue the Japanese had started the fight well before that."

    Well, I can't see how I could myself, but then all that time I spent on 'The Causes of the Second World War' in history at school was obviously wasted. Must be just like Henry Ford said, it's 'bunk' after all.

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  • 42. At 10:13pm on 03 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #36 AndyPost

    It's estimated that President Bush's AIDS initiative has saved 10 to 15 million lives. I paid for it through my taxes.

    What have you done lately?

    If you are talking about aid given through taxes then you don't really have much to shout about as America is way down the list of developed countries giving %of their GDP as aid to undeveloped countries, so by your arguement I as a British taxpayer have given more than you, an American tax payer.

    My point is that I hear Americans wax lyrical on a regular basis about how they give so much aid to undeveloped countries. I seen one survey with results showing that Americans think their foreign aid is as much as 20-24% of the GDP when in fact it is less than 1/4 of 1% (not taking into account how their manipulative and corrupt control of the World Bank and WTO and the unrelenting and unjust capitalist free-market foreign policies based on greed and profit at ALL costs have and continue to keep poorer countries on the outside looking in unable to claim their rightful rewards for the goods they produce)

    Not wishing to detail every charitable or altruistic act I personally have done I will just say that I can sleep easy at night.

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  • 43. At 10:29pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    40. At 10:07pm on 03 Sep 2009, David_Cunard

    Now, David, you've been around these blogs longer than me, and I know how all this ends, so let's get it done now and get back on topic shall we?

    "You cowardly hypocritical cynical Brits just lazed around until Uncle Sam galloped in and did the job for you." That's it. More or less.

    Phew. Glad we've got that over with.


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  • 44. At 10:47pm on 03 Sep 2009, davepoth wrote:

    #41, If you consider the Second Sino-Japanese War (fought between an Allied and an Axis Country) as a part of WW2 (as many do) it started in 1937.

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  • 45. At 10:59pm on 03 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    44. At 10:47pm on 03 Sep 2009, davepoth:

    Do they, indeed. Could make a case for the Spanish Civil War (1936) then. Is there a prize for who manages to get the furthest back from 1939?

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  • 46. At 11:18pm on 03 Sep 2009, Nick Benjamin wrote:

    One thing that has changed is that both sides turn out in force to events. Code Pink never got counter-demonstrators when they protested the Iraq war. There are hundreds of these demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, so there's a lot more potential fights each day.

    It is slightly more passionate than usual. Part of this is that a very small minority within the Conservative movement has stopped thinking with their heads at all. The birthers are not easy to deal with rationally. From the left health care reform is dear to progressive hearts.

    Also keep in mind that the US population is 5 times the British population. We're due five times the violence.

    As for why Obama can't just force the issue like a British PM could:
    He can't because he can't. Congress is Constitutionally separate from the Executive, so he can't bribe them with jobs. Attempts to get around this rule need major legal maneuvers, such as the one allowing Hillary to join the cabinet.

    We don't have orders of knighthood, or awards of any sort; so he can't bribe them with medals. Each of the fifty states runs their own elections, and all use their own rules for determining who gets to be a party's nominee. So he can't end a Congressman's political career the way a Canadian Party Leader could.

    The whole US System is set up so you need a lot of people to agree for anything to change. That's the point of Checks and Balances. The theory is a Hitler-type could take one office, but he probably couldn't also manage both Houses of Congress. And if he did that there'd still be Courts to keep him honest. The militia system was historically the final line of defense against tyrants.

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  • 47. At 11:20pm on 03 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #43. squirrellist: "I know how all this ends, so let's get it done now and get back on topic shall we?

    "You cowardly hypocritical cynical Brits just lazed around until Uncle Sam galloped in and did the job for you." That's it. More or less."

    Sadly, there's more than a nugget of truth in that; Hollywood has helped the perception that if it weren't for America we'd all be speaking German. It's rather like the US television coverage of the Olympics, one would hardly think there were any other participants and winners. The supreme ego is one of the least attractive aspects of American life although in recent years it has been toned down slightly. It's hard for Americans to realise that they will not always be top-dog; I think the British adjusted to the loss of Empire and Influence far better, even if I do hanker for the days when a map which showed great swaths of British pink! Can't turn the clock back - and neither can America.

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  • 48. At 11:27pm on 03 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    GH1618, I think we are at cross purposes in our conversation.

    I wish to know why the democrats can't keep party discipline, given the presumption that all politicians in the system rely on funding from centralized lobbies, and that these centralized lobbies can issue instructions to the party they pay for.

    You wish to explain to me that "They (the politicians) are responsible to the people who elected them, not to the party."

    I think I could agree with your presumption that politicians who belong to political parties are concerned with the people who elect them, but only on the proviso that "the people who elected them" is taken to mean the people who fund their campaigns; the shareholders of those corporations.

    If you expect me to accept that the common voter, the worker drone, has any influence whatsoever over how party politicians operate, I'm sorry, but I just cannot accept that premis. I see no evidence for it, and all the evidence I do see goes directly counter to that proposal of how the world works.

    And I think you'll agree, the evidence in this case supports my reasoning. Follow my reasoning for a minute here:

    1. Health care is only an issue in the media because the democrats cannot pass their plan.
    2. The only reason the democrats cannot pass their plan is because the blue dog faction is voting them down.
    3. The only reason the blue dog faction is voting them down is.........

    Aha! Here we have to make a decision about what we believe.

    You think the blue dog democrats are united by a duty to the people who elected them.

    I think the blue dog faction is united because they are all centered around the same source of campaign funding.

    And here this dispute in what we believe got scientific, because I was able to make a prediction about what I believed, and I went away, like a good objective scientist, and tested that prediction to see if the hypothesis held.

    If, I reasoned, party politicians are the representatives of corporate shareholders and NOT the common worker drones, then it follows that I should be able to do two things:

    1. Identify a group who are united against the reform bill, and;
    2. Identify the corporate interest group that funds this faction within the party.

    And as it turned out, I was able to find these two things I predicted from my model of how the world works.

    I'm not saying I've proved anything, because even things which are true can be proved. But you must forgive me if I remain deeply skeptical about your belief structure which insists that representative democracy in the USA is different to representative democracy in the EUSSR.

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  • 49. At 11:36pm on 03 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    ref. 42, moon:

    "If you are talking about aid given through taxes then you don't really have much to shout about as America is way down the list of developed countries giving %of their GDP as aid to undeveloped countries, so by your argument I as a British taxpayer have given more than you, an American tax payer."

    You are incorrect.

    "Americans give twice as much as the next most charitable country, according to a November 2006 comparison done by the Charities Aid Foundation. In philanthropic giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, the U.S. ranked first at 1.7 percent. No. 2 Britain gave 0.73 percent, while France, with a 0.14 percent rate, trailed such countries as South Africa, Singapore, Turkey and Germany."
    -- from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19409188/

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  • 50. At 00:01am on 04 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    The first sentence of this blog is priceless, by the way:

    "We are used to terms like "Nazi" being bandied around in the health debate at overheated town hall meetings."

    Your talents are not overlooked, Mardell. You are a funny man.

    It is just a pity they are so routinely squandered!

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  • 51. At 00:01am on 04 Sep 2009, parityisbetterthancharity wrote:

    #20 Squirrellist "(Oh, and while I'm thinking about the NJ one, I do wish people would stop using the word 'handicapped' over there. Horrible word. I'm disabled. Nothing to do with golf or my hands. OK? Oh, and the NHS hasn't proposed to have me put down, btw. I chatted to my 'death panel' -- aka GP -- only yesterday, and she didn't mention it. Just arranged another set of tests for November, suggested a different--and more expensive, though I get them free--drug to try for a couple of months, and asked if I might want to see a consultant again before then.)"

    I admit I have used the word "handicap" at times, perhaps carelessly though not with any intention of offense. But I have one problem with your view. How do you propose we should differentiate between those who are impeded in their work and those who are unable to work at all? For instance, I had one English professor who is blind. His lack of sight required special arrangements but did not keep him from doing his job (or publishing half a dozen books, either). To call him "disabled" would imply that he is unable to work. To call him handicapped just implies that adjustments must be made so he can work. What is your opinion in this situation?

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  • 52. At 00:07am on 04 Sep 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    I think we need to stop the "my dad is tougher than your dad", "my dad gives more money than your dad" discussion- the current topic is health care...

    That the health industry influences our elected pols thru lobbying is indisputable, but I think it is quite possible to overstate the case. Reality is far more complex than a simple, single cause and effect. The Blue Dogs are leery about the health care proposed packages for a number of intertwined reasons; some, like the influence peddling of the industry, are less than pure, but other reasons are less so. The pressure of reelection in a less-than-liberal district is very real, and yet some of the very same constituents who elected them as "different" than "East Coast liberals" might feel betrayed if they supported such a measure.

    This electoral discomfort is made doubly disturbing by the pressure being brought to bear my the organized efforts to stir up the (gullible?) "anti-socialist" crowd. Even if they know intellectually that the town hall screamers are a tiny minority, it still has to affect the politician's perspectives.

    And although pooh-poohed by many health care reformers, when presented in stripped down numbers (as they've allowed the debate to be shaped,) the baseline cost is enough to cause many to have sticker shock. Again, the politicians (any worth their seat) are probably smart enough to realize that the bottom-dollar figure doesn't add in the crippling effects on business, or on our global competitiveness- but try selling that to a media that just wants sound bytes...

    And, speaking of the media, their coverage is not driven by their corporate overlords. We've entered a new age of Yellow Journalism where the story that sells the most is the one that is followed. Complex stories with intricate cause and effect and analysis sadly rarely pursued, even by the best in the business; it's the sensational, or that which can be summed up in a 2 minute brief, that gets the time.

    So what could be more made to order for the newsmerchants than angry town hall confrontations? (And people act differently in front of the camera, too- just perhaps some of it mightn't have happened if the cameras weren't rolling...

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  • 53. At 00:13am on 04 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #49 Andypost
    I am correct
    From the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/vote_2005/frontpage/4477887.stm
    "Three quarters want rich countries to cancel unpayable debts owed by developing countries, and even more people - 88% - want the international trade rules rewritten in favour of poorer nations.

    The big problem is the lack of any joined-up commitment from the US.

    More than half of humanity will wake up hungry today, and it will take more than wearing a white arm band to change that

    David Loyn

    In the preliminary meetings for the G8 summit in Scotland in July, American officials have been open to anything on aid as long as it does not cost them money.

    And it is clear that without a significant change in heart from the world's largest economy there cannot be the big gear changes which will make a difference.

    America is currently at the bottom of the league table of developed countries, giving less than 0.2% of GDP to the developing world."

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  • 54. At 00:23am on 04 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    49. At 11:36pm on 03 Sep 2009, AndyPost

    I don't really want to see this develop any more than fighting world wars again, but it's comparing apples and oranges.

    "Individuals gave a combined 75.6 percent of the total. With bequests, that rises to 83.4 percent. The biggest chunk of the money, $96.82 billion or 32.8 percent, goes to religious organizations. The second largest slice, $29.56 billion or 13.9 percent, goes to education, including gifts to colleges, universities and libraries.

    The Giving USA report counts money given to foundations as well as grants the foundations make to nonprofits and other groups, since foundations typically give out only income earned without spending the original donations."

    Religious organisations, universities and libraries or foundations, and not ones at home, are not what we think of in Europe as being primarily subjects included in what we think of as 'giving to charity'. And I don't think we'd include "Investment superstar Warren Buffett" giving $1.9 billion to a foundation that already had nearly 30 billion in the bank. . .


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  • 55. At 00:50am on 04 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #54 Squirellist

    I have limited internet access and was unable to check Andyposts msnbc link, I will check it out tomorrow but I suspected it was as you described. America giving 1.7% of GDP in in foreign aid?! Incredible

    #52 Via Media
    I am not getting all patriotic here as I think the UK is as bad as USA and the UK government should be ashamed at not being able to match even the miserly 0.7% that the UN recommended when countires like Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Luxembourg have been able to. However my point is that Brits generally don't make a big song-&-dance about charitability and single-handedly bailing out the rest of the world purely in the name of altruism like Americans do. I think this is relevant to the healthcare debate as Americans seem to have a warped self-image claiming generosity at every turn yet seem to not really care about their fellow Americans without healthcare, "Why should I pay for your healthcare?" is a common shout from the crowds in the town hall meetings.

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  • 56. At 00:51am on 04 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #20. squirrellist: "I do wish people would stop using the word 'handicapped' over there. Horrible word. I'm disabled."

    Why not be done with it and go the whole hog: resurrect the word 'cripple'. Queer, in relation to sexuality, was thought to be pejorative but in recent years has acquired a currency all of its own, so why not other words? I was once chastised for saying someone was deaf, and that the preferred description was "hearing impaired". Too many people get upset when euphemisms are not used - mustn't upset those with such delicate susceptibilities!

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  • 57. At 02:49am on 04 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    51. At 00:01am on 04 Sep 2009, trueconservative

    Well, no, don't see really that "disabled" = "unabled". Whereas "handicapped" somehow means "prevented from doing". Maybe the word's a cultural thing. It got used too patronisingly too often I think. And it was pretty obviously amazingly insensitive in the hearing of some thalidomide children. Like that bank asking a man with no arms and hands for a thumbprint on his cheque . . .

    But more a propos of this debate is that you shouldn't find yourself suddenly without enough means to have at least some basic standard of living and help without being thrown into a panic because you can't make a living, or find enough to pay your rent and pay for the medication or any help you might need as well.

    I saw a woman in a wheelchair in the 'Town Hall' meeting in New Jersey expressing her fears about just that, and being shouted down. "These disabled people have more rights than I do" one able-bodied guy was shouting. No, not rights, I have the same 'rights' as everybody else; my day-to-day needs are different and possibly a bit more awkward to manage, that's all.

    It's been a long fight here, but most people by now have come to understand the difference and accept it and that the state--which we all pay into--should give a hand so you can access those 'rights' when it's needed. Not to do that is so-o-o-o- . . . (oops!) well, so nineteenth century.

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  • 58. At 03:04am on 04 Sep 2009, NJreader wrote:

    The healthcare debate is heated in the USA because it is a proxy debate for the role of government in people's lives. The government does not provide the average person with food, shelter and clothing. Why should it pay for everyone's medical bills? The other problem is the lack of specificity in the "reforms." Most people would like to see the current system changed, with good reason, but that does not mean that voters want a single-payer NHS style system. People who are dubious about the "reforms" worry that in the process of trying to fix what's wrong with American health care provision, the government will ruin what's right about it. The most sensible solution I have seen would involve requiring individuals to be financially responsible for their own preventive care and foreseeable common medical expenses, paying for these out of savings or credit. Beyond a certain threshold (say, 50K), the government could provide catastrophic coverage for people unfortunate enough to have serious chronic illness or terrible accidents. Unfortunately, many supporters of "reform" just want free medical care paid for by someone else. People who complain about their awful insurance premiums now will find that they will be paying at least as much in taxes.

    I know that UK citizens are defensive about American criticism of the NHS. But when I read the comments on "Have your say" about filthy hospitals and indifferent nursing under the NHS, I don't see why we should follow your example. I have never heard any of my friends and family having such terrible experiences at a US hospital.

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  • 59. At 03:24am on 04 Sep 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    democracythreat (#48) "I wish to know why the democrats can't keep party discipline ... "

    Simply because they have no power to coerce. Parties in the US do not have the control of their members that they do under other political systems. If you can't relate to that, I don't know how to explain it.

    I don't mean that individual constituents control their elected representatives either. Consider the case of the Senator Baucus (D-Montana) in The Washington Post article to which I linked. It would be simplistic to assume that he has been bought by the health-care industry. He is a conservative Democratic from a state which voted for McCain-Palin in 2008. Were he a liberal in the Obama mold, he would never have become a senator from Montana. He holds his senate seat in a strong Republican state because he is in tune with the values of a majority of the people of Montana. He is supported by the health-care industry because he is in tune with their values as well. There is no way that Sen. Baucus would roll over for Obama if that would threaten his support in his home state. What can Obama do if Baucus does not give Obama everything he wants? Nothing much.

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  • 60. At 03:25am on 04 Sep 2009, discogreen wrote:

    A lot of the people complaining about health care reform are like me. They are dealing with Medicare for their parents. It is a nightmare. Not all of the drugs are covered for the entire year. The "donut" that President Obama mentioned in a speech but said nothing about fixing. My sisters and I were harrased by the nursing staff to come down and help with our Fathers care. My sister had to feed him his meals because no one else would. This could be a very long post.

    Another issue is our congressmen not reading the bill and stating they wouldn't. Even President Obama stated that he had not read it. And what was all of the rush? Why did it have to be rammed through in three weeks. Who wrote it any way? Remember the stimulus bill that no one read? Our elected officials are not doing their job of representing the people.

    I ask anyone who supports the bill if they have read the bill. The answer is always no. I have read part of it and the parts I have read scare me.

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  • 61. At 03:30am on 04 Sep 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    To add to my preceding remarks: the health-care industry could not, for example, promise to contribute to the campaign fund of Senator Boxer from my state, who is one of the most "liberal" members of the Senate, and thereby turn her into an opponent of health care reform. She has a constituancy which elects and reelects her on the basis of her liberal Democratic values, and no amount of health-care money would cause her to turn her back on her constituancy. The "Blue Dog" Democrats in the House of Representatives, and their counterparts in the Senate, are from conservative districts and they must reflect the values of their constituents or face opposition in their next election campaign.

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  • 62. At 03:51am on 04 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Via-Media wrote:

    "That the health industry influences our elected pols thru lobbying is indisputable, but I think it is quite possible to overstate the case. Reality is far more complex than a simple, single cause and effect. The Blue Dogs are leery about the health care proposed packages for a number of intertwined reasons; some, like the influence peddling of the industry, are less than pure, but other reasons are less so. The pressure of reelection in a less-than-liberal district is very real, and yet some of the very same constituents who elected them as "different" than "East Coast liberals" might feel betrayed if they supported such a measure.

    This electoral discomfort is made doubly disturbing by the pressure being brought to bear my the organized efforts to stir up the (gullible?) "anti-socialist" crowd. Even if they know intellectually that the town hall screamers are a tiny minority, it still has to affect the politician's perspectives."

    I recognize the valid points you make here, but I would question your intentions.

    Do you intend to belittle the influence of corporate lobbyists on the two party system? If so, why?

    Because the world is "complex"? Or because you prefer not to believe that representative democracy is a cruel farce that circumvents the voter in favour of the shareholder of the corporation who generates profits from government contracts?

    The thing is, the "blue dog democrats" are an organized and deliberately structured political faction, NOT a term adopted by the media to described "democrats of a certain type". If you follow my reasoning here, it does not make sense to talk about the general trends that influence blue dog democrats. It rather makes sense to discuss precisely why this faction became organised, and for what purpose.

    I put it to you that the blue dog democrats became an organized faction precisely because the organization was able to generate more corporate funding than the individuals on their own could have done.

    I put it to you that the blue dog democrats are able to promise an entire voting bloc to their corporate sponsors, and that this is precisely what makes them such a lucrative purchase for the medical corporations.

    Further, you must admit that this same homogenization of political and economic power is present on the corporate side of the deal. Is it not true that medical corporations form associations, to which they pledge funding, and in whose name the seek to lobby government? Is it not true the the express purpose of these associations is to concentrate their spending power, and to achieve definite power by purchasing a voting bloc in government?

    And if you accept that industries collectivize their donations in order to purchase an effective product, the voting bloc, is it not logical that politicians will have a similar incentive to form a collective bloc in order to sell this effective product to its market?

    I do not argue with the point you rightly make that blue dog democrats have legitimate philosophical and electoral justifications for voting howsoever they wish.

    Yes, I concede that it is perfectly legitimate for a blue dog democrat to vote republican style on any given issue, because he or she decides that the true wishes of the electorate lean in that direction. Sure, your point is well made.

    But tell me this: Is it a co-incidence that every member who is voting against the rest of the party, in this instance, is also a specific member of the organized group which is specifically funded by a lobby group with a direct financial interest in the outcome of the vote?

    Is it reasonable, do you think, to suggest that this startling co-relation between "those who are funded by by a specific lobby" just happen to be precisely the same people as "those who are voting against the proposal which affects the very same lobby"?

    Further, what are the odds of such a co-incidence?

    Why is nobody from outside the blue dog coalition voting down the party proposals?

    Why is everybody within the coalition voting it down?

    You see, it is all very well to point at the justifications offered by these people and say "that is how the system works, it is democracy, deal with it".

    It is quite another thing to take part in elections and then be told that you just have to deal with remarkable co-incidences that just happen to enrich corporate America at the same time as they destroy the welfare of non corporate america.

    In the end, we can both agree on two things:

    1. It is perfectly LEGAL for corporations to sponsor the representatives of the people, and to form organizations to communicate views to the people's representatives as they see fit. This is just how representative democracy works.

    2. Representative democracy has evolved to the point where politicians cannot reasonably expect to win office unless they belong to one of the two major parties, and receive campaign funding from corporate lobby groups.

    The third question, of why the people's representatives vote the way they do, and why corporate sponsors always seem to make so much money whilst the voters get poorer and poorer.......

    I am not a demagogue. I leave that to each individual to decide for themselves.

    So few people even understand the terms of reference it is pointless getting excited about it.

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  • 63. At 04:01am on 04 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Gary_A_Hill wrote:
    "The "Blue Dog" Democrats in the House of Representatives, and their counterparts in the Senate, are from conservative districts and they must reflect the values of their constituents or face opposition in their next election campaign."

    Sorry Garry, your posts were not published when i made my last burnt offering.

    What you are saying here is that republicans who dress up as democrats in elections can hardly be expected to act like democrats, because everybody knows that they were elected as democrats because they were really republicans.

    It is a cunning argument, and not one I feel competent to engage with. Forgive me.

    I would point out, however, that these justifications do little to redeem the system itself, unless you are a corporate sponsor.

    What you are effectively saying is that the system favours corporate sponsors, because they will always be able to buy enough votes SOMEWHERE, in order to defeat the mandate of the elected government.

    I agree completely.

    You are also saying, I submit, that the voter may as well not bother turning up, because what he or she thinks they are voting for is a complete illusion. The outcome of government policy will be decided in party backrooms, by hired experts. Whatever is campaigned upon is so much dust on yesterdays wind.

    Again, I agree completely.

    I make no argument that representative democracy is being defrauded, in the legal sense, or that it doesn't work as it was intended to work by those who designed it.

    I am simply making the argument that representative democracy leaves power in the hands of those who sponsor politicians, and gives ordinary people the mere illusion of taking part in their own government.

    So did soviet communism, for what it is worth, and that is not to denigrate either system. Both are better than absolute feudalism, in my view, and both are inferior to direct democracy, as practiced in Switzerland.

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  • 64. At 04:05am on 04 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    58. At 03:04am on 04 Sep 2009, NJreader wrote:

    "when I read the comments on "Have your say" about filthy hospitals and indifferent nursing under the NHS, I don't see why we should follow your example. I have never heard any of my friends and family having such terrible experiences at a US hospital."

    Well, neither have I, and I've been in quite a few NHS hospitals myself over the last ten years. The worst example I've heard of was from a friend who had a hysterectomy in a private hospital in Belgium being paid for by private insurance.

    I think a lot of those stories date back to the 80's when the NHS was being starved of money under the Conservatives and Thatcher. I spent a short time in a London hospital at the end of that decade, and the wards were only cleaned every two or three days and my main meal turned out to be a small slice of ham and half a baked potato.

    Anyway, I still don't understand this argument about "people wanting free medical care at someone else's expense." That's how any form of insurance works in any case. Those who are statistically least likely to crash their car still pay in their premiums part of the potential costs of those who are most likely to. Nobody who gets to 65 in the USA with 40 years' worth of health insurance unspent because they never had more than a cold ever gets their money back, do they?

    And 50,000 dollars for 'preventive care' and 'foreseeable common medical expenses" from what I've read wouldn't pay for much more than one broken leg or one pregnancy in a lifetime, so I suspect the taxes would be chipping in pretty early for a lot of people. And how do you make people 'save' 50,000 anyway? And over how long? And if you're 20 now, that 50,000 would need to be more like 5 million by the time you're 65, anyway.

    People would be demanding that 'the government' let them use 'their' 40,000 or 500.000. or 5 million, the minute they thought they could use it better on buying a new house or a new car because after all they'd never been ill, so it was just wasted money. It wouldn't work.

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  • 65. At 04:51am on 04 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark:

    Did he have insurance and did it cover Severed Pinkie Syndrome?

    I think that the insurance will be covering the Severed Pinkie Syndrome and, the treatment....

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 66. At 05:13am on 04 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    65. At 04:51am on 04 Sep 2009, Dennis_Junior

    Huffpo said he had Medicare; or was it MedicAid? I get a bit confused between the two now. But now I'm wondering about the other guy he apparently punched first. The reports aren't very informative as to the details. There seems to have been something of a generational difference. Perhaps Mark could send a Beeb person over there to clear it all up for us?

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  • 67. At 05:36am on 04 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #58. NJreader: "I have never heard any of my friends and family having such terrible experiences at a US hospital."

    Perhaps not, but then explain why the Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles was closed. There is life (and death) beyond New Jersey.

    Two of the principal problems are geographical size and the political system. It is far easier to implement change - of any kind - in the UK than it is in the United States. British central government can do pretty much what it likes, a few "consultations" here and there for appearance' sake, and then it's done. In the USA, there remain fifty states, all of whom (or their representatives) need to be persuaded that a course of action is required or necessary. The Federal Government has not the power to enforce everything unilaterally whereas the British government does. Nationalisation, and much later, privatisation, was done at the stroke of a pen. The President does not have the same power as a British Prime Minister with regard to domestic matters. If he did, then there would be little or no debate about healthcare. In1946, the Labour Government, with Attlee at the helm and a majority of of 145 seats, simply passed the NHS Act, and that was it. Can't do that in America!

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  • 68. At 10:27am on 04 Sep 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    62/63 democracythreat

    I'm afraid that your argument is rather simplistic and one-sided, and fails to account for the facts. Unfortunately, in order to receive my paycheck I must earn it so I have not the time for a point-by-point rebuttal now, but I can say that 1. yes, lobbying has an undue influence on our electoral system, but 2. it is not the only factor by any means in the current debate.

    Overstatement gives the foes of reform a monolithic, conspiracy-esque appearance that is not warranted, and clouds with fear any effort to rationally discuss the pros and cons of any reform effort.

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  • 69. At 12:20pm on 04 Sep 2009, NJreader wrote:

    #64
    What many supporters of "reform" want is not insurance, where you, as an individual, pay into a pool against a risk which probably won't come to pass. Instead, they want a government-funded health care system that is free at the point of service, where individuals are assumed to have no personal financial responsibility whatsoever. Supporters of single-payer have also not presented any realistic proposals for cost control. The US government's track record on financial projections for social entitlement programs is wretched. You can't pretend that the money doesn't matter or that it just will materialize if we "tax the rich" or cut all military spending. All other countries with some form of universal provision face major long-term funding problems for their systems. The NHS is going bankrupt. It will have to change. So will our system. Woolly headed arguments about social compassion don't pay the bills. It's very easy to be theoretically generous with someone else's money.

    Our current system is a paradoxical mess where we have for-profit insurers who are regulated within an inch of their lives; large government-funded systems who reimburse providers by fiat (Medicare, etc.) under terms which don't actually cover the cost of the care; and distorted non-transparent prices where what you pay for a procedure depends on who is funding it, not how much it costs. There is no reason why a normal pregnancy or an appendectomy has to "cost' so much if people had a choice about how and where to spend their medical dollars for predictable, routine expenses.

    Your car crash analogy is interesting. Auto insurance does not pay for your gas or maintenance, only unforeseeable catastrophes. Similarly, a realistic universal medical insurance plan for the United States should not pay for a lot of predictable, temporary, and controllable medical situations. I consider a broken leg or pregnancy in that category (and these do not cost 50K under ordinary circumstances). You cannot make people save money, but most will if they have to. Or they can put it on credit, like they already do for their flat screen TVs and cars. Many employers offer medical savings plans as a benefit, where you can save pre-tax income for routine medical expenses.

    I am not arguing that the US system is flawless. I am attempting to explain why the NHS does not look like a very good model for our reforms and why many Americans heatedly oppose such a system being implemented here. It seems that many in the UK see the NHS as a major aspect of their national identity and feel personally insulted if it is questioned.


    #67
    "British central government can do pretty much what it likes, a few "consultations" here and there for appearance' sake, and then it's done."

    And do you think that's a good thing?

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  • 70. At 12:30pm on 04 Sep 2009, Snagletooth wrote:

    2. At 4:43pm on 03 Sep 2009, David_Cunard wrote:

    "I'd bet that the anti-healthcare protesters take full advantage of Medicare when they turn sixty-five, yet they would deny it to those younger."

    What about Medicaid? Just loosen the restrictions so more people can receive it and a little regulation on the health industry to rein in cost. Presto, problem solved! No major overhaul needed, just some minor tweeking of what we already have on the books.
    The problem is both are broke, along with the Veterans health care, and one could argue severely mismanaged. If we can't afford to expand Medicaid, then how can we even think we can afford anything else. If the government can't adequately the run the health care systems they are already charge with running, why would a newer, larger program somehow being suddenly run any better by them?

    5. AndyPost

    Completely agree, though I would have to say we lost state control and militia after the Civil War.The ink finally dried during WWII.

    12. At 5:30pm on 03 Sep 2009, thuning wrote:

    "The most one sided debates in US history have always been the most violent as the "debate" over slavery has shown. Those with the indefensible position resort to violence after their inane arguments like "blacks aren't people" or "Obama will kill us all" don't work. That violence effects recourse to retaliation and the cycle of violence begins."

    What? The final push to end slavery was not morally driven, but business driven. The northern industrial leaders were in need of cheap labor as immigration had slowed down considerably. The bulk of the population in the south not only wanted an end to slavery, but wanted an end to the huge plantation system as a whole. May were small farmers and couldn't begin to survive against the handful of huge plantations. The plantation owners saw the writing on the wall and knew it was coming to an end. They wanted some time to acquire the new machinery coming out (most were cash broke and credit tapped following the crash's of the 1840's & 50's). The south (and some in the north) also wanted a clear plan as to what to do with the freed slaves. Ten there is the overriding issue of States (local) rights vs. Big Government. Something Lincoln tried to keep it down to.
    While comparisons could be drawn between this and health care, to boil down oppositions arguements to "blacks aren't people", and "Obama will kill us all" shows not only you're complete ignorance of history, but of the real issued at hand today.
    14. At 5:58pm on 03 Sep 2009, jsuman wrote:

    "To understand why the healthcare debate is so heated you just need to look at our media outlets. The United States has a very unregulated media, to the point that pundits flat out lie and get away with it."

    I'm confused, are suggesting government control of the media?

    "Right-Wing talk radio uses bold, loud, and often offenceive language to keep their listeners hooked. It is basically propaganda, and it works."

    How quickly we forget CNN in the Clinton-Era!

    18. At 6:32pm on 03 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:


    "But I still don't understand why the democratic party is unable to bring its folks into line on this issue."

    That's because the Democratic ticket got hijacked. It's becoming clearer every day that the Progressive Party (er, movement?) got voted in disguised as Democrats. This is a radical fringe. The Democrats won't openly acknowledge this because they like to associate "radicals" with Republicans, but Blue Dogs and other true Democrats are clearly trying to move away...far, far away, from this group. that's why the big rush to get something done. The Progressive need to "get something done" before the people realize they've been duped and vote out anyone associate with the Progs. in 2010 and & 2012. Imagine if the Libertarians got voted in pretending to be Republicans. Health care reform or not, 2010 is going to be ugly.

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  • 71. At 2:46pm on 04 Sep 2009, MasterShogu wrote:

    As an American I honestly don't know what the fuss is about. We need radical health care reform that in my opinion addresses (to start) the high cost issue and the millions of uninsured (to name just two issues). Why can't the great, generous American's agree on that? Doesn't an advanced society look after the common welfare in adddion to common defence, etc? Yeah, right, generous americans. With all the poisoned invective flying around over somehting seen as a fundamental right by normal nations, Americans are looking like the ungenerous, uncaring, backward, dog-eat-dog, crack-pots they are.

    When its stated most people are 'happy' with the healthcare that is probably true but once you lose you job you will find your premiums sky rocket as, under cobra, you will no longer benefit from your employers subsidy. Not sure how long that coverage lasts. But were you to need to go out on your own to find insurance I think you'd be very unhappy at your monthly premiums. So the idea that we can't 'take our insurance with us' (portability) is a gaping failure of our system and why I believe we need a universal, government option.

    Now, don't get me wrong, like any good American I hate the federal gov't and their involvement usually spells a stitch-up benefiting their corporate paymasters but I hate the insurance/medical industries just as much as I am sick of increasing premiums/co-pays, and reduced coverage. Put the fear of God into these crooks with a threat of gov't meddling and maybe we'll see some reform.

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  • 72. At 3:35pm on 04 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    71. At 2:46pm on 04 Sep 2009, MasterShogu wrote:

    "As an American I honestly don't know what the fuss is about."

    A lot of it seems rather like cutting off your finger to spite your hand.

    You could say.

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  • 73. At 4:19pm on 04 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #49 Andypost
    Your msnbc link is a poor rebuttal. I suggest you read my post first. Squirellist #54 says it well.

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  • 74. At 4:23pm on 04 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #70. Snagletooth: "What about Medicaid? "

    Although funded in part by the Federal government, Medicare is a means-tested state programme. Poverty does not make potential recipients automatically eligible.

    "If the government can't adequately the run the health care systems they are already charge with running . . . "

    The government doesn't run any health care systems in the USA. It funds them, but does not operate them.

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  • 75. At 4:59pm on 04 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #69. NJreader: "The NHS is going bankrupt."

    Since it's funded directly by general taxation, it is impossible for it to ever go bankrupt, even in the darkest days of post-war Britain, when the nation was bankrupt under Labour, the NHS continued. The sums the government provide may prove to be inadequate in which case they will be obliged to provide additional funding. Dismantling the NHS would be the ruination of any party which attempted it. The clock cannot be turned back.

    "British central government can do pretty much what it likes, a few "consultations" here and there for appearance' sake, and then it's done."

    And do you think that's a good thing?

    Yes, that's what democracy is about: the majority rules.

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  • 76. At 5:10pm on 04 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    69. At 12:20pm on 04 Sep 2009, NJreader wrote:

    #67
    "British central government can do pretty much what it likes, a few "consultations" here and there for appearance' sake, and then it's done."

    And do you think that's a good thing?


    Yes, because it's not quite as simple as that. A party puts forward its programme at an election, we vote for them and it, and then expect them to get on with it without pfaffing around and taking forever over it.

    But MP's do have to listen to their constituents (some by no means as much as we'd like) so bills do often get amended. And if enough MP's get twitchy about whether they'll get voted for next time, it's not unknown for enough to get together and defeat an unpopular bill so it has to be abandoned or (more usually) altered, or vote the government down and force a new election.

    Then, if we don't like what they've been doing, after (usually) four years, we can chuck the whole lot out and have another go. Or, as has become quite common over the last few years, indulge ourselves in what we call 'tactical voting' so the government's majority is reduced, as it was last time, to kind of remind them that we may not like the other lot, but we're not so keen on them any more either.

    So, after the next election, our current government might be out altogether, or quite possibly be back in with such a small majority they might have to take on board what the Lib Dems (now a more socialist party than the 'official' one) want to get anything done. (I hope.)

    It all means, usually, that what we don't get is things like the Climate Change Bill that seems to be a) so weak it's pretty well useless, or b) left on the back burner altogether. Or this health care proposal that appears to have become a very confused affair that seemingly fixes little that's wrong and suits hardly anybody except the people who've written their own paragraphs of it. And just seems to get longer and less intelligible by the week.

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  • 77. At 5:16pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "this conflict was started by two powers; both with nationalistic,"
    Power meer kit which exactly were those two powers?

    Last I saw it was universally recognised that the war was started by Hitler.
    Everyone else responded to his invasions of Poland and on..

    You always were a little strange with the truth.



    32 Moon Oh no now you will have opened the flood gates.
    (tell you what it is an american dream but like those dreams that are hard to shake , You know awake wondering if it was a dream or not.. They still believe their dreams are literal interpretations;) Just joshing america. (not really Moon they are dreamers in a haze))

    If you wonder why that haze exists
    " But there is concern in the US that drug companies have been influencing psychiatrists over what anti-psychotic drugs to prescribe."


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8233490.stm

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  • 78. At 5:34pm on 04 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 40: David,

    While the facts you give are indisputable, I don't think it's fair to lay the blame at Britain's doorstep for starting World War II. I'm thinking now that that wasn't what you meant to suggest, rather that Britain deserves credit for being in it from the beginning. I have no problem with that.

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  • 79. At 5:35pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    moon lol see the response from Andy post.

    It must be said the Bush Aids initiative was a huge amount and did much good.

    Shame the republicans couldn't have said yes instead of "curse of the damn" for all those years up to Bush.
    Like when Bill was trying to get Aids help.

    PS CAn't we do something about these WW2 buffs. like tell them it is over , we will commemorate stuff, yes it is useful to learn history but really do we have to rehash this every week. that let the blog revert to WW2 ,I and Blah


    Andy post

    Coloradan's have a disproportionate pull in congress and the house. Electoral vote system was set up to give more weight to your swing. Straight proportional representation and you loose just about all of it.


    ANdy you ask What have you done lately.


    Many in europe have paid a higher rate of tax to fund the services to the citizens of the country and some visitors.
    they have funded the health care of the less fortunate. AND many aid programs.
    They pay a higher percentage of their wages than the americans and use a higher percentage of the taxes gathered to fund Aid programs.
    They in some cases actually paid up (not many) the money they promised to the UN in commitments. And showed a commitment to try and do something about Global warming when you americans were still beating on about not needing to worry.
    But personally I don't take credit for it just because I paid some taxes. unlike you

    "what did you do"
    You Andy did nothing.


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  • 80. At 5:40pm on 04 Sep 2009, hunterchic wrote:

    i'm embarrassed how childish U.S. republicans have been toward Obama's ideas to help underprivileged americans in the health insurance struggle, as well as the ridiculous propaganda spread around the media. I think the sole basis of all those arguments are republican propaganda due to the "butthurt" feelings of finally having a democrat president who has the guts to try to do something about the deplorable condition american people are with health insurance. My husband was assaulted and received a broken nose by some punk 18 yr old neighbors and his employers insurance "opted not to pay" since it was filed 2 days before the plan ended due to unemployment-----awsome, right? In addition, i cannot go onto my husband's insurance through work when we cant afford to have $500/month taken out of his paycheck for just ME to be insured, that is absolutely ridiculous and should be termed a "raping" of the american people, just so those employed can also safely assure their families to be covered for their health for such a horrendous amount a month and then to "OPT OUT" not to pay for a broken nose?? How is that American?! Oh, right it must've been my husband's fault he broke his nose...i can just imagine that is how the heartless republican antagonists would say. thanks

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  • 81. At 5:43pm on 04 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Via-Media wrote:
    62/63 democracythreat

    "I'm afraid that your argument is rather simplistic and one-sided, and fails to account for the facts. Unfortunately, in order to receive my paycheck I must earn it so I have not the time for a point-by-point rebuttal now..."

    Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to pass judgement on the matter, via-media.

    I look up to the very great heights from which you issue your proclamations, and await your point by point rebuttal with awe and hope. Simple people like myself often fail to account for facts, and we enjoy being told that we are wrong, rather than being persuaded through argument, because it establishes who is emotionally dominant in the debate.

    I often find that it is better to simply make statements that others are wrong, rather than taking time from my own busy schedule (I'm saving the world and serving god, you understand) to make an argument. In the end, I am clearly such a superior human being that it would be a pity if I did not articulate this fact for lessor humans to appreciate. Once people understand my inherent superiority, they generally accept that it is my place to tell them of their mistakes, without saying why I believe they have made mistakes.

    So I appreciate this method of argument, whereby one states that one is too busy too argue, but that the other side is simply wrong. There is always time to tell an inferior person they are wrong, but not always time to say why. Anyway, when you try to explain to inferior people why they are wrong, often they are too stupid to understand why, and then you find you have wasted your time.

    In the end, I find it is a far better investment of my time to put on my best suit and stare into the full length mirror in my mother's bedroom, and thank god that he choose me for his special friend, the vessel of truth in a duplicitous and complex world.

    You know what I mean. Superiority is such a delightful felling, why share it in public?

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  • 82. At 5:43pm on 04 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark:

    As he was 65, was he covered by a government-run, taxpayer-funded scheme?

    Yes, he was technically covered by a government-run, taxpayer-funded health care scheme; Called MEDICARE....

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 83. At 5:47pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 84. At 5:51pm on 04 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref 54, squirrelist:

    "I don't really want to see this develop any more than fighting world wars again, but it's comparing apples and oranges."

    Ok, I guess. Moon's original question asked why Americans feel as if they're a generous people, a question which I took rhetorically as an assertion that when we make that claim, we're full of it. The question was not whether we're the most charitable people on the planet. I find charitable giving in this country to be overly selective in nature, so I wouldn't be making that claim myself.

    I think the link I provided (along with a slew I didn't -- I always try to make sure the links I cite are representative) clearly show that, yes, we do have ample reason to think we're a charitable people.

    For the record, the link also illustrates where that tradition comes from, Great Britain, which is number 2 (using the measures of that survey). The British are clearly a charitable people, too. There's no reason to dispute that. As far as which is more charitable, well, I'm only interested in that as far as it serves as a challenge to increase charitable giving in both countries. Otherwise, who cares? Both peoples are doing good things.

    So, as a compromise, I say we gang up on the French.

    The "what have you done lately" comment was a rhetorical question, and perhaps a bit sloppy. A more direct rephrasing would be, what country puts the US to shame in this respect?

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  • 85. At 6:00pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    49 Andy you are incorrect and I believe you have like other posters that visit their pet fallacies tried to pull the wool over the stats yet again on this issue.
    You remember when the stats for giving were picked apart last time but yet again you come with your accusations that others are Wrong .When you know that last time you tried that you ended up giving up because you couldn't face the onslaught of information that showed you to be false.
    This was the problem with the old blog. continual repeated reassertions of baseless "facts" . even when refuted the poster refuses to accept that they mearly leave and shut up for long enough to bring the subject back up.
    Unless this is an educational exercise to help others learn it is something that can best be described in terms that the Mods don't like.

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  • 86. At 6:08pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    60 Americans say we want it but we don't really confusing.
    The oldies on the 65 over care.(even if they earned millions every year of their life) didn't want Gov. running things so they have given the Gov. as little power as possible to regulate.
    NHS hospitals are not as restrictive. but You must have heard this. or you have been listening to the wrong stations.
    here's another side.
    I won't pay taxes if not able to work because a small infection went bad and caused a limb to be amputated (which bankrupted would me )
    THIS IS NOT MY STORY OF WOE before you thicker readers jump. it is a story.

    But a possible story in the USA

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  • 87. At 6:10pm on 04 Sep 2009, middlecroony wrote:

    I am just thouroughly disgusted with the corruption at every layer you peel away. Crazy, but i have been dreaming of a scinario(sp) where nobody turned out to vote in the 2010 election. It seems to hardly matter who you vote for anyway, and wouldn't that just turn things on it's ear. Unrealistic, i know, but i feel so powerless. I am completely ashamed of my country, and its lack of empathy for the most basic needs. Life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness? Ya, whatever. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-09-01-health-lobbyists-lawmakers_N.htm?csp=YahooModule_News

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  • 88. At 6:15pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "The "Blue Dog" Democrats in the House of Representatives, and their counterparts in the Senate, are from conservative districts and they must reflect the values of their constituents or face opposition in their next election campaign."

    Gary are you saying the bluedogs are somewhat slack in morals?

    They stand for a principle but if they are threatened with having to go to work they suddenly get all pliable.

    Sounds like a lack of conviction to me.





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  • 89. At 6:23pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "
    I think the link I provided (along with a slew I didn't -- I always try to make sure the links I cite are representative) clearly show that, yes, we do have ample reason to think we're a charitable people."

    Yes it proves that americans will believe anything.


    The Health care debate is all messed up becasue no one can ask the basic question and get an answer.

    " Should we make sure the whole of our population has health care"

    A basic agreement gives one a place to start from.
    At the moment there has been no basic decision so everyone argues about minute details without thinking to ask what are they trying to achieve.

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  • 90. At 6:25pm on 04 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 39, Squirrellist:

    "Well, I and about 60,000 others are represented by one elected MP out of 645, so I don't see how you can be 'less represented' by 9 out of 535?. Looks a pretty generous proportion to me."

    We want more control over our government. That's why the U.S. came into being.

    "Anyway, if you don't elect them, how do they get there?"

    They're voted in by the citizens of other states. The other day a conservative friend of mine was ranting on about how much he disliked Speaker Pelosi and accusing Democrats like me of putting a liberal ideologue two steps away from the presidency. My response was that I've never once had a chance to express my opinion about the Speaker: she's never run for any office in Colorado, and the Speaker is elected by members of the House, the vast majority of whom I've never had a chance to vote for either. Only Californians have had the choice as to whether she's in the House at all (and even then it's only those Californians that live in her district). Appointments to the Supreme Court are also affected by this phenomenon.

    This has long been recognized as a flaw in federalist ideology and has been the subject of an ongoing debate in the U.S. since its inception. Remember that it was the states that created the federal government, not the other way around, and they tried mightily to hobble it. They failed. It has become far more powerful than anyone intended it to be and barring armed insurrection (which nobody wants), we're not going to get that power back.

    Every time we cede power to the feds, the situation deteriorates further.

    I'm in favor of the feds taking charge of health care for practical reasons. Others amongst my countrymen don't feel that that's pragmatism as much as it is foolishness.

    As far as the use of the word "terrorist", we're using it in place of the word "commie" in this country... and it has just about as much meaning. I would suggest you ignore it.

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  • 91. At 6:53pm on 04 Sep 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #2 - David_Cunard

    "Eye witness account?"

    Are you seriously telling me somebody stood there and watched the idiot bite his own finger off?

    Never mind the finger, he should have admitted himself to the nearest psycho facility.

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  • 92. At 7:10pm on 04 Sep 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    The NHS is rubbish. Believe me! I know!!

    The Swiss, German and French systems are not rubbish.

    I suspect that the selfish rich in the USA will use/misuse the staggering inadequacies of the NHS as an argument against a more compassionate health service.

    The NHS is not the only alternative to current arrangements in the USA.

    Americans! Please go and study the Swiss, German and French systems!

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  • 93. At 7:19pm on 04 Sep 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    The release of the Lockerbie bomber may or may not be a mistake. I have not gone into the matter and do not have an opinion on it.

    Supposing it was a mistake: It would be wrong to seek to punish Brits in general. Brits are fighting alongside Americans in Afghanistan. We need to help each other not fight each other.

    Gordon Brown does not represent the British people. We do not have a functioning democracy in the UK. Representative "democracy" is not working in the UK. It might be working slightly better elsewhere but still not well enough. Throughout the "EU" elected "representatives" have refused to represent the people who elected them and are conspiring with like-minded "friends" from other "EU" countries to try to force the megalomaniac Lisbon Treaty down the throats of "their own people" and the prisoners of the "EU"-dictatorship in general.

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  • 94. At 7:31pm on 04 Sep 2009, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    From Open Europe:

    'Belgium's newly appointed EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht has admitted that the Lisbon Treaty was designed so that people could not understand it, to avoid "real debate". He said that "Whilst the original Constitutional Treaty was technical, and correct, people didn't read the Lisbon Treaty, they didn't understand the first word about it. No real debate about the Lisbon Treaty could happen. This was a deliberate decision of the European Council". (Conservative Home Open Europe blog, 2 September)'

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  • 95. At 7:37pm on 04 Sep 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #92 - SuffolkBoy2

    Clearly you don't know.

    I am not going to bore everyone to death by repeating the personal experience of my late better half but she was magnificently treated over a period of four years at huge expense to the public purse in a process which, at one point, involved Addenbrookes - which cannot be far away from you. She was an American citizen, by the way and - before you ask - yes she was entitled because she volutarily opted into the system when she went to live in the UK.

    You really should know better than to fuel another country's domestic healthcare debate by posting prejudiced statements which may not coincide with other peoples' experiences.

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  • 96. At 8:28pm on 04 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    ref. 85, fluffy:

    "You remember when the stats for giving were picked apart last time..."

    What are you talking about? Have we ever interacted?

    Did you change your login?

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  • 97. At 8:33pm on 04 Sep 2009, hunterchic wrote:

    Suffolkboy2 has a good point that all Americans should educate themselves on the swiss, german and french health systems. Obviously they know what they're doing since their citizens are covered by health insurance adequately. Americans are greedy, self-absorbed, biasly opinionated, and under-educated by the majority of those opposing Obama's efforts to better this country's health system, and reform is sorely needed...and NOW! Those opposing are just fearful of change, as Americans have always been, just look at the reaction to the hippy generation in the 60s by the so-called conservatives of the day. Do people not understand the word "option"!!?? Usually, that doesnt mean a full on take control of peoples lives and force them into something they dont want, it usually means that you can CHOOSE if you want the option or not! As for the government taking control of the healthcare system, umm.. if there is an option that you want a more affordable, cost effective insurance lacking wasteful/multiple testing, and gets to the root of the health problem instead of prolonging it and playing with precious time that some may not have, then Obama's plan would be a smart choice to make instead of what the other insurance companies are demanding,... let's say $500/month for one person to be on their plan, i think anyone would choose that option. But i guess people who are opposing Obama are the rich, comfortable 2% of the population of course happy with the insurance they got (AND can keep) because they have such perfect, problem free lives unlike the rest of the country that unemployment plucked out of the system and screwed over royally. Or like me, a college student that doesnt have mommy and daddy able to pay the newly required $100/mo health insurance, which i have to say for a full time college student relying only on her husband's wages after digging out from under the deep hole of debt unemployment leaves behind, a $100 helps pay for food/gas instead of health insurance for an otherwise healthy 30 year old's use. I dont know, starvation or health insurance i'm not even sure will pay for what's needed at the time, a balancing act i guess. Keep it republicans, your doing a "GREAT" service to us poor, decrepit, lowly uninsured Americans, good job!

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  • 98. At 8:47pm on 04 Sep 2009, threnodio wrote:

    #97 - hunterchic

    Just for the record, I am not knocking the Swiss, French or German models - indeed I have experience of two of them and nothing but praise. Biut they do have one thing in common with the NHS - providing you have paid your contributions in nany of the participating countries, they are available to all regardless of means. Surely that is what the US debate is all about?

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  • 99. At 8:47pm on 04 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    # 84 Andy Post
    There was no rhetoric in my comments, I believe Americans are "full of it" when it comes to your claims of altruism and concern for others. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is disgusting in all the "developed countries" but particularly so in USA and UK, but in the case of Americans they seem to be more than happy for the status quo as long they are able to buy stuff they don't need and use up the planets resources as and when they please with no concern for the nameless and faceless peoples throughout the world suffering needlessly as a result, all the while shouting from the rooftops for all to hear thow the USA and its citizens are the most compassionate, generous and altruistic peoples in history. In many cases I think this comes from ignorance rather than malice but is that really an acceptable excuse?.

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  • 100. At 8:52pm on 04 Sep 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    81 democracythreat

    Umm... wow. If you insist on getting your knickers in a twist, that's your business. I did not and shall not stoop to personal attacks, or arrogant condescension, and do not know what I might have written to provoke such an extreme reaction.

    I happen to disagree with you on some points- so what?

    Please re-read my previous post- I AGREED with your assertion that the medical lobby has undue influence with American politicians. I'd state, however, that this is no different than lobbying for any other cause or position- money talks, no matter who's giving it away.

    But- it is not the sole cause of the current opposition. These are diverse and numerous:
    - electoral worries for the Blue Dogs
    - genuine fears regarding the cost. This builds on the outrage over previous revalations over corporate bailouts, financial sector bonuses, etc. You don't have to be a archconservative wingnut to be troubled by the final bill...
    - general ignorance of a certain sector of the electorate, which is manipulated and exploited by feeding misinformation by RNC and its partisans
    -Playing politics- opposing the reform just because it's Democratic (and therefore suspect,) or worse, just because it's the president's.
    - genuine conservative beliefs (even if outdated)

    I entirely support the proposed reforms, but life isn't an either-or proposition. If the proponents of reform want a chance to see this enacted, we have to understand the full scope and cause of the opposition, in order to effectively counter.

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  • 101. At 8:54pm on 04 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    I think we should have, here in the U.S., a free-market, for-profit police force and military. But only for those who don't feel government has any business running anything. The rest of us can continue with the public option.

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  • 102. At 8:55pm on 04 Sep 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    An excellent summary of the Blue Dog Democrats' plight can be found at Fivethirtyeight.com,www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/09/do-blue-dogs-hate-public-option-just.html

    If that link doesn't work, the analysis title is "Do Blue Dogs Hate the Public Option Just Because Liberals Like It?"

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  • 103. At 9:00pm on 04 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #84 Our definitions of charitability differ it would seem, although contrary to what you have written I believe my wording was clear in reference to the "richer nations" providing aid to the "poorer nations" (Although in many cases i believe "reparations" to be a more apt description than "aid" as EU/USA free-market (read - greed) policies are at the crux of many of these nations problems). As has already been pointed out by squirellist and fluffytale religions organizations, universities et al are not what I would call charity. In the past I have given mony out of my pocket to my favourite football/soccer team- is that charitable? I don't really so.

    You also ask which countries put the USA to shame in this regard
    Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Japan etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc.............................................

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  • 104. At 9:06pm on 04 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #92 Suffolkboy2

    I wouldn't say the NHS is rubbish, having experienced both UK and USA healthcare it is my opinion that the NHS is a better system. That said there are many shortcomings within it and if the USA is going to go ahead with a much needed overhaul/reform of its system i wholeheartedly agree with you assertion that Americans should look at Swiss and Fench systems (I personally have not much knowledge of Germany's system and so am hesitant to agree with you just for the sake of it but assume your positive views of it are warranted)

    Like many issues within the USA the Republicans are doing a stellar job of producing smokescreens and muddying the waters with irrelevant comparisons and statistics etc and the NHS is a great source from them even though it bears no resemblance to what is being proposed by the Obama administration

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  • 105. At 9:13pm on 04 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    threnodio wrote:
    "Just for the record, I am not knocking the Swiss, French or German models - indeed I have experience of two of them and nothing but praise. Biut they do have one thing in common with the NHS - providing you have paid your contributions in nany of the participating countries, they are available to all regardless of means. Surely that is what the US debate is all about?"

    Threnodio, what you are talking about? The Swiss system doesn't have "contributions". It isn't a collective system. There is no centralized insurer, but instead there are many different insurers, all competing in the market. And there is no central medical provider, but rather a whole range of medical providers competing in the market. The Swiss government does not have a huge budget, does not provide medical services, and does not make decisions about who cares for whom.

    Furthermore, my own experience with the NHS was so bad I would rate it as one of the low points of my life. Ever since, I have despised medical practitioners in the UK. I believe every single negative story I hear about the NHS, and so should every american. The NHS is a nightmare, and it costs more than war.

    The NHS is what you get when socialist doctors take over your country, in league with pharmaceutical corporations.

    This debate is about the US system, and it seems to me that there are two types of opinion: one side wants universal health care, and the other side do not want a massive government department that adds to the already stinking and corrupt medical system that diverts tax payer money into the hands of corporate drug dealers.

    So, if the US end up with their own form of NHS, the first group will get universal health care, and the second group will be sent to the poor house to pay for it.

    But if the government continue to fund the medical corporations with tax payers money and do nothing to force insurers and practitioners to make a profit AND care for the society, then the first group do not get universal health care and the second group still have to watch out for economic ruin at the hands of the medical lobby.

    The debate is about how to provide the best care at the best price, and the NHS should not be put forward as an example of how this might be done. It provides terrible care, at a staggering price.

    Now the Americans, in my view, are not going to get universal health care because right wing corporate america doesn't want it. That is that. Never mind democracy, and never mind the media. Nothing ever happens in the USA unless it suits the right wing corporate demographic, and that includes peace.

    The difference in the UK is that nothing ever happens unless it suits the left wing corporate elite. If that sounds crazy to the Americans, consider the Engels and Marx were bankrolled by industrialists and lords.

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  • 106. At 9:15pm on 04 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    ref. 99, moon:

    I don't know that charity and wastefulness are typically taken hand in hand, but I find the juxtaposition interesting. Certainly if we're talking net contribution to the human condition, I think you do have to consider how much we consume when others are going without, but I also think you have to include more than just charity vs. wastefulness. There are other things the Americans have done that have been very positive... like the Global AIDS Initiative. That's got to count for something, no?

    I think you're being too hard on U.K. as well, but who am I to say?

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  • 107. At 9:30pm on 04 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #106 Andypost.

    I can find no fault with the AIDS initiative but if this were a uk soccer game that would be a "consolation goal" in the face of Americas refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, refusal to agree that food is a basic human right, refusal to agree that quality healthcare should be available to all her citizens and the desire to keep underdeveloped countries on their knees wether through manipulation of the World Bank/World Trade Organization or through military force. I don't believe I am being too hard on the UK, the only differenc between our countries is that for the most part UK citizens are better what our governments are really up to, which is probably why Bill Hicks is a cult hero in Britain and virtually unkown in his native USA

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  • 108. At 9:35pm on 04 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #77 fLUFFYTALE

    Intersting link mate. My wife works at a high quality restaurant and they cater many "private parties" for drug companies to woo doctors and other important healthcare peoples. I don't have time to break down what goes on but I am sure you can imagine the absolutely shocking ethics of these people.

    In reference to your reply about not claiming the moral high ground because of governments foreign aid via our taxes i completely agree. I nly mentioned it because that seemed to be the direction andypost wanted to steer the arguement in

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  • 109. At 9:43pm on 04 Sep 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    Mark Mardell:

    On Friday, 4 September 2009; The media is reporting the "video" of the person who found the finger of the gentlemen that was profile....

    =Dennis Junior=

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  • 110. At 9:55pm on 04 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    when you are the moon. . . -

    I appreciate your comments. I'm an American who cringes at all the "we are so generous, greatest country in the world" blather. Guess it has to be pointed out all the time as no one would know it from the evidence.

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  • 111. At 10:21pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    ." There are other things the Americans have done that have been very positive... like the Global AIDS Initiative. That's got to count for something, no?"

    Andy post I would't doubt that many americas try to be generous and think they are.
    many truly are generous but when Americans claim this title of "most generous" they should remember like many things just because it is america doesn't make it the greatest etc.
    These claims are continual and false and a distraction from the appalling state of america's care for it's own people.
    Those non profit charitable churches that are asking for the new to be on the streets to invest with God and send their money in count as charities in the US often with very little give back.

    Most statistics from the states are hard to compare be it health care, charity violence etc because the americans seem to take the attitude that the words only mean what they want them to mean.


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  • 112. At 10:24pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    108 moon.
    I think I could easily believe the stories about the pushers on wall street.

    amazing war on drugs that is the american dream seems to be more of protecting one drig dealer over another.
    Colombian, or afgani and you are not considered acceptable wall street OK

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  • 113. At 10:38pm on 04 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    110 Ah yet again proof that the anti american rants from the likes of me should allow room for the intelligent Americans.
    thank you.


    96. At 8:28pm on 04 Sep 2009, AndyPost wrote:
    ref. 85, fluffy:

    "You remember when the stats for giving were picked apart last time..."

    What are you talking about? Have we ever interacted?

    Did you change your login?
    --------------

    There are all sorts who for reasons of the BBC chosing cannot write in their origional skins. Maybe I am one maybe not. what is really relevant was you used to read and comment on the JW threads and you tried to slip this misinformation in again hoping no one would know.

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  • 114. At 00:03am on 05 Sep 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    democracythreat: I did a little research into the Swiss system, and I'll try to summarize what I'd found in German- and French-language sources into English here. I hope that you'll offer corrections wherever I've mistranslated.

    From a Yankee perspective, the Swiss system is a form of managed care, based upon individual mandates: residents of Switzerland must sign up to an insurance policy which meets the federally-mandated basic requirements (the basic requirements being far from minimal). The policy holder's employer is not responsible for any part of the policy's costs. For the basic policy, insurers cannot refuse to insure someone due to age, sex, or current medical conditions. The "community rating" premiums for the basic policy can vary by insurer, age group and sex of the policy holder, canton, franchise (annual deductible), and retention (annual co-payment); some insurers also offer discounts for non-smokers. The minimum allowable franchise is 300 francs (0 francs for minors), the maximum allowable franchise is 2'500 francs, and the retention is 10% of the costs beyond the franchise, to a maximum retention of 700 francs (350 francs for minors). Prescriptions have a retention of 10% for generics, and 20% for non-generics. Hospital stays are 10 francs per day, excepting pregnancies (0 francs per day). Policies are strictly for individuals rather than couples or families; i.e. children must have their own policies. Supplemental insurance can be purchased (e.g. for procedures not covered by the basic policy, or for extras like private rooms in hospitals), but the non-discrimination requirements for the basic policy don't apply to supplemental policies. People with lower incomes receive subsidies to their policy costs, funded from general taxes, so that their policies doesn't cost them more than 10% of their income.

    A referendum on 11th March 2007 to combine all of the insurers into one company (to establish a single-payer system) was rejected with a 71.2% No vote on 45.5% participation.

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  • 115. At 00:19am on 05 Sep 2009, Clockwork-Vampire wrote:

    I'd like to throw my own thoughts and...source of info...on this subject...

    First, I have to say I am shamefully an american...and recently all I can do is shake my head at some of the things other Americans are saying and doing. That said, I am one of the ones that finds it funny that So many are opposed to Socialized medicine...when there's already socialized medicine, and many of them are on it. Also I like to mention that I've heard some claim that if we allow thereform to go through we'll be embracing socialism...despite the fact that many of our Democratic allies...like the British... Canadians...have government health care, so I have to ponder if in the minds of these "No socialism" people if they think the British and so on are socialists...even when it is so obvious they are not.

    Second...and this may be cause I've only seen two 30 min segments during my lunch break (only time I get news from tv) but it looked to me that yes many are elderly...and a good portion of the anti-reform crowd are....ummmmmmm..."White Power" types.

    But anyways moving on.

    I do nae know how many of you even go to youtube expecting to find good sources of news outside of the News chains that already have TV air time....but I give you all this, from the vlogbrothers:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NevFL1rGeew

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  • 116. At 00:55am on 05 Sep 2009, Robert Bennett wrote:

    The healthcare "debate" is so angry and heated because of the millions on illegal immigrants here in the USA now, mostly from Mexico, and the attitude that they bring to this issue, namely treason! American citizens see this as more theft and a futher taking away of our nation's culture, laws and freedoms, it's not about healthcare. Then there is more anger and frustration about their unchecked large birthrates and even more anger at the role of illegal, dangerous drugs and the role this drug evil brings into American life and politics. Look at the headlines from Mexico, you wouldn't want any of this in the UK, how could you think American citizens would stand for this mess? Greed, anti-European/American racism, and theft are the real issues, not heathcare.

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  • 117. At 01:07am on 05 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    Americs is already a socialist country, people fighting against the word "socialism" are in denial. The people within "society" all pool some of thier individual money together and then as a "society" they choose people from within their "society" to spend the money in the best ways possible to benefit their "society"

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  • 118. At 01:33am on 05 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #101 socialistlibertarian
    great point. Put me in mind of Tony Benns (sarcastic)that paing for fire service should be optional and they should only put out fires at houses of those who have paid into the system - tough luck if your neighbours house is burning, no hoses will be turned on 'til it sets your house alight :). How long before "socialism" would be okay in that instance?

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  • 119. At 01:36am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    116. At 00:55am on 05 Sep 2009, rwbennett wrote:

    "The healthcare "debate" is so angry and heated because of the millions on illegal immigrants here in the USA now, mostly from Mexico, and the attitude that they bring to this issue, namely treason!"

    What a peculiar notion. I can't quite grasp that, I have to say.

    However, I take it somebody turned the light out and these lines have gone out of fashion:

    "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me."

    Or are Mexicans excluded because they mostly travel by land, and so are not 'tempest-tossed' much?

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  • 120. At 01:54am on 05 Sep 2009, Reuben wrote:

    It doesn't matter what side of the argument you're on: if you stick your finger in my face, you might not get it back.

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  • 121. At 02:10am on 05 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 119, Squirrellist

    "What a peculiar notion. I can't quite grasp that, I have to say."

    That makes two of us.

    "are Mexicans excluded because they mostly travel by land, and so are not 'tempest-tossed' much?"

    Tempest-tossed? Can you help me out with the idiom?

    Anyway, Mexicans have no right to live in the U.S. I think our economy depends on illegal immigrant labor, but that does not confer a right. We have laws about this, and the government is required to enforce those laws faithfully.

    I take your point, though. The days of Ellis Island are long gone. The nation really needed immigrants in those days, and I would hazard to guess they met far stronger and institutionalized racism than immigrants do today. Most Americans thought immigrants were the lowest form of riffraff. They certainly treated them like dirt.

    The statue came from the French, who held a rather (endearingly) romantic view of the U.S. The reality of the situation was clearly different. Still, there are a lot of immigrants who say that the sight of that statue was a turning point in their lives.

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  • 122. At 02:13am on 05 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Oh dear! Tempest-tossed is part of the poem! It seems that I don't know my idiom! I feel shame...

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  • 123. At 02:25am on 05 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref 103, moon:

    "religions organizations, universities et al are not what I would call charity"

    Ok, then there's no need to continue this debate. This is the result of a significant cultural difference, and you can't debate those away. As you'd expect, as an American I disagree strongly (really strongly), but it's simply a matter of faith. You're welcome to your views.

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  • 124. At 02:26am on 05 Sep 2009, Clockwork-Vampire wrote:

    All I can and will say in regards to Immigration is, many have immigrated in the past, and when large numbers of a certain people/culture immigrate to one nation they tend to be looked down upon...look at the Irish Immigrants during the potato Famine Era...and many of them came to America Legally...at the time...I think...

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  • 125. At 02:29am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    115. At 00:19am on 05 Sep 2009, Clockwork-Vampire wrote:

    "I have to ponder if in the minds of these "No socialism" people if they think the British and so on are socialists..."

    No, they think (bandying this "EUSSR" label about) we're communists. Or Stalinists, more like.
    Me, I'm a Winstanleyist. (400th anniversary of Gerrard Winstanley's birth this year.) You might like these lines of a song of his followers, "The Diggers' Anthem". Seems appropriate, somehow:

    Your houses they pull down
    Stand up now, stand up now.
    Your houses they pull down,
    to fright your men in town,
    But the gentrye must come down,
    And the poor shall wear the crown,
    Stand up now.
    The clergy they come in, stand up now.
    Thc clergy they come in and say it is a sin,
    That we should now begin our freedom for to win,
    Stand up now, Diggers all.
    The tithes they yet will have, and lawyers their fees crave,
    And this they say is brave, to make the poor their slave.
    Stand up now, Diggers all.
    ‘Gainst lawyers and ‘gainst Priests stand up now.
    For tyrants they are both, even flatt against their oath,
    To grant us they are loath, free meat and drink and cloth,
    Stand up now, Diggers all.


    He was on to something, you know!

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  • 126. At 02:30am on 05 Sep 2009, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 113, fluff:

    One of us is nutcase. I don't remember ever even reading a debate on relative charitable contribution before, let alone taking part in it. The arguments are totally new to me.

    I am getting older, though.

    (I done with this thread.)

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  • 127. At 02:37am on 05 Sep 2009, Reuben wrote:

    Squirrellist (119):

    When that quote was first published many in the US has sentiments toward imigration that are similar to todays concerns, except for two things: they were more openly bigoted, and the imigrants of the 19th and early 20th century had the good sense to obey imigration law and assimilate into American culture.

    I would catgorize illegal imigrants into three catagories:

    The largest group are migrant laborers who work cheaper than citizens and documented imigrants, and sending their pay to their home country without paying taxes (although if they did pay taxes their income it would probably be so close to the poverty line that they would not be taxed much). However Migrant workers benifit Americans by keeping farm costs low, which inturn keeps food prices low.

    The narcotics cartels in Mexico frequently cross the US border spilling their violence and illicit trade into the US with little or no governmental oposition, often accopnanied by corrupt police and army units. (techinally acts of war) This is where the main threat of illegal imigration lies.

    A third group are human traffickers, who the government has focused most of their attention on, to the exlusion of the other two groups is human trafficers who trick their victims (mostly women) into lives of slavery as prostitutes (sex workers are out-lawed in 49 states). Although the trickery, and slavery is dispicable their number are so small as to make their impact on the whole insignificant.

    For imigration reform to work in the US, there has to be a more vigorous defense of the border and a focus on those invaders who actually threaten the security of the border regions.

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  • 128. At 03:31am on 05 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jan_Keeskop,

    I'm no expert on Swiss health care, that's for certain, but it seems what you've found in your research matches what I have managed to understand from living here, and taking part.

    I think 3 things stand out about the Swiss system:

    1. The federal government does not provide services, but only regulates the law.
    2. People pay taxes directly to their "state" and local governments.
    3. Direct democracy prevents business lobby groups corrupting the legislature, because the legislature is the whole population.

    If you believe in market theory and the unseen hand, the self interest of those competing to provide services is what is responsible for achieving very high standards of care. The Swiss believe in this. It is not that the Swiss believe complex academic economic theory, but rather the general population insists on government staying out of the market as a consequence of their system of local, regional and federal taxation.

    This might take some explaining, but if I can be forgiven another very long post, let me try to explain. I think it will be very interesting for students of American history, because the Swiss anabaptists played a very significant role is in constructing the early American republic, and it is no accident that Americans who know their own history, and who learn about how Swiss democracy works, feel a connection.

    If you hate long posts, I'm sorry, I will try to keep the waffle down and stick to the crucial points.

    For the US readers, Switzerland is very much like what the USA was like one hundred years ago, when states had vastly more power compared to the federal government, and when "a good american" sneered at Washingtons' plans and put his state first, or at least on an equal footing, with his federal identity. Switzerland has "cantons", which are essentially states, and these cantons have a share of the tax revenue that comes from the population. BUT... going one step further, the Swiss also have local governments that get a share of the tax revenue from the population.

    Now it is important, I believe, to understand how the division of tax revenue affects life in Switzerland. The federal government does not get all the taxes, and then divide them up between the cantons, who then divide their share among the local governments. No way. The Swiss do not trust their federal government with that sort of power. When a person pays tax, they pay 8% to the federal government, and varying amounts to their cantonal (state) government and local government. I say "varying" because in Switzerland you never know how much tax you will pay, in total, until you decide where you wish to live. So, for example, last year I lived in a canton with very high taxes, and in a town with moderately high taxes. So my tax burden was about 25%, in total, which is outrageously high for Switzerland. This year, I moved to a village in a canton whose governments have decided to attract business by lowering tax. So my flat rate is 15%, including canton, federal and local government taxes. With the money I am saving, I'm paying off the new apartment I bought so I would have somewhere to live. And I bring a lot of business here, so the canton is very happy. The low taxes are paying dividends for them. The old place where I lived.... well I still have my house there. I am leaving it empty, deliberately, and have started a dialogue with the local government to explain why. It goes along the lines of explaining to them that the reason nobody want to build businesses in their region is because the government there waste money, and tax to heavily.

    So what we have here is a competition between governments. Interestingly, if you believe that government is just a business that provides services, and if you also believe in market theory, you will inherently understand that we must have competition between governments or the quality of service will degrade. It is due to this principle of market theory that I suggest the growing federal power in the USA, and the decline of the states, is what has crippled US economy, compared to what it once was. In the past, states simply couldn't get away with socialist policies because business people like me would just pack up and go somewhere progressive. But now the USA has huge federal schemes and taxes that hit you no matter where you are. Competition between governments is dead within the federation, and the federation stagnates economically as a consequence.

    So to get back to the point of how the Swiss keep there federal government on a leash, as it were, you need to understand that the Swiss are very keen to limit federal taxation to 8%. Their view is that all the government needs to do is regulate certain things. They distrust any scheme from the federal government to do grand things (most especially war), because they know their taxes will rise. So the Swiss culture is all about cantonal government, and local government. As I said, America was once like this. So what happened?

    Well, I think party politics and representative democracy happened to the USA. Or rather, political parties and their corporate sponsors took over democracy. Because they could. It wasn't a conspiracy, but rather an evolution. More and more corporations sponsored more and more politicians and received more and more government contracts for services that were promoted as "saving the people" from themselves. Eventually, you have what we see today, where participation in the democratic process is a cruel joke on the voter, and the business of Washington is the business of corporate lobby groups exclusively.

    That cannot happen in Switzerland, for the simply fact of direct democracy. If the federal government try to pass a law that suits corporate interests, the Swiss just vote it down. Jan keesop provides a perfect example, above, on precisely this issue of health care insurance. The insurance lobby wanted to create a massive centralized system of insurance, because they hate competition between themselves. They gave the political parties here truckloads of money, and they paid lawyers to write new laws that would give them easy profits by removing the need to compete. The whole of Switzerland was hit with a massive campaign that said the world was ending and they would be saved by this law sponsored by the insurance lobby.

    And what happened? The politicians put it to the people, and the people kerb stomped it. No way, said the Swiss people, in a direct vote on the law. So the insurance lobby lost its money, and the politicians did their job.

    Because in Switzerland, the job of the politician is to table legislation before the people. And they did that. And the people decided they didn't want this law. That is direct democracy, and it should be clear how fundamentally different it is to representative democracy.

    The same principles operate on the cantonal and local level. And this creates a fascinating society, where voter apathy is almost non existent. One third or more of your taxes goes directly to the village you live in, so if you want to affect your taxes you can do it at a local level. I once lived in a village of 127 people, and we made our own laws about how much tax to pay, and what to do with that money. For example, our village had a hydro electric station, and we voted to set our own electricity prices. The village elders discussed the fact that high electricity taxes were useful because it allowed us to create jobs for the local kids who were graduating that year and needed training scholarships, but we understood that our village had a few factories that needed to compete to provide those jobs. So a compromise was reached, where we decided to make electricity expensive during the day, but much cheaper at night. This pleased everyone, business owners and the community alike. We got our scholarships, and we helped our local business.

    All this was done within a community of 127 voting adults.

    And cantonal participation is much the same deal. The people vote on the law, and they take part in the process of determining the law. Business has an important seat at the table, and can always vote with its feet and move, if socialism takes a hold through militant idiots whipping up trouble.

    I hope it becomes apparent that the Swiss avoid the evils of socialism on a local level. They do not need to fight a federal socialist movement, because they snuff it out on a local level.

    Or, put it another way, they adopt socialist principles on a local level, so that way no one major party can take over the federal government and ruin the whole place. And sometimes "socialism" is a very crucial thing, and if so, rational people vote for it.

    For example, in our village we wanted scholarships for some young people who were finishing school. Everyone thought that was a fine idea, so we voted to raise taxes for that purpose. And the next year, when there were no young people from our village graduating or needing these scholarships, we changed the law and lowered the taxes on electricity.

    I know of another story that shows this process in detail, just as well. A village in the italian speaking region had recently brought in some immigrants from Italy. These people distrusted all government (which is entirely reasonable when you come from italy) and they whipped up a feeling of being cheated in the community. When a proposal was put to the local people to raise money for the local priest, the new citizens claimed it was a scam and a waste of money, and they convinced their neighbours. The vote failed, and the local government members (who are elected of course), simply wrote down the record of the vote and moved on to the next point of order. So they put another proposal to the people: for all our deaths, births and marriages next year, we will ask the priest from the neighbouring village to come. He will charge us, of course, but everyone can pay for that as it happens. All of a sudden, people realized what they had done. After much discussion, the same people who had called the government a scam put a motion to repeal their earlier vote, and so it was done. The people voted again, and this time the government put aside money for the priest in the village to do his thing.

    The point is that with direct democracy the role of government is not to represent and to save the people from themselves, but rather to carry out the duties of government clerks, and to serve the people as the people see fit.

    Their is not crazy media fighting between equally spurious political parties who are paid by large corporations, because that is simply not how things are done. It is totally unreasonable, to the Swiss, to go around calling people names and making grand speeches about saving the world. If you want to save the world, or if you have other crucial ideas to help your fellows, you go to your town hall and you take part.

    Your town hall has the money to make stuff happen, because your taxes go directly to that body. You can see how they are spent, because the accounts don;t get lost in massive centralized system of fraud. You can SEE the roadworks that were done last Autumn, and you can see how much they cost. If you think it was a rip off, you can walk over to the guy who did the work, and shame him, tell him he is a useless hound. And he can invite you to do better, and explain himself. It is all done locally, as far as services go.

    This is probably why Switzerland has never had unemployment above 5%, not even through two world wars where the entire country was cut off from the world economy.

    Not bad for a society with no natural resources.

    Turning to the health care system, it is no surprise that medical staff and insurers are under the cosh to produce very high quality service. If a hospital is dirty, EVERY local village meeting brings this issue up at the next meeting, and they write exceedingly nasty letters to their canton government, demanding that the cleaning contract be removed from the useless person or business doing that. If a local doctor is an idiot, they find out about that fact at the next local government meeting. Everyone lets them know, right away.

    This system of demanding performance on a local and then state level comes about because people in Switzerland understand that nobody but themselves are to blame if things are not done properly. they fix things as they go, and they do not play the blame game, for their system does not allow it.

    Instead, the Swiss play a different game. They compete. If the school in the town "over there" (ten miles away) has a very bad teacher of science, every housewife in a radius of twenty miles around the town is busy discussing what will become of those poor people whose children will grow up stupid and unable to get good jobs.

    If the hospital "over there" (twenty miles away) has a reputation for medical malpractice, you can bet your fur that every man in every bar is talking about "the butcher of Basel", or where ever it happens to be.

    So local and cantonal pride force high standards in the market, through the political system. It is amazing to watch, and a privilege to take part.

    It can get a bit crazy, for someone who is not used to it, like myself. You can;t go around breaking laws and expect to get away with it. The police will not catch you, but your neighbour will. If you park your car wrong, or play music too loud, folks are lining up down the block to have a little chat with you. So that can be demanding. But the flip side is that the police are really cool, and take things easy. They are the people most likely to let you off for something, and are always pretty nice and pleasant people.

    So that is my three cents. Or rappen, as the currency is here. Having lived inside a direct democracy, I would never go back to representation. From where I sit, corporate influenced representation is little better than soviet communism. It is just another set of phoney saviours, scaring the bored and ignorant into believing the world is going to end, then taking their tax money and giving it to their business friends.

    I sometimes think that America was once like this country, and it is the cultural memory of the real benefits of direct democracy that makes americans so proud of their history, and possibly so angry and disappointed with the corporate stranglehold on their current system, which only seems to enrich war mongers and socialist crooks.

    I look at the USA with immense interest and hope, because I feel that if the American people can just take back what they once had, not only will they regain their economic greatness, they will once again set an example for the rest of the world.

    Good help the entire world if the USA goes the same way as the EUSSR, where being a member of a party determines your future, and the people are complete spectators to those who rule over them.

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  • 129. At 03:54am on 05 Sep 2009, Reuben wrote:

    Clockwork-Vampire:

    The goal of the opposition is not to keep the un-insured from recieving health care, but to uphold the principle of limited governent.

    I suspect the goal of the left is not to fix our health care (I doubt they have that ability) but to act against that very princinple of limited government by usurping power and bankrupting our government.

    I'm not saying that our system doesn't need to be fixed, it does, I just don't think that people who are ashamed of being American are the right people to fix an American problem. Putting and end to the undue influence of pharmecutical companies on the FDA and AMA, would be a far more effective way to improve the cost of health care.

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  • 130. At 04:14am on 05 Sep 2009, KScurmudgeon wrote:

    From 30,000 feet, as the saying goes here -
    from my vantage on both the media coverage and this list I see this issue as the proxy for all of Pres. Obama's agenda of 'Change for America'. It is about health care, but the deep emotional response from the left and the right consciously and unconsciously reflect people's hopes as well as their fears concerning Obama and his agenda.

    Some is latent or overt racism - it was inevitable on the election of the first Black president - and Barak Obama by his very seductiveness is a greater threat than our racist brethren could ever have imagined. He speaks a very liberal agenda - but in a way that also appeals to moderates and should apeal to true conservatives, except that their mouthpieces have refused to recognize the moderate means that are or were his intentions.
    Some is simple inertia and fear of the unknown, and a lot of opposition could be expected from all those who profit from the status quo ante.

    A lot that has happened since he won the election is not his doing - some of it has independent origins, some is caused by his administration's efforts gone awry, a lot of it stems from misconceptions of his plans, and a great part is the result of the ravening drama-media's insensate effort to make their fresh daily kill. This always happens in any democracy, but Obama promised real change, and inertia as well as deliberate opposition become more formidable when people anticipate greater change.

    Yes, Can We? Are Americans still capable of fixing our problems, or will we smother the light with the fire?

    KScurmudgeon

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  • 131. At 04:42am on 05 Sep 2009, Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    democracythreat (#63) "What you are effectively saying is that the system favours corporate sponsors, because they will always be able to buy enough votes SOMEWHERE, in order to defeat the mandate of the elected government."

    No, I am not saying that at all. Corporate sponsors support those legislators who are most in conformance with their views, whether Democrat or Republican. Very few legislators are "bought," in the sense that they represent merely their largest campaign contributors. Members of the US Congress reflect the values of the voting members of their districts. If they do not, they do not get reelected. If you do not believe this, and choose to take the most cynical view of US electoral politics, there is nothing I can do to convince you, since you seem to be unwilling to learn anything about US politics and are inclined to lecture us about our system of government about which you know next to nothing. I think you should stick to Swiss and European politics, where you have some experience.

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  • 132. At 04:42am on 05 Sep 2009, Clockwork-Vampire wrote:

    I don't see how having a government provided health care would bankrupt the American government. And by the reckoning of many people I've talked to, it would probably mean more money in the hands of people.

    Now if I was to do the same thing that many opposers of the reform are saying in the news I could turn around and say that Limiting the government is to invite Anarchy...and why not get rid of all the nice little government provided stuff that many already enjoy and take advantage of while we're at it.

    But that wouldn't be good...for anyone really, and I doubt many are that radical. A small number of them if they had their way we'd be a church ruled state. But no, a number of them are probably opposing it cause its what their family, or that guy on the radio, is doing. Some because of the "dubious" nature of Obama's birth. a small number because Obama is black. And maybe a few that have an actual political idea of how the nation should be run.

    also anything that would limit, or end, the influence of Pharmecutical Companies over the FDA and such would probably end up in the same cries of "Socialism! Socialism!" that we have now.

    As John Green Said, by our actions we obviously believe that Health care is a human Right...so shouldn't the government protect and uphold that right?

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  • 133. At 05:26am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    132. At 04:42am on 05 Sep 2009, Clockwork-Vampire wrote:

    "As John Green Said, by our actions we obviously believe that Health care is a human Right...so shouldn't the government protect and uphold that right?"

    I'd have thought so, and I imagine most in the "EUSSR" (where on earth has that silly tag come from? I'd never seen it before I got to these blogs) would. But I've read more than one commentator arguing that it isn't. Seems odd; I'd be tempted to argue it's under "the pursuit of happiness." How can you be happy if you aren't healthy?

    Anyway, it's in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 25: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

    (Only I can't remember whether the US ratified that bit.)

    But there are obviously people who don't see it that way.

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  • 134. At 05:50am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    This "EUSSR" thing. In the interest of spreading knowledge: used by the extreme right. All anti-EU, anti-immigration and anti-Islam especially. They've come up with "Eurabia" as well. Should have guessed. A lot of it emanates from a foundation of some kind ("SAFE") in Switzerland--which is not in the EU--it seems.

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  • 135. At 05:58am on 05 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Gary_A_Hill wrote:

    "Members of the US Congress reflect the values of the voting members of their districts."

    If you believe that, I have a war to sell you.

    And a trillion dollars worth of bad debts, so that I can keep my bank and remain super wealthy.

    You might be right, Gary, you might be right. It is not that I am unwilling to learn, it is just that I am unable to perceive the value in your arguments. Although I accept your assertions that you are a man of great wisdom in good faith, my failings of intellect compel me to perceive you as a preening jingo.

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  • 136. At 05:59am on 05 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #105. democracythreat: "The NHS is what you get when socialist doctors take over your country, in league with pharmaceutical corporations."

    You're way out of your depth on this one. The medical profession was resolutely against the establishment of the NHS, as was the Conservative Party. How do you come to the conclusion that British doctors are all socialist? Because they work for the system? By the same analogy, are all those who work for the Federal Government diehard Democrats? Of course not. The pharmaceutical companies in Britain wish they had far more influence since many of their potions are not permitted to be used on the grounds of medical ineffectiveness. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, NICE, regularly comes in for criticism because of this. There is no television advertising of any prescription drug which urges patients to "ask their doctor" - that's how pharmaceutical corporations use their influence in the USA, along with free samples and other promotional tools: anyone for a free lunch?

    "The difference in the UK is that nothing ever happens unless it suits the left wing corporate elite."

    Well, with some notable exceptions such as Lord Sainsbury, the corporate elite is decidedly right-wing. Quite obviously you know very little about what goes on across the Atlantic and would use any argument to support your anti-health care stance.

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  • 137. At 06:01am on 05 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Clockwork-Vampire wrote:
    "I don't see how having a government provided health care would bankrupt the American government."

    It wouldn't. It would impoverish the American people. Governments don't go bankrupt, they just raise taxes to pay ever greater debts.

    I'd have thought you chaps would be beginning to work that out by now.

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  • 138. At 06:28am on 05 Sep 2009, Clockwork-Vampire wrote:

    democracythreat wrote:
    "It wouldn't. It would impoverish the American people. Governments don't go bankrupt, they just raise taxes to pay ever greater debts."

    Ah yes, but as it stands now our government is still recovering from Debt and of course the down turn of the economy...which apparently is starting to recover.

    And the government can only raise the taxes so high before the people revolt and well it just becomes one giant head ache. The thing is, as you said, it would impoverish us...right so instead of the Government, we should let the Insurance companies (and hospitals in the cases of those without coverage) do that? The thing is when the government takes taxes in any form from me, or my brother, or my pals, or my neighbors, we should all be able to believe that, though it might not benefit us, it should benefit the society and the nation in some part. A few bad politicians and Conspiracy theories have ruined that trust in many regards.

    But not to get off track, sure the Government might tax you...but if its a fair and controlled system, then it should benefit you or your community. Unlike Corporations which only care about taking your money and giving you the least for it now-a-days it seems.

    -----

    Also I like to just point out that many people don't like to see beyond the immediate or short term costs and benefits. Its similar to why the schools in my area of the US can't expand their facilities to handle all the students they have. Because people here don't see that, sure taxes will go up now, but don't realize, bigger class size generally means lower grades, lower grades district wide means lower property value, which means, you lose the money any ways.

    People are so afraid of taxes, that once you bring up "Tax increase" they start yelling and complaining. Even if in the long term it may end up meaning they'll have MORE money. Left uncontrolled Insurance companies handling Health Care will just charge more, and start being more exclusive...having the government provide health care will help lower that and open the doors as well. The only other option would be for the government to step in and put pricing limits on Health Care coverage, which again you run into the people that start complaining that Price controls are Socialist, or Communist, or whatever the Buzz word is of the day.

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  • 139. At 06:28am on 05 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #137. democracythreat: "Governments don't go bankrupt"

    Where on earth did you get that idea? Why do you think countries go cap-in-hand to the IMF? You might look into the history of Sterling and you'll see that in the 1950s, Britain was bankrupt, not in ideas, but financially. If everyone called in their chips, the USA might also be in the same state. Your rabidity is getting the better of you.

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  • 140. At 07:06am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    135. At 05:58am on 05 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    "I have a war to sell you."

    Another one? They've bought two already. One more and they'll definitely not be able to afford universal health care.

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  • 141. At 07:32am on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    DT and suffolk kid

    wow you had really bad experience with the NHS did you.
    My gran was looked in on and helped twice a day for 30 years by two nurses from the NHS they were at the funeral.( a few of them) the BBC wouldn't really let me say what a big pile of stuff you are talking when you try to compare a hospital treatment system like america that treats about 1/4 the people for twice the cost as GOOD in general .It is not a system. it is a collection of thieves and BTW it was probably responsible for all the economic woes that are affecting america and the world.

    Again how simple are some of you on this.
    America was doing all right and the private health industry was getting more and more expensive mostly useless or dangerous procedures all the time , more tests (opps lets blame lawyers for raising the costs despite the truth that it was other industries ) more and more slimey contracts.
    people started getting laid off because they couldn't afford health care after job losses or premiums went up.
    Credit card bankruptcy protections removed the companies realised they could make more obscene money repossessing houses from families that failed to pay medical bills.(oops sorry "debt")
    Medical industry never knowing when they are on a good thing and don't ruin it say lets raise premiums get better profits dividends this is Golden. Interest rates and profits pushed up by creative investments so a few boomers can get rich before retiring after squandering for years of basic rubbish and cheaply made rubbish.
    at the same time the rising health care costs drove jobs overseas. so yet more houses went for sale .at the same time there are loads of people trying to quickly grab some of that gold because they were so worried about the future and raising health care costs that they felt it worth risking savings to get a bit of quick cash for the future if they needed it. making risky investments as well as cruddy purchases they also pushed the housing market in that quest.

    Health care as you may have noticed features pretty heavily in peoples minds the ever present fear. will I loose the job , will I be able to pay for health care if problems. or when I retire. better grab at that high risk to beat the over-inflated rises in health care. Building houses when they are not selling flooded the market more. as people strove to get a return on the speculation.
    Soon there was a bursting bubble that it seems most , a hell of a lot, of commentators here seem to have missed out on.
    especially if they are thick enough to think Health care on a less than single payer system is going to sort this country out.

    All led to slaughter by those that say.
    "no we don't need A NHS"
    Doesn't have to be the same service just a national coverage for health.
    Agree to the basic principle or argue about how far you wish to throw the baby.

    killed that goose.

    oh. There are a few pretty nice private hospitals you can go to if you think fancy Iron work and plush rooms for the visitors to the coddled few are more important than a surgery for a sick person.

    Live in the UK and you will live longer.
    seeing as you don't like it don't use it and go pay the extra. It will still be cheaper in the UK than in the states.

    Me Gran would call you a couple of right fibbers.

    She was more polite than me.

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  • 142. At 07:38am on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    71 Master
    "When its stated most people are 'happy' with the healthcare"

    this is easy to explain. It's the drugs linked in this piece that I linked earlier .

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8233490.stm

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  • 143. At 07:54am on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    moon just noticed the Bill hicks ref. Lol what a laugh.

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  • 144. At 07:55am on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Andy post maybe you're right. I know you were at the debate maybe you were asleep;)

    There's a place in the house of lords for you.

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  • 145. At 08:08am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    139, David, David:

    The BMA was anti the NHS 60 years ago. There are 'socialist' doctors now. I know some. I know some who are so pro NHS they refuse private practice. (I've also run across some horrid right-wing ones too.) But I wasn't aware the country was being run by them, though we do seem to have had several in the Cabinet over the last few years now I think about it.

    A better example of 'governmental' bankruptcy would surely be California, where, as a result of voters demanding more and more services through their 'Propositions' (I suppose a variety of 'direct democracy') but at the same time refusing taxation to pay for them, many of those public services are being cut and the State (in the usual definition of the word) is bankrupt.

    As to some form of universal health provision 'impoverishing' people through tax increases, surely at the rate private insurance premiums are rising, many are going to be impoverished anyway. Every time I look at quoted figures, it seems to me the average American worker pays far more in insurance premiums and these 'co-pays' than the average Brit does in the tax s/he pays that goes to the NHS and prescription charges.

    And I know in the Belgian system, if you fall ill or have a minor injury, like a friend of mine recently, even with insurance the bills that come in you still have to pay can mount up to something pretty shocking. And so can what you have to pay out on the spot before you actually get treated, or X-rayed or bandaged up. . .

    A couple of years ago, I left some of the medication I need ('cos i'm crippled ;-) ) at home and I had to go to a doctor in Brussels to get him to prescribe it for me. Five minutes in his surgery and one visit to the pharmacy cost me £60. Cash. No credit cards.

    I was covered with my 'Euro' card and the reciprocal agreements between the EU and the NHS, but it took three months to get the money back from the Belgian authorities, and I only got eighty per cent of it anyway. I've been very careful not to be so forgetful since.

    I think it was Fluffy much earlier who suggested that somehow this health care debate in the US has become entangled in all sorts of other issues that really have nothing to do with it.

    Basically:

    1) Do most Americans want universal health care? (The answer seems to be yes.)
    2) Do most Americans want it to be fair and affordable by all? (The answer to that seems to be yes as well.)

    So 3) should be: devise a plan that will do it. Or two. Or three. Make the thing readable so people can understand it, and then get it voted on.

    Instead of arguing about Nazis, WWII, socialism and communism, democratic systems, the Constitution, The Rights of Man, indoctrinating schoolkids, the nutritional value of fingers or whatever. How on earth did it get that complicated? The USA's gone to war three times in the last fifteen years or so, each one with a far bigger price tag and a lot less fuss.

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  • 146. At 08:19am on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    123. At 02:25am on 05 Sep 2009, AndyPost wrote:
    Ref 103, moon:

    "religions organizations, universities et al are not what I would call charity"

    Ok, then there's no need to continue this debate. This is the result of a significant cultural difference, and you can't debate those away. As you'd expect, as an American I disagree strongly (really strongly), but it's simply a matter of faith. You're welcome to your views.
    --------------------------------------------

    I suspect that statistics in the UK do not include the "charitable" boarding schools and the universities in their statistics.They have them as well .but I'm not convinced you thought of that or bothered to check the results to see if you guys weren't fixing the scales.
    there's you're problem.

    religious organisations.
    Do they include the Branch divinian waco crowd.?
    them mega churches where the priests live so high on the hog the pope has to look on in envy wondering why he can't have such attentive followers. and the christian broadcast brainwashing network?

    Whats the name of that really big church that does so little for the pips in the rows. Well it does relieve so many of them from that back ache that they get from cash in their wallets in the pockets.

    or teaching kids they are sinners and they will go to hell if they listen to a lecture on condoms. There's another great charity.
    OH back to GW with that.
    How much of that money was put into promoting the religious agenda over the health agenda.
    Creating "followers" to boost your particular gods power is not a selfless act!.

    Sorry because You never struck me as religious in a silly way and quite scientific but that is why it surprises me that you would fall for GW claim of all that "help".

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  • 147. At 08:26am on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    145 lol You read that post?
    ;)

    It seemed to fly over most.

    they want an answer before they have the question.

    they are sitting on the chicken hoping it will hatch into an egg.
    (not likely with a two tonne elephant sitting on them. that tends to put them off;)_

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  • 148. At 08:30am on 05 Sep 2009, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    138, Count Tick-Tockula, price controls aren't socialist, they're a sound Republican economic tool! Don't you remember President Nixon applying wage and price controls during a U.S. economic crisis?

    You have a good point about the fear of taxes. For the health care debate that fear helps us to ignore our hidden tax in the form of employee and employer insurance contributions, and the hidden tariff on American goods that results from our paying about double per capita for health compared to almost every other industrialized democracy.

    Health care costs are projected to grow from 1/6 to 1/5 of our U.S eceonomy in a decade if we do nothing. That's as if the health care costs were metastasizing to take over another 4% of our economy, money taken away from any other endeavor be it defense or education, etc. Think of that cost growth as a 0.4% annual increase in a tax on every other part of our economy.

    One percentage point makes the difference between good and great years, or stagnation and recovery, so why would we not have an earnest debate about how to better manage such a large and growing committed cost in our economy? Based on those numbers, Health Care and Health Insurance seem to be among the low-hanging fruit of things we could improve and do better for less, but we are being whipped up into fear of examining the topic.

    Finally, there seems to be plenty of room for improvement, even though some people love (and would be able to keep) their current plans. I work for a truly great employer offering a 'brand name' insurance provider, and I spend a lot of time:

    - looking for board certified US educated doctors who are on the plan and will accpet new patients under the plan

    - seeing through payment of claims (for example, "yes the kid's dentist really did charge the same amount to do the same procedure two differen times, it is not fraud, I'll send the forms again")and

    - navigating deductibles, co-pays and medical savings accounts that never seem to tally up.

    A work acquaintance transferred from another US state and was $30,000 out of pocket and spent a hundred hours pressing the insurer, before his chronically ill child had the same coverage he had left before the move.

    No, we are not dying of cholera or smallpox, and yes, our doctors are by and large among the brightest and most conscientious, but surely we can have a better system here in the US.

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  • 149. At 08:34am on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    145
    make it so it talks about the humans rather than the "interested individuals" (ie insurance companies.)

    "How did it get complicated?"
    LOL
    This is truly one of the few times I would add Best in with America.
    They are the best at taking any simple concept and making it totally un workable look they took the short game of rugby and turned it into a day long event.
    with rests so the players could get a nap in between kicks and downs.
    they took the concept of personal transportation for a teenager and got a hum vee.

    A knack. maybe genetic trait. I'm not sure, I suppose it must be environmental.

    I just had an insurance company who couldn't tell me if they still had me covered.
    LIKE how does the insurer not figure that one out seeing as it is them.They over complicated it.


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  • 150. At 08:43am on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    lol blue jay thanks for the post it seemed spot on though you have to be a diplomat don't you. throwing the bone in with the "among the most conscientious" But well put.
    among all those that trained in NHS hospitals and the likes around the world who moved america for a bit of quick money.


    I'm glad to see you recognise that there could be a plague of some sort.
    other than swine or bird flu. or them. HG wells wrote the war of the worlds and the alien got bugged out by the smallest.
    maybe tha was a lesson to us all about the future.
    we have become so alien to our planet that we will be more effected by the bugs.

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  • 151. At 09:07am on 05 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #145. squirrellist: "The BMA was anti the NHS 60 years ago."

    Actually, 63 years ago, the legislation was implemented in July 1948. Before your time :)

    "There are 'socialist' doctors now. I know some."

    The point was made that all doctors in the UK are socialist when that is untrue.

    "I know some who are so pro NHS they refuse private practice."

    Is that their excuse? More likely they could not obtain such remunerative contracts elsewhere. Virtually all doctors, from GPs to mental health consultants, have some kind of contract with the NHS. I was involved with a Harley Street consultant on behalf of my late, demented, mother and neither she nor her colleagues would perform a mental health examination under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983, not even, as Oscar Wilde wrote, "for ready money." Too worried that they would upset the local (Berkshire) mental health mandarins who would necessarily be overturned.

    "A better example of 'governmental' bankruptcy would surely be California, where, as a result of voters demanding more and more services through their 'Propositions' (I suppose a variety of 'direct democracy') but at the same time refusing taxation to pay for them, many of those public services are being cut and the State (in the usual definition of the word) is bankrupt."

    No, it is the Republican governor (who we do not call "Arnie") who refuses to increase taxation. The blame for the present situation lays on his once-broad shoulders.

    It's the same story being played out as in 1946; vested interests, with powerful lobbies, are against universal health care, while the majority of thinking Americans (note my description) are for it. Anything that remotely smacks of "socialism" is automatically suspect and the word is used as a red flag to the public bull. In the case of Britain, the government of the day was in such a powerful position to enable it to pass almost any legislation it wished; in America the President does not have such power. If the political systems were identical, then there would be a different result. The "New Labour" administration under Blair abolished most of the hereditary principle of the Upper House - the US House could not alter the composition of the Senate. That's the difference.

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  • 152. At 09:39am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    Tecchy sort of message:

    Dear Mark,

    Maybe you'd better have a word with whoever organises these blogs. According to the "BBC Blog Netwrok" page, there's a new post about Labo(u)r Day. But you click on it and get a '404 not found'. And "Mark Mardell's America" isn't listed on that page either.

    We'll never get you a 'Webby' as well at this rate. (Always assuming you might want one, of course.)


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  • 153. At 10:23am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    151. At 09:07am on 05 Sep 2009, David_Cunard wrote:

    "It's the same story being played out as in 1946; vested interests, with powerful lobbies, are against universal health care, while the majority of thinking Americans (note my description) are for it."

    As you say I wasn't around at the time, but with all due deference to age, I can't see it as exactly comparable. I mean I can't imagine (might be wrong) that Beecham's or Boots (or whatever the British equivalent of 'Big Pharma' was then, I'm guessing) handed large wads of cash to MP's election funds or gave a Lord or two a couple of yards of new ermine expecting them to vote agin what they might have been agin.

    And I thought the Dems had a majority anyway, even if not as big as Labour's. But what seems to me to have put a big spanner in the works was this silly idea of 'bipartisanship'. thinking after that election campaign the Republicans would roll over and play nice and cuddly all of a sudden.

    I'd have thought it'd have looked pretty obvious they'd be determined on getting back in force in 2010 on the same principles (if that's what you can call them) and isn't that exactly what's happening? And if that means leaving a trail of wreckage behind they can blame a Democratic President for, well that's politics, and it's all fallen right into their laps so far.

    Can't help thinking that Obama might have been a very clever law student, but a pretty naive practical politician. Ditto a lot of the people around him. One notes Hillary (who you'd have thought knows a bit about all this) has been sort of standing well back holding her nose. In fact nobody around him's been helping much, have they? Why?


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  • 154. At 10:31am on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    Fluffytail:

    I think I got that. Neat. Republicans are elephants, yes? Trouble is I keep thinking of the parties as donkeys and asses. With a few blue mules mixed in.

    (I'll be in trouble for that. Get sent to bed with no acorns for supper probably.)

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  • 155. At 1:27pm on 05 Sep 2009, neil_a2 wrote:

    Powermeerkat clarified the context of "Nazi" as "National Socialist". The term is not used specifically in conjunction with the healthcare issue.

    We have a very ugly machine in power, of which Obama is only a hood ornament.

    1) The National Socialists promised "change" to an optimistic and uninformed society. ("Uninformed" does not mean "ignorant". It means they never understood or even explored what Obama meant by "change". It means they never looked at the man as any more than an idol.)
    2) The "company" a man keeps helps to better understand the man. Obama acquaintances have very clear disdain for American structure, no regard for its laws, and little or no respect for its population.
    3) Though not as skillful as former White House Press Secretaries, the current man in place is pathetic in furthering lies and trying to confuse issues.
    4) Obama attempted to indoctrinate the American youth with his mandatory movie and "Write a letter to yourself of how you can help your President". This is very much in contrast to JFK with his focus (inclusive of adults) with regards to "country".
    5) Obama's machine is criminalizing the opposing party, where even the neutral are suspect. "Potential right wing domestic terrorist", "CIA employees", "Cheney", "Ashcroft", ... .
    6) Obama's machine is looking to destroy free speech with regards to "talk radio" and the right to peaceful assembly. The effort was to censor programs that lead people away from their machine. (Or even cited their activities.)
    7) Obama coached ACORN on not using violence to disrupt and extort banks in Chicago for "the consideration they were due".
    8) SEIU is part of the machine behind Obama, and it bused in to disrupt and disperse peaceful gatherings that take exception to issues Obama is promoting. The local police make no effort to stop or even slow the disruptive actions of the SEIU thugs.
    9) Ficticious offices and positions were created to promote Obama. The biggest farce is the "Office of the President Elect".
    10) With regards to #9, the machine behind Obama has significant influence over the media in that his farce and fallacy are readily presented as stately, meaningful, and insightful.
    11) Obama was not able to appoint people to positions of power because they could not pass the scrutiny of due process. The candidates were registered socialists, tax evaders, and or had other events in their background or character that were not wuitable for public trust.
    12) Given that he could not follow due process, Obama created positions of "czars" or create a parallel government that was not subject to public review or accountability.
    13) Obama earmarked $300 million to ACORN, an organization where Obama has clear ties, and ACORN has demonstrated a propensity for criminal activities, including voter fraud. Obama intended to use ACORN for the 2010 census which would have enabled tremendous opportunities for fraud.
    14) Obama has not produced any documentation supporting his status as a natural born citizen that includes a hospital or physician.
    15) Through Tim Geithner, money is being channeled without Congressional oversight or with any accountability.
    16) Town hall meetings are staged. Except for active promoters, local populace are excluded from participation and from the right to gather close enough to the event to be visible to media. SEIU is bused in to disrupt gatherings. Questions are staged. The media is only allowed to sing his praises and not show any of the activity of the locals.

    So, farce, fraud, propaganda, intimidation, appointing corrupt individuals to positions of power, diverting national resources without oversight, indoctrinating youth, ... .

    The correlation with "Nazi" comes from the above.

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  • 156. At 2:05pm on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    155. At 1:27pm on 05 Sep 2009, neil_a2

    Isn't there a fire supposed to be involved?

    Er, that wouldn't be the one in California, would it?


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  • 157. At 2:18pm on 05 Sep 2009, Clockwork-Vampire wrote:

    148 bluejay60 wrote:
    "138, Count Tick-Tockula, price controls aren't socialist, they're a sound Republican economic tool! Don't you remember President Nixon applying wage and price controls during a U.S. economic crisis?"

    Heh, Count Tick-Tockula...

    Anywho, I know price controls aren't Socialist, you know price controls aren't socialist...but when you consider that apparently a good number of Americans don't even realize that Medicare is a Government Provided Healthcare...well I don't hold out much hope that they won't realize Price Controls aren't Socialist.

    By the way great post, and seriously...Count Tick-tockula...made me laugh which I needed.

    ----------------

    149. fluffytale wrote:

    "A knack. maybe genetic trait. I'm not sure, I suppose it must be environmental."

    I think it has to be Environmental. I spent a good amount of Time over in Europe...might've cleared my head.

    I mean its simple right? People have the right to be Healthy, to remain in good health, and so forth. It is a human right. The Government, which should do what it can to uphold and protect our rights as humans, therefore should provide health coverage to its citizens.

    Of course this in no way means that Private Companies shouldn't be allowed to exist that provide coverage...but the fact those companies seem to have a perverse joy in declining even healthy people from coverage, and gouging the people under their care, means that the government needs to step in even more.

    ---------

    155 has showed something else I wanted to mention. I normally get my News and Info from an NPR Station...which gets its news well from the NPR and BBC. But a co-worker of mine (I actually didn't know who until the end of the day) is a conservative...and listens to these Conservative Talk Shows...which I didn't even think was broadcast'd in my area. Well he had apparently tuned in the Company Truck's radio to it. Curious when I got in the truck I left it. I listened to this guy go on and on and on and on about how Obama was a Fascist. And he was totally serious!! Also a lot of the stuff I couldn't believe that he was reporting on...they want to talk about Misinformation...they should wake up and listen to their own freakin' show.

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  • 158. At 2:29pm on 05 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    Squirrellist, #145:

    Most excellent!

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  • 159. At 3:50pm on 05 Sep 2009, jcfnsc wrote:


    It pretty much shows how sick the Americans are. They not only are extremely spoiled, but also get easily desperate for small reasons. They like to talk about some people like "extremists" but the current events in the USA clearly demonstrates that there are a lot of extremists in America.

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  • 160. At 3:57pm on 05 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    157. At 2:18pm on 05 Sep 2009, Clockwork-Vampire

    I feel for you. That Glenn Beck guy on 'fascist' and 'communist' art in Rockefeller Plaza proved more than enough for me.

    However, I'd better warn you that several of us made many attempts to explain the essential differences between certain ideologies to the bewildered on the previous incumbent's blog, but to little avail, I'm afraid. The best thing is to pat them on the head and say 'there, there.' And hope the insurance covers the treatment.

    Did you know that George Bush was really Georgian? (Hence 'George'.) And the family was really called Dubushvili? And they're related to the Dugashvilis? So the collapse of the banks was a commie plot to bring down American capitalism? You didn't? I heard it on the radio.

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  • 161. At 4:41pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    grey squirrel
    That holding Gov to responsible spending is a joke right?
    after no bid contracts to halliburton etc Now when it is peoples health you want to get all sensible.
    Fine can I have the money paid in taxes that went to supply a few with so much at the cost of so many.?

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  • 162. At 4:49pm on 05 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #153. squirrellist: "I thought the Dems had a majority anyway, even if not as big as Labour's."

    Yes, but there is no whip system which obliges members to vote as they are told. Although there's frequently party allegiance (you'll see the phrase reported "voted along party lines") it is always a free vote. Members are beholden to their constituents and, it goes without saying, lobbyists. With regret, they always have an eye on the next election.

    "One notes Hillary . . . has been sort of standing well back holding her nose."

    She's not in a position to do anything about it - she's Secretary of State, not a Senator. Even if she could, she wouldn't, since she needs to stay in her privileged and important position until the next Presidential opportunity arises.

    #155. neil_a2: "We have a very ugly machine in power, of which Obama is only a hood ornament. 1) . . . 16) &c.

    You make Hannity and Glenn Beck look reasonable: crazy doesn't begin to describe this list of fallacies.

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  • 163. At 4:55pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    160 Squirrel list
    (hit list?)
    Interesting you should mention the Dugashvilis's
    It was a little more complicated than you mention.
    I do believe you are belittling the contribution from other sponsors.

    The promise of a compassionate conservative platform of pretending to care for the poor was taken by the uninformed to mean that death penalty treats would be increased because the masses like a good hanging.
    Keeping company with two of the most dangerously Hawkish people in politics as aa way of boosting the credentials as to the compassion.
    After all these guys would put anyone out of their misery given the chance.
    George was pathetic at lying but what was more pathetic was the way the press said.
    "look he was telling the truth" at no behest from others.
    The brain wahing champaign that was the 8 years of GW was sponsored by many nuts. none though from the solid reliable oak tree, i'm afraid.


    But twist this.


    MM Is it possible that the Wingbats can be told to leave the debating forum if they think that these repetitive slanderous accusations are really acceptable.


    See I could say that GW was eating babies in the white house supplied by dick who got them from his buddies in the Israeli army who had swapped their livers..that he got millions from the devil 's private account in texas( he put it as far away from civilisation as possible.....
    but they are lies.

    Or we could have every debate go south .
    we have seent his before. time to state your case.

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  • 164. At 5:33pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    DC hillery . LOL over my dead body.

    That witch that started al the race baiting in her cutthroat attempt to make it.
    The Kososvo Veteran.
    The problem Obama has is the american people. And until the Americans people accept that and do something they will have a all for me and me for none society.

    The reason I have stopped using the A for america is because they don't deserve a capital letter.
    What If at the town hall meetings there was not the vocal americans shouting NO NO NO.
    NO UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE from their medi chairs.

    Blame Obama for trying to do what he said he would, but it is not him that lied to the american people.
    It is those that say they care about others.
    He has to be bipartisan to some extent. Shame. If the people backed him up more and said 'Get lost GOP" if you're not even at the station you'll miss the train.

    Despite the calls of" oh america was so much in favour of obama" america Just voted Obama in. All those that said no have then hidden their money and are saying NO NO NO I will not accept.

    The American people are letting him down now. But then he is smart enough to be trying to prevent the civil war that the right seem to be just begging for.


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  • 165. At 6:19pm on 05 Sep 2009, Via-Media wrote:

    136 David Cunard

    "By the same analogy, are all those who work for the Federal Government diehard Democrats? Of course not."

    David, I think people would be amazed. While I can't speak for DC (which one might be able to assume to be heavily Democratic,) here in the hinterlands the makeup of Federal employees leans heavily toward the right wing of the Republican party. Every now and then I am treated to a violent, foaming at the mouth diatribe, against the president, politicians, "the government" (yes, these are government employees bashing themselves!) the commie-socialist Democrats, welfare recipients, illegal immigrants, etc. The worst offenders seem to be a number of former military personnel, who seem to regard the election of a Democrat (wish there was a way to convey the sneer with which that word is said in writing!) as nothing less than high treason.

    I keep the wincing at the total lack of thought by otherwise pleasant, intelligent people, internal. No one sees the irony in their opposition to the government while working for Uncle Sam. I used to think I was the only proud Liberal in the office, and kept (and keep) my opinions to myself, but I've since found 4-5 others, who also keep quiet.

    Maybe if we're discovered we'll be ID'd as a sleeper cell...

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  • 166. At 6:37pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    OK then.
    Why is the health care debate so heated?

    On one side you have people that will discuss issues about health care. Serious concerns and there are all sorts of angles.
    there could be any scheme that means that all get covered.
    A system rather than no system.
    Gov or private etc etc.

    But every where there are comments like the ones in 155 on this blog.
    A long list of fantasy from some who have always been trying the same thing right back when there were elections approaching in the USA.
    The birthers and nutter obsessed.
    One long list of nothing but "I hate this person" that was there before he (obama)even took office.
    Not just saying NO but outright libellous slanderous talk just to throw it out.
    Enough muck gets spread there will be a smell even if none of it is true.


    If the debate is to be taken seriously "birthers" like the commentator in 155 should be told that seeing as the pass port issue is a big lie. that it has been disproved, it is not relevant or legal on this blog.
    This blog being hosted in the UK for the BBC.

    This continual insistence on lies(yes mods LIES) is what has made this debate so heated.

    It has made the debates here on the blogs heated.
    but yet again it is apparent that this truth is not wanted to be seen by the BBC.

    The debate on issues can never start until the liars are told they have no voice. let them buy their own web servers to promote lies.

    This will be a very long few years for you Mark if it is not sorted out soon.
    I suspect.


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  • 167. At 6:45pm on 05 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #164. fluffytale: "DC hillery . LOL over my dead body."

    Then start arranging your funeral. If she continues to make good in her present position then I'd bet a nickel to a dollar that she'll run again when Obama cannot. No-one will be able to say she's not experienced at the very highest level. Clinton -v- Palin; it's a slam dunk for Mrs C - and she'd have Levi Johnston on her side!

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  • 168. At 7:03pm on 05 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    One issue raised by very few in this heated health reform row is that even if every single American were to be covered by private health insurance, as long as the companies are for-profit a great deal of the money paid in will go for the millions-of-dollars salaries of the company executives and to shareholders instead of for actual health care of the public who are paying all the money. Requiring citizens, by law, to line the pockets of the already immorally wealthy is not any kind of reform, which is why Howard Dean is correct: Without the public option there can be no reform.

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  • 169. At 7:04pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    lol DC she is the biggest scam in the democratic party.
    "I'm not bringing race into it" she laid the seeds to the birthers and the racists in her tone.
    There are many that will not forgive that DC.

    I know the west coast women love her but she is a no hoper. They can vote for her and I suspect the GOP will win. whoever they run.

    Your love blinds you.
    If Obama cannot run it is in part a result from the racism she promoted as can be seen in some comments here on the blogs.
    Then you seem you have similar issues as she did there. so why would you have noticed.

    Yet again for a small prize you would give up the world.
    Not the first issue for you like that either.

    We would already have attacked Iran if she was on her own.
    You can have her as president.
    you could then have great funding for research into aids or what ever good project at home to look nice. And a war in afganistan Iraq and Iran.Escalating tensions with Russia all of which have not been sorted out by Obama but there is movement.
    Her gaffs so far wont help prove she is a great statesperson

    You and her supporters look like people that would let things go apart just to see her in.
    And you looked like it at the elections and will do again at the next election.


    Global selling off of more US assets they need (manufacturing base that is left). more family silver sold.

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  • 170. At 7:43pm on 05 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    On this point about whether governments can go bankrupt:

    Every government which has its own currency (which seems like a reasonable definition of a proper government for the purposes of this argument) always has the option of simply printing more money.

    Therefore, it is not possible for a government to go bankrupt. Bankruptcy means running out of other people's currency, not your own.

    Now when countries go to the IMF with a sad story of woe and debt, this is because their governments have decided that negotiating loan terms is a better option than simply printing money. This is often because if you just start printing money to pay your debts, inflation skyrockets, foreign investors lose their shirts, and if a lot of them come from the UK or the USA, and you are a small state, the marines arrive on your beaches to restore order in the financial universe.

    The process of US marines and the royal navy restoring financial order is called "establishing democracy and freedom". It inevitably involves installing a privately owned press who will help install a puppet government hand picked by the foreigners. the freedom part means the freedom to continue paying interest on debts to western banks. Or else.

    That last point is crucial if you want to appreciate why countries go to the IMF. For some states, like Argentina and Zimbabwe in recent times, the possibility of Marines arriving is not compelling, and so these states often choose to flip the bird at the global financial community, and endure isolation.

    The history of states forcing other states to renegotiate loans rather than printing money and breaking away from the global financial community ("the global financial community" is a delightful phrase that replaced "the british empire" after it was taken over by the USA) is exceedingly interesting.

    The invasion and wars fought against the soviet union by the USA, Britain, France et al after the first world war were only called off after the Bolsheviks agreed to honour debts to western powers. The first world war came about because Bismarck refused to allow western powers to force Austria to renegotiate its loans.

    Children are taught that Arch Duke Ferdinand was shot, starting the first world war, but very few teachers know why he was shot. He was shot by a "patriot", who understood that Bismarck and the German empire were prepared to defend Austria if it defaulted on its loan obligations, and the western powers tried to use military power to change the government of the day and restore the willingness to repay government debts. Arch duke ferdinand had agreed to repay austria's debts, effectively going to the IMF of his day and pleading for new terms on his countries loans. So a patriot shot him. And it all kicked off.

    So i would argue that countries who have the sovereign power to print their own currencies cannot go bankrupt. They cannot just say "I cannot pay! I resign from power and all my creditors will just have to take a bath and write off the loses, and learn from their mistakes."

    Bankruptcy is the process through which an entity declares itself unable to pay debts, and by which creditors are forced to accept that they will lose their investment.

    It is precisely because countries are not allowed to go bankrupt that we have imperial wars. Or rather, imperial war is often the process by which a declaration of bankruptcy is rejected by the creditors of client states.

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  • 171. At 7:56pm on 05 Sep 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    democracythreat: Thank you for post 128. I have no qualms about lengthy posts; if I don't find them informative or entertaining, I just start reading the next one.

    I suspect that the Swiss constitution of 1848 was influenced by the US constitution, so I wouldn't be surprised if Americans who studied the current Swiss model would recognize some sort of connection.

    My guess is that if any western European health care system were to be adopted here as-is, the Swiss system would require the least evolution from the current system. (I have yet to learn about the Australian health care system; perhaps more wisdom can be obtained from study of it.)

    Yes, your "hundred years ago" theory has merit. One source of information about American self-identification can be gleaned from patent applications. Up until the late 19th century, domestic inventors would almost always identify themselves as a citizen of their state; the change to identify themselves instead as a citizen of the USA happened in parallel with the quest for empire, greatly increasing after the annexations of Hawai'i, the Philippines, &c.

    As to what happened to the USA - rather than party politics and representative democracy (which have been here the whole time), I would suggest the 16th and 17th amendments to our constitution, which eliminated the constraints on the federal structure that had been safeguarded to the states. Other than the states which allow referendums, direct democracy has largely been limited here to the local level, particularly in the New England states.

    I found the comment on the lack of Swiss voter apathy interesting, given the 45.5% turnout on the single-payer referendum. What is the lowest level of turnout that would not be considered as apathetic in Swiss political thought?

    I know that you've identified yourself as not being an expert in Swiss health care, but do you happen to know whether the policy subsidies for low-income people come from federal, cantonal, or local taxes, or from some combination of them?

    squirrelist: Regarding post 145, would you be willing to provide details on health care funding in the UK? Does it come entirely from National Insurance contributions? Do income taxes, or council tax, or VAT, or other taxes or duties play a role? What limits exist on prescription charges for an individual? How is an individual's level of NI contributions determined?

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  • 172. At 8:09pm on 05 Sep 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    democracythreat: Bismarck lost power in 1890, and died in 1898; Franz Ferdinand was killed in 1914. Did you mean Bethmann-Hollweg rather than Bismarck?

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  • 173. At 8:35pm on 05 Sep 2009, Lincoln Hawk-s wrote:

    #136 cunard

    Those "ask your doctor ads" were a real culture shock for me when i first settled in to the USA.

    It seems the majority of each ad break is dominated by drug, fatty food and beer commercials. The number of food commercials and the fascination people have with food in the States is a bit weird to me, I hear people talking about it with the same passion peopls talk about footy back home.

    #142 fluffy

    on that theme I am often asked by fellow Brits what I think of Americans and I have to say that they all seem very cheerful. It makes me think that maybe WE should be more havily medicated as a society :D

    (Royalties to be paid to Frankie Boyle :)

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  • 174. At 8:44pm on 05 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #169. fluffytale: "You can have her (Hillary) as president."

    And with any luck, we shall. You don't think Mr Obama picked her to Secretary of State just to keep her happy, do you? No, to ensure that there is a Democratic succession; Biden wouldn't stand a chance - and neither would Palin, if she's still around.

    #171. Jan_Keeskop: "Does (NHS funding) come entirely from National Insurance contributions? Do income taxes, or council tax, or VAT, or other taxes or duties play a role?"

    The NHS is primarily funded by general taxation; NI contributions mostly go to towards state pensions, much as SS contributions do in the USA. Council taxes have nothing to do with it. Many Britons erroneously think that their NI contributions solely pay for the NHS, but they do not. Local Primary Care Trusts ("PCTs") carry out the day-to-day work of the NHS and they report directly to the regional Strategic Health Authority, successor to the former county Health Authority. Layers of management!

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  • 175. At 10:02pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    LOL DC you age must be getting to you.
    You seem to think that Obama picked Hillery for state so she could succeed him in 2012.

    That is almost as condescending as thinking Obama should serve as his VP because he beat her in a primary.

    You really don't understand how many hate her do you.

    You also forget why she lost.

    You have taken on the traits of california well.
    You want at what ever the cost.

    To ensure the democratic succession is one of the most creative interpretations of Obama's pick I have heard from either the left or the right.



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  • 176. At 10:09pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Moon It seems like it might be a good idea. but I think there are other less legal ways of getting people to smile.

    That are less harmfull.
    It is scarey when all around you know that they are driving with the "oh really did I almost kill you> well I'm sorry. " and straight on.
    The best example I knew of the prozac mind was in the UK though. banned from driving on a mo ped and still crashing.
    every accident greated with a "I'm feeling pretty good"

    In america the number driving while anti depressed is incredible. and they still think pot is a bigger problems despite there being NO evidence it effects driving. in a negative manner.

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  • 177. At 10:50pm on 05 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #175. fluffytale: "To ensure the democratic succession is one of the most creative interpretations of Obama's pick I have heard from either the left or the right."

    So why do you think he picked her? Foreign policy experience? It's not your 'tail' that's fluffy, but your head.

    "You really don't understand how many hate her do you."

    And you don't understand why so many voted for her in the primaries - it's not as if she was a poor second.

    "they still think pot is a bigger problems despite there being NO evidence it effects driving. in a negative manner."

    Like alcohol, it depends on how much you have used. One toke might not have any noticeable effect, but a couple of spliffs might be quite different. Both liquor and MJ effect the central nervous system; if it weren't so, nobody would use them. It's the effect which users like, or have you forgotten that?

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  • 178. At 11:02pm on 05 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    powermeerkat wrote: "Ad since we are just commemorating the beginning of WWII it might be also worth noting that this conflict was started by two powers; both with nationalistic, (or, more precisely chauvinistic) socialist regimes."


    Since some people here seem to have a problem with identifying who those poweres were...


    One was III Reich (ruled by HItler's national socialists) which attacked Poland on September 1st 1939 and occupied its Western part.

    The other - Soviet Union (ruled by Stalin's national socialists) which invaded Poland on September 17 of the same year (as agreed by Berlin and Moscow in Secret Protocol of Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact) and occupied Poland's eastern part.

    Atrocities in Western Poland were perpetrated by Hitler's Gestapo.

    Atrocities in Eastern Poland - by Stalin's NKVD.

    Both amply documented.

    Eventually Nazi Germany was defeated and Western Europe was liberated by Western Powers.

    Communist Russia won and Eastern Europe was 'liberated' by Red Army.


    Because of first hand experience during the next 45 years the term "socialist" acquired in Eastern Europe the same connotation as "Nazi" in Western part of European Continent.

    And that's perhaps why some extremely infuriated critics of Mr. Obama's health care reform denigrate it as a "Nazi scheme", whereas others- as "socialist plan".

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  • 179. At 11:24pm on 05 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Perhaps I should add that the health care reform cannot be described as neither 'Nazi', nor 'socialist' or anything else.

    For such plan (from all I hear and read) doesn't really exist: fragmentary proposals change almost weekly, details are scarce and as as a result one has nothing to evaluate yet.

    BTW. Many people believe (and with some justification) that health care system in the U.S. doesn't require any reform as it is second to none.
    And that all which might be required is a reform of the health INSURANCE scheme.

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  • 180. At 11:37pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 181. At 11:43pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    DC
    He picked her so she wouldn't just sit there acting like you.
    pretty simple really.


    Now onto your rather simplistic attempts to compare alcohol to pot.
    One alcohol a sedative that leads to sleep.
    the other a stimulant.
    Do dispute this then go look up Max Glatt.
    I'll take his word on this before yours. Infact I already have.


    Strange how if as you say


    . "Both liquor and MJ effect the central nervous system; if it weren't so, nobody would use them" that they effect them in different ways so different.

    PS Hillery is abit of a drinker isn't she. (mods she supposedly challenged J Mc Cain to drinking matches and wins)

    again you show an ability to regurgitate old rubbish in amazingly creative ways


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  • 182. At 11:53pm on 05 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Further DC just that if you think my thinking "fluffy" then yours must be puffy.puffed up fluf.

    " Both liquor and MJ effect the central nervous system; if it weren't so, nobody would use them. It's the effect which users like, or have you forgotten that?"

    If they were the same why would one be illegal and the other not.
    Why don't I as a pot head drink?
    why don't all them drunks get stoned?
    why is it that Pot helps with glaucoma and Multiple sclerosis and a host of other problems but alcohol doesn't.

    "hitler was a human therefore you must be like hitler"

    that's about the sense in your logic.




    "

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  • 183. At 01:05am on 06 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    Let's not get bogged down with who started WW2 ..... let's keep on Healthcare reform please, although in my book anyone who tosses the word "Nazi" around to score points in a serious debate detracts beautifully from their own shallow argument.

    Several issues leap to mind on healthcare.

    1) Do Americans feel that every citizen should have the right to good quality basic healthcare? (it doesn't need 5 star hotel luxury and choice of surgeon - just good basic care).

    The answer in an ethical/caring/Christian should society should be yes.
    If it's "no" then at least have the honesty to stop going to church.

    2) America currently spends a much higher amount per capita on health than european countries, and has a similar or lower life expectancy and a higher rate of infant mortality.
    - before someone (you know who you are) brings up Mexican immigrants who pay no tax .... we have quite alot of illegals in europe too.

    3) You have socialised defense, schooling, police, fire service .... I imagine because it is far more cost effective. Where is the financial argument against single payer socialised medicine (unless you run a health ins company or a drug company!!)

    4) The various European and other western health systems all ahve faults. Why not take the best ideas and create a systemto be proud of?

    5) if anyone could see their GP at any time then many chronic illnesses would be prevented, actually reducing the cost of more serious treatment later.

    6) finance time - what percentage of your income do you spend on health insurance? Is tax likely to rise by that much? Very unlikely unless you are earning BIG bucks. Then factor in the co-pays and hidden costs, and excluded conditions and changing circumstances ..... why can you not understand? Think deeper.

    7) No one is saying you can't still have private health insurance if you're rich enough. Most (all?) european countries have a dual system .... you know, like how rich people send their kids to private school, but poor kids still get to go to state school!


    I'm personnally very disappointed that Obama hasn't taken a more decisive line on this issue, and that the congressional democrats seem keen to hamstring the President so soon, doing the opposition's work for them.
    The lack of education and empathy for fellow Americans in the anti arguments is just breath-taking.

    Short and simple ... free basic healthcare should be a human right in a civilised country. The USA is the only western democracy which does not provide it.

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  • 184. At 01:17am on 06 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    179 powermeerkat wrote
    "Many people believe (and with some justification) that health care system in the U.S. doesn't require any reform as it is second to none.
    And that all which might be required is a reform of the health INSURANCE scheme."

    It is indeed the insurance system which should be reformed .... but not in the way you would like I fear.

    There should be a single national (ie govt-owned) not-for-profit single-payer health insurance company which would plough it's surpluss funds back into the health of the nation.
    It should be funded by an income tax increase so that each pays according to his/her means.
    It should be run well!

    If you use the short-comings of foreign systems as an argument against socialised medicine, then you must surely argue against capitalism because of the economic crisis. It is childishly simplistic.

    If America is so great, I challenge her to make a healthcare system that works for all her citizens, leaves no one uncovered and doesn't simply line the pockets of fat cat insurance and drug co execs.

    Come on. Give it a try. It's like you've quit because it may not work. Pathetic.

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  • 185. At 01:34am on 06 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #182. fluffytale: Both liquor and MJ effect the central nervous system . . . "If they were the same why would one be illegal and the other not."

    Ask your friendly legislators, not me. Alcohol was once unlawful in the United States, the same as some drugs are today. It varies from country to country. You can go into Boots and other 'chemists' in Britain and buy codeine over-the-counter but in the USA you couldn't do so at Walgreen's or CVS: it's by prescription only. In Holland you can go to a "coffee shop" and buy the grass of choice, but not in the UK. Of course, they also permit euthanasia, so I can't see the US following that example any time soon!

    "Why don't I as a pot head drink?"

    You tell me; perhaps you don't care for the taste of distilled spirits - except that vodka is supposed to have none - or the many pilsner beers available. Or is it the effect you can't handle? It is said that red wine is good for the heart and that a couple of drinks a day are good for one's health. Pot can be equally soporific in the same way as alcohol when too much is consumed and, if you've ever witnessed a drunken brawl, you'll know that a few drinks will stimulate someone just as much, indeed probably more, than a joint will. Since it appears that you've never been drunk, you can't have had the experience - I have, and also on occasion smoked a little too much. So I speak from experience of both sides of the issue: you don't.

    "why don't all them drunks get stoned?"

    Many of them do and I suggest that many pot heads get drunk, you can't and don't speak for all of them.

    "go look up Max Glatt"

    He was a psychiatrist who specialised in treating addiction to both alcohol and drugs. Find me a link that shows he says one is better or no worse than the other. Interestingly to me, and perhaps other readers, is that there is a Max Glatt Unit at the NHS St Bernards Hospital in Southall - and also at HMP Wormwood Scrubs. Ever been treated at either facility?

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  • 186. At 01:53am on 06 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    RomeStu, # 183 & 184: The lack of education and empathy for fellow Americans in the anti arguments is just breath-taking.

    Therein lies the problem, in its entirety. A large number of my fellow Americans are sadly ignorant and mean-spirited. While believing themselves better than the rest of the world. It is not that they don't trust the government; that's just the smokescreen the "haves" use to avoid admitting they don't want to share with the "have-nots." And many of the "have-nots" are so ignorant they have no idea what the government already provides for them.

    It really is breathtaking, and thoroughly nauseating.

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  • 187. At 02:17am on 06 Sep 2009, turningblueandgrey wrote:

    150 Fluffy, 157 Clockwork...

    I do have an admiration for medical professionals. A lot of college friends from my science education went on the pre-med path, one was the smartest, hardest working person I've met, he took all advanced classes never the 1 or 2 easier levels for all his physics, chemistry, calc/diff equations, etc.

    All were decent enough people, above average in either compassion or intellect, sometimes both. No really bad eggs. The diplomacy was meant for health professionals vs. the real ineffiency in the system with is health INSURANCE.

    157 - Glad you took my post in the vein it was intended, Clockwork.

    There are a few big picture reasons to dig into the medical insurance complex (to borrow the spirit of Ike's phrase) to see how we can do better.

    The 'bottom line' should motivate conservatives into looking at insurance reduncancies, exclusions, layers of management, arcane local & state differences, lost physician time in paperwork; not to mention the drain from "CYA" tests that go beyond preventative care in our litigious society; and the technical efficiencies that could come from a universal digital records standard (with paper or e-files provided to patients).

    American competitiveness would motivate here too - not only have we lost manufactruing jobs, we outsource insurance call centers, and some insurers outsource surgeries, shipping patients overseas rather than working in US hospitals. The 'people come here for the best health care" adage is true when cost is no object or very specialized treatments are needed, but it is starting to work in reverse for the working-class insured being encouraged to go overseas for surgeries.

    Heatlhier citizens are better workers with better educated kids, so the current is one factor working against our competitiveness.

    The 'moral compass' aspects of this all seem even more imperative to me. These should motivate ethical and faith based consideration of health care access under broad concepts of fairness, justice and doing what is right: how we treat the least among us, and how we follow the Golden Rule; finally there are issues of respecting the limits of business vs. usury common to finance and health insurance in America.

    Children deserve basic health care and the fair and equal starting point that it helps provide. I'm not referring to the immigration aspects, that's a broader topic - just uninsured American citizens for the sake of this argument.

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  • 188. At 02:48am on 06 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #183
    "The USA is the only western democracy which does not provide it."



    Social schemes in Western Europe (both: pension and health plans) are at a braking point (the undeniable fact) and willingess of its younger generation to finance (through higher and higher income taxes) is waning fast, if opinion polls are any indicators.

    Not to mention another undeniable fact that because of higher and higher costs of social largesse (perks) EU manufacturing sector (both: hardware and software-wise) is less and less competitive globally which only increases unemployment in its member-states, thus accelerating shrinkage of their taxable pools.

    Something's gotta give. And it will.

    Particularly since higher taxes always result in reduced cash flow to taxing states, although many statists realize it only belatedly.

    And some never learn that "Inconvenient Truth".


    Nota bene, United States is not a Democracy (sensu sctricte) but a REPUBLIC.

    For Founding Fathers were endowed by their Creator with a healthy dose of scepticism about collective wisdom of masses (huddled or not).

    Failed social systems designed, enforced and promulgated in XX century by collectives are the best proof that Founding Fathers' skepticism wasn't unjustified.

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  • 189. At 04:06am on 06 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #188. powermeerkat: "Social schemes in Western Europe (both: pension and health plans) are at a braking point."

    Is that braking or breaking? What a difference one letter makes.

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  • 190. At 06:36am on 06 Sep 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    David_Cunard: Thanks for 174. I found the Budget 2009 report at HM Treasury's Web site, and buried my nose in it for a while. It looks as though the combined resource and capital budgets for the NHS are as follows:

    • 2007-08: 92.2 billion pounds
    • 2008-09: 97.1 billion pounds (estimate)
    • 2009-10: 105.5 billion pounds (plan)
    • 2010-11: 108.8 billion pounds (plan)


    which would make the approximate annual cost per person in the UK be:

    • 2007-08: 1,510 pounds
    • 2008-09: 1,590 pounds (estimate)
    • 2009-10: 1,725 pounds (plan)
    • 2010-11: 1,780 pounds (plan)


    The NHS Web site states that 60% of its budget goes towards its staff of 1.5 million people (including 400,000 nurses; 90,000 hospital doctors; 35,000 general practitioners; and 16,000 ambulance staff); 20% goes to drugs and supplies, and the remaining 20% goes to everything else. Discovering the analogous percentages of the current American system would be enlightening. Transplanting a NHS-style system to these shores would be a sizable undertaking.

    RomeStu: Regarding post 183, apparently Switzerland also does not provide free basic health care - see post 114.

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  • 191. At 08:03am on 06 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #190. Jan_Keeskop: "I found the Budget 2009 report at HM Treasury's Web site, and buried my nose in it for a while"

    Must make very dry reading! One figure you have missed out and would be interesting to know, is what is the projected government income for the same period/s? The percentage expended on the NHS would be informative. Assuming the figures are correct, the 2011 cost comes to roughly $238 per person per month, or +/- $2900 p.a. Would Americans be prepared to pay that much? Not in direct, additional taxation, neither as a 'voluntary' payment. Rock and hard place comes to mind.

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  • 192. At 08:50am on 06 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    190/191. David:

    It doesn't come out like that, actually.

    There's a fundamental mistake in the calculation, because that is the cost averaged out, not what the average individual's contributionis. Government services are funded through other sources of taxation (like VAT--bit like sales tax in the US?) income and borrowing. Not to mention repayment through insurance from foreign residents or even British ones with private insurance who are treated in NHS hospitals. And in that budget, of course, there will be reciprocal payments to EU countries for Brits treated while abroad.

    I imagine if you divided the Pentagon's budget by 300 million, it would appear that some Americans would be handing half their income over to it.

    (This isn't really relevant, but it comes into the 'price' equation, I suppose. NHS hospitals are 'Crown property'. They aren't insured. By which I mean they don't have to pay insurance companies for fire, building--or medical liability, 'tort' in US terms--insurance; if one falls down or catches fire, or there's proven medical negligence, the government picks up the bill. Must save a bit.)

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  • 193. At 09:26am on 06 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    188. At 02:48am on 06 Sep 2009, powermeerkat

    Your economic model is far too simplistic. For one thing, you are forgetting that in the EU we will all be taking our state pensions later, and therefore working--and contributing taxes--longer. (Providing, of course that we don't have too many more sub-prime fiascos.)

    And where do you think most big American brands are actually manufactured? Look at the 'country of origin' label--if you have those on the other side of the Pond as we do here--on your trainers or whatever sometime. And which bank, based in which country, was asked to buy Lehmann Bros to rescue it?


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  • 194. At 10:55am on 06 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    190 Jan

    Thank you for pointing out that Switzerland does not offer free universal health care. My mistake.

    However this does not seem to be an argument in defense of the anti-reform argument in the USA.

    Most of the anti-reform rhetoric seems to be along the lines that some of the European systems are not perfect, so we won't try! Bravo. Where is the "little engine who could"?

    I would still like to hear from the anti-reform crowd on what basis it is unacceptable for all citizens to have easy access to free (at point of service) basic healthcare.

    If the answer is financial, then find a more cost effective way of doing it - you already spend more percapita than Europe on health.

    If the answer is that you just don't care, then be honest and say it.

    And if the answer is that you are a major shareholder in a drug or health insurance company, then lucky lucky you!

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  • 195. At 11:01am on 06 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    191 David
    "Assuming the figures are correct, the 2011 cost comes to roughly $238 per person per month, or +/- $2900 p.a. Would Americans be prepared to pay that much? Not in direct, additional taxation, neither as a 'voluntary' payment."


    David, sorry to be picky, but your calculation neglects to factor the tax dollars already spent on medicare/aid.

    If you can tell me how much per capita is spent on those, then compare with your NHS total for full service. It is only the difference that would be needed .... and the average American's health insurance costs (plus co-pays, exclusions blah blah blah) would surely be higher.

    Everyone pays according to their means, everyone benefits according to their needs.
    All you have to do is run it properly.

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  • 196. At 11:53am on 06 Sep 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Mark,

    Welcome to the USA and best wishes for a long and successful assignment.

    You may want to change the name of your blog from Euroblog to America...

    The reason meaningful healthcare reform is unlikely is because of fear, ideology and greed. The insurance company industry is not going to give up its gold mine without fighting, politicians whose chances of re-election depend on the contributions of wealthy donors are not going to resign themselves to $25 contributions from small contributors, and the senior citizens who oppose reform because they fear reductions in MEDICARE waste will affect their personal welfare are unlikely to change their minds.

    Political opportunists have been holding townhall meetings in Florida, Arizona and other states with large concentrations of retirees assuring them that the elimination of MEDICARE waste spells disaster for them. Ironically, these assurances are coming from the same individuals who accuse President Obama of being a big spender, a socialist, and a man who favors big government!

    I would not be surprised if this latest attempt to implement desperately needed healthcare reform in the USA ends up with the insurance company industry promising the end of the pre-existing conditions clause, portability, and limiting the growth of premiums.

    The plight of the 47 million Americans without healthcare insurance coverage or under insured will be dismissed using the pretense that they are illegal alliens unworthy of care, people so wealthy that they don't need insurance and prefer to pay cash, and the fact that Americans can always go to an emergency room for emergency care when needed.

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  • 197. At 12:11pm on 06 Sep 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 194, Rome

    "Most of the anti-reform rhetoric seems to be along the lines that some of the European systems are not perfect, so we won't try!"

    The logical approach, in my opinion, would be to focus on countries where universal healthcare works rather than on those where its results are questionable. I have close relatives in Spain, the UK and Sweden and all are delighted with their system. When I broached this topic with them they simply could not understand why anyone would support a system like ours.

    Unfortunately, our special interests and its supporters in Congress are not interested in success or the well being of the average American, but the preservation of corporate profits and political contributions. They will stop at nothing to derail this latest attempt to remedy a situation detrimental to our society and, ironically, to our ability of our corporations to compete with the rest of the world.

    Corporate benefits represent approximately 45% of the cost for full time employees. Most of it involves company-provided healthcare. That is one of several reasons why US-based corporations have trouble competing on the world stage and a consideration when they move their operations overseas.

    I agree with your point that the healthcare cost equation advanced by the GOP ignores the cost of our current system and the savings that would occur if we transitioned to universal healthcare.

    Concerning the ability and effectiveness of government institutions to run a large system such as the one thst is being proposed, all I can say is that I am on Social Security and MEDICARE and both programs run like clock work. The funding problems they have are caused by politicians raiding their trust funds to give the illusion that our budget deficits are not as severe as they actually are, unwillingness to elimminate waste because of potential political backlash from seniors, and because of the tendency of some politicians to use these programs as political footballs to achieve their goals.

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  • 198. At 12:33pm on 06 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jan keesop wrote:
    "I found the comment on the lack of Swiss voter apathy interesting, given the 45.5% turnout on the single-payer referendum. What is the lowest level of turnout that would not be considered as apathetic in Swiss political thought?"

    Hang on, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Remember that the Swiss vote on everything, and they vote on legislation. They don't just turn up once every four years and pick their favourite TV personality, without any real understanding of the policies.

    So, sure, if 45% of folks voted for the US president, I'd say that would reflect voter apathy. But when 45% of the population know enough, and care enough, to go and vote on the macro economics of health insurance, then that is quite another bag of fish.

    There is no doubt that a lot of Swiss people hate voting. They are not just apathetic, they hate it. It drives them nuts. Because they are always being asked to do it, on local, cantonal and federal level. But at the same time, these same people who complain about it generally do it when it affects their lives, and they would all object if the right to vote were taken away, and given to some representative.

    To answer your question regarding what is the apathy level for Swiss voters, the answer is 100'000. If less than 100'000 people sign your proposed law, the politicians do not have to put it to the people for a vote.

    If more than 100'000 people sign the law, expressing an interest in voting for it, then the politicians must put it to the people for vote. Until recently the apathy threshold was 50'000, but the constant on whacko fringe issues was driving too many people nuts, so someone proposed increasing the apathy threshold, and the majority said hell yeah.

    Now it is interesting that if you asked the same question of any other "democratic" nation, you simply couldn't get a straight answer, let alone a quantifiable, democratically determined answer.

    "I know that you've identified yourself as not being an expert in Swiss health care, but do you happen to know whether the policy subsidies for low-income people come from federal, cantonal, or local taxes, or from some combination of them?"

    Well, I know how this is going to sound, but I don't know of any low income people. Seriously, I do not. I know some non-income people, people who are disabled or single mothers and so on. But the minimum wage here is very high, and so is social security. So people have enough money to pay for their health insurance. Hence, it is universal, but it isn't free.

    I think social security here is around US$3000 a month, or something like that. Prisoners get a menu with three items on it, and their choice of playstation or Xbox. There are no beggars, nobody lives on the street, or in substandard accommodation. Switzerland is a wealthy society, and it is universally wealthy.

    Now what is curious, economically and politically, is that people on "welfare" still choose their health insurer. So there is no government insurer, no "public option". The government give the disabled and the unemployed and the single mothers the money, and then the person chooses an insurer for themselves. the government never makes the choice, or provides the service.

    That is a crucial point, in terms of market economics, and also for the dignity of the people. Everyone has the dignity of choice. Nobody is stuck with the public option.

    I have to say, I don;t want to make Switzerland sound like some sort of wonderland or paradise on earth. Yeah, we don;t do poor people. And yeah, everyone has really good health care. And yeah, we don;t have to put up with lying politicians because we vote on our own laws.

    But there are bad things about this culture, as well. The food is terrible, the national pastime is finding new rules to obey, and good luck finding a shop open after 6:30pm. And service is often not very good. And the Swiss are not so keen on immigrants. You totally have to "fit in" to Swiss culture, if you want to enjoy life here. It is not "viv la difference". Muslim minarets are banned from the skyline, for example. And in the canton where I used to live, they built a "Refugee and asylum seekers Assistance centre" twice. And it got burned down, twice. Like, straight away.

    But the taxes are low, the cigarettes are cheap, and the coffee, chocolate and skiing are world class. It's god's country, take it all around.

    You're right about Bismarck, too. My bad. It was his policy being continued, not him doing it.

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  • 199. At 1:00pm on 06 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    195. At 11:01am on 06 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    "All you have to do is run it properly."

    Well, there's the rub really. People seem to be saying 'government' can't run anything, and seeing the success the Pentagon has made of running wars over the last 30-odd years, I can see the point. Conversely, it should be the states that should, but California hasn't made much of a success of managing itself either. And nobody seems to accept that private enterprise's ways may not be all they're cracked up to be (viz. the banks).

    Oh, and speaking of banks, now they're doing exactly what they did with dodgy mortgages, 'packaging' health insurance people are selling off to get some cash together. I must admit I can't quite see how that's supposed to work, but it looks rather ominous to me.

    Presumably they are assuming a lot more people are going to end up doing that because they hope they'll be able to rely on Medicare, or not get ill, or not break a leg. And/or they are assuming more and more people won't actually be able to afford the premiums in future.

    (If financial institutions are doing that, you can forget about any European system, let alone anything like the NHS being introduced I should think.)


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  • 200. At 1:01pm on 06 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    democracythreat (#128) wrote:

    Good help the entire world if the USA goes the same way as the EUSSR, where being a member of a party determines your future, and the people are complete spectators to those who rule over them.



    It ain't gonna happen for more than one reason.

    So let me point out just one. When someone at the Imperial Japan's General Staff meeting has raised the subject of a possible invasion of the U.S., he was told (possibly by Adm. Yamamoto) that this was not an option for "every American has weapons at home, and in case of an invasion each house would become a bastion".

    A small exaggeration aside, Japanese didn't understand then, just like many other people don't understand today why so many Americans (particularly west of the Rockies) keep firearms (and by no means only sixguns) and are so staunchly protective of their 2nd Ammendment.

    It is not so much to have something substantial handy in case of a foreign invasion as to be able to protect oneself and one's family from the tyranny of one's own government in case it became tyrannical and opressive at some point. And many Americans are deeply suspicious of any government, particularly the central one; and not only have pretty decent firearms but usually also know how to use then.

    So if push ever comes to shove... :-)



    189. At 04:06am on 06 Sep 2009, David_Cunard wrote:
    #188. powermeerkat: "Social schemes in Western Europe (both: pension and health plans) are at a braking point."

    Is that braking or breaking? What a difference one letter makes.



    Thanks for pointing that out. Obviously a typo, since I don't see any signs of anybody in EU member states applying brakes to social largesse.

    BTW. Just in case it'll make someone from the other side of the Pond feel better...

    American Social Security system ( orginally designed as merely a safety net of the last resort) is also almost competely broke. And any hopes one might have for saving it by privatizing the scheme (at least partly) have died after last November election.

    [not that Medicaid is in much better shape]

    So I guess it's "death&taxes" or yet another 'do-nothing Congress'.



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  • 201. At 1:02pm on 06 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jan, your NHS figures are misleading.

    You've based the "average" cost of the NHS on the total population of 61 million, not the tax paying population of 46 million.

    So the average cost for working people for 2009 is actually 2290 pounds, based on those figures.

    However..... !!

    This is very deceiving.

    In fact, the average wage is 24'000 pounds, and the median wage is around 16'000 pounds. (which means that if you are an average person you probably earn 16 grand, but the average is pushed up by the bankers, doctors and lawyers)

    Not only that, but if you consult the tax code, you will find that NHS tax only begins at 5'000 pounds, and stops being applied at 43'000 pounds.

    What does this mean?

    It means that people who are earning 40'000 pounds are paying pretty much the same NHS tax as those earning 2 million pounds. And how much is that?

    11% of their wage..... plus their employer pays 13% of their wage.

    Suck on that, Americans earning around 60K dollars a year. With a UK style system, 24% of the value of your wage would go towards the NHS.

    24%!!!!!!!! The doctors and nurses and drug companies are getting one in every four dollars earned.

    It makes the mind boggle, it truly does. It's enough to make you sick. Why don't they just shoot every fourth person and take everything they own?

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  • 202. At 1:11pm on 06 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #194 "I would still like to hear from the anti-reform crowd on what basis it is unacceptable for all citizens to have easy access to free (at point of service) basic healthcare."


    It is not unacceptable; its it simply impossible.


    For nothing in life is free, and government (any government) has only as much money to "give" as "benefits" as it manages to pick from citizens' pockets. Even death isn't free as there are estate taxes to be paid.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "AS THROUGH THIS WORLD I RAMBLE
    I SEE MANY FUNNY MEN
    SOME KILL YOU WITH THE SIXGUN
    SOME WITH A FOUNTAIN PEN"

    (Woody Guthrie)

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  • 203. At 1:39pm on 06 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    202 meerkat
    "It is not unacceptable; its it simply impossible.

    For nothing in life is free, and government has only as much money to "give" as "benefits" as it manages to pick from citizens' pockets."


    So do I take it that were it to become "possible" then you would be a firm supporter of free (at point of service) universal healthcare. This is very cheering.

    However you just have to look to see that other countries do manage it so it is NOT impossible .... just unlikely in the USA due to the greed of special interest groups and big business and the ignorance of easily-led masses.

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  • 204. At 2:35pm on 06 Sep 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    The Town hall meeting have been contenous for a number of reason. Including:

    The Contempt certain reps have for their constiuents( Barney Frank and others)
    Dumb questions from both sides of the spectrum
    Intimidation by Labor Unions and special interest groups (Move on) who intimidate and grab microphones from opponetns

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  • 205. At 4:24pm on 06 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    201. At 1:02pm on 06 Sep 2009, democracythreat

    Your figures are deceiving, too, but I just can't be bothered. You're confused about what National Insurance is for, to start with.

    Speaking of death and taxes, the Swiss introduced VAT in conformity with (gasp!) the EU, over ten years ago. You didn't mention that, I noticed, when telling us about those nice low Swiss tax rates you're so keen on.



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  • 206. At 4:47pm on 06 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 207. At 5:09pm on 06 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    204. At 2:35pm on 06 Sep 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    "The Contempt certain reps have for their constiuents( Barney Frank and others"

    I take it you are referring to his response to the woman who held up a poster of the President with a moustache and called him a Nazi? You would prefer that constituent (if she was one) to be publicly congratulated and approved?


    The crowded hall had both supporters and detractors, but the opposing side was much louder and more raucous, booing the Massachusetts Democrat from the moment he was introduced and shouting questions and challenges at him throughout.
    "You want me to talk about it or do you want to yell?" he asked over and over when interrupted while trying to answer. Continued shouting brought a sterner rebuke.
    "Disruption never helps your cause," he said more than once. "It just looks like you're afraid to have rational discussion."
    [CNN]

    Either give your evidence for the kinds of blanket assertions you make so often, or go back to watching the Glenn Beck show, please. (It's not on the BBC, btw.) It does not serve the debate.

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  • 208. At 5:44pm on 06 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    "Speaking of death and taxes, the Swiss introduced VAT in conformity with (gasp!) the EU, over ten years ago. You didn't mention that, I noticed, when telling us about those nice low Swiss tax rates you're so keen on."

    Swiss VAT is 7.5%.

    In the UK VAT is 15%, and in the rest of the EU it is even higher.

    Thanks for playing!

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  • 209. At 5:50pm on 06 Sep 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #205

    Squirell Boy: listen to Fox or ABC News and you will say the town hall protests. I notice you ignore the extemists on both sies comment.

    Frank is abusive indvidual (always has been)

    As far as Beck he should be luaded for exposing Van Jones a 9/11 cook and a bigot.

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  • 210. At 7:01pm on 06 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    209. At 5:50pm on 06 Sep 2009, MagicKirin

    I really don't want to encourage you, but I can't help it. What might be so bad about being a "9/11 cook"? I might remind you that several of those who died were chefs and cooks.

    (Oh, and don't call me 'boy' please. For all you know I might be African American and come from one of the southern states.)

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  • 211. At 7:14pm on 06 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Dc you show your lack of understanding in drug treatment rehabilitaion and problems in general

    "Of course, they also permit euthanasia, so I can't see the US following that example any time soon!"

    Strange it is called "DEATH WITH DIGNITY" and they do.
    Oregon and maybe some other states.
    Sorry strike two

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  • 212. At 7:16pm on 06 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    I was just reading up, over on The Guardian, on the controversy of whether a paranoid schizophrenic convicted murderer on meds should be permitted to drive a London cab, and then I come over here to the BBC and find that someone thinks that Glen Beck, whose mental state is clearly similar to the cabbie-aspirant's, should be lauded (I'm assuming "luaded" was a typo). Which raises the question, for me: What is a Beck aficionado doing on a BBC site and is schizophrenia contagious?

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  • 213. At 7:28pm on 06 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    212. At 7:16pm on 06 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    "What is a Beck aficionado doing on a BBC site and is schizophrenia contagious?"

    As to the first, you'll find out soon enough, once he gets into his stride again. (Squirrel says glumly.) As to the second, in RL, no, but on blogs, it can be. (Says even more glumly.)

    How do you ask a London Cabbie if he's taken his medication today without getting into real bovver, I wonder? Think I'll stick to buses in future.

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  • 214. At 7:29pm on 06 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    "except that vodka is supposed to have none "

    strangely it does . but most alcohol drinkers don't notice.

    "Or is it the effect you can't handle?"

    More like the effect on others I can't handle.Or the TOXIC content of alcohol.
    a TOXIN.
    MJ is not a TOXIN.A narcotic but not a toxin.
    Scientific FACT.
    No lethal limit.

    You really are out of your depth on this one.


    As to trying to suggest I was a criminal who was treated by Max Glatt.
    you are off base.
    I was in more of the wing that you might have visited at some stage.
    Or should.

    Now if the dear man was still alive he would tell you what I have.
    He told me.
    He also told the conference at the UN back when it was made illegal on a world wide basis , at the behest of Egypt.
    At that conference he said that if it were to be made illegal so should Alcohol and tobacco which have both caused more deaths mental problems and are more physically addictive.
    But no worries.
    you're the one that drinks.;)
    You can dispute this. But like I said MAX probably knew more than you.
    If you had been fortunate enough to be around at the time of our interaction you would have been "fresh meat for the grinder" in group with your attitude.Like pub land lords that called others "drug dealers".
    Max who never judged people would point out the hypocrisy of alcoholics and their self perceived " i'm better than them attitude".

    But then that probably explains the support in politics you give.

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  • 215. At 7:45pm on 06 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    Blue jay.
    I'm with you. I'll bitch about doctors wanting too much but it is the Insewerants agencies I have the biggest problems with.
    They run the docs, not the docs.

    yet again and again I hear calls to protect them from being affected.

    It does seem that without effecting them nothing has been achieved.
    I'm surprised their stocks are worth the money they are printed on.

    PK 200
    "It is not so much to have something substantial handy in case of a foreign invasion as to be able to protect oneself and one's family from the tyranny of one's own government in case it became tyrannical and opressive at some point. And many Americans are deeply suspicious of any government, particularly the central one; and not only have pretty decent firearms but usually also know how to use then."


    and yet they let GW take their freedoms and run over them with the sales figures from Hummer. then pass the keys to Dick and don to do some doughnuts in the halliburton cruiser .

    without lifting a finger.let alone a gun
    What you mean is Half of america have guns they keep quiet about the other half have the guns they shout about so they can intimidate the quiet ones who they think don't have guns.
    Them shouters tend to be the GOP kind.
    all guns and no brains.


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  • 216. At 7:49pm on 06 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    201 DT wow great research.
    now why not mention how much of a mc burger place workers wages get spent on health care.

    8 bucks an hour (if lucky and in OR)but a bill of 500 a month.

    It's getting up to almost half.
    with due respect.

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  • 217. At 7:53pm on 06 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    205 squirrel.
    them swiss .
    They allowed like all the low tax states, the ulta rich to hide their money and screw up the economy.
    Now there are serious issues with that due to the economic collapse I suspect the swiss authorities will have to figure another way to keep that also ultra rich nation afloat.
    All that stolen stuff from WW2.
    dictators from around the world etc.



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  • 218. At 7:53pm on 06 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    Hi squirrel. Checked your post lately?

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  • 219. At 7:55pm on 06 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    DT america is NOT switzerland.
    If they could organise things as well as the swiss there would be no debate here in the states on Healthcare today.

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  • 220. At 8:49pm on 06 Sep 2009, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #213

    No a Beck afficiando, but you get the only honest cable news on Fox.

    compared to the hate on MSNBC, Beck is mild mannered.

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  • 221. At 8:53pm on 06 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #211. fluffytale: "Dc you show your lack of understanding in drug treatment rehabilitaion and problems in general"

    Another of your generalisations - why not answer the questions I posed?

    "Strange it is called "DEATH WITH DIGNITY" and they do. Oregon and maybe some other states."

    Holland and Oregon have quite different legislation. A doctor in Oregon may, under specific circumstances, provide a prescription for a lethal dose of a medication but may not administer it. The patient wishing to die must administer/drink the medication without assistance. In The Netherlands, a doctor my inject the patient with a lethal dose and be an active participant. As you may know, there is an on-going debate in the UK about how euthanasia (which means a gentle death) might be enacted. A court case has recently ensured that the husband of a patient assisting his wife to commit suicide will not be prosecuted. Self-determination has supporters of both legalised suicide and doctor-assisted death. You need to read more on the subject. For myself, having what might eventuate as a terminal condition, the availability of a peaceful end would be desirable, whether or not I used it when the time approaches.

    #214. "except that vodka is supposed to have none" (taste/flavour)

    "strangely it does . but most alcohol drinkers don't notice."

    Since you don't drink, how would you know?

    "Now if the dear (Max Glatt) was still alive he would tell you what I have. He told me."

    So why not tell us? Inquiring minds want to know.

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  • 222. At 9:31pm on 06 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    MagicKirin [#204] wrote: "Intimidation by Labor Unions and special interest groups (Move on) who intimidate and grab microphones from opponents"...




    The top Obama's advisor on PC "green laws" has just been forced to resign when it emerged that during his boss's election campagin he was publicly implying that "W" "knew about planned air attacks on WTC but chose to let them happen because its served his purposes."

    And we are to Move on? I don't think so.

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  • 223. At 9:40pm on 06 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    fluffytale wrote:
    "them swiss .
    They allowed like all the low tax states, the ulta rich to hide their money and screw up the economy."

    Ah, the old "You attract the wealthy so you are a criminal!" argument.

    Stalin would be proud! So would every other communist dictator who chased the wealth out of their state with a belief that states need not compete on price to provide services.

    Look, nobody can argue with an article of faith. If you think governments should have the power to restrict capital flight to other jurisdictions, then you believe governments should be trusted to set taxes as they see fit, and their subjects should be forced to accept it, regardless. Such a belief happens to make you are hard core socialist and somebody who believes private property is theft from the glorious state, but that's fine. There are a lot of folks like that around. They generally live in backward hell holes, but that's fine too.

    "Now there are serious issues with that due to the economic collapse I suspect the swiss authorities will have to figure another way to keep that also ultra rich nation afloat. All that stolen stuff from WW2. dictators from around the world etc."

    I love this argument, especially when it comes from Americans. GM supplied Hitler with his trucks, Ford with his political ideology, and IBM with the systems required to undertake the final solution. Coke created Fanta to keep the SS in sugar water, and countless other US corporations made stupendous fortunes out of the second world war, and the genocide of european jews.

    But German speaking Switzerland is criticized because it refused to destroy itself economically, and thereby hand itself over to NAZI germany at crucial time.

    Such high principles, delivered from a position of such moral strength!

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  • 224. At 9:45pm on 06 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #219 "DT america is NOT switzerland.
    If they could organise things as well as the swiss there would be no debate here in the states on Healthcare today."



    So far under US pressure at least $ 16 BILLION in untaxed money has been identified in ca 3,600 secret Swiss bank accounts. Faced with a prospect of hefty punitive damages for assisting tax evaders some well organized Swiss banks are settling out court, while well organized government in Bern has suddenly decided that hitherto untouchable Swiss banking law could be reformed after all. ;-)

    [not that well organized Lichtenstein is currently in better predicament]

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  • 225. At 11:11pm on 06 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    DT you are on the communion whine today
    "Such a belief happens to make you are hard core socialist"
    not really. I don't know if you noticed but the concept of tax is not a socialist idea.

    Apart from church tithes there were those much maligned communist collectors that took all the taxes to the king.Most countries had them.
    Taxes fund the wars you may prefer to allowing communists to exist.

    Also Lolo 'anglo american " if you please.
    one that holds no favour for the USA and the way it sat on it's arse for the beginning years of the war in the old days.

    Still you tell so little about yourself maybe you could be a bit more open and honest. then I could make the same ridiculous comments like yours.;)

    The capitalists and military industrial complex you seem to be defending today are the ones that committed the crimes you mention.
    I suspect if you were back then you would be joining in to cash in. after all no one should stop capitalism's chances , you seem to say.

    You mock me for mentioning that the rich use tax shelters like swiss accounts. then admit they do.
    are you mocking yourself.
    I think you should go back to arguing with MA . you have more chance of making yourself seem like a smart guy there.

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  • 226. At 11:20pm on 06 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    221 DC
    Which one the one where you ask if I met max in jail or the one where you ask why they take the drug.
    Did you ever get arrested for meeting George Micheals? both arrests would be un called for in my books. but you obviously only feel your pain.



    I did answer it . you were too drunk to see it maybe?

    when did I say I never drunk in my life?

    On death with dignity you go off like a 'censored' patient.

    So in the states they have to press the button them selves. Big deal. it's euthanasia mate. or did you get a case of the GaH recently?

    ""Now if the dear (Max Glatt) was still alive he would tell you what I have. He told me."

    So why not tell us? Inquiring minds want to know."

    you're not that inquiring.

    I already told you.

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  • 227. At 00:39am on 07 Sep 2009, thunderstone4760 wrote:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Here is the link to H. R. 3200 which is the Health care reform bill everyone is talking about (straight from the source). Decide for yourselves whether this is a good idea or not.

    Just an FYI, this is a pdf file, which means it requires Adobe Reader in order to view it. And it is also over 1,000 pages long (1,017 to be precise), for those of you with slower connections.

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  • 228. At 02:19am on 07 Sep 2009, David Cunard wrote:

    #226. fluffytale: "221 DC Which one the one where you ask if I met max in jail or the one where you ask why they take the drug."

    I didn't - I asked if you had been treated at one of two Max Glatt units, both named after him: see #185, last paragraph.

    "Did you ever get arrested for meeting George Micheals? "

    No - and we've never met. But I did know Brian Epstein, but that probably doesn't count.

    "when did I say I never drunk in my life?"

    At #182 you wrote "Why don't I as a pot head drink?"

    "On death with dignity you go off like a 'censored' patient."

    I have no idea what a "censored" patient is - you took issue with my use of the word 'euthanasia', noting in capitals, that some call it "DEATH WITH DIGNITY"

    "So in the states they have to press the button them selves. Big deal."

    It would be a big deal if you couldn't swallow the drink. The method of administration is one of the key differences in the legislation. Dr Jack Kervorkian went to prison for providing a mechanism which the patient could operate. I feel sure that one day there will be places where one can check out peacefully with very few preliminaries; some nice music, aromas and projected images to ease one into whatever (if anything) comes next. Dignitas shows that it can be done, but by all accounts it's more clinical than a beautiful, last experience.

    So why not tell us? Inquiring minds want to know."

    "you're not that inquiring.

    I already told you."

    Can't or won't answer the question? Enjoy your hand-rolled ciggie this evening and write again when you're clean(er).

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  • 229. At 02:21am on 07 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    227. At 00:39am on 07 Sep 2009, thunderstone4760

    Sorry, the mods don't allow links to pdf downloads. Or even ones that open in a browser. You have to give a link to the site page it's linked from, or go to the bother of describing where it is. The Beeb keeps saying they're thinking of fixing that, but it hasn't happened yet, as you see.

    I hate to sound sceptical of such a worthy effort, but can you really see Magick and Meerkat (who really need to!) downloading that and reading it instead of the 30 second Glenn Beck summary?

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  • 230. At 03:20am on 07 Sep 2009, squirrelist wrote:

    229.

    Correction. I wrote "the 30 second Glenn Beck summary".
    The word should have been "travesty", of course.

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  • 231. At 04:11am on 07 Sep 2009, thunderstone4760 wrote:

    229. At 02:21am on 07 Sep 2009, squirrellist

    I'll try to remember that in the future (I'm still new around here). It was a PDF that opened in the browser.

    If you type in H. R. 3200 in Google, it should be within the first 5 results. I wasn't directing my comment at any one individual, I'm just saying that the bill is available for anyone to look at.

    Word of advice for anyone who wants to try read this, I recommend having a basic understanding of the Social Security, medicare, and the medicaid programs at the very least.

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  • 232. At 07:33am on 07 Sep 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    David_Cunard: On post 191, the projected income is

    • 2007-08: 548.0 billion pounds
    • 2008-09: 530.7 billion pounds (estimate)
    • 2009-10: 496.1 billion pounds (projection)


    (No income data was offered for 2010-11.) This would make the NHS cost as a percentage of income be

    • 2007-08: 16.82%
    • 2008-09: 18.30% (estimate)
    • 2009-10: 21.27% (projection)


    For what it's worth, the projected "outgo" is

    • 2007-08: 582.7 billion pounds
    • 2008-09: 620.7 billion pounds (estimate)
    • 2009-10: 671.4 billion pounds (projection)
    • 2010-11: 701.7 billion pounds (projection)


    This is a harder pill to swallow, considering the more limited use of the pound as a reserve currency.

    RomeStu: For post 194, I agree - it is not a defence of the anti-reform viewpoint. I simply wanted to clarify the statement in 183.

    democracythreat: On post 198, is it really a different bag of fish? The 45.5% turnout for that referendum tells me that 54.5% of Swiss voters either couldn't vote (for whatever reason) or weren't concerned with whether there would be a single payer system or not, despite (or in spite of) the massive nationwide advertising campaign that you'd noted in 128. I asked about what would be considered apathetic in the Swiss context because I'd thought that that particular issue would not be seen as a "wasted vote", where either choice would have been viewed as not having much effect upon the average voter.

    On 201, it was not my intention to mislead. I'd based the average NHS cost on everybody rather than on only taxpayers because I'd wanted to figure out the cost of each person rather than the cost to each payer. In the Swiss case, everyone is covered because everyone is a payer, so of broadly equals to. Thanks for letting me know about the UK tax code details - I wasn't aware of that part of the NHS funding mechanism, so hadn't pursued the to.

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  • 233. At 2:02pm on 07 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Still no news here (Washington, D.C.) about any health insurance reform plan.

    The only thing we learn (weekly) is that GAO (Government Accounting Office) thinks that if orginal framework (for no details have ever emerged from Obama Administration or US Congress) was implemented it would cost several times more than White House has claimed, putting current federal deficit to shame.

    BTW British doctors seem to like US health care system as it is.

    Because more&more of them apply for work permits and certifications which would allow them to practice medicine in the U.S.

    [quite a few already do; so do Canadian doctors]

    Anybody has a different explanation for this growing trend?

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  • 234. At 11:24pm on 07 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jan keesop,

    On whether it is a different bag of fish.... tell me, when was the last time you voted on legislation that would affect your life in the future?

    The prospect is entirely different to voting on who you think is a better person to make decisions.

    People are hesitant to vote on things they do not understand, but if it is simply a choice of who seems like a nicer person, or a stronger one, most people will be able to feel confident in their choice.

    The cold reality is that the anglo model of democracy, which dominates the globe, is fundamentally based on the premis that common people should not vote on law, but should vote for representatives to vote for them.

    Now I question that premis, because I see that representation concentrates power, and indeed I believe that is the whole point of representation. I prefer to see power diffused. I prefer to think that every adult has an equal right to have an equal opinion on laws that affect them in the future.

    I don't think you can compare voting on law to voting for your preferred person, most especially when the people on offer are selected by systems of corporate funding and closed door deals.

    When you speak of voter apathy, you are talking about apathy for the system. Now in the former soviet union, this apathy was extreme. The communist party was the only party allowed to field candidates, and sometimes there was only one candidate!!!! And people had to vote.

    In the USA it is different. The business party, of which there are two factions, fields all the candidates, and there are nearly always two candidates to choose from. And you don;t have to vote, if you don't want.

    But the nature of the voter apathy is the same: "It doesn't seem to matter who i vote for."

    The Swiss system cannot have this kind of voter apathy, for the simple reason that you don;t vote for people, but on issues. Even if one issue doesn't interest you, the next one might. So you get a completely different variety of voter apathy: "This issue is not worth voting on."

    So yeah, I think they are chalk and cheese. I really don;t think you can compare them at all.

    Now the Anglo model of democracy and the soviet system, these I think you can compare very well indeed.

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  • 235. At 06:47am on 08 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    re: GM, Ford, etc., assisting Nazis...


    I seeem to recall that as late as 1962 Soviet Army was using Dodge, Ford and Studebacker trucks, Jeeps and McDonnel Douglas built planes supplied en mass to USSR during WWII as part of Lease&Lend.

    [BTW nothing which was leased&lent was ever returned]

    Also: IBM wasn't manufacturing anything of significant technological importance (unless someone means typwriters) prior to computer and transistor age, i.e., till late 1950's.


    As dr Goebbels was fond of saying: Lay it thick and something will stick.

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  • 236. At 06:59am on 08 Sep 2009, Jan_Keeskop wrote:

    democracythreat: I have never voted on legislation that would affect my life in the future. However, the last time that I voted on an issue (rather than for a candidate) that would affect my life in the future was in March 2008. I live in a state that has local-level direct democracy, in a village of 750 people or so, which owns and operates its own water and electricity companies; among the issues voted on at the annual Village Meetings are what our property tax rate should be, and what our water, sewer, and electricity rates should be. (I didn't attend the March 2009 meeting.)

    I agree with your contrast of the natures of candidate apathy and issue apathy, although I'd summarize the former as "It doesn't seem to matter whom I vote for, therefore this representative office isn't worth voting on", and the latter as "It doesn't seem to matter which choice I make, therefore this issue isn't worth voting on". In either case, I don't see the net result as being different, since the cause (determining the value of one's vote) and effect (choosing not to vote) are similar, so I don't view these two types of apathies as being chalk and cheese.

    You might be surprised by how similar our viewpoints seem to be on many topics, including the nature of our two-headed business party. In fact, at the last federal election, one candidate for Representative of my district ran under the banners of both wings of the Party simultaneously! However, all candidates are not fielded by the Party, and although I've voted for candidates for each office at every election since I became eligible to vote, I have yet to vote for a Party candidate at the federal and state levels.

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  • 237. At 10:50am on 08 Sep 2009, democracythreat wrote:

    Jan Keesop, Yes, I gather we see eye to eye on a variety of political topics.

    But I was specific about voting upon legislation, rather than anything else, because I find the idea so incredibly novel.

    And i don't know why!!

    It truly mystifies me. I can appreciate the nature of a society where 99 out of every 100 people cannot read, and where very few people ever travel more than 10 miles from the place of their birth. I can fully imagine a society where superstition, rituals and mob violence are commonplace. In these sorts of societies, I can not only understand why people would accept representation, I can even see the arguments that it is a good thing.

    But in the modern world, I simply do not understand the supposed gap between politicians and normal working people. Everyone is literate. Indeed, politicians are often remarkably inane people. "Smarmy" is a better word than "smart" to describe most politicians. I don't know anybody who respects Gordon Brown's intellect. I know builders labourers who think he is a clown. Sure, some people might. But the vast majority of people I know do not respect politicians for their expertise or their intellect. If anything, the widespread view is that politicians know about how to get ahead as a professional politician, and that is about all they are good for. Hence the sensible politicians have advisors, so they can get expert advice on specialist topics.

    But, so can the populace!! With literacy, and even more so with the internet, anyone who can read can find expert opinion just as easily as any politician.

    So why the mass acceptance of representation when it comes to voting on laws?

    It baffles me, it really does. It is as though someone invented the internal combustion engine 400 years ago, but everyone is still getting about by horse and cart. It baffles me even more when I see how wonderful democracy can be, when everyone votes on law, and the role of politicians is changed to being mere clerks for the people, and mere facilitators of potential policy.

    But I also find it curious that your experience of voting on something in your local community is remarkable. Why should it be? Of course, it shouldn't, but I think you would go a very long way in Europe before you met someone who has voted on an issue of any kind. And that is odd.

    I'm a big believer in the principle that the more something affects you, the more say you should have in the matter. And just so, the less it has to do with others, the less say they should have in the matter. Thus, which socks you wear in the morning ought to be your decision alone, and not the states. And what consenting adults do in the bedrooms ought not be a matter for the police or the state. But pollution from a factory should absolutely be a matter determined by the people who are directly affected by that poison. And wars should be a matter for the whole nation to deliberate upon, because they are so widereaching in their effect.

    It is curious that our westminster system of representation often gives the opposite effects to this principle. Pollution and war are matters determined by ministers in back rooms. At the same time, the EU passes laws about the exact shape of vegetables a person can sell, and who can grow what on their land.

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  • 238. At 12:28pm on 08 Sep 2009, saintDominick wrote:

    Ref 233, PM

    "BTW British doctors seem to like US health care system as it is.

    Because more&more of them apply for work permits and certifications which would allow them to practice medicine in the U.S.

    [quite a few already do; so do Canadian doctors]"

    With the exception of the surgeon that removed my kidney and tumor last November all the doctors I had during the last decade were from India, the Middle East and Cuba. Obviously, they are very happy with a system that allows them to become millionaires in a few years.

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  • 239. At 4:30pm on 08 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re#238

    I'm genuinely glad you're O.K.

    BTW at the rate things are going Fidel Castrata will have to turn off the lights as the last person to leave Cuba for Florida Keys.

    While "useful idiots" (Lenin's description) will praise Cuban free health care system till the very last moment.

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  • 240. At 4:52pm on 08 Sep 2009, GH1618 wrote:

    It is important when looking up a bill in the US Congress such as HR 3200 to know that there are always two bills. The House and the Senate each have a version, which can differ in significant ways. The final bill will be a product of a joint committee. We don't yet know what that bill will look like.

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  • 241. At 5:02pm on 08 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    239 meerkat
    "BTW at the rate things are going Fidel Castrata will have to turn off the lights as the last person to leave Cuba for Florida Keys.

    While "useful idiots" (Lenin's description) will praise Cuban free health care system till the very last moment."


    If Obama is turning the USA into a socialist nightmare, why are cubans trying to get their?

    It is not only "useful idiots" who praise free (at point of service) health care system. It is the vast majority of people in every other western democracy. Free basic health care for all citizens should be a cornerstone of any civilised nation.

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  • 242. At 5:30pm on 08 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    ref 241 ... by ME

    I burn with shame at my own poor spelling .... for "their" please read "there".

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  • 243. At 5:53pm on 08 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #241

    Free basic health care system". Fine.

    WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?

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  • 244. At 7:06pm on 08 Sep 2009, RomeStu wrote:

    243

    I wrote "free (at point of service)" Obviously nothing is free. The idea of socialised medecine is that all citizens have the right to see a doctor when they want at no immediate cost to them.

    Where does the money come from? It's very simple. Taxes (like medicaid and medicare).

    Cut down on the waste (you know like insurance company profits) and run it well. No one need get left out, and the rich can buy their upgraded addition health plans (like in countries with socialised medicine).

    Pay according to your means, so that healthcare is available according to need.


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  • 245. At 00:11am on 09 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    David He said that if pot were to be made illegal they should also criminalise alcohol and tobacco which have more negative effects than pot.

    He would have me explain to you that pot is not what your drunken body saw.

    And that I am better off than you because alcohol is physically addictive.
    (so is tobacco) and that the problem with pot is only a problem for a small number of users compared to the problems of alcohol.

    "when did I say I never drunk in my life?"

    At #182 you wrote "Why don't I as a pot head drink?"


    don't is an abbreviation for two words. one is do and the other not. Do, being present tense does not preclude earlier drinking. I would have thought a pedantic guy like you could get.

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  • 246. At 00:11am on 09 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    242 burn heritic.

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  • 247. At 00:17am on 09 Sep 2009, fluffytale wrote:

    PS DC kavorkin was not operating in oregon with a death with dignity bill passed.

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  • 248. At 01:18am on 09 Sep 2009, socialistlibertarian wrote:

    242, RomeStu -

    Please don't burn with shame. Most everyone has difficulty seeing what they write as opposed to what they mean. Until it's too late!

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  • 249. At 06:14am on 09 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    President Barack Obama has said he intends "to get something done this year" on healthcare reform.


    That's precisely what many Americans are afraid of.

    That in order to appear active and determined Mr. Obama will come up with anything (no matter how incoherent and unworkable) just "to get something done".

    In the meatime close Congress watchers report that there's no chance that body will pass any meaningful health care legislation this year.

    Particularly since 460 cooks expected by the White House to concoct something paletable hear more and more from their constitutances.

    And no, majority of those messages don't contain expressions of enthusiastic support for the publicly funded health care system.

    According to the reports, many Blue Dog Democrats are asking:

    "Another tax&spend Administration?"

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  • 250. At 2:51pm on 09 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re NHS

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/wiltshire/8246197.stm

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  • 251. At 5:52pm on 09 Sep 2009, LucyJ wrote:

    The reason why health care is getting so physical is because there are so many lies and rumors on the Internet and FOX TV network. Not only that, President Obama has not clarified what he wants or what is in this 1000 page plus document that they want Congress to pass. The American public does not know what is true or false, rumor or real. The speech President Obama gives tonight hopefully will make clear what his intentions are in health care, as no one really knows and he has not specified. When he does, there will be less rumors and lies. People are worried that this health care plan will cost us trillions. We want more affordable health care, but at what cost? If we cannot afford to change it, then health care will not change. People are tired of hearing about complicated health care plans. We need simple language and a basic plan. As is, it's all rumors in the air now. That is why people are angry- many are sending lies and falsities which sadly, some actually believe.

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  • 252. At 5:54pm on 09 Sep 2009, greengiraffe1 wrote:

    This is becoming so heated for a bunch of reasons.

    1. Liberals vs. Conservatives - anything in this category is heated. The two sides are diametrically opposed. Liberals desperately want this health care plan. Conservatives desperately do not want it.

    2. Big Government (idea that government can and should solve everything) vs. small government (idea that the more government control, the less freedom.) Health reform people think that the gov't owes them something - big government idea. Health reform opponents fear more government control in yet another area of their lives.

    3. Regular Americans with health insurance vs. Regular Americans without health insurance. The system is clearly broken - the costs are outrageous - ambulance ride costs $5000 minimum? CT Scans are $5000. etc and etc. Prescription drugs that cost hundreds of dollars per month? Those who have no insurance have to simply go without health care. No treatments for debilitating illnesses. Those who have insurance don't want to pay extra for those who can't afford it. Health insurance costs a LOT - it's worth it, of course, but it costs quite a lot. So who wants to pay more to cover other people when the economy is tight and you can hardly afford everything necessary to life (car to get to work, house payments, food, clothing, medical insurance, etc...)


    4. Really rich people vs. poor people. Really rich aren't going to want to pay more either- Anyway, the more they pay out in fees or taxes, the less they will have to spend in shopping for "luxury items," creating jobs for people who can't afford to buy the luxury items. Really poor people feel like basic needs are being denied. The controversy here is that there are a whole lot of poor people who are poor because they have made ill choices with their lives... Not willing to find a job, got into a bad drug habit, obese to the point that they have massive health problems and can't work, or some other reason that is mainly their fault. However, there are also people who really truly had some bad things happen to them, and now they are poor and lacking insurance. Also included in this is the illegal immigration problem. A lot of Americans feel they should not be obligated to pay extra money (through higher insurance premiums or through taxes) to cover health insurance for people who have arrived here illegally and don't even speak the English language.

    In conclusion, there are a lot of problems, a lot of issues - Personally, I think the best solution is one that addresses the cost factor. What is really driving up the cost. If it's a matter of greed somewhere, then that should be stopped (lawsuits against doctors that gain someone millions - ridiculous). Pharmaceutical companies protecting their money interest instead of working for the people. Probably other reasons - but it's all quite complicated.

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  • 253. At 08:02am on 10 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    2 government run health care schemes (Medicare&Medicaid) has put us over #30 000 000 000 000.00 in the read in just over 40 years.

    Mr. Obama assures us that his scheme is going to be financially neutral But GAO (Government Accounting Office) calculates that it'll cost much more than he claims.

    WHERE'S THE MONEY COMING FROM?

    Simple: HIGHER TAXES. The last thing we need, especially in this recession.

    [Incidentally, Social Security system is also broke.]

    P.S. High health insurance costs will never go down without a meaningful TORT reform. But we haven't heard a peep about it, because Mr. Obama is a rich laywer, just like most US legislators.
    And it is lawyers (and their mighty PAC) who contribute most to Mr. Obama's and Democratic Party's coffers.

    Check it out yourselves.

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  • 254. At 10:41am on 10 Sep 2009, powermeerkat wrote:

    Correction: of course 30 Trillion in the RED. :-)

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  • 255. At 3:26pm on 10 Sep 2009, Rotbart wrote:

    Obama's statement that illegal aliens are not covered by any of the Democratic bills is a good illustration of why he lacks credibility in this debate. While it is true that none of the bills provides for the coverage of illegal aliens, it is also true that none of them provides for a meaningful screening mechanism. This means there is de facto coverage of illegal aliens. At this point in the speech a congressman yelled out that Obama was lying. To be more civil let us say that the statement was a wink and a nod to the Democratic left wing. They know he made the statement for the benefit of of the TV audience; he doesn't really mean it.

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  • 256. At 6:12pm on 10 Sep 2009, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Mark,
    Congratulations on a fine beginning, taking the chair and holding the fort on the American front.
    Normally the thought of deja vu yet again is depressing, but your re-mixed, digitally enhanced take on the subjects you are invariably required to choose, very much appreciated.I look forward to many more.
    Like many other Europeans and Canadians we sit glued to our keyboards, amazed, shocked and frankly embarressed that your new director's cut of another USA "Blazing Saddles" health care discussion, has hit the big screen with all our old favourites participating on the blog.
    Obama, the black sheriff in a time of trouble makes a suggestion for an eventual future health benefit for all citizens and immediatly the haves, both resident and immigrant with insurance, power and a very reasonable living standard start circling the wagons. Racially biased remarks, dim witted govenors, astroturf thugs attempting to conjole the old and unsure, leaves the usually quiet average townsfolk American, to consider taking up arms for their side of the debate as well.
    Mungo, Buddy Bizarre, Le Petomane, Lamaar, Ms von Shtupp and not forgetting Jim and the more even keeled Johnsons using other sign-in names of course, are all present posting, adding to the spectacle. Only in America.
    I do look forward to your eventual probable move into American and European thoughts concerning Iran, Afghanistan, Mexico etc confrontations. Other, real as life action films like Dr Strangelove and Rambo have their own characteristic bit players and it will be fascinating to see their comments appearing too. Not health care perhaps but with one's eyes half closed the thought about foreigners 'sapping and impurifying the precious fluids' required to sustain the average USA resident, resulting in further helpful intervention, must be more than enough to make further waves.
    I do hope you will take the time to see a little more of America than Justin was able to visit, and give us your feelings about all, south [and north] of the 49th parallel. Disney-land parks and movies though available, do not give the full picture of how the once upon a time pioneers, having achieved America's valued status throughout the world, now show it being watered down. Both the hoped for success stories to come, and failings that have changed a once great USA, to want to discard a history of promoting excellence for all, becoming a second rate player in the game, ruled by fear and selfishness, will not fall on deaf ears.
    Is it all about the money? The dollar sign and the greenbacks are now the religion of all? Whoever suggested trickle down economics to cure all ills has sure achieved a trickle, but from the smell now noticable, it isn't what was expected.
    Perhaps keeping a spare set of underwear might be a good idea for you too..

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  • 257. At 01:49am on 19 Sep 2009, ranter22 wrote:

    Maybe the guy should not be covered because we don't know if he is an immigrant and the new suggested reform would only cover the cost for legal immigrants like us. So if the doctors are also the police they would handcuff the patient/illegal and put he finger on ice and call in the 'paddy' wagon to drive the reckless unemployed outlaw to the border of whatever country or rat hole the sorry inhuman came from. Who me pay for someone who is here illegally?

    While I am on the subject, there is that one casse of somebody's aunt who has been here for at leas 6 years, even though she has been ordered out of the country twice b4. And dhe is not working in a steady job although lives in Boston in public housing. She does have a good lawyer and is getting a new hearing to see if the ordinary course of this matter will run ok by itself, that is with no visible help from her nephew. Although again if it were my aunt it would not matter if anyone called me names, I would help her out. Would you bite her finger off?
    I hear she is plenty angry and wont talk to reporters, Heck I wouldn't talk to any reporter unless they were from CNN. The truth is that although she lives under federal guidelines the state does not have anything to do with it and cannot even comment on her status by law. If she were Mexican the migra would have already given her a courtesy ride home.

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  • 258. At 01:54am on 20 Sep 2009, ranter22 wrote:

    Some think other countries with socialized health care is so wonderful.
    They say that we should do what other countries are doing because they are so far ahead in civilized thinking. What I also hear is so much racist behavior from those places,and I will not go into specifics because if you understand this much then you also know they have bigger problems than we do as a nation. Everything in life is not about health care alone. In America, so far anyway people can protest, and except with the occasional bumbling by any law enforcement agency it is pretty much safe to do so. Unless people go looking for trouble, it is just another day. From the way I have been informed things out there are pretty bad and hopefully no one will suggest we become like them. After all we are supposed to be leaders in world events and not followers of less civilized ones. I also know that the only finger some are getting cut off is the middle finger, when they point it the wrong way. Just make sure you register to vote and do so so that things can go your way. Or you can stay home and accept change. My last comment here is that when a person takes their car to get fixed, the mechanic has a list of prices and it has the length of time involved in fixing that particular problem. Also if the problem is not known then there is the diagnostic machine that also has a price of use. Say, one hours work is 60 dollars plus parts and whatever else is needed. If I were asked for an idea I would propose those guidelines except a price for whatever operation and the standard measure of time. Every doctor would have the same list for prices. Next I would deputize many citizens of Afghanistan and call out the troops to come home.

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  • 259. At 8:27pm on 29 Sep 2009, ranter22 wrote:

    Be careful who you vote for, some who know, the in and outs of politics, are not always the best candidates. It could be better for the country(the regular voters)if the candidate is just using the manual. Corruption, when it happens is always bad for the citizens. Nepotism and its purveyors only have one interest.
    Many arguments will involve mud slinging and calls of bigotry, so we lose sight of the issue before we use objectivity. A recent sore loser cut her umbilical cord(politically) with emotional responses directed at almost everyone in Washington. This may make for a good sci-fi book, but limits personal growth.
    Glass houses and stones.

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