Better to laugh than to cry

Paul Wellstone used to (half) joke that he represented “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party,” by which I took him to mean he was one of those relatively rare liberals who wasn’t embarrassed by his liberalism.  (During the 1996 Wellstone-Boschwitz rematch campaign, Boschwitz hired an adman whose specialty was pinning the L-word on his Dem targets. The ads against Wellstone said things like “liberal, liberal, liberal” and “embarrassingly liberal.”

Part of Wellstone’s legacy is “Wellstone Action,” headed by Wellstone’s old campaign manager Jeff Blodgett, which trains progressive activists for political work “the Wellstone way.” Last night, at the Parkway Theater, Wellstone Action put on what might have been a wake in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election but turned into a combination fund-raiser, pep rally and comedy hour.

The all-star (all-DFL) cast included governor-elect (sort of) Mark Dayton, U.S. Sen. Al Franken, freshly re-elected U.S. Reps. Tim Walz and Keith Ellison and Texas progressive wisenheimer Jim Hightower (who actually turns out to be kind of a lowtower when you stand right next to him).

Absolutely no news was made that this ink-stained wretch could discern, but it was a refreshing display of what unabashed liberalism looks like.

Mark Dayton

Dayton isn’t much of a comedian. He brought down the house mostly just by showing up as the embodiment of one of the left’s few triumphs from last Tuesday, and even that remains somewhat tentative. Dayton still isn’t claiming victory but he said “I think I’ve got better odds [of becoming governor] than I’ve had any other time over the past two years.”

Al Franken

Franken, who spent much of his first Senate year stifling the ruder ranges of his sense of humor, went for a sort of sweet-snide sarcasm (maybe you had to be there, the crowd lapped it up) as he mused out loud about what to say to the righties (Repub national chair Michael Steele was mentioned in this context) who complain that government spending in incapable of creating any permanent jobs or economic activity.

 “Have you ever heard of the interstate highway system?” Franken imagined himself asking the rightie, with a good natured-shrug but a tone that nonetheless suggested (the guy is a professional) that the answer was fairly obvious and the imaginary interlocutor must not be all that swooft if he doesn’t know this stuff.

Are any goods being shipped up and down that system? He asked…. Are any truckdrivers making a living doing that? Are they buying diesel fuel and eating at truck stops along it?… Have you ever heard of the internet [which started as a Defense Department project.] Are any goods being ordered over the internet?…

You get the idea. Just to be sure, he noted that this kind of government stimulus has a long history, asking  the imaginary person “Did you ever hear of the Erie Canal?”

Tim Walz

Walz, who escaped after a tough reelection fight, is less of a comedian, but did play a literary card in suggesting that those who deride everything the government does should read “Lord of the Flies.”

“Do you know what can happen when you go in that direction?” he asked, as the crowd hooted and hollered. (If that one passed you by, here’s a Lord of the Flies plot summary.)

Walz, who voted for the big health care bill, said he may have benefitted in defending that vote because his district includes the Mayo Clinic. “Some people down in Rochester known a little something about medicine,” he gibed.

Democrats can complain that the other side is telling lies and half truths, Walz said, but “that only makes it incumbent on us to put out our message and to state it clearly.” Walz, by the way, trained with Wellstone Action before becoming a candidate.

Keith Ellison

Ellison acknowledged the pasting that Dems took on Tuesday but then urged everyone to stick together and to be bolder. “This is no time to form that circular firing squad,” he said.

He, too, is proud of his vote for the health care bill, Ellison said, “but I wish we had had a real debate about single-payer that we have never had” (because, he implied, too many liberals are afraid to admit they favor it). That kind of debate will educate the public so that someday, single-payer will not be dismissed as political suicide. He quoted his dad, who used to say “you don’t have to get ready if you stay ready.”

He closed by promising that when the time came, he would be ready, to argue for a public option in the health care plan, or for single payer, or for getting the troops out of Iraq, or for a national movement to amend the Constitution to overturn the Citizens United ruling that opened the floodgates to corporate campaign contributions during this last election cycle.

Rena Moran

The least known person on stage was newly-elected state representative Rena Moran of St. Paul.

Moran briefly told her story of rising from homelessness, to employment, to getting trained as a candidate through Wellstone Action (she attended what they call “Camp Wellstone”). She actually lost the DFL endorsement for her district to a candidate who had more backing from party insiders, then rallied to win the primary. After winning the general election, she became the first African-American legislator from St. Paul.

Jim Hightower

Hightower is a one-time Texas agriculture commissioner (in Texas, that’s an elective office), now a radio personality and author whose books bear such hilarious titles as “There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos,” “If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They’d Have Given Us Candidates,” and his latest, “Swim against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow.

His basic message last night was summed up by this one-liner:

“The progressive movement didn’t lose this election; Obama and the Democratic leadership lost it by not being progressive enough.”

Likewise, he said many of the losing candidates were not too liberal but “too lame and too corporate.” The loss of the Democratic House majority will “usher in the regime of Suntan Johnny Boehner.”

A couple more Hightower one-liners from last night:

His momma always told him that “two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.”

The message of the voters was “throw the bums out, and they did, but unfortunately they threw quite a few bums in, too.”

Referring to certain Tea Partyish candidates: “Flakes really belong in cereal bowls, not in the U.S. Senate.”

Strategy for the next election: “Don’t take America back. Take America forward.”

And lastly, he told of his friend who wears a button that says: “Wearing a button is not enough.”

 

Comments (23)

  1. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 11/09/2010 - 09:51 am.

    So…if there is any reduction whatsoever in the scope of government, then we will descend into barbarism a la ‘Lord of the Flies’. Got it.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/09/2010 - 09:54 am.

    We had this debate over the health care bill. Progressives like myself predicted huge Democratic defeats because they failed to pursue the liberal agenda Obama promised. Micheal Moore pointed out that the majority of the Democrats that lost office were the conservative Blue Dog Democrats. 99% of the Democrats from the liberal caucus were re-elected while other democrats lost something like 48% of their seats.

    This was just another example of Democrats pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory. It reminds of something Winston Churchill said of General Clark after the Anzio Landing in WWII: ” I thought we were unleashing a tiger, instead we got a beached whale”.

    The Democrats were voted into majorities and the White House, and instead of surging forth with the agenda Obama championed, they immediately tripped over themselves offering concessions to demoralized and weakened Republicans. Obama wasted a year tying to get Republicans to vote for health care reform instead of whipping his own Blue Dogs into submission and passing something that looked like the plan he’d described during his campaign. For absolutely no good reason whatsoever they scrapped not only any discussion of single payer, but even a public option. On economic front they bailed out the banks instead of homeowners, they never made any dent in the foreclosure crises. The stimulus was less than half of what it should have been and failed to dent unemployment. They put the same guys that engineered the financial crises in charge of cleaning it up with the predictable consequence that Wall Street recovered while Main Street continued to sink.

    Typical liberal apologists excuse all of this with their real-politic pseudo wisdom that politics is the art of the possible. They will tell they did all they could. The point they always miss is that politics is the art of getting votes, and people won’t vote for you if they don’t see you do something that benefits them, or at least offers them hope of future benefits. In some ways it doesn’t matter whether the votes for something like a public option are there right now, you fight and lose, and attach again next year. If your constituents see you fighting, they’ll support you even if you haven’t won yet. If they see you roll over and compromise for the sake of compromise they begin wonder who your really working for.

    A few years ago I was covering a Ralph Nader campaign stop in St. Paul and he made the statement: “The Democrats the most politically stupid party on the planet”. Many times over the past two years I’ve reflected on the wisdom of that statement. As I watched bank executives collect billions of dollars of bonuses and salaries after dragging the country into a horrendous recession while foreclosures increased beyond one record level after another. I watched Democrats retreat from one basic health care reform after another. I watched weak stimulus package slow but not even begin to reverse unemployment trends. I said to myself over and over: “Do these guys not know that they have to do something for people or they won’t get votes?” I mean this is basic stuff.

    So then the election campaigns start in earnest and the Democrats have a huge problem. They can’t point to anything that they done for average people. Health reform was huge non-plus, most people could claim no noticeable change of any kind over the past two years. At any rate many Democrats were trying to hide their participation in the reform instead of championing it and bragging about it’s promise. The economy is still in the tank for most people, and there’s no promise of relief although the stock market has reached pre-recession trading levels. Instead of offering to build on their success they dodged responsibility for ambiguous nature of their successes. The whole thing felt like they were apologizing for not being better Republicans.

    I do blame Obama. He’s a consensus guy, and they’re always dangerous because they won’t draw a line in the sand when they need to. Now he’s conceded and promises even more retreat from liberalism. Why would we vote for these guys? It’s a bait and switch, you vote for Democrats and you get Republicans. You vote in a Democratic house and senate and you end up bowing to Joe Lieberman. I gambled when I voted for Obama. I knew he was a consensus guy, but I gambled that when push came to shove he’d have the balls to stand and fight. I was wrong.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/08/2010 - 09:54 pm.

    I’m convinced that the Minnesota Legislature changed hands because the DFL leadership there, ever terrified of being dubbed “tax and spend liberals” (which they always call you anyway) decided to be non-confrontational with King Timmy and, thereby, convinced the public that they were as responsible for all the things they’ve finally noticed that they’ve lost or are about to lose (such as local fire and police protection and their homes, due to rising property taxes which, being on fixed incomes with no SSI COLA for two years, they are unable to afford), with the king.

    If the DFL leadership in the legislature had screamed and hollered their protests against what Timmy was doing to the citizens of the State of Minnesota, even though that might have ticked the little king off and made him even more petulantly impossible to deal with, they’d likely still be in the majority in both houses.

  4. Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/09/2010 - 08:10 am.

    I am familiar with “The Lord of the Flies”, but the Tim Walz reference still passed me. What does The Lord of the Flies have to do with moving in the direction of limited government. I recall a speech in January 1996 in which President Bill Clinton stated, “The era of big government is over.”

  5. Submitted by Sheila Ehrich on 11/09/2010 - 08:24 am.

    I have to agree with you, Greg. We aren’t going to get anywhere if we don’t stand up for what we truly believe in. If voters don’t know what we stand for, what reason to they have to vote for our candidates. If anyone is paying attention, it was a true liberal, Mark Dayton, who spoke his mind, stood behind what he has ALWAYS believed in and didn’t back down one iota, who will probably be our next Governor.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/09/2010 - 08:55 am.

    Steve,

    In Lord of the Flies the situation deteriorated into barbarism because the kids failed to establish a coherent form of governance. Brute force ruled over individual liberties. If you’ll recall, Piggy had his eye glasses (private property) taken away by the Island despot and was eventually murdered. There was no rule of law, no due process, no individual rights, and no property rights… and no real government beyond monomaniacal teenager who knew how to use a spear.

    If you’re looking a non-literary example look no further than Somalia, small government utopia if ever there was one.

  7. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/09/2010 - 09:14 am.

    The “Lord of the flies” analogy is an argument ad absurdum…any leftist audience could be counted upon to hoot with approval.

  8. Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/09/2010 - 10:02 am.

    Paul (#4):

    Again, I am familiar with the literature. I fail to see the relevance with respect to the election on Tuesday. Was Tim Walz talking about Somalia?

    Does the Left really support equal protection for all? If so, I expect to see the Left take up the fight for the unborn and partially born people in America.

  9. Submitted by Brian Simon on 11/09/2010 - 11:25 am.

    Peder DeFore laments
    “So…if there is any reduction whatsoever in the scope of government, then we will descend into barbarism a la ‘Lord of the Flies’. Got it.”

    What, arguing the ridiculous extreme is only OK when you’re calling the Dems a pack of socialists? The health care reform act is often called a ‘government takeover’ of the healthcare system, when in reality all it does is feed more customers to private-sector insurance companies. Is there more regulation? Yes, but the tradeoff is in expanding the potential client base to 300+ million people. Socialism? Not in the least – nowhere are private companies being converted to public ownership. But nowhere do I see conservatives bothering to represent the program accurately.

    Of course, just because the ‘other side’ fights dirty doesn’t justify it for the Dems either. Instead, the Dems should push conservatives to define what, exactly, they’ll cut. So far, nobody’s bothering, so far as I’ve seen. I suspect we’re going to see more and more candidates stepping back from their ‘shrink government’ rhetoric, as the establishmentn repubs retake control of the party & resume the same old borrow and spend problems that created the hole we’re in now.

  10. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 11/09/2010 - 03:11 pm.

    Paul, take a moment and consider the geography of where the blue dogs come from and then rerun your more liberal scenario. Does that make any difference?

    Brian, ok I’ll admit that I also think that both sides exaggerate the other’s positions. I think a comparison to ‘Lord of the Flies’ is at the extreme end of that. As is most of the rhetoric about ‘what Republicans/Conservatives’ really want. You see it mostly as people suggest that the very first thing they would cut are police and fire services. As if there is some wide consensus on the right that we’re being bankrupt by policemen and fire stations!
    I think you’re being a bit selective in your memories of the health care debate. Quite a bit of centered on the idea that it was an industry that was too important to be left in private hands. It had to be heavily (well, more heavily) managed by gov’t or it wouldn’t work. Some braver pols, Ellison for instance, said this was just the first step towards a total takeover. If the Dems had even larger majorities in the House and Senate wouldn’t that have been the plan that was pushed?
    But maybe I’m completely wrong about this. Can you, or anyone else, tell me what parts of socialized health care you’d oppose?

  11. Submitted by Hal Sanders on 11/09/2010 - 07:18 pm.

    Some of these comments are hilarious. Talk about living in denial… I hope the far left adopts this strategy for 2012. Then we’ll see who’s still laughing.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/09/2010 - 07:22 pm.

    //So…if there is any reduction whatsoever in the scope of government, then we will descend into barbarism a la ‘Lord of the Flies’. Got it.

    No Peder, you don’t get it.

  13. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 11/09/2010 - 07:56 pm.

    There’s a difference between increased government regulation of health care and ‘socialization’, which would require direct government payment to and employment of health care providers (see the VA).
    As Brian points out, all Obama and the Dems have done so far is (further) enrich the private insurance companies.

  14. Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 11/09/2010 - 09:26 pm.

    @Steve Rose: Why do conservatives preach small-government but advocate totalitarian control when it comes to abortion? I believe the right of a woman to choose trumps any consideration (legislative or judicial) that would prohibit a woman from making a very personal decision.

  15. Submitted by Steve Rose on 11/10/2010 - 12:18 pm.

    Steve S. (#14)

    In the case of same sex marriage, liberals fall back on the equal protection clause of the constitution, but don’t care to apply equal protection equally. This is the ala carte approach to the Constitution; use it to support your agenda, otherwise disregard it as words of an antique and irrelevant document.

    What would the founding fathers think of us using the Constitution to justify killing our youth, averaging 3700 kills per day? I believe that the founding fathers never imagined such a thing would be an issue. Had they anticipated how “progressive” we would become, we would have been given a longer dumb-downed document. Or maybe, a postscript that said, “BTW, don’t kill your kids.”

    What you refer to as a “very personal decision” affects more than one party; a party deprived of equal protection, a party deprived of a voice.

  16. Submitted by Brian Simon on 11/10/2010 - 02:35 pm.

    Peder DeFor asks
    “Can you, or anyone else, tell me what parts of socialized health care you’d oppose?”

    Socialized health care is a fairly broad term. I don’t actually want a single-payer system, or the government to be the de facto health care provider. I also don’t want employers to be the de facto health care providers (our current system).

    Broadly speaking, I think we need a system where:

    1) everybody has access to affordable healthcare, including preventative care
    and
    2) people cannot be denied insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions

    A properly designed system would reduce or eliminate the numbers of people who go into bankruptcy due to health care expenses.

    Personally, I want to have the option to buy insurance through organizations that are not applying part of my premiums towards profits – which is a low return on the dollar for me. If other people think buying insurance from for-profit companies is their best buy – they should be free to make that choice. When I was younger, single and self-employed, I wanted the option to buy into a large pool with basic coverage, mostly in case of catastrophic emergency; I thought – why not let people like me buy into Medicare? We’re low risk (young), and would help fund the system. Sure, insurance was available from private companies, but most of them aren’t interested in the individual market because the overhead is higher – they focus on selling large group policies to large employers.

    Which takes us to the ridiculous system we have: why is my employer paying for my health insurance, and that of my children? They’re imposed with a cost that has nothing to do with their core business, but because its the de-facto standard source of insurance coverage, they’re stuck offering it & sucking up that cost of doing business. It would make far more sense for businesses to promote the idea of creating large pools of coverage that individuals can buy into & get this cost off their books – which is not just the cost of the insurance, but of plan administration as well.

    So, in the end, I don’t have all the answers for what the ideal solution is; like most people, I know more about what I don’t like about the current system. I have some suspicions about what I wouldn’t like about a gov’t run system – but tehre are so many flavors of that, I suspect the US could come up with something better than, say, the Brit system. To be blunt and a touch elitist, I think we’re more clever than they are. Though given how tolerant we are of the mess we’re living with now, I might be wrong about that.

  17. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 11/10/2010 - 03:41 pm.

    Brian: You have just described the Swiss, Norwegian and perhaps German system.

    –Insurance purchase is mandated, but the government pays all or part of the cost for its poor citizens

    –All medically necessary care (as defined by you and your doctor) is covered

    –Insurers cannot reject any claims or deny coverage to any person for any reason

    –All insurers must be nonprofit entities so as not to profit from the misery of their customers

    –The government annually reviews provider prices and allows only those increases it finds reasonable

    –It also annually reviews premium costs and tells insurers exactly how much they can charge
    (with some allowance for high-cost areas like retirement communities peopled entirely by elderly people)

    These countries have much better health outcome figures that the U.S. while spending about half what we do on health care.

    The Massachusetts Plan and the new federal plan are sort of built on this model — EXCEPT for the crucial cost and price regulation that would allow us, too, to spend half as much and get more for our money.

    The only better solution IS single payer, with health care defined as an aspect of the common good and paid for in common as we pay for police and fire protection, highways and bridges, schools and the military. We would save $400 billion per year while covering every person.

  18. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 11/10/2010 - 09:30 pm.

    Brian, you can’t really have an insurance system that doesn’t screen for pre-existing situations. Otherwise you run into the problem of healthy people waiting to sign up only if they get sick or injuried. The automatic opt in takes care of this but only by forcing people to buy insurance, including packages of insurance that they don’t want. I don’t think you can get insurance that only covers catastrophic care anymore. It dilutes the number of healthy people paying in to help the sick.
    From what I understand, Blue Cross/Blue Shield are non-profit insurers. Is there any big difference in the quality of care they provide? My understanding is that the profit margin for health insurance is something like 3% so it’s not a level that I worry about.
    I’m right with you about removing health insurance from it’s current tangle with employers. That’s been one of the big drivers of cost. We have individual markets with car insurance and home insurance, why can’t we have it with health as well?

  19. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 11/10/2010 - 09:33 pm.

    Paul, we’re looking at a system where the gov’t details what plans are available and what can be charged for them. That private companies then run the program instead of an actual gov’t agency is a pretty minute distinction. I honestly can’t believe that this one small difference is why libs get up in arms when someone describes this as ‘socializing’ our health care industry.

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/11/2010 - 10:01 am.

    //is why libs get up in arms when someone describes this as ‘socializing’ our health care industry.

    Peder, you may want to try talking to actual liberals instead of the imaginary ones you appear to be conversant with.

    To begin with, many liberals such as myself advocate socialized medicine. I argue for a national single payer system, basically the expansion of Medicaid to cover everyone. I’m not going to get upset if you call THAT socialized medicine.

    My complaint about your characterization of Obamacare as socialized medicine is that you simply mistaken. Obamacare is a bailout of the private sector driven health insurance and health care industry. The fact that is compels purchase renders it no more “socialist” than our auto insurance laws that require drivers to purchase private insurance. The fact is there is and will be no government take-over of health care in this country under Obamacare. My problem with the health care reform is it’s simply not going to work, it will not deliver the health care we need in the US, and it’s not designed to. It’s designed to ensure the continued massive profits within the health care industry. Advocates point to a myriad supposed improvements for ordinary people embedded in the corporate bailout, but there are so many loopholes built in that I doubt most of those benefits will ever materialize. As I predicted the much touted universal coverage for all children has already disappeared in a puff of smoke; insurance companies have decided to simply drop policies for children rather than insure sick children… and so it goes.

    As I predicted it would be, I think the health care reform was a politcal disaster for the Democrats. Not because it socialized medicine, but because most people seem to realize on an instinctive level that it won’t work. It’s bailout for the industry, not people who need health care. The Democrats weren’t able to brag about improved health care because they simply didn’t deliver it. It was a political disaster because it was the only major accomplishment, and the entire country was completely nonplussed by it. Worse, those that were not unimpressed were actually hostile to it. Basically it left the Democrats with nothing to run on.

    Obama ran on the promise he would champion the middle class and almost from his first minute in office he championed corporations instead. He bailed out the banks, the auto industry, and health care industry while people kept losing jobs, salary, and homes at increased rates. Our credit card rates have double and tripled, our money buys less, and our infrastructure is disintegrating.

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/11/2010 - 10:02 am.

    The Democrat’s problem is actually very simple. Despite they’re extraordinary attempts, they cannot get Republicans to vote for them. That means they need liberal votes to win elections. They will tell you that there aren’t enough liberals, but this is hogwash. Meanwhile, they’re attempts to court Republican votes alienate liberals. Another problem is that unlike conservatives, liberals actually look at the record. Conservatives are perfectly happy to keep for Republicans regardless of results. The Republican economic plan is pure magic, it has no chance of stimulating the economy, and if fully implemented will make it worse. Republicans don’t actually care whether or not it works, all they know is it conforms to their beliefs, and their beliefs always trump reality.

    Liberals on the other hand look for results and when they don’t see them, they go do something else on election day. The Democrats act like the Republicans are their base. It’s the most bizarre feature of the American political landscape. This election is an absolute repudiation of Democratic centrism. It has proven that running as a republican does not guarantee election results. Look at Clark and Bachmann- instead of running as a liberal counter weight to Bachmann, Clark ran a: “I’m a little less Republican than the Republican” campaign. Clark wouldn’t even come out clearly in favor of abortion rights. The problem with “real politic” Democrats is they decide it’s all about winning, but they forget that there’s no guaranteed path to victory. They tack to the right because they think it will win, but then it loses. Had Clark run as liberal, she may still have lost, but she lost anyways, what did she gain by running a Republican-light campaign? Bachmann was actually able to attack Clark as not being as conservative as she was pretending to be. Bachmann would be tough to beat in any event, but I think had Clark run as a liberal antidote to Bachman rather than a conservative antidote, she may have energized a liberal base that would have turned out for her. Or she may have gone down in flames, but she lost anyways. When a liberal runs as a conservative you put yourself in a permanent defensive position, you never have an opportunity to take the initiative. Once you go down that road you will have to defend yourself against accusations of liberalism from a Republican who’s lineage is never in question.

  22. Submitted by Brian Simon on 11/11/2010 - 01:24 pm.

    Peder DeFor asks
    “We have individual markets with car insurance and home insurance, why can’t we have it with health as well?”

    There’s no reason we can’t; in fact we do – its just significantly more expensive than group insurance. The point of creating the ‘exchanges’ via the HCR act is to create large pools into which individuals can buy. By having large pools, costs are shared over a larger population, lowering the cost for each individual.

    As you note earlier, mandating insurance is the easiest way to incent people to acquire coverage. Personally I’d prefer a system that allowed people to opt-out or ‘self insure’. But as soon as you do that, you’re adding to the cost of managing the program.

    As far as whether health care reform is ‘socialism’, it looks more like a well-regulated market than socialism. It is less ‘socialism’ than utilities, for instance – most of us have no choice in who we buy our electricity or natural gas from. The plans aren’t administered by the state. We don’t send checks to the state. The state doesn’t employ the doctors or the health plan administrators. The state doesn’t manufacture or sell the drugs or the medical devices.

    On the flip side, more people will be covered, which will lower all our costs. How? People will have insurance, and thus will be able to seek preventative care, or non-emergency car, which is delivered at a far lower cost. Emergency care is extemely expensive, and is the default source of healthcare for the uninsured, because they typically avoid seeing a doctor until their condition is an emergency. Then, when they can’t pay, the costs are absorbed by the hospital/clinic, which is to say they are passed on to the other customers.

    In fact, the status quo is a pretty clear indicator that the free market doesn’t have a solution to the more significant healthcare problems we have (i.e. the high numbers of uninsured, the astronomical growth rate of healthcare costs, etc). If there is a free market – i.e. not ‘socialized’ – solution, lets hear what it is. Thus far, opponents of health care reform have basically said “you’re on your own”. Which is a pretty short-sighted position to take (see prior paragraph for why).

  23. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/11/2010 - 02:02 pm.

    //On the flip side, more people will be covered, which will lower all our costs. How? People will have insurance, and thus will be able to seek preventative care, or non-emergency car, which is delivered at a far lower cost

    There are several market myths here. First insurance costs aren’t dictated by the number of insured, they’re dictated by the cost of health care, and profit margins. There has been no reduction in costs in Mass where mandated insurance already exists, and there’s no reason to expect it will. Health care costs have never been driven by the uninsured. All we doing by requiring insurance is channeling more money into the health care industry. This has never controlled or reduced costs, it simply beefs up profit margins and makes money for investors and executives.

    I keep hearing people talk about preventative care as if it’s a money saver, it’s not. Preventative care is health care, it costs money. People assume that having someone on a bunch of medications for the last thirty years of their lives is cheaper than a trip to the emergency room or a hospital stay, but it’s not. The more preventative care you deliver, the more it costs. Preventative care is about saving lives, and maybe preventing catastrophic events, but it’s not going to save money. When you detect a problem with preventative care you intervene with treatment, drugs, and expensive tests that usually have to be repeated at regular intervals. it’s not just telling someone to eat healthy and exercise.

    Early detection of diabetes for instance yields treatment, medications, blood sugar monitoring, additional office visits for labs with endocrinologists as well as your primary doc. Most diabetics that would discovered as result of routine exams would be type 2 diabetics who usually have a host of other problem, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. An overweight type two diabetic with high blood pressure and cholesterol is looking at $300-$500 a month worth of medications and test strips plus hundreds of dollars of tests and office visits. And the older a person gets the more tests you need to detect any complications. So you’re looking at $3,000 -$5,000 a year. If the condition is detected at age 40, you’re looking at on average 30-40 years of treatment, assuming nothing else goes wrong, and a person will still probably die in the hospital after an expensive crises. So your looking at $90,000 to $150,000 dollars worth of “preventative” care. Is that really less expensive than a trip to the emergency room?

    Preventative care is about good health care, it’s not about saving money.

    If everyone who is currently not getting the screening and early diagnosis and treatment were to get it tomorrow, it would cost billions of dollars.

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