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June 22, 2012 2:37 pm

Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, Destroys Dr. King’s Dream

avatar by Moshe Averick

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Alice Walker and a friend

As a young child living in Park Forest, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago, I vividly remember gathering with the rest of the neighborhood kids as a moving van unloaded the belongings of the first black family to move into our little town. In my innocence, I had no idea that the seven-foot tall wooden fence that was simultaneously being constructed by the neighboring family between the two homes, was because of the skin color of the newcomers. To me, their blackness was an object of genuine curiosity and astonishment. My initial reaction was, “Holy Cow, how did they get so dark?!” I remember considering some of the possibilities in my mind: “Did they stay out in the sun too long?! Is that some kind of special paint? Does it come off in the water?” The youngest son, Chucky Wilson, soon joined our gang of friends, his nickname: The Chocolate Kid.

My mother welcomed the new family with a cake, and she and Mrs. Wilson would walk up and down the street with their baby carriages. Other neighbors warned my mother that if she didn’t stop being so friendly with the colored family someone would burn our house down. At the time my parents had planned to move to the city so we could attend a Jewish elementary school, but they delayed the move for nearly two years so that no one should think we moved out because of the Wilsons. Her courage was rewarded by an award from the NAACP.

While my father was in medical school, my parents lived in the Jane Adams housing project in Chicago. They became close friends with a black couple who also resided there, Ken and Harriet Anderson (Ken was a fellow medical student). The friendship was warm enough that the Andersons named their newborn son, Nathan, after my father. When my parents first moved from the Jane Adams Project to Park Forest, the Andersons came to visit – a visit which provoked angry remarks, hostility, and threats from the neighbors. My mother received a call from one of the local ministers, and I’m ashamed to mention that the local (Reform) Rabbi called my father to tell him that if he associated with these people it would hurt his medical practice. My father replied that he didn’t want people who had a problem with this as his patients anyways.

Dr. Martin Luther King: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews."

Although I was only eight years old when I watched the “I Have a Dream” speech on our small black and white TV in our apartment in Chicago in the summer of 1963, the memory is forever emblazoned on my psyche. As much as was possible for an eight year old to be uplifted and inspired by Dr. King’s soaring words, so was its effect on me. Likewise, I recall the shock and horror I experienced as a “mature” ten year old while watching films of the brutal events that took place on “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

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Fast forward to June, 2012: Pulitzer Prize winning author, Alice Walker, refuses to allow her book, The Color Purple, to be translated into Hebrew by an Israeli publishing house. The reason? Because – according to Walker – “Israel is guilty of apartheid.” The left-wing Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reports that Walker also stated that Israeli policies are “worse” than the segregation she suffered as a child and that South Africans had told her that Israel is worse than South Africa ever was. So strong are her anti-Israel feelings that she participated in the Gaza-flotilla intended to break the “blockade” imposed by Israel on Gaza. From her musings in an article written to explain her participation:But if they [the Israelis] insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla…what is to be done?” (Needless to say, her subtle yearning for martyrdom was left unfulfilled. It seems that the nasty Israelis only kill flotilla participants who attack them with metal pipes, knives and guns.)

It’s interesting to note that Walker has never had a bad word to say about Hamas, the terrorist organization that was voted into power by Palestinians in Gaza. The reason? Obviously, because Hamas, together with its Palestinian supporters, clearly embody all the principles of love and brotherhood that were espoused by the great civil rights activists of the 1960’s. I ask the reader to pay close attention as we compare the noble concepts that Dr. King spoke about in 1963 and the nearly identical ideas offered in the official charter of Hamas:

  • Dr. King: “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”
  • Hamas Charter: Its ultimate goal is Islam, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution. Its special dimension extends wherever on earth there are Muslims, who adopt Islam as their way of life;…The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine. Only under the shadow of Islam could the members of all regions coexist in safety and security for their lives, properties and rights.”

Hamas "community organizers" with white sheets covering their faces...what does that remind me of?

  • Dr. King: “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
  • Hamas Charter: “Nothing is loftier or deeper…than waging Jihad against the enemy and confronting him when he sets foot on the land of the Muslims. And this becomes an individual duty binding on every Muslim man and woman; a woman must go out and fight the enemy even without her husband’s authorization, and a slave without his masters’ permission.”
  • Dr. King: When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
  • Hamas Charter: “In the absence of Islam, conflict arises, oppression reigns, corruption is rampant and struggles and wars prevail. Allah had inspired the Muslim poet, Muhammad Iqbal, when he said:
    When the Faith wanes, there is no security
    There is no this-worldliness for those who have no faith
    Those who wish to live their life without religion
    [i.e. without Islam]
    Have made annihilation the equivalent of life

  • Dr. King: “And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
  • Hamas Charter: “And if the People of the Scripture had believed, it had been better for them…most of them are evil-doers. Ignominy shall be their portion wheresoever they are found…They have incurred anger from their Lord, and wretchedness is laid upon them. That is because they used to disbelieve the revelations of Allah, and slew the Prophets wrongfully…Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors…The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”

Seriously, except for minor differences in syntax and style, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two!

A picture of real apartheid

Of course, the entire “apartheid” canard is a baseless lie. We Jews have been through this type of very real, very dangerous nonsense before. For nearly a thousand years every good Christian in Europe “knew” with absolute certainty that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood in baking Matzah for Passover. When it comes to Jews, there is no lie that is too outrageous and absurd to be believed.

We all owe a debt to Alice Walker and her cohorts. She illustrates the fundamental truth of Dr. King’s message; that is to say, that there is no real difference at all between white people and black people. She brings to life the most profound idea expressed in Dr. King’s unforgettable speech: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I solemnly declare to Alice Walker: I do not judge you by the color of your skin. As far as I’m concerned, it is as insignificant as the color of your eyes or hair. I judge you by the content of your character. You have taught us that a woman with black skin can be a vicious, corrupt, lying Jew-hater on par with any white man or woman. You have taught us all that a person with black skin could have participated in the European blood libels and pogroms just as enthusiastically as any white person. You are an object lesson for those of my generation who lived through the great civil-rights battles in the mid-twentieth century in this country. For that I thank you.

Professor Alan Dershowitz

Professor Alan Dershowitz has suggested that, “The publisher who had sought permission to publish Walker’s book in Hebrew should simply go ahead and do it—without her permission and over her objection…Her writings should be published in Hebrew, whether she likes it or not, and the royalties should be contributed to the NAACP and other civil rights organizations that understand the true meaning of fighting against bigotry and real apartheid.” I respectfully disagree with Professor Dershowitz. Frankly, I could care less if The Color Purple is published in Hebrew or is ever sold in Israel. Alice Walker can keep her bloody book to herself and drag it back with her under the rock from whence she crawled.

Rabbi Moshe Averick is an orthodox rabbi, a regular columnist for the Algemeiner Journal, and author of Nonsense of a High Order: The Confused and Illusory World of the Atheist. It is available on Amazon.com and Kindle. Rabbi Averick can be reached via his website. If you wish to be informed when new articles appear, send an email to moe.david@hotmail.com with the email address and the word “Subscribe” in the subject line.

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  • Hi jp,

    Even though you don’t think Obama is socialist enough, he does agree with you that society come first.

  • The socialist belief that political authority commands the “moral high ground,” while free enterprise oozes from under the rocks in the swamp of the “moral low ground,” is somewhat popular. Socialism and theocracy can merge on the basis of that vision, i.e., freedom is immoral because it doesn’t politically enforce the doctrine of altruistic sacrifice.

    But remember: health care is not a right.

    Individual rights pertain to freedom of action — not to any supposed “rights” to goods and services provided by others.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 6, 2012
    2:51 am

    “I put society first.”[][]

    And I take the opposite side: I put people first.

    • jp

      My original post:

      “I think that freedom should be limited to curtail the free choice to commit anti-social acts. I put society first. If you are not harming society or other individuals, only then can you freely choose your action.”

      You say you disagree. Given that we both agree that people should be free to in non-harmful ways, and we both agree that people not be free to harm other individuals, our disagreement is limited to the individual freedom to act in ways harmful to society.

      As I said, I put society first, precisely because society is made of people. When you say you put “people first” you’re simply putting one set of people (the anti-social) ahead of another group of people (broader society). You’re not putting “people” first, you’re putting perpetrators of anti-social behaviour first, and the people who bear the weight of that anti-social behaviour second.

      Such is the price of hard-line libertarianism.

      So tell me Steve, do you think people should be free to put up signs in their shops saying “No Jews”? I don’t. I put society first.

      • My view is that each and every human being has rights (aka individual rights) and that no one looses those rights by interacting with other human beings, viz., in “society.” In fact, the concept of rights has meaning only in the context of “society,” because only other people can violate anyone’s rights.

        The only reason I can see to “put society first” is to advocate a system in which some people are legally entitled to violate the rights of others (through political power).

        I am against all violations of individual rights, as in, for example, forcing some people into involuntary servitude for taking care of other people’s “healthcare needs” (or “housing needs,” or “educational needs,” etc., etc.).

      • The proper job of the government is to secure and protect individual rights — not to either enforce irrational actions (e.g., racial discrimination, as in Jim Crow laws) or forbid all irrational actions (such as voluntarily putting of signs in shops saying “No Jews” or “No Australians”).

        Racial discrimination in private shops is irrational, but it does not violate anyone’s rights. Thus it is not any valid concern of the political authorities.

        “Non-discrimination” laws controlling private businesses are as improper as “Jim Crow” laws controlling private businesses.

        • jp

          I’m proud to live in a society that does not regard bigotry as harmless, and is prepared to vote for governments that act against that harm.

          And I’m not taking a swipe at America there – you live in such a society, too, much as you might wish you didn’t.

          • It is reasonable to be proud of not being a bigot yourself — and probably even for not wanting to associate with bigots.

            But it is not reasonable and fair to legally punish or control people merely for bigotry, per se, so long as they don’t initiate force against anyone.

            And putting up a sign in one’s own shop is not a violation of anyone’s rights.

      • [][]When you say you put “people first” … You’re not putting “people” first,…”[][]

        You are on the wrong track, jp, to take the view that I did not say what I said, or at least did not mean what I said.

        But I did say it, and I did mean it: the government should be for the people, i.e., should be protecting individual rights, rather than be against the people by violating their rights.

      • [][]“Given that we both agree that people should be free to in non-harmful ways, and we both agree that people not be free to harm other individuals, our disagreement is limited to the individual freedom to act in ways harmful to society.”[][]

        So long as the government is dedicated to securing and protecting individual rights (against the initiation of force or fraud), and does not violate them (for example, by mandating “Universal Health Care,” the draft, religious discrimination, racial discrimination, etc., etc.), then we should all be free to be as “harmful to society” (whatever the hell that would mean) as we can be. Whyever not?

        And for that matter, what actual harm could there be?

      • [][]“If you are not harming society or other individuals, only then can you freely choose your action.”[][]

        If you don’t harm other individuals, then what actual harm can you do to “society”? You seem to feel that “society” is some mystical grouping which transcends real people (against which real people don’t really count).

      • I’m not sure how familiar you are with U.S. history, jp, but it was not all that long ago that there was a contingent who strongly believed that it would “harm society” to allow black people to eat in the same restaurants as white people — so they passed laws keeping blacks out of such establishments (as well as in the back of the bus, etc.).

        The notion of “preventing harm to society” is not a rational principle to legally impose.

        • jp

          You dislike Jim Crow laws, that’s a good start.

          Laws to make segregate schools and make blacks sit at the back of the bus are indeed loathsome.

          But look at your solution: while you think that the State should make no laws (and I agree), you want to two things:

          1) Allow private people and organisations to make such rules. You’ve said so explicitly a few comments back.

          2) Privatisation of nearly all functions of government including things like schools and buses (and roads).

          See the problem? I’m not sure you do.

          • I do not see a problem with individual rights, including property rights.

            Where do you see a problem?

          • [][]“1) Allow private people and organisations to make such rules.”[][]

            Private people and organizations are not allowed to use force, and so can only interact among themselves on a voluntary basis. That is, they are allowed to play by their own peaceable rules — never forcing anyone to play involuntarily.

            [][]“2) Privatisation of nearly all functions of government including things like schools and buses (and roads).”[][]

            Well, schools are not a legitimate “function of government” in the first place.

          • [][]“See the problem? I’m not sure you do.”[][]

            If you see a problem, you will have to explain what it is you are thinking. I’m not sure I see your problem. Unless it is just an antipathy to freedom.

        • jp

          “make no laws” = “make no such laws” above.

      • [][]“When you say you put “people first” you’re simply putting one set of people (the anti-social) ahead of another group of people (broader society).”[][]

        When you put it that way, the first group (anti-socialists) consists of people who respect individual rights, while the second group (socialists) is the one for violating individual rights.

        So, in that sense, I suppose you are right that we will always have those two different groups of people to choose sides between.

      • The fundamental problem of “putting society first” is that it legally entitles some people to violate the rights of others.

        Individual rights should be the focus of legal protection. “Society” shouldn’t count.

  • A good principle to remember is that it’s your life, not anybody else’s.

    • jp

      A good motto to live by as others die of treatable illness around you. Cheers, Steve!

      • It is indeed.

        • And other people’s money is not yours, no matter how strongly you feel they are deranged for thinking their money is theirs.

      • [][]“… as others die of treatable illness around you.”[][]

        If you think that the government should keep raising taxes until nobody ever dies of any “treatable illness,” then taxes will go up forever, until there is nothing left. People are always going to be dying of “treatable illness” somewhere, sometime.

        Politicians tend to love that sort of endless excuse to take more money, and then more.

  • The socialist belief that tyranny commands the “moral high ground,” while freedom oozes from under the rocks in the swamp of the “moral low ground,” is somewhat popular. Socialism and theocracy can merge on the basis of that vision, i.e., freedom is immoral because it doesn’t politically enforce the doctrine of altruistic sacrifice.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 5, 2012
    6:21 pm

    “… your ideology that it’s better to be anti-social[ist] than anti-individualistic when individual and social interests conflict, is flawed.”[][]

    What do you feel is the biggest flaw? That it is fair to respect individual rights, and unfair to violate them?

    • jp

      I think the flaw is exactly what I said it was.

      To champion the individual right to anti-social behaviour, is flawed because it damages the societies we live in.

      I think that’s reasonable, as a citizen of a modern social democracy, to allow people, through their democratically elected representatives, to choose the role of the government in their society. To the extent that that role requires funding I think it’s reasonable for the people, through their democratically elected representatives, to institute a system of taxation to fund the democratically chosen scope of government action. Lastly, I think it’s reasonable for the payment of taxation to be non-voluntary.

      Still not ashamed of any of that.

      • [][]“To champion the individual right to anti-social[ist] behaviour, is flawed because it damages the societies we live in.”[][]

        How in the world do you believe it damages them? If there were objective damage, what would it look like?

        I don’t give a damn what your are ashamed of or not ashamed of. What can you give a reasonable account of, or a logical argument for or against?

        We are familiar with your rants against freedom, but what about trying to argue reasonably against it, if you really think it is objectively dangerous, damaging, or dastardly?

        • jp

          You fail at reading comprehension.

          I’m pro-freedom. Right up to the point where free choice of behaviour does harm to others. You also believe this in the case of force or fraud, but you don’t think that withholding a contribution to a universal healthcare risk pool does harm to those who are unable to receive health care under such a system.

          I’ve offered a measure for what objective damage is done through this system: mortality from treatable illness. The US leads the developed world in this objective measure.

          http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/01/08/us-deaths-rankings-idUSN0765165020080108

          • [][]“I’m pro-freedom.”[][]

            You cannot be both pro-democracy and pro-freedom, since the two are antithetical.

            I suspect that your overriding value is democracy, so you need to realize that you cannot be “pro-freedom.”

            Of course, I could be wrong and you are willing to drop democracy, instead.

          • []![]“mortality from treatable illness.”[]![]

            I don’t know about the Australian system of government, but in the U.S., dealing with “mortality from treatable illness” is not an authority granted to the government, not even in any branch.

            “Mortality from treatable illness” is not a legitimate political issue.

          • jp

            It’s a legitimate political issue here, because our constitution does not forbid it, and it’s what the people mandate their government to do on their behalf.

            As gor your previous post, I’ve alsready said that I think the freedom should be limited to curtail the free choice to commit anti-social acts. I put society first. If you are not harming society or other individuals, only then can you freely choose your action. Again, not ashamed of thinking it’s wrong to protect the freedom to behave anti-socially.

          • The right to be sociable doesn’t need protection nearly so much as the right to be unsociable does.

            Protecting the minority’s right to disagree and not be coerced is a vital function of proper government.

      • [][]“I think that’s reasonable, as a citizen of a modern social[ist] democracy, to allow people, through their democratically elected representatives, to choose the role of the government in their society.”[][]

        Democracy is not reasonable. Democracy is authoritarian.

        A proper government would get its legitimate authority from the consent of the governed. In a democracy, on the other hand, a majority would be legally entitled to enslave a minority without their consent.

        • jp

          Steve, “social democracy” is a term with a meaning. You can call it “social[ist] democracy” if you like, but that doesn’t make it socailist. Your ignorance is showing once more.

          Social democracies also have constitutional limitations against the tyranny of the majority, and indeed legislative protections for minorities are stronger in any social democracy I can think of than they are in the US, precisely because the US upholds the individual freedom to be bigoted towards minorities more strongly than other countries.

          Seriously, when you start painting a picture of social democracies like Australia, Canada, Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands and France as being quasi-totalitarian, then your credibility just goes out the window.

          • I certainly do not want to be inside your authoritarian window. The breathing room is outside. And I’ll take the responsibility of keeping my credibility with me, intact and not smothered by socialism.

          • [][]“…the US upholds the individual freedom to be bigoted towards minorities more strongly than other countries.”[][]

            Thank God for small favors, at least.

            Freedom of thought (and speech) is very important. (But it’s not upheld so well in the U.S. as you seem to think.)

            And it is also important to be free to think ill of majorities — and to be free of involuntary servitude to their will.

          • Seriously, when you start painting a picture of social democracies like Australia, Canada, Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands and France as being quasi-totalitarian, then you’re on the right track.

            You haven’t got to the full picture, yet, since you’re only starting, but you are onto something important.

          • jp

            I didn’t paint that picture, I just accused you of painting it. I think that opinion is deranged, but I’m glad that you think it’s an accurate representation of your views.

          • In a proper society, you should be free to think my opinion is deranged. But you still shouldn’t be allowed to forcibly get your hands on other people’s money, no matter how deranged you feel they are for wanting their own property protected.

      • [][]“To the extent that that role requires funding I think it’s reasonable for the people, through their democratically elected representatives, to institute a system of [involuntary] taxation to fund the democratically chosen scope of government action.”[][]

        What makes you think that’s reasonable? What is your reasoning on the issue?

        How do you decide what is “reasonable” for one person (or group of people) to do to another person (or group of people)? What are the principles that apply? Why should anyone respect “society”?

        • jp

          People should respect society because they live in society, and derive benefits from doing so. Involuntary taxation removes the choice to benefit from stable society without contributing to it. Basically, it stops freeloading and exploitation.

          Why should one person have more of their property taken as taxation to cover the contribution of someone else who decides not to pay tax? Your own argument defeats itself.

          • [][]“People should respect society because they live in society, and derive benefits from doing so.”[][]

            That is an authoritarian prescription for making a sick society.

            People should respect each others’ individual rights, because when they live and work peaceably together, they derive great benefits from doing so. The imposition of involuntary servitude kills the basic value of social interaction: free trade.

            The view that “society” should be respected instead of the actual people who really are “society” is simply a rationalization for the power lust of crony socialism. “Universal Health Care” is a prime example of how socialism is a danger to freedom and individual rights: some people are legally empowered to benefit at the involuntary expense of other people — instead of engaging in rational social cooperation.

      • [][]“Lastly, I think it’s reasonable for the payment of taxation to be non-voluntary.”[][]

        I don’t quite agree with you on this point either, jp.

        I think we (Americans) should be working toward a limited (vastly reduced in size from its present reach) government that allows us (well, okay, our descendents) to voluntarily fund the government’s activities (which will be dedicated to protecting rather than violating individual rights.

        • jp

          I figured you wouldn’t agree. I find your idealism touching, if utterly naive.

          • Ah, the sweet naiveté of freedom.

            Why ever bother with the crass barbarism of forcing other people to pay for your medical expenses?

  • Here’s an interesting quote relating to this discussion:


    Words matter because words stand for concepts-abstract ideas that join certain things and separate others. Your ideological enemy is your ideological enemy in part because he divides the world up differently from you. He works with different concepts, different classifications. Where you see the opposition of freedom vs. government force, he sees the opposition of “exploitation” vs. “equality.” Where you see earning vs. freeloading, he sees “luck” vs. “compassion.”

    Even little, innocuous concepts are game-changers. Take “access.” Is there some national, collective problem in the fact that some people don’t have “access” to quality medical care? What if we rephrase the question to be: do some people have the right to force other people to pay for their medical care? Sounds a little different, doesn’t it? I don’t have “access” to your car, your home, and your bank account. That’s a disgrace!

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2012/06/28/to-discredit-the-anti-capitalists-pro-capitalists-need-to-learn-how-to-use-words/

  • [][]“My philosophy may lead to a poorer outcome for certain individuals forced to not act in anti-social[ist] ways, but your philosophy leads to sick societies, with individuals empowered to act anti-social[istical]ly.”[][]

    From your medievalist/pragmatist/religious ideological perspective of freedom as “sick,” the correct response would be: “Hooray for ‘sick societies’! More power to them!”

    By the way, if I haven’t yet made it clear: I reject your Taliban-like view of freedom as “sick.”

    [][]“You uphold the right of individuals to be free not to pay for the healthcare of those who can not afford it (a pro-individual[ist], anti-social[ist] position),…”[][]

    To be a little more accurate, I advocate the right of individuals to be free to CHOOSE whose healthcare they are willing to pay for. I don’t claim that anyone must NOT “pay for the healthcare of those who cannot afford it.” Everyone should be free to do that if they so choose. And you know, if you pay attention, that lots of people like to do that.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 5, 2012
    6:21 pm

    “You claim the FDA costs lives because it limits freedom,…”[][]

    Okay, sorry I misled you, jp. I misspoke wherever I typed that in, and you’ll need to ignore it.

    What I actually say is: the FDA costs lives AND it limits freedom.

    Even if the FDA did not cost lives, it would still be an improper agency because it violates individual rights.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 5, 2012
    6:21 pm

    “And when you ignore or deny the objective reality that drug regulation saves lives overall,…”[][]

    But, jp, the FDA does NOT “save lives overall.” (You keep claiming that it does, but you have no possible way to substantiate such a claim — and the evidence that actually does exist on the matter points decidedly to the opposite conclusion.)

    And, more importantly, you are using the issue to deflect attention from the fact that even if the FDA did “save lives overall” it would still be unconstitutional, and rationally immoral (since it suppresses free enterprise in favor of government control).

    • jp

      Exactly, drug regulation is pro-social, not pro-individual. We agree. You just have an ideology that despises things that impinge on individual liberty for pro-social reasons (except when you don’t, like stealing people’s income to pay police officers to do the job private security could do, or stealing people’s incomes to pay for defense when they could choose to protect their own property at their own expense.)

      • [][]“Exactly, drug regulation is pro-social[ist], not pro-individual[ist]. We agree.”[][]

        Sure looks like it.

        [][]“You just have an ideology that despises things that impinge on individual liberty for pro-social[istic] reasons “[][]

        Not exactly.

        In fact, I hold an ideology that rejects socialism (because it respects individual rights).

        “Despises” is an emotional, not an ideological attribution.

        • I hold an ideology that respects individual rights, and therefore rejects socialism

  • The belief that tyranny commands the “moral high ground,” while freedom struggles from the “moral low ground,” is somewhat popular. Socialism and theocracy can merge on the basis of that vision, i.e., freedom is immoral because it doesn’t politically enforce the “brothers’ keepers” doctrine.

    • One of the most time-honored uses of religion is the exercise of political power, e.g., the Holy Roman Empire, the Muslim Caliphate, the Divine Right of Kings, sharia, etc., right down to Obama’s doctrine that making the rich pay more taxes ‘coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.’

      And “UHC” is another step down that road of religious rule.

    • [][]
      jp
      July 4, 2012
      6:27 pm

      “… evidential claim…. ideological claim…. these very different types of claim …”[][]

      You are speaking here, jp, as if you hold your ideology without any evidence to support your ideas — as if, that is, evidence were necessarily irrelevant to morality and politics.

      I think you are on the wrong track. Non-worldly (and other-worldly) moralities are at odds with the realistic needs of practical life.

      • jp

        Steve, YOU were the one who said ideological claims, like freedom being better than slavery, held up without statistical evidence.

        And then YOU used that to justify making a claim about FDA delays without evidence, when evidence (European and US approval dates, for starters) would be available if the claim were true.

        You’re so bound up with one-upmanship that you’ve abandoned reason and started arguing against YOUR OWN position. It really is like watching a dog chase its own tail.

        • I simply don’t agree, jp, with your stance that statistics are the only form of evidence.

          “UN statistics,” in particular, are a very poor substitute for evidence in the real world.

          • jp

            Indeed UN statistics are very poor evidence of approval lags between the FDA and Europe, ond very poor evidence of FDA claims of life-saving numbers. But there are good sources for that sort of evidence, and yet you still can’t present it, even though if your claim was correct it would be easy to come by.

            So you’re either wrong (and in fact the evidence you seek doesn’t exist) or you’re incompetent (there’s evidence, but you can’t find it). Take your pick.

            If you were both right and competent, you’d just post it here instead of getting all butthurt about being called out on your lack of evidence.

          • Obviously, jp, since the notion of “the FDA as a killer agency” is a total (and idiotic) fiction, then I am both wrong and incompetent — to suit your politics.

        • In other words, jp, you are equivocating between “statistics” and “evidence.” (It’s like you are calling a leg a tail, and claiming that dog’s have five tails — and no legs.)

          • jp

            I’m not equivocating. You made a claim. I asked you for evidence for your claim. You said you didn’t need evidence and got all butthurt and talking about how you could prefer freedom to slavery without evidence, so why was it so bad believe the FDA killed people without evidence?

            I just asked for evidence that the FDA actually DID quote life-saving statistics on approvals that were way later than the European approval of a drug. You’ve said that this happens all the time. You’re making a claim about what the FDA publishes onto the public record. So I’m asking you to back it up. I don’t want statistics, I want an FDA approval that quotes statistics for lives saved that was issued around 10 years later than the European approval for the same drug.

            It’s totally clear that you are not able to cite an instance of that happening in the last 30 years (I agree it happened once 31 years ago, although I have only indirect references to even that). So I’m wondering what the basis for your claim that this is a regular occurrence is. You heard it from a guy down the pub? Or what?

          • [][]“You heard it from a guy down the pub?”[][]

            Probably. It’s just a bunch of baloney, don’t you know? Why are you so wildly obsessed with it?

          • And you are equivocating, jp. Small time, but still equivocating.

          • [][]“… you could prefer freedom to slavery without evidence,…”[][]

            Without statistics, jp! Don’t you understand English? Your are not only equivocating, now you are expanding into denial and avoidance.

          • jp

            You sure are using a lot of time and effort to post anything but evidence for the claims you made, Steve.

          • Haven’t you figured it out yet, jp? The “statistical evidence” you are obsessing about is nowhere to be found! Learn to live with it.

          • That is: without it . . . .

          • jp

            Well you were the one who said that the FDA published high life-saving statistics on long-delayed drug approvals.

            I questioned whether that was true, or just made up, and now you say that evidence for what you claimed is nowhere to be found.

            I accept your admission of taking a position on the FDA based on no evidence.

          • No “statistics.” You are still equivocating to believe that means no “evidence.”

        • [[]]}“YOU were the one who said ideological claims, like freedom being better than slavery, held up without statistical evidence.”{[][]

          Correct.

          Statistics are a whole different area of knowledge that the principle of individual rights. To understand individual rights, you need to have knowledge of the basics of human nature — and you don’t need to go anywhere near statistics about the UN, the FDA, or anything like that, to grasp the basics of human nature.

          Rather than statistics, you need objective philosophic principles. Statistics, per se, just aren’t going yield any such principles.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 4, 2012
    2:38 am

    “You say that the FDA routinely delays life-saving drugs …”[][]

    Well, jp, you got me.

    I do say that. But now that you ask me for specifics, I don’t have any to give you. The FDA never does delay for a second in the process of approving life-saving drugs. I just made that up.

    Can’t pull the wool over your eyes. Darn, that sure doesn’t make me look good, does it? What an idiot.

    • I even googled “un statistics proving it is better to live in freedom than slavery” and what I got was “Who consumes the most chocolate.” What an idiot.

      The statistics I was wishing for to prove that it is better to live in freedom than slavery simply don’t exist. What an innumerate idiot (not to mention boorish blowhard).

      Victory for jp! Hooray, we can all sleep safer at night — from cradle to grave — with “UHC” on the march.

      • [][]
        jp
        July 4, 2012
        6:27 pm

        “… it makes you look bad.”[][]

        It’s sad that I look bad to you. Life just doesn’t seem fair.

    • jp

      Yes, when you claim that FDA approvals are routinely years after Europe’s and that the FDA claims life-saving numbers in its press releases that allow the calculation of lives lost due to longer approval times than Europe you are making an evidential claim. Your credibility depends on having evidence. A lack of statistical or documentary evidence renders this claim impotent, as it’s an evidential claim.

      When you claim that freedom is better than slavery, you are making a moral claim, and your credibility depends on making appeals to conscience and consequences. In this case, it also depends on convincingly arguing an analogy between taxation and slavery. A lack of statistical or documentary evidence does not affect this claim, as it’s an ideological claim.

      The fact that you’re drawing an equivalence between these very different types of claim means either that you’re an idiot who doesn’t understand why they’re different, or that you’re using dishonest rhetoric to imply an equivalence where you know there isn’t one.

      Either way, it makes you look bad. In fact, it makes you look like Moshe, because he does exactly the same thing.

      • Why, jp, couldn’t I simply be a dishonest idiot? Why do you feel it is “either-or”?

        Since I oppose involuntary servitude, I cannot possibly be, from your point of view, either wise or honest, right?

        • [][]“… convincingly arguing an analogy between taxation and slavery.”[][]

          Whom are you trying to kid, jp?

          Since people believing in things like “Creation, by God!” and the “propriety of forcing people to fund UHC” are not basing such beliefs on rational consideration of evidence, why would they give a damn about anyone claiming to be “convincingly arguing” against their beliefs?

      • [][]“Your credibility depends on having evidence….”[][]

        Correct. And I have no “credibility” for opposing the FDA, since the FDA never withholds approval of any drugs for any amount of time (regardless of what happens in Europe, Australia, or anywhere else). I was deluded into thinking otherwise by reading “conservative op-ed” blowhards. Remember?

        • jp

          Instead of having a big public sulk, you could also have provided evidence of your claims. You claimed that FDA publications contained life-saving claims on drugs approved up to 10 years after Europe. That’s easily proven if it’s true, you just link to the FDA publication, and something showing the European approval date.

          You claimed this was so common as to argue for the total abolition of the FDA. And yet when called on it, it turns out you can’t provide even a single case of this happening. You’re not trying very hard to build a case. I actually know what drug you were referring to, and I was testing you to see how good you were at finding evidence. Turns out, you get 0/10 for effort.

          If you want a hint, the FDA was very late approving Timolol. That’s the 31 year old single case that your “17,000 a year for 6 (not 10) years” op-eds referred to (yes, I found them), and I happen to agree with you that that was a disgraceful delay, although other beta-blockers had been approved for 13 years before Timolol.

          If the Timolol case was routinely repeated over the 31 years since, then it would be clear that the FDA needed reform to be more effective, not abolition to be less effective, but even then, it’s not something that’s routinely repeated. That average approval gap right now between Europe and the FDA is zero. As such, your argument about delays beyond European approval is moot, because that’s not how it is in reality.

          So if you claim to be a fan of reality, how about you quit the butthurt at being called out on your lack of support for your claims, and actually go find some sometimes, or stop making claims that you have no more evidence for Moshe has for God.

          • Ah, jp, you seem to be hopelessly unable to understand my point. I suppose my pro-freedom ideology is simply too foreign to your way of thinking. But, since I’m not trying to convince you of anything anyhow, I’ll go ahead and explain the basics of my position one more time (at least).

            In the U.S., the Constitution is the supreme law setting forth the limited authority of the government. The FDA is an agency which acts to prevents drugs from being sold without government approval. This activity is not authorized by the Constitution, so the FDA should be abolished.

            The FDA violates the rights of the people who want to use drugs, as well as of the people who want to develop, produce, and sell drugs. Anecdotes about the bad consequences of allowing the FDA’s unconstitutional actions (e.g., people dying because a life-saving drug does not get reasonable approval) are merely gravy, not the main meal.

            It would not matter if the FDA were always first-in-the-world to approve drugs and allow them to be marketed (so that there would be no statistics about earlier usage saving lives). The FDA violates individual rights, is unconstitutional, and should be abolished. That the FDA is so dangerous only makes the case for its abolition more urgent — but that is not in any way necessary to making the case in the first place.

            Also, the fact that the FDA is a killer agency is a good counterpoint to the popular rhetoric that the FDA is needed to save lives.

          • jp

            Yes, and it’s this last claim that you provide no evidence for, leaving only ideology.

            And when you ignore or deny the objective reality that drug regulation saves lives overall, or worse, make up your own reality by misrepresenting the objective truth through selective and exaggerated claims, then you’re doing what Moshe does.

            Moshe might well say that the core truth is “God!” and the fact that DNA contains specified information is just gravy.

            The problem for Moshe is that the reality disagrees with him: he can’t provide evidence for specification of DNA, only a theoretical ideological argument, which doesn’t cut it in determining reality. Not to mention that the ideology “God!” is flawed to start with.

            You’re going down the same path. You claim the FDA costs lives because it limits freedom, but you can’t back that up with evidence. Not to mention that your ideology that it’s better to be anti-social than anti-individualistic when individual and social interests conflict, is flawed.

            My philosophy may lead to a poorer outcome for certain individuals forced to not act in anti-social ways, but your philosophy leads to sick societies, with individuals empowered to act anti-socially.

            As you say, real world evidence can be marshalled to help decide which of us is right. You uphold the right of individuals to be free not to pay for the healthcare of those who can not afford it (a pro-individual, anti-social position), and the right to carry guns (a pro-individual, anti-social position). We can measure the result of this through homicide rates. They’re higher in the US than in countries who support the poor with healthcare and protect society from lethal weapons. Yes, noth of those things are anti-individual things to do, but they’re pro-social, and you ignore that at your cost.

      • [][]“When you claim that freedom is better than slavery,…”[][]

        Since I live in the U.S., where the Supreme Court has just ruled the opposite, my claim is obviously moot (as well as boorishly idiotic).

  • Come on, Moshe. Sure, jp is interesting, but lets get some real action going here. Like where you claim to know that God Created The Universe!

    Way back when I was a kid, there was a saying about how you couldn’t lift yourself by pulling on your own bootstraps. Think about that impossibility, and how it relates to the impossibility that the universe could have been created.

    Without the universe, not only wouldn’t there be any bootstraps, but there would be nobody to pull on them. That is, without the universe, there would be nothing to make anything out of — and nobody to even try.

    The universe does exist. There is no “alternate possibility.”

  • Nigeria: Muslim gunmen set fire to a home in a Christian village and then opened fire on all who tried to escape the inferno, killing at least seven and wounding many others, in just one of dozens of attacks on Christians.

    Whose side is God on, anyway? Or is He just anti-humanity, period?

    • I won’t keep you in suspense: there is no God.

      God is simply a fictional character. (Or a bunch of fictional characters.) There is nothing real (non-fictionally speaking) about God.

      • As a matter of fact, “free health care” is also a fictional construct. Like “free lunches.”

        • jp

          Yes, but you’re the only one talking of free healthcare. I’m talking about publicly funded (through taxation) healthcare. I don’t deny it gets paid for.

          And just to be picky, I had a free lunch today – oranges straight off the tree (which wasn’t purchased, it seeded from bird droppings). But I agree healthcare doesn’t grow on trees.

          • [][]“I don’t deny it gets paid for.”

            Me, either.

            The real question is: are the payments voluntary?

            If they aren’t, the system needs to be changed so that they are 100% voluntary.

  • Moshe,

    If you participate in killing all the first born children in a country, how is it bad only if you’re an atheist — and perfectly fine if you’re a theist?

    • Apparently your answer is that nothing is good unless God commands it, and whatever God commands is good.

      • Not only does a rational morality not need God, it is quite impossible if you try to go “by the Word of God!”

        Trying to apply the principles illustrated by a fictional character can be a good idea — IF it is a rational character — not a supernatural megalomaniac.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 1, 2012
    9:12 pm

    “It’s obscene. Saving those lives would not only not cost the US any money, but would actually cost less. Only ideology – your ideology – stands in the way.”[][]

    I’m not sure which lives you are referring to here — but it certainly is the case that the U.S. Government is basically killing thousands of Americans, and costing us billion of dollars in the process.

    But according to my ideology, viz., laissez-faire capitalism, this is a practice that should be stopped, not continued.

    The FDA, which keeps life-saving drugs off the market and costs drug companies billions with wasteful compliance regulations, should be abolished.

    I am against the FDA, not in favor of it.

    • jp

      So you think it’s better to let unsafe drugs on the market and sue the manufacturers after people die than it is to prevent unsafe drugs coming on to the market in the first place?

      That’s just saying ideological purity is more important than preventing the loss of innocent lives, something your stance on healthcare confirms.

      I’m not even slightly troubled that I disagree with you entirely.

      • [][]“So you think it’s better to let unsafe drugs on the market and sue the manufacturers after people die than it is to prevent unsafe drugs coming on to the market in the first place?”[][]

        Well, it would be more efficient, since fewer people would die that way.

        And it would certainly be more fair to all the various people who need, use, create, and produce drugs.

      • [][]“That’s just saying ideological purity is more important than preventing the loss of innocent lives,…”[][]

        That’s the rationalization the FDA uses, and I certainly reject it.

      • Have you ever heard one of those FDA announcements that they are approving a wonderful drug that will now start saving 17,000 lives a year? Well, they usually know it will save that many lives per year because it has been saving that may per year for the last 10 years in Europe — where the FDA did not have the jurisdiction to keep it off the market.

        So the reality is that FDA announcement is an admission to killing around 170,000 people . . . .

        • jp

          Leaving aside the fact that dangerous drugs could kill way more than 17,000 people a year, it’s certainly terrible to hear about the FDA holding back a drug for 10 years that could save 17,000 lives a year.

          Which drug was it?

          I mean, I assume that you’re making the assertion that this happens on the basis of some real drug, not just one you made up.

          I don’t care if the number of years longer than European approval isn’t exactly 10, or the drug doesn’t save exactly 17,000 lives a year, but surely you can come up with an example that’s in the ballpark. ‘Cos, you know that this happens all the time, so examples must be easy to find, right?

          • That particular story was about beta-blockers (from about 30 years ago, before your time, I guess).

          • [[[]]]
            Overall, we estimate that illicit drug use resulted in approximately 17000 deaths in 2000,…”
            Source:
            Mokdad, Ali H., PhD, James S. Marks, MD, MPH, Donna F. Stroup, PhD, MSc, Julie L. Gerberding, MD, MPH, “Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000,” Journal of the American Medical Association, (March 10, 2004), G225 Vol. 291, No. 10, 1242.
            http://proxy.baremetal.com/csdp.org/research/1238.pdf

            [[[]]]

            What a coincidence.

          • jp

            Right…

            So you have one 30 year old example where you can’t name the drug, and don’t give any evidence of how long it took the FDA to approve it after Europe did, or how many people a year that delay affected.

            Separately, you have one citation that 17000 people a year die in the USA from a cause completely unrelated to what we’re discussing, the use of illicit drugs.

            What exactly do you think you’ve proved?

            You say that the FDA routinely delays life-saving drugs that have been approved in Europe and should be abolished. If it hasn’t done so in the last 30 years, I think that argues against your case.

            But tell me more about the beta-blockers of 30 years ago. Name a beta-blocker, and tell me its date of approval in Europe and by the FDA. Cite also a source quantifying the number of lives a year it saved compared to the previous treatment.

            If you have something more recent, give the citations for that, instead. After all, there are dozens, or even hundreds, of examples out there, right? Shouldn’t be hard.

          • [][]“Leaving aside the fact that dangerous drugs could kill way more than 17,000 people a year,…”[][]

            A thought experiment to see if this can make the issue clearer to you.

            Suppose a company developed a drug which they claimed would kill 17 out of 20 people who used it. If 21,000 people a year used it, then it would kill more that 17,000 in each year that was the case. But for the three out of twenty it didn’t kill, it completely cured their cancer.

            That could be called a “dangerous drug.” Very likely, the FDA would ban it — but it would be wrong to do so. If people wanted to take that chance to cure their cancer, they should be free to do it.

      • [][]“I’m not even slightly troubled that I disagree with you entirely.[][]

        Well, you are certainly in bad company.

  • [][]

    jp
    July 1, 2012
    5:25 am

    “Removing profit margins to pay shareholders doesn’t reduce costs?”[][]

    Naturally not. By what hocus-pocus do you imagine such a thing might happen?

    You may not be a politician, but you can probably extrapolate from this (besides I do love quoting Sowell): “With politicians, confusion is their most important product. They confuse bringing down the price of medical care with bringing down the cost. And they confuse medical care with health care.”

    [][]“Running at break-even is cheaper to the consumer, and does not lead to bankruptcy.”[][]

    It is a myth that such a practice would be “cheaper” in any sense other making do with less.

    For instance, if Apple had “run at break-even” from the time of the original Apple computer, they would not have accumulated the capital (through profit-making to develop the iPhone. For everyone who owns an iPhone, their lives would be “cheaper” if there were no iPhones to spend money on.

    And consider how much “cheaper” all our lives would be if no modern drugs had been developed in the last fifty years. The cost of non-existent drugs is certainly zero, isn’t it. (And that’s “break-even” if you started from zero!)

    • jp

      You bitch about creating confusion and the you confuse pharmaceutical companies setting prices high enough to fund R&D with setting prices even higher to fund dividends to shareholders. You also state it’s impossible to innovate in drugs without a profit motive. Again, the real world shows you to be full of hot air. The largest innovator in the pharmaceutical industry is a non-profit organisation. The largest funder of medical research is a non-profit organisation. Really.

      I’m actually a fan of free-market capitalism, Steve, in its proper place, so you Apple Computer example is useless, because on consumer goods, I agree with you. Freely competitive capitalism is great at selling more product at the better prices.

      Health care is not something we want to sell more of, and it’s not something that people get to make a free spending choice on. Nobody freely chooses to have a heart attack. Nobody freely chooses which hospital to go to when they have one. The capitalist model of free choice whether to buy a product, and free choice of supplier simply doesn’t apply, and so a free-market capitalist solution is not the best one, as the free choice to buy elsewhere or not to buy at all if the price is too high are removed by the nature of the service.

      With health care, the choice not to buy is also the choice to die earlier. If you would die without a smartphone, then iPhones and every other smartphone would be more expensive, because the free choice not to buy at a too-high price would be removed, which distorts the true freedom of the market. Not only does the theory of free-market capitalism predict that prices will rise when free choice not to buy is removed or diminished, but we’ve got examples of that theory being correct out there in the real world, and the biggest example of this is the US health system. The fact that it is more expensive is a complete vindication of free-market economic theory. You should celebrate the fact that your favoured economic theory holds true, Steve, not shoot the messenger that tells you that your theory is working exactly as predicted in the real world by making US healthcare the most expensive in the world.

      • [][]“Health care is not something we want to sell more of,…”[][]

        I strongly disagree with you there, jp.

        Both health care and medical care are something that more of should be sold — and more and more as time goes by.

        That’s the way people get healthier and live longer. That’s the way population grows and societies improve. (I disagree with those, like the “Green Movement,” who believe that population should decrease and society should be more primitive.)

      • [][]“Nobody freely chooses to have a heart attack. Nobody freely chooses which hospital to go to when they have one.”[][]

        A couple of somewhat minor points:

        1): Some people do freely choose lifestyles that are the virtual equivalent of begging for a heart attack.

        2): Some heart attacks are quite mild, and leave the victim with plenty of time and capacity to choose where to go for treatment.

        But let’s think in terms of a person who has a severe heart attack (through no fault of his own) and is left unconscious with no capacity to choose what happens next. Why in the world is that supposed to mean that other people should be forced to pay for his treatment?! And that people with less severe medical problems should not be free to choose the treatment they want — and be allowed to keep their own money to pay for it?!

      • []{}“you confuse pharmaceutical companies setting prices high enough to fund R&D with setting prices even higher to fund dividends to shareholders.”{}[]

        How do you figure that?

        For one thing, producing at “break-even” (i.e., without profits) won’t make enough money for R&D.

        For another thing, without shareholders, there wouldn’t be any money even to produce at “break-even” (i.e., stay in business).

      • [][]“With health care, the choice not to buy is also the choice to die earlier.”[][]

        Now you might have hit on something there.

        So you could just as well figure that the choice to force others to pay for your health care is the choice to have them die earlier instead.

        • jp

          Well that would be stupid argument, because under UHC, no matter how much that other person pays, they’ll still have access to healthcare. Indeed, under UHC if their wealth fell they’d receive health care without paying anything for it.

          Paying more tax does not make you die sooner, but not being able to afford healthcare does.

          If it weren’t for having encountered Randian libertarians before, I would find it difficult to believe how stupid your arguments are.

          • Just for the record, I am not a “Randian libertarian.” (But if you feel that you actually have encountered some, and that it has helped you, well, okay, that’s fine.)

            Still, it’s a bit of a mystery why you feel my arguments are “stupid” — although you are certainly entitled to have very strong feelings on the matter.

          • [[[]]]“… under UHC, no matter how much that other person pays, they’ll still have access to healthcare.”[[[]]]

            In other words, you promise to take very good care of the slaves. Such magnanimity. Such humanity!

          • {][}“Indeed, under UHC if their wealth fell they’d receive health care without paying anything for it.”{][}

            Why should anybody pay anything for health care? Why should anybody pay taxes to get health care? Isn’t health care so vital that it should be absolutely free: it should never cost anybody anything– not in taxes, not in doctor’s fees, not even in worrying about who’s going to pay for it?

      • [][]“If you would die without a smartphone, then iPhones and every other smartphone would be more expensive, because the free choice not to buy at a too-high price would be removed, which distorts the true freedom of the market.”[][]

        Nonsense. You would die without food, too, but that doesn’t mean the government must run all the grocery stores, farms, trucking companies, refrigerator makers, etc., etc., etc.

        How well, really, did socialism work out in the U.S.S.R.?

      • [][]“the free choice to buy elsewhere or not to buy at all if the price is too high are removed by the nature of the service.”[][]

        More nonsense. It is not the case that every health problem is immediately terminal, or at least incapacitating. Most health problem are minor, and many more develop slowly over time. Getting sick is not necessarily the end of the world, as you are making it out to be.

        • And anyway, why should your problem of getting sick be the responsibility of anyone else?

      • [][]“You should celebrate the fact that your favoured economic theory holds true,…”[][]

        Wow, I’m not sure how you missed what’s been going on, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. That is why I am for freedom instead of socialism.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 2, 2012
    9:03 pm

    “Yes, you think it’s morally wrong. I get that. So stop saying that it’s unsustainable, or inefficient, or whatever.”[][]

    It is morally wrong.

    It is unsustainable.

    It is inefficient.

    Why should I avoid the truth to cater to your tender sensibilities?

    • Of course, when I say that socialized medicine is inefficient, I mean that from the standpoint of the private citizens having their money put into the system.

      But it is probably quite a tolerably efficient system for those seeking to get that money from people who don’t want to give it voluntarily.

      • jp

        When I talk about efficiency I talk about how much service gets provided for a fixed amount of money. If one system can do more hip replacements per million dollars paid in, then it’s more efficient. That is the economic definition of efficiency. It’s not a theoretical term, it’s a real, measurable, attribute of health systems. UHC systems, when their efficiency is measured in the real world, outperform the US system hands down.

        Moral issues are a separate dimension. You think forcing people to pay into a pool is immoral. I think forcing people to weigh up whether they can afford to have their ill-health treated is immoral. I’m happy to agree to disagree.

        • [[]]“If one system can do more hip replacements per million dollars paid in, then it’s more efficient.”[[]]

          Since that kind of “efficiency” could be achieved by using only the worst available parts and the worst available doctors and facilities, I’d be tempted to say, “To hell with ‘efficiency,’ give me the quality stuff.”

          A personal preference ? Sure. But people should be free to pursue personal preferences, instead of being forced into compliance with the politicians’ notions of what’s best for them.

        • [[]]“You think forcing people to pay into a pool is immoral. I think forcing people to weigh up whether they can afford to have their ill-health treated is immoral. I’m happy to agree to disagree.”[[]]

          Just so long as you understand that you are happy believing the principle that stealing is moral (since you are happy to disagree with me when I say it is immoral).

          It’s not right, but then life just isn’t all that fair, sometimes, is it?

          There will always be people who steal, and there will probably always be those who will rationalize it (especially if they can use political power to accomplish the dirty deed).

        • [[]]“I think forcing people to weigh up whether they can afford to have their ill-health treated is immoral.”[[]]

          You are wrong in at least a couple of ways. In the first place, in a free enterprise system, nobody can force anybody to pay for any service he cannot afford. In the second place, nobody could force you not to pay medical bills for anybody and everybody you wanted to (with your own money, of course).

          You could join a voluntary “HMO” or an “MHC” (a “Mutual Health Care” plan).

        • People are not morally entitled to whatever they want or need just because they want or need it — at least not when it needs to be provided by other people. That sort of involuntary servitude is not right.

        • When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.“

          So long as they are friends of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi. Otherwise, not so much.

  • [][]

    jp
    July 2, 2012
    8:42 pm

    Good. So you you want freedom at any cost. That’s great.”[][]

    Yes, it is great.

    The alternative is to tell Obama, “If you pay all my expenses, I’ll join you in trashing the Constitution.” (I.e., crony socialism.)

    So, yes, I have to admit that I don’t put a price on my freedom. I’m not interesting in selling my freedom or my soul.

    • Or I could tell Romney (of Obamneycare fame), “Hey, you can buy my vote: this paying all my own bills is just too expensive!”

      Actually, no, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. As Rabbi Averick might say, I couldn’t live with it.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 2, 2012
    8:42 pm

    Now can you just quit with lecturing others on how money doesn’t fall out of the sky and how their systems are unsustainable,…”[][]

    But, but, … jp! Money doesn’t fall out of the sky. And socialist systems are not sustainable. Who would want to ignore that reality?

    Free enterprise, on the other hand, is not merely “sustainable,” but has incredible growth potential.

    And leading more expensive lives is a great deal. Think about how much people in the lowest quitile can afford today compared to the highest quintile 1000 years ago. Or 100 years ago, if you like. Even only five years ago before the iPhone came out.

  • [][]
    jp
    July 2, 2012
    7:45 pm

    “No, I draw my observations from direct experience …”[][]

    You experience life as a person who takes pride in forcing others to pay into your system (so that you are able to get “free” services you might not be able to afford on your own responsibility).

    I, on the other hand, experience life as a person who take pride in not forcing others to pay my way through life.

    Ideologically, you favor violating individual rights (to property and the pursuit of one’s own interests, etc.) — and I favor respecting them.

    • jp

      That’s right. I believe in taxation, and the use of moneys collected to be used in to benefit the whole population through universally-inclusive provision of services, as determined by democratically elected governments.

      I’m not ashamed of that for a second.

      • Oh, I understand that you are not ashamed of that.

        It’s just that that system is utterly and profoundly immoral, not too mention headed for bankruptcy.

      • It’s just that that system is utterly and profoundly immoral, not to mention headed for bankruptcy.

  • [][]
    jp (July 2, 2012 9:01 am): “… admit that the US system is excellent in quality, with superior results in cancer survival rates and responsiveness.”[][]

    Okay, then you are familiar with some of the important data I was pointing you toward. So now we can put that issue to rest.

    • Unfortunately, Obama seems to be succeeding in his drive to destroy that quality and those results by pushing the U.S. toward “single payer” tyranny. That’s the reality we have to live with.

    • jp

      Yes, I’m familiar with data showing the strengths of the US system. Are you familiar with data showing the strengths of UHC systems that I’ve not only pointed you toward, but actually posted? Or did your ideological blinkers screen it out for you? Remember infant mortality rates? I’m not declaring victory based on that one statistic, but it’s far from one-way traffic, Steve, which you’d know if you were actually familiar with the subject you’re blowing so hard on.

      Your ability to declare victory based on one cherry-picked piece of data doesn’t impress me, especially as I cherry-picked it for you. If you look at the data across the board, you will find that UHC countries like France, Norway, Australia and Japan perform equally well overall.

      You will also find that they do so for a fraction of the cost, contrary to your unevidenced assertions about the inherent waste of public sector endeavours.

      • The whole point, jp, is that “UHC” does NOT win as the best system based on statistics. The statistics involved only show relative differences — they do not show that “non-UHC” is necessarily inferior and undesirable.

        Some other standard beyond mere statistics is needed to choose between socialized medicine and free choice in medicine.

        My view is that socialized medicine is out entirely because it does not respect individual rights to property, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (including voluntary medical care).

        • jp

          That’s fine, as long as you limit your criticism to ideological criticism, and don’t make assertions about the cost or financial viability of UHC systems that you can not back up.

          If you said “The UHC systems in countries such as Sweden, France, Australia and Norway provide a high quality of healthcare, as does the US system. They do so sustainably, and at a fraction of the cost due largely to administrative simplicity. However, achieving that simplicity requires removing free choice in healthcare funding decisions, and it is on that basis that I utterly reject UHC despite its superior cost-effectiveness.” Then you’d be fine.

          You’re prepared to take a big whack out of your wallet to stick to your principles? That’s admirable in it’s own way.

          But when you start making claims that the system that you cannot stomach ideologically is unsustainable, or expensive, or provides poor quality care, then you’re making testable claims.

          To see whether they stack up doesn’t require an ideological or theoretical argument, we can just go an look out the window at reality: what levels of health are achieved, or what costs are incurred.

          And your claims about UHC – the testable ones, not the ideological ones – make statements about reality that reality disagrees with. As you know from debating theists, when you disagree with reality, reality still wins.

          • Are you a Krugman disciple, jp?

            http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204574473331382043514.html

            Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman disagrees: “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.” But is it possible that Reich is right and Krugman is wrong?

            (from …a speech that Robert Reich, who served as President Clinton’s labor secretary, delivered on the subject in 2007: “And by the way, we are going to have to–if you’re very old, we’re not going to give you all that technology and all those drugs for the last couple of years of your life to keep you maybe going for another couple of months. It’s too expensive, so we’re going to let you die.” [applause] )

          • jp

            No, I draw my observations from direct experience and a thirty-year interest in the matter, not from Krugman.

            Again, what point is it quoting Reich? He’s giving an opinion. If it were backed up with facts, those facts would count for something. If UHC kills off old people before their time, why do UHC countries have both longer life expectancy and higher proportions of elderly population than the US?

            I know the rhetoric is out there, Steve. You’ve spewed enough of it out on this page not that any of it was new to me. But where’s the reality? Any fool can say people are left to die by UHC. Imagine how much more powerful that would be backed by evidence that it anything more than the product of Reich’s imagination.

            My mother is 88, and has been in heart failure for 8 years. With the help of a lot of drugs, she continues to drive and lives independently, saying that nursing homes are only for old people. Nevertheless, her health could overall be described as poor, and her life expectancy is around one to two more years. A few weeks ago she had a fall and bumped her head. While extremely unlikely, there was a tiny chance that that bump caused an intracranial bleed which would be aggravated by her blood-thinning medication. What do you predict was the UHC response to this? If you wish to do specific research before answering, we live in Australia.

          • And Australia’s system is completely different from Britain’s? Or is your claim that Liz Hunt fabricated the story about “make her comfortable”?

          • jp

            OK when I read that story, a few things leap out. Firstly, it’s a secondhand anecdote. While I’m sure it’s fairly true to the facts, I’m also sure it’s had one round of indignation-fuelled embellishment.

            Secondly, the Night Manager of the hospice recommended hospitalisation, and was seeking consent for that treatment from a relative given that the patient was incapacitated by their condition. When the manager did not receive consent from the self-admittedly sleep-befuddled relative at first asking, they asked if perhaps she did not consent to the treatment. When she clarified that she did give consent, the treatment was provided in a timely manner, and at no cost.

            You make the charge that UHC will lead to treatment being denied on cost grounds to the elderly. You back it up with an anecdote of how an elderly person received appropriate care. No care was refused, and no bill was sent.

            End of life decisions are difficult, and discussions with next of kin regarding potentially treatment decisions for 98-year-old patients with potentially fatal illnesses are appropriate. The discussion was had, and the patient and family’s wishes were respected and acted on.

          • jp

            And Steve, apart from the boorishness of not asking after my mother’s health, you did not regale me with your expectation of what care she may have been provided with by our UHC system. Care to guess? Take your time, I’m off to take my kids cycling for the day.

          • And remember, jp, it doesn’t matter how many “ancedotes” you blow off — state enforced “UHC” is fundamentally wrong because it is a violation of individual rights (regardless of “cost-effectiveness” or how subtly the “death panel” metrics are worked out).

          • jp

            I’ll read your anecdotes when I return from cycling. But anecdotes are good. Are you going to have a guess at how my own UHC anecdote ended?

          • No matter how much cycling you do, you cannot change socialized medicine into a moral system.

          • [][]“… what care she may have been provided with by our UHC system.”[][]

            I think you are seriously missing the point. It makes no difference how great (or poor for that matter) the service she gets is. (I’d say let’s hope it’s great, but I don’t want to belie the “boorish” character you’ve imagined for me.)

            The point is that regardless of the quality of service, the fact that even one person might be forced to pay into it when he wouldn’t do so voluntarily makes the system corrupt from a political standpoint.

          • jp

            And as I said Steve, I’m more than happy to agree to disagree on politics.

            The service our UHC system provided my mother was great, thanks. precautionary CT scans, specialist follow up, the works. Out in the real world UHC works fine. If you stop claiming it doesn’t, or worse still claiming that it can’t, then I’ll leave you be to disagree on politics alone. Not everyone agreeing on politics is just situation normal.

          • [][]“Out in the real world UHC works fine.”[][]

            Except when it doesn’t, which is plenty often (and only gets more often the longer the systems are in place and the bigger, more politicized they are).

          • jp

            Yes, UHC has failures on individual cases. Any human system does. The US system also works except when it doesn’t, and the number of people it doesn’t work for dwarfs the number of people UHC doesn’t work for. You are not speaking from the moral high ground here.

          • The moral high ground is precisely where I am speaking from. I am not the one in favor of forcing people into involuntary servitude (as that would be the proponents and enforcers of “UHC”).

            Saying “freedom doesn’t work for me — and I’ve got a big gang that also doesn’t like it” does not give you the right to coerce other people.

      • [][]“Remember infant mortality rates?”[][]

        Political statistics on “infant mortality” are basically worthless.

        See: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/276952/infant-mortality-deceptive-statistic-scott-w-atlas

        Gross differences in the fundamental definition of “live birth” invalidate comparisons of early neonatal death rates. The United States strictly adheres to the WHO definition of live birth (any infant “irrespective of the duration of the pregnancy, which . . . breathes or shows any other evidence of life . . . whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached”) and uses a strictly implemented linked birth and infant-death data set. On the contrary, many other nations, including highly developed countries in Western Europe, use far less strict definitions, all of which underreport the live births of more fragile infants who soon die. As a consequence, they falsely report more favorable neonatal- and infant-mortality rates.

        A 2006 report from WHO stated that “among developed countries, mortality rates may reflect differences in the definitions used for reporting births, such as cut-offs for registering live births and birth weight.” The Bulletin of WHO noted that “it has also been common practice in several countries (e.g. Belgium, France, Spain) to register as live births only those infants who survived for a specified period beyond birth”; those who did not survive were “completely ignored for registration purposes.” Since the U.S. counts as live births all babies who show “any evidence of life,” even the most premature and the smallest — the very babies who account for the majority of neonatal deaths — it necessarily has a higher neonatal-mortality rate than countries that do not.

        What are the odds that those countries misrepresenting their infant mortality rates (by not counting the cohort of infants where most infant deaths occur) are doing it just to make themselves look good to the UN statistics collectors (and probably to make the U.S. look bad)?

        • jp

          Sure, there are those factors to consider, which bring the US back to the field on infant mortality somewhat. But that’s all they do – bring the US back toward UHC countries, which I’ve stated all along provide similarly excellent standards of care to the US. There’s some variation and local strengths and weaknesses in every system – that’s just to be expected – but my position has always been that quality is overall very similar in the systems we’re discussing.

          As I said, I’m not claiming victory for UHC on the basis of the indicators it does better in – it’s a mixed bag with little overall difference in quality between the systems.

          The differences are in cost, and free choice. Free choice is expensive. Deal with it, or proudly pay it, I don’t care. Just quit with denying that it imposes additional cost that you’re willing to bear for the sake of ideological purity.

          • [][]“Free choice is expensive.”[][]

            And it is the only rational way to go.

            Living in freedom is better than living under authoritarian control. The so-called “expense” is irrelevant.

          • jp

            Good. So you you want freedom at any cost. That’s great.

            Now can you just quit with lecturing others on how money doesn’t fall out of the sky and how their systems are unsustainable, given that your own solution is “Give me freedom and hang the expense”?

  • Oh, and before this thread dies, as they all do, I would like to say that it has been interesting engaging with proponents of the Supreme State as well as proponents of the Supreme Being.

    Supernaturalism does appear to remain wildly popular on both fronts.

    • jp

      And again with the misrepresentation. UHC systems in democratic countries like the ones we’ve been discussing could be abolished if people formed and/or voted for an abolitionist party. It’s just another policy that politcal parties take to elections.

      UHC systems don’t get abolished because people don’t want them to be abolished. There’s no Supreme State dictat, UHC is simply the government doing what people want it to do – managing health risk, just as drivers licensing manages road accident risk.

      Do you think that taking dangerous drivers’ licences away is the action of a Supreme State? Or does the enduring principle of freedom mean they should be allowed out on to the roads on libertarian grounds. If they kill someone, they can go to jail – no need to punish them for driving drunk until they do, right?

      • [][]“UHC systems don’t get abolished because people don’t want them to be abolished.”[][]

        At least some people don’t want them abolished.

        Think about it. If 100% of the people favored the system, then it would work much better as a private enterprise (with direct investments, payments, etc., avoiding the costs of tax collection, elections, government paperwork, budget deficits, etc.). But if even 1% (for example) do not favor the system (and would prefer to have the chance to vote against it), then the system is unjust in violating their rights by forcing them into the system.

        Has there even been a nation that started a “UHC” system with 100% of the vote in favor? Even if there were, such a system should never be imposed in the U.S.A., because it would never get a 100% or even 50% favorable vote. (Unless Obama and Holder rigged the vote — which is sadly not beyond the realm of possibility).

        • jp

          Luckily, tax collection and elections happen with or without UHC, so there is no extra cost.

          But even so, if 100% of people wanted a monopoly non-profit HMO with progressive, income-based premiums, there’s no reason at all it would work better as a private entity. It would work exactly the same. In Australia, that’s pretty much what happens – Medicare has its own management, and is funded by the Department of Health. If it received the same amount of money directly from each taxpayer the only difference would be that they’d have more clerical costs dealing with processing 15,000,000 payments instead of one.

          • Not exactly, since a governmentally imposed system would be forced onto future citizens who weren’t even born when the “democratic vote” was taken. A private system would have to wait to see if they would voluntarily join — and not coerce them if they choose not to go with the majority.

            So, even if you could get a 100% vote right now (an impossibility anyhow I’d venture to guess), it would be wrong to do it.

          • At least then (i.e., as a private entity with voluntary payments/investments) they would be dealing with money they were legitimately entitled to. Unlike a public, tax-based system.

      • [[]]“Do you think that taking dangerous drivers’ licences away is the action of a Supreme State?”[[]]

        It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be a function of any kind of state. Roads should be privately owned, with the driving rules set by the owners.

        • jp

          I guess if you don’t like the rules you can just build your own road next to the other one. Sounds efficient, Steve. I wonder why that’s never been tried?

          • Do you rally wonder?

            Oh, well, in any case, your obsession with “efficiency” wouldn’t be so bad if you kept it as a personal practice. The problem with schemes such as “UHC” and “FDA” is that you want to force other people with different uses for their own money into involuntary servitude to your (or “society’s”) preferences.

  • By the way, jp, how do you envision that the “single payer” system can avoid the problem of “running out of other people’s money”? After all, taxpayers don’t live forever, and the Government isn’t God.

    • It appears that just as Rabbi Averick has the vision of a world that will never run out of people with blind faith in the supernatural, so jp has the vision of a world that will never run out of people with blind faith in altruism and submission to authority.

    • jp

      Really? I mean… really? That can not be a sincere question.

      I don’t need to envision this, because single payer systems exist. Each year they are allocated money from a nation’s budget, which they spend on healthcare.

      You object to healthcare spending being forcibly routed through the government. I get that. But that doesn’t stop that money funding health care, and indeed far less money is required per person than in the US system.

      You seem to have this ridiculous notion of taxpayers as milk-cows that fund the system but do not also receive health care from it. It’s just like a compulsory, non-profit HMO.

      Do you really not understand this, even when you claim to be able to make strong assertions about socialised medicine? Do you not even know what it is, and how it works, before making such grand claims? Incredible.

      • [][]“You seem to have this ridiculous notion of taxpayers as milk-cows that fund the system …”[][]

        Well, yeah. What else is the purpose of having the government run the system other than to coercively extract money from people who would not voluntarily put their money into such a system?

        • jp

          You omitted half my sentence:

          “You seem to have this ridiculous notion of taxpayers as milk-cows that fund the system but do not also receive health care from it.

          With context restored, it’s clear what I’m calling ridiculous: your fixation on taxpayer funding while denying that those same taxpayers also receive healthcare in return.

          Ironically, you just proved it again by pruning my quote to remove it’s very point and misrepresent its meaning. Is your ideological blindness so total that you just didn’t see those words on there at the end?

          • Wow, you really don’t understand, do you, jp.

            Whether or not they “receive service” from the system is utterly, absolutely, 100% irrelevant, immaterial, and incompetent.

            The system is morally wrong if anyone is forced into paying into it — regardless of what happens to them or their money afterward.

            (You could say I left out that part of your sentence precisely so you could fall into this trap . . . .)

          • jp

            Yes, you think it’s morally wrong. I get that. So stop saying that it’s unsustainable, or inefficient, or whatever. Those are unsupported (and unsupportable) assertions. Keep making those assertions and I’ll keep telling you you’re demonstrably wrong.

            On the other hand if you keep making the moral argument, I’ll just agree to disagree.

      • [][]“… single payer systems exist. Each year they are allocated money from a nation’s budget, which they spend on healthcare.”[][]

        And where does the money in those budgets come from? 100% of it comes from private citizens — at least some of whom do not think their nation’s “UHC” is worth spending that much money on (which is why the government has to force them to do it). That being the case, such nations are basically running their budgets at a loss. How long are they supposed to be able to do that before going bankrupt?

        And then, even while avoiding bankruptcy, how can such nations morally justify forcing people to pay into a system they do not voluntarily support?

        • jp

          Democracy.

          • Democracy is an improper, unjust, impractical system.

            James Madison has already explained that many years ago.

          • jp

            Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

            Winston Churchill.

            If you hate democracy, then go live in a country not blighted with it. There are plenty about, but they don’t seem to ever make the “10 best countries to live in” lists, no doubt due to the pro-democratic biases inherent in world media.

          • You can blather about “sin and woe” all you like, jp, but democracy is still an improper political system that does not work well.

            And socialized medicine is still an improper scheme to violate individual rights.

          • jp

            So, and I ask this not really caring what your answer is, what would you replace democracy with?

          • James Madison and the American Founders already solved that problem.

            But maybe I need to assume that American history is not too well-known in Australia. After all, I don’t know much about Australian history (beyond what I learned from Quigley).

            So, anyhow, the American Founders created a design for a constitutionally-limited republic, and that’s the design I would go with.

            Here’s a taste of how Madison thought: http://constitution.org/jm/18170303_veto.htm

  • [][]
    Moshe Averick (June 30, 2012 11:22 pm): If I like to eat roasted human beings, the issue of “truth” has no relevance.
    Since life has no inherent value it’s up to me to personally decide if I want to continue the practice, it’s not right or wrong, true or false
    [][]

    It’s no different for theists and it is for atheists. God (aka Allah, etc.) has sometimes commanded things at least as bad as “to eat roasted human beings.”

    If you participate in killing all the first born children in a country, how is it bad only if you’re an atheist — and perfectly fine if you’re a theist?

    []]
    Moshe Averick (June 30, 2012 11:22 pm): [T]he “truth” is Steve that as an atheist I am accountable to no one but myself. The only thing that counts is if I can live with it or not. [[]]

    As a human being you cannot escape the fact that you have to live by the choices YOU make. There is nobody else that can live your life for you.

    Even if your choice is to abandon your own mind and judgment, and devote yourself to following the commands of some imagined “Ruler of the Universe,” it is still YOUR choice nobody else’s.

    • “UHC” could be popular with theists, since God is famous for handing out commandments for who should live and who should die. And, of course, there is that bit about the “brother’s keepers.”

    • Nobody would take a court seriously if it tried theists as murder suspects, but always let atheists go free on the grounds that murder is okay for atheists. (How many atheists have there been who were on trial for murder and tried to claim that as their defense? For that matter, how many prosecutors have refused to prosecute atheists on the belief that it is okay for atheists to murder people?)

  • [][]
    jp (July 1, 2012 9:12 pm): “instead of making a deliberate decision to deny a patient care, you advocate making a deliberate decision to not extend care to a whole class of people (those too poor to afford coverage)…”[][]

    You misunderstand. I do not advocate “a deliberate decision to not extend care to a whole class of people (those too poor to afford coverage).” That is not a notion I buy into.

    Any charity that wants to pay anybody’s medical expenses should be free to do so. Any doctor who wants to provide free (or cheaper) services to anybody for any reason should be free to do so.

    But nobody should be legally forced to be a charity — and all doctors should be free to charge what the free market will bear.

    Besides, if the government would get out of medicine, coverage would be much more affordable for everyone.

    And, to repeat, I advocate a deliberate decision not to force anybody to pay for anybody else’s coverage.

  • [][]
    jp (July 1, 2012 11:29 pm): Your entire argument is “But public systems are necessarily inefficient.”[][]

    If that were my entire argument, then I would be entirely right. You don’t need any statistics to figure that out; it is plain common sense: people tend to pay more attention when spending their own money than when they are spending “government money”. And crony socialism is necessarily corrupt (because the money is taken and used without consent).

    • jp

      “you don’t need any statistics to figure that out”

      And you say that you’re a fan of objective reality.

      How about starting from the evidence and drawing a conclusion, not starting from a conclusion and handwaving away any evidence that doesn’t fit it. That’s what creationists do.

      • Statistics are not exhaustive of objective reality. You don’t need “statistics” to see the sun shine.

        You don’t need “statistics” to know that a person’s hard-earned money legitimately belongs to that person, NOT to the government.

        But “statistics” do seem to be popular in rationalizing government programs to confiscate that money so politicians can spend it instead of its rightful owners.

        • jp

          Yes, but in this case the statistics contradict your claims. You made a statistical claim: that as it is non-UHC, the US health system was obviously cheaper than inefficient UHC systems.

          The way to test that claim is to measure the cost of both systems on a like for like basis, and compare the costs. As this is a matter of some interest worldwide, these measurements have not only been made, but are made at least yearly in every country on the planet, and are published for reference.

          So, it’s simply a matter of looking them up. Have you done that? What’s the US’s health spending per capita, or as a % of GDP? What’s Japan’s? What’s Australia’s? What’s France’s?

          These are not hard questions, you just don’t want to answer them because they prove your claim, and by extension the ideology you place blind faith in, wrong. And not just a little bit wrong, either, but completely and utterly wrong.

          • [[]]You made a statistical claim: that as it is non-UHC, the US health system was obviously cheaper than inefficient UHC systems.[[]]

            I sure got that one wrong, didn’t I.

            Or did I? Did I really claim it was “cheaper,” or just more “cost-effective” from the standpoint of taxpayers? If I claimed it was merely “cheaper,” then that was a stupid and careless mistake on my part.

            A free market system would be better all around than a “UHC” system — but simply being “non-UHC” could cover a multitude of sins (since it is not per se the same as “free market”).

          • [][]“What’s the US’s health spending per capita, or as a % of GDP?”[][]

            That is not the relevant question. The right question would be: Are people free to spend their own money only on health care of their own choice, or are they forced to provide coverage they don’t voluntarily want to pay for?

            How much they spend should be entirely up to the patients and their doctors — without the interference of government boards, planners, regulators, etc. If people want to pay for luxury care instead of cut-rate care, they should be free to pursue that goal. If people want to be left alone to pay for their own expenses, but not anyone else’s, they should be free to do it.

            The government should not control medical care, and should not tax anyone to pay for it.

          • jp

            “Are people free to choose to spend their own money on their own healthcare?” Is NOT a relevant question for determining the cost-effectiveness of health care.

            You’re just making up new meanings for words, like Moshe and his “specified information”.

            You’re still claiming that a free market system would be better all round than a UHC system, and yet you seem curiously allergic to data to support this assertion. I mean, seriously, theisticly, data-averse. Why is that?

          • [][]Are people free to choose to spend their own money on their own healthcare?” Is NOT a relevant question for determining the cost-effectiveness of health care.[][]

            It most certainly is relevant.

            The idea of judging “cost-effectiveness” means deciding if you are getting more of what you want for your money, rather than less. If you have a hundred dollars, say, and you want to spend it on a doctor visit for yourself, it is certainly less “cost-effective” for you if the government taxes that money away from you to pay for somebody else’s doctor visit instead. You would be taking a dead loss on that “health care,” rather than making the effective use of your money that you really wanted to make.

            Getting nothing for your money is not as “cost-effective” as getting something you want.

          • [][]“You’re still claiming that a free market system would be better all round than a UHC system,…”[][]

            Yes, I am, and it is.

            The reason it would be better is because in a free enterprise system, you have the freedom to make your own health care choices for your money — and in a “UHC” system you don’t have that freedom.

            Of course, my underlying principle is that freedom is better than involuntary servitude — and you are sticking to the opposite principle (that forced spending is superior to voluntary spending).

          • jp

            I’m not sticking to the opposite principle, I’m sticking to reality. If you want to know which health system is better, you don’t go to a political ideologist of either stripe and ask for a theoretical explanation of why the principles underlying their philosophy will produce an effective health system.

            What you should do is go study how real health systems work, and measure their effectiveness and cost. Once you have your data, you know which system produces the best results.

            If I was arguing like a blind ideologue, that is, like you, I wouldn’t be able to admit that the US system is excellent in quality, with superior results in cancer survival rates and responsiveness. I’d be inventing some spurious post hoc reasons it was bad at those things, in the face of the data that it does those things well.

            The data also show that UHC systems do certain things well – reduce levels of mortality from treatable causes, and vastly lower costs through administrative simplicity, for example.

            Reality is your friend, Steve. Don’t kick it to the curb because it doesn’t fit your politics.

          • And the reality is that freedom is better than authoritarianism — because freedom means you are free to live your own life rather than a life dictated by government authorities (acting as “single payers,” “antitrust overlords,” “drug warriors,” “union bosses,” “speech czars,” or any other sort of government regulators).

            The socialist vision of “Universal Health Care” is part of the totalitarian ideology — in contrast with the “limited government” ideology of the American Founders. The reality is that freedom is better than submission to political authorities (and their statistics that people are better off following orders than having to provide for themselves as rugged individuals rather than accepting a fate of being cogs in the great machine of the state).

            On the other hand, you could look at it this way: In the modern world, freedom is dying and the reality is that socialism is dominating and progressing toward greater and greater control. Statism is winning and free enterprise is losing. Submission to authority is winning; individualism is being snuffed out. Barack Obama can be elected President of the United States. James Madison couldn’t be elected dogcatcher these days.

          • [[]]“Reality is your friend,…”[[]]

            Terminal cancer patient are dying. They should face that reality, because reality cannot be avoided.

            In modern politics, the reality is that the totalitarian vision of government as controlling “single payer” is winning. Deal with it.

      • [][]“How about starting from the evidence and drawing a conclusion,…”[][]

        That’s what I do — following that method as so well-used by John Locke and James Madison (to name just two of the great practitioners of objectivity in politics).

  • I suppose this is an important enough reversal that I should repeat it:

    Now that Obamacare is judicially settled as the law of the land, the U.S. has probably the worst “health care” system in the world. I’m sure all the statistics will support that view soon, if they don’t already.

    • jp

      I doubt that. Obamacare will do virtually nothing to improve quality, will increase coverage which should improve stats on untreated illness, and will increase costs due to the pro-HMO compromises the Republicans forced into the package in place of true efficiency reforms like single payer.

      When the US next faces the prospect of real healthcare reform, probably in 20 years of so, the questions that will be asked are the same as now: why does it cost so much when other systems do the same for less? And the answers will be the same as now – single payer efficiencies, interstate competition, and tort reform. Very likely, the response will also be the same as now: lots of grand words, and then a victory for the HMOs who fund the lobbyists in DC at the expense of the American people.

      Corporatism, Steve. It’s what America’s government does best. Too bad if you’re not a corporation.

      • The odds are definitely in favor of Obamacare leading to “single payer.” That’s what I mean by “getting progressively worse.”

        “Single payer” is an absurdly unfair system.

        If you really want something, you should either pay for it yourself, or get somebody else to voluntarily pay for it for you. The totalitarian ideal of “government as single payer” is not only thoroughly unjust, but it’s also a prescription for bankruptcy.

      • [][]“… single payer efficiencies, interstate competition,…”[][]

        It’s either-or, isn’t it? How do you imagine you can have both?! (The “single payer” competes with itself??)

        And “efficiencies”?? Just what “efficiencies” do you have in mind? More efficient coercive extraction of other people’s money from their own pockets and bank accounts?

      • [][]“… true efficiency reforms like single payer.”[][]

        “Single payer” would be an efficient way to hamper the medical industry, but it is not an efficient way to protect individual rights (which is the only proper function of government).

  • [][]“So what you’re saying is that your ideology trumps real world objective data that UHC is superior on cost-effectiveness.”[][]

    Socialized medicine is not “superior on cost-effectiveness” to free enterprise medicine. But the U.S. certainly does not have the latter. So, as much as I hate what is happening to the U.S. medical industry, I have to admit that it very well may be the most messed-up (or close enough to worst) in the world now, and getting worse like crazy.

    I guess it took CJ Roberts to really force my eyes open to how bad things have gotten here. Earlier, I still had hopes that Obamacare and Medicare could be repealed. What an idiot, huh!?

  • [][]Saying “it’s always more efficient to leave money in taxpayers’ pockets” is like saying “It’s always better to get your morals from God”.”[][]

    Actually, no, it isn’t like that.

    God is a fictional character. There is no possible objective validity to the notion of “get your morals from God.”

    But taxpayers really do objectively exist — and so does their money (at least until the government makes it disappear into the political swamps of crony socialism).

    But even supposing that the government magically acquired the ability to use money efficiently in the medical industry, it would still be totally unjust for politicians to take their money from those to whom it rightfully belongs (viz., the taxpayers who earned it). It is wrong for the government to take people’s money and spend it on medical services instead of letting people keep their own money and spend it as they see fit.

    The fact that such government spending is quite wasteful and ineffective is only adding insult to injury — but is not the fundamental point. Let’s quit being distracted from that.

    • jp

      So what you’re saying is that your ideology trumps real world objective data that UHC is superior on cost-effectiveness. If you’d rather pay double for a health system that does the same as other countries’ but is ideologically pure, then that’s great. It’s admirable that you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is, and champion a system that even recently deprived you of medical care on cost grounds. I’m not snarking, I admire your commitment to your principles.

      But what you do NOT get a pass on is telling lies about how government provided UHC is “wasteful and ineffective” compared to the US system. The data say otherwise. It’s simply not true that we’re forced to pay more for a worse system. In fact we’re forced to pay about half for an equal system. You dislike the “forced” bit. I get that. But that doesn’t change the fact that ours costs half what your does for equal quality, no matter how often you make the opposite claim without any data to back you up.

      It’s transparently clear why you don’t post data to back you up on the cost side. It’s because there isn’t any. Reality disagrees with you. Deal with it.

      • [][]But what you do NOT get a pass on is telling lies about how government provided UHC is “wasteful and ineffective” compared to the US system. The data say otherwise.[][]

        Okay, I get you. I could very well be wrong about the current fouled-up U.S. system being less “wasteful and ineffective” than Norwegian “UHC.” I’m think I’m still living in the last century — before Medicare started ruining American medicine.

        Now that Obamacare is the law of the land, the U.S. system may very well be the worst in the world.

      • [][]“Reality disagrees with you. Deal with it.”[][]

        Okay, I’ll try.

        Obamacare is going to be a disaster, but we don’t have any choice other than to deal with it. After all, it’s not a free country anymore.

  • [][]
    jp (July 1, 2012 9:19 pm): “I’m calling you a blowhard, Steve.”

    Gee, so what’s new?

    You are still failing to grasp that name-calling does not prove your case — not even you faith in the infallibility of the UN (not to mention your faith in ignoring research references).

    You’re wasting your time with name-calling, but it is your own time to waste.

    • jp

      I’m not ignoring research references, Steve. If you go back at look at that “blowhard” comment in context, you’ll see that I was pointing out your failure to show that you’d provided and research references to back up your assertions.

      I’ve posted data showing that the US health system is less cost-effective than UHC systems in other highly developed nations. You have failed to provide any data to the contrary, instead preferring to call the World Health Organisation and OECD liars without backing up THAT claim either.

      I called you a blowhard because you’re making assertions and then refusing to back them up with anything more than conservative op-ed writings that are mainly concerned with quality of care rather than cost.

      On quality, I’m happy to acknowledge that the US system does some things very well – cancer survival rates and responsiveness are the two best aspects, which Sowell has made reference to. The UHC systems we’re talking about also do some things very well – for example low rates of mortality from treatable illness and infant mortality. Overall, the systems are broadly equal on quality.

      The US system, however, costs massively more than its UHC nation peers in absolute terms, per-person terms, % of GDP terms, whatever. You have not provided a single source that claims otherwise, but you still still deny that it’s true. Your entire argument is “But public systems are necessarily inefficient.” Unfortunately for you, that’s just an argument that entirely in your head. Objective reality disagrees with it.

      Instead of whining about how I’m calling you a blowhard, why don’t you produce some data to back your claims? Otherwise, the “blowhard” label fits, wouldn’t you agree?

      • Okay, jp, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the at least somewhat socialized system in Norway just statistically blows away the awfully socialized system in the U.S. in terms of “% of GDP cost-effectiveness.” Where would that really get you?

        Socialized medicine is still totally unjust — a gross violation of individual rights. Even partly-socialized medicine (as in the U.S.) is a gross violation of individual rights. And violating individual rights is something no government should ever do.

        Sure the current U.S. system is awful. Really, really awful — and getting progressively worse. But free enterprise would be better no matter what.

        Suppose you could magically make the statistical b.s. from the United Nations come true. You would still live in a world where violating individual rights is wrong — even in the name of “cost-effectiveness!”

        It is not the proper job of any government to mandate that its citizens must use their own money “cost-effectively.” That is none of the government’s business.

        Call me a “blowhard” to your heart’s content — that doesn’t invalidate the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

        So you don’t live in the U.S., and you don’t give a damn about our precious Declaration of Independence. That’s your loss, not ours.

        If you wish to believe that totalitarian government is best, then I don’t think statistics of any sort will dissuade you (or had any significant role in persuading you in the first place).

        Go ahead and pretend that Sowell and von Mises are figments of my imagination — and that the UN is God. See how well you can live with it.

        • jp

          I’m no fan of totalitarianism: it’s an idiotic stance to say that support for government health spending is support for totalitarianism. I live in a healthy democracy where a UHC system is in place through continued democratic support for such a system. Any party could include dismantling the system in its policies at any time, and with the backing of the people, could be elected and end UHC.

          Thing is, no party has ever included ending UHC in their policies, because it would be utter electoral suicide.

          As to having to live in a nation where my freedom is compromised by having a universal healthcare system funded out of my taxes, I live with that very well, thank you. The thought that my taxes provide health cover to others regardless of their ability to pay is a matter of pride that I live in a civilised society. The thought that others would pay for my own health care, regardless of my own financial circumstances at the time, is both reassuring and a source of pride.

          If you wish to draw pride from the fact that you personally subscribe to “I’m all right, Jack, so screw you” ideologies, then that’s fine. As I said, I admire that you stick with that even when your system prices you out of doctor’s appointments. I sincerely hope that the feeling of freedom you get from your ideology proves more beneficial to you in the long run than the healthcare you would have received has you been able to see a doctor.

          • [][]“The thought that my taxes provide health cover[age] to others regardless of their ability to pay is a matter of pride that I live in a civilised society.”[][]

            But the key to the totalitarian nature of that “civilized society” is whether or not you take pride in forcing other people to have their money used in the provision of that “UHC” system when they don’t agree with you that it is a good use of their money.

            It’s not your freedom I’m concerned with; it’s the freedom of the people being coerced into playing your game.

          • [][]“it’s an idiotic stance to say that support for government health spending is support for totalitarianism.”[][]

            It’s not “idiotic,” it is simply recognition of the logical implications and progression of governmental violations of individual rights.

            It is a sensible to claim that government takeover of the medical industry cannot lead to government takeover of everything as to claim that you can jump of the Helgeland Bridge without any thought of hitting the water.

          • It is AS sensible to claim that government takeover of the medical industry cannot lead to government takeover of everything as to claim that you can jump of the Helgeland Bridge without any thought of hitting the water.

          • jp

            No Steve, it’s as sensible as claiming you can drive to work without any thought of being crushed to death by a falling satellite. While UHC leading to totalitarianism and a satellite crushing your car are both logically possible, neither have ever happened and as such can not be expected to by rational people.

          • “UHC” leading to (or at least being well along the road to) totalitarianism is likely, and a satellite crushing your car is unlikely. But I do agree that both are certainly possible.

          • Don’t forget that the UN is the source of things like the IPCC reports, the Goldstone report, etc. They are a terrible bunch of liars at the UN. As for the OECD, it is a possibility (perhaps a probability), but I’m not sure.

          • [[]]
            jp (July 2, 2012 12:31 am): “I’m no fan of totalitarianism”[[]]

            Okay. But your advocacy of “Universal Health Care” shows you to be a fan of a vital ingredient of totalitarianism, 21st century style.

  • [][]
    jp (July 1, 2012 3:38 am): “… and as long as you keep claiming that UHC systems give poorer care for greater cost, both of which are demonstrably untrue,…”[][]

    Perhaps those things are “demonstrably untrue” in your theory, but they are the case in actual practice. And theory does not trump actuality; that’s not the way the world works.

    If “UHC” systems actually worked the best, people who not have to be forced to submit to them. But “UHC” represents a preference for tyranny over freedom.

    • jp

      If governments making laws worked better than anarchy, people would not have to be obliged to live by the rule of law.

      It’s a specious line of reasoning, Steve.

    • jp

      Oh, and just to bring this ridiculous discussion slightly back on topic, so Moshe doesn’t feel completely left out, here’s MLK on the idea that some people should be priced out of health care access:

      “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” — Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966

      America’s black population still has an infant mortality rate of over twice that of white Americans, thanks to a non-universal health system.

      • [][]“America’s black population still has an infant mortality rate of over twice that of white Americans, thanks to a non-universal health system.”[][]

        Do you really believe that nonsense? Or are you just tossing out rhetorical IEDs?

        • jp

          “Black infant mortality is consistently more than twice that of White infants (14.1 vs 5.7 for 1999-2005),3 and nationally, the Black:White infant mortality rate ratio increased from 2.0 in 1979 to 2.4 in 2005.”

          Source: National Institutes of Health 2010 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2914622/

          “Although infant mortality declined 45.2% for all races during 1980–2000 (from 12.6 to 6.9 deaths per 1,000 live births) (Table 1), the decline was greater for whites than for blacks. During the same period, infant mortality among whites declined 47.7% (from 10.9 to 5.7), and infant mortality among blacks declined 36.9% (from 22.2 to 14.0). During 1980–2000, the black-white ratio of infant mortality increased 25.0% (from 2.0 to 2.5). However, the ratio remained unchanged during 1990–1998 (2.4 for all years)”

          Source Centres for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5127a1.htm

          In the UHC countries we’ve been talking about (France, Japan, Australia, Norway) the highest infant mortality rate is 4.55 and the lowest is 2.21, compared to the US’s 5.98 by 2011.

          Source CIA World Factbook 2011 https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

          I know this is going to sound familiar, but next time you want to disagree with me, perhaps some data might be a good place to start.

        • jp

          I’ve replied to your post with citations to back up my claim. Unfortunately, citing sources gets posts into a moderation limbo. It will show up soon, probably above this one, showing that the NIH and CDC back claims of racial inequality of infant mortality in the US, and tracing its causes back to socioeconomic factors that affect private health provision, but not UHC health provision, such as poor access to pre-natal healthcare.

  • [][]
    jp (July 1, 2012 4:58 am): “Unless you can back up your disagreement with every authoritative source on the planet,…”[][]

    Since you are counting the UN(!) as an “authoritative source,” you cannot be serious.

    That’s worse than counting Barack Obama, Bernie Madoff, Phil Jones, and Victor Lustig as “honest, authoritative sources.”

    • jp

      The UN collates figures supplied to it by its member states. When you are supplying data to show that the US health system is more cost effective than UHC systems, I’m perfectly happy for you to reject the UN collation, and directly use statistics supplied by the US government and other foreign governments if you also demonstrate that you’re comparing like with like.

      Stop bitching about the source and show me the objective data you’re so fond of. I’ve asked so many times it almost seems like you’re evading showing the objective basis of what you’re asserting.

      It’s like asking Moshe for evidence of God. He doesn’t have any, so he whines and moans about how atheists are awful people instead.

      Quit whining and show your evidence.

      • Your faith in politicians is even more unrealistic than theistic faith in God. At least God is only a fictional character, so the bad things He does aren’t real. But politician are all too real — being dishonest and dangerous on a daily basis in real life.

        • jp

          Is that a “no” on providing evidence, Steve?

          • I gave you links, you didn’t follow them. So, no, that is not a “no.”

          • jp

            Your links contained no data, Steve, just op-ed writing.

            If you want, this would be a perfect opportunity to score a devastating victory. In your very next post below this one here, give evidence for the claim you just made about providing data: repost a link, and then directly below the link quote from it showing the data that the US system is more cost effective than UHC systems of comparable countries.

            I’m leading with my chin, Steve. You can whack me here good on one condition. What you claimed about having posted data showing the superior cost-effectiveness of the US system has to be true. If you’re just blowing hard, you won’t be able to do it.

            I’m calling you a blowhard, Steve. You’ve got one shot to prove me wrong using a quote from a link you’ve posted.

            What you got, Steve?

          • Your faith in politicians over researchers is impractical. Dr. Sowell’s work is brimfull of research (including references and footnotes, even), but you see satisfied to declare that since you disagree with his analyses, conclusions, interpretations, etc., that therefore the evidence doesn’t really exist.

          • Your faith in politicians over researchers is impractical. Dr. Sowell’s work is brimfull of research (including references and footnotes, even), but you seem quite satisfied to declare that since you disagree with his analyses, conclusions, interpretations, etc., that therefore the evidence doesn’t really exist.

          • jp

            Just wasted your shot, Steve.

          • jp

            What you’re telling me here is that you’ve got sources absolutely brimming with data, but when I say I can’t see any data here, you can’t prove me wrong by pointing ANY of it out. Not one bit. If it’s brimming with the data I challenged you to provide on cost-efficiency advantage of the US system over UHC systems, then how hard would it be to quote a bit to prove me wrong when I said it wasn’t there? Should be piece of cake, right. I say there’s no such inter-system cost-effectiveness comparison data in your links, you say there is. This is a slam-dunk for you if you’re right.

            You do realise that your behaviour is just like Moshe’s when asked for evidence of God? He tells you he’s got tons of it, but he never can seem to to post any. Two blowhard peas in a pod.

          • Bummer.

  • [][]
    jp (July 1, 2012 6:06 am): “… the stats only cover procedures that actually get done,…”[][]

    So in socialist countries, they don’t count the people who die while on waiting lists, who give up and go elsewhere (or just give up), or who are denied treatment because bureaucrats deem them “not cost-effective patients”?

    • jp

      Unfortunately, there are some people who fall into those categories in every country, including the US. Those numbers here are dwarfed by the number in the US who are uninsured due to not being able to afford coverage, which in turn is dwarfed by the number of people in the US who are denied coverage for procedures beyond their financial means, even though they are insured, because of exclusions or claim caps imposed by their HMOs.

  • By the way, jp, where in the world do you think reliable data comes from if not from the actual experiences of real people?

    And where do you believe the money comes from to pay for things you consume but do not pay for? How long before you run out of other people’s money?

  • [][]
    jp (July 1, 2012 3:38 am): “The key difference between universal provision of groceries and healthcare is that demand for healthcare is determined by people’s health, not price. If you you give away bread, it’s in everybody’s interest to go get some free bread. If you give away free chemotherapy, then only people with cancer will take you up on it, and demand doesn’t rise when the price goes to zero.”[][]

    Whether you are dealing with “free bread” or “free chemotherapy,” demand is not the key issue. The key issue is supply. As the old saying goes: “Neither bread nor chemotherapy grow on trees.” That means that there is not an unlimited costless supply.

    At zero price, it doesn’t matter what the demand is, since the supply is going to drop to zero.

    • jp

      Unless it’s publicly funded. Do try to keep up, Steve.

      • “Public Funding” is not a supernatural process which makes money grow on trees or fall from the sky like manna from heaven.

        The PRIVATE SECTOR is the only source for “Public Funding,” and the private sector cannot make money or provide bread and chemotherapy when the government mandates prices of zero. You wish to believe in “miraculous government money,” but life doesn’t work that way.

        “Publicly Funded, by God!” is as bogus a belief as “Creation, by God.” Regardless of how many people insist on believing in God and public funding, neither notion is reasonable and realistic: they are both simply fantastic delusions.

      • Where do you believe money actually comes from?

        Apparently you believe the source is not real people producing real goods and services — and the government has magical powers.

        • jp

          The money comes from taxation, and the providers of services get paid for their services, as you well know.

          People in my country pay their taxes to their government expecting that this is how they’ll get spent – on services that are available for their use. They approve, and indeed would not vote for a party that proposed not providing these services out of their taxation.

          • [][]“The money comes from taxation…”[][]

            So the money should be left in the hands of the taxpayers, the people it rightfully belongs to. Funneling it through government bureaucracies is not only wasteful (since the bureaucrats will take a cut and have no incentives to spend it as well as people can spend their own money), but it is a gross violation of individual rights (the rights of the people to the pursuit of happiness, including the pursuit of medical care).

            The government unavoidably spends the taxpayers money unwisely when it comes to medical care, including the refusal to pay doctors enough (i.e., what the free market would account for).

            (Unless perhaps they are quacks with political connections instead of medical skills.)

          • jp

            That’s still just a bunch of ideology, and no evidence, Steve. The US has the least socialised, and most expensive, health system amongst its peers. Your ideology does not correspond to reality. Saying “it’s always more efficient to leave money in taxpayers’ pockets” is like saying “It’s always better to get your morals from God”. It’s one person’s subjective opinion, and it doesn’t correspond to objective reality.

            I don’t for a second doubt that you hold the political views that you do, it’s only the correspondence of those views to reality that I question. Show me the data indicating the increase in cost-efficiency of the US system due to its non-socialized, non-universal nature.

            You always claim to be a fan of reality, so I’m certain you have some data as a basis for your assertions of cost-efficiency. If you can’t show it, I’m going to assume – given the vast amount of data showing the opposite – that you’re wrong. That’s what rationalists do, Steve, they favour the evidence over unevidenced ideology. You get that for theism, right? So why should it be different here?

  • [][]
    jp (July 1, 2012 3:38 am): “It’s somewhat like an HMO, except the pool is the whole nation[][]

    The key difference is that an HMO is voluntary whereas “UHC” is a form of involuntary servitude. That’s enough to make “UHC” totally improper (even if by some miracle it became “cost-effective”, but don’t hold your breath for that).

    • jp

      Still waiting for that cost-effectiveness data, Steve.

      • I posted some links for you. If you do not wish to follow the data, that’s more or less the end of the line for you. (Or are you going to complain that, while the UN is the epitome of honest politics, Dr. Sowell is merely a corrupt hack? That “socialism is good” while “capitalism is evil” — so the data must necessarily support your side?)

        • Here’s another copy of the link about the need to think beyond stage one in political-economic matters:

          http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/thomas-sowell-on-health-care-thinking-beyond-stage-one/

          This is the second (or maybe third) time I’ve posted this.

          • jp

            Again, that link contains no data, only assertions. It cherry picks a few areas, mainly responsiveness, in which the US is marginally better, and ignores areas, such as mortality rates from preventable diseases, that the US lags in.

            What it doesn’t address is cost effectiveness.

            You’ve made the bald assertion that the US system – which I’m happy to rate as providing equivalent quality of care as my own ecxellent UHC system: better on some things, worse on others, equivalent overall – you’ve made the assertion that due to it’s voluntary, privatised nature that it’s necessarily more cost effective at providing this care.

            And yet the US government, who has no interest at all in promoting the cost-effectiveness of UHC systems, is happy to state that health spending takes up over 16% of GDP compared to 9% in my country.

            You’ve made the assertion that public sector UHC is inefficient and necessarily more expensive. So show me the data that you based this on. The data’s out there. And every bit of it says the opposite to what you’re asserting without evidence. Slagging the UN won’t convince me, but providing data might. Where’s your data, Steve. Show me that the US is provides equivalent health care at lower cost than UHC countries.

          • jp

            Sowell, in that link, also talks about how the data shows that Americans have greater access to new drugs that don’t get funded under UHC systems.

            That’s interesting to me.

            My wife edited a consumer medical guide listing the top 200 drugs in our country for an American publisher. Rather than write it from scratch, they provided their American edition to source content from where a drug made the top 200 in both countries. My wife ended up writing nearly 50 new entries because the overlap was smaller than expected. The new entries for our UHC-Top-200 were mainly new, expensive drugs provided at no cost by our system that were rarely used in the US due to their expense. The drugs used in the US that weren’t used as much here were mainly laxatives, which Americans use in massive numbers to counter their crappy diet.

            My wife, who in her medical career has collaborated with American doctors, was nevertheless surprised by how few of the cutting edge drugs she is able to prescribe are not commonly prescribed in the US due to cost prohibitiveness. Ironically, while you claim its UHC systems that make drugs unavailable, even non-listed drugs are available to us at the same cost they are available to you. But it’s more common for us to get them listed by our UHC system than it is for Americans to get them listed by their HMOs, who routinely exclude new drugs on the grounds of cost.

          • jp

            Here’s a link that, unlike yours, is chock full of data. It’s an American source, too. It’s an analysis of why the US comes out so badly on international cost-effectiveness comparisons.

            http://www.commonwealthfund.org/~/media/Files/Publications/Issue%20Brief/2012/May/1595_Squires_explaining_high_hlt_care_spending_intl_brief.pdf

            It’s pretty comprehensive, but fails to touch on higher expenses due to higher costs of medical indemnity insurance in the US, only noting that doctors in the US earn more (most of this extra income goes on insurance, which is why tort reform is a common theme of American health experts wishing to rein in America’s huge cost disadvantages).

      • Here’s another repeat link:

        http://www.aim.org/briefing/myths-about-socialized-medicine/

        Sowell cites a study done by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that found that 38 percent of patients having elective surgery in 2001 in Britain waited more than 4 months for that surgery. So did 27 percent of patients in Canada, 26 percent of patients in New Zealand, and 23 percent of patients in Australia. Comparatively, the United States had only 5 percent of patients wait that long. Elective surgery includes important procedures such as cataract surgery, hip replacement, and coronary artery bypass surgery.

        And don’t forget that the misunderstanding of “cost-effectivenes” is the justification for the “UHC Death Panels.” Just in case you’re interested.

        • Of course, “death panels” are a really new idea. All the way back in the Old Testament, God and Moses made up a hell of death panel.

          They went after “unbelievers” rather than “cost-effectiveness,” but the idea is basically the same.

        • jp

          People here can still pay for their own drugs, or their own medical procedures, if they don’t like their insurance, just as Americans can, out of their own pocket, pay for medical care excluded by their HMO.

          People from outside the US laugh at Death Panel rhetoric. Partly because the idea of death panels operating in UHC countries is ridiculous to anyone familiar with those systems, and mainly because the lunatics spouting this particular phrase are always the same ones – like yourself, Steve – whose rhetoric also includes the idea that it’s better for people who can not afford healthcare to just die rather than expect someone else to pay for their health.

          Your idea that it’s wrong to be forced to pay for the healthcare of those that can’t afford it kills a way more people on cost grounds than resource allocation decisions in UHC systems.

          http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cca1458e-bd8b-11dc-b7e6-0000779fd2ac.html#axzz1zPW4dI2Q

          • Regardless of how your system operates, Obamacare is attempting to impose the “death panel” scheme in the U.S.A. Your are lucky if you have only a party-socialized system that still allows private practice and does not impose payment boards (aka death panels).

          • [][]“our idea that it’s wrong to be forced to pay for the healthcare of those that can’t afford it kills a way more people on cost grounds than resource allocation decisions in UHC systems.”[][]

            Not exactly.

            People do die all the time, of course, but it is not always because somebody kills them, orders them killed, or orders that they not be allowed life-saving help.

            When government officials are in charge of allocating medical resources and services, then those officials have the power to deny service and resources — which is precisely what the idea of a “death panel” is, viz., a political rationing system.

            But if, for instance, there is a famine or a shortage of medicine somewhere in Africa, they I am not killing anyone if I don’t send all — or any — of my money over there.

            But if some officials over there gives the food or money to their friends and denies it to people of the “wrong tribe,” then those officials basically constitute a “death panel.”

            Now, can you see the analogy to “UHC” vs. the free market?

          • jp

            I can see that non-universal systems have higher rates of untreated illness, and higher rates of mortality from untreated illness.

            The fact that instead of making a deliberate decision to deny a patient care, you advocate making a deliberate decision to not extend care to a whole class of people (those too poor to afford coverage) does not absolve you of responsibility.

            The US has available to it models to copy from overseas that would save 100,000 American lives a year, while also saving around $1 trillion dollars a year in costs. The fact that the US chooses to do nothing in this direction is just negligence leading to death.

            It’s obscene. Saving those lives would not only not cost the US any money, but would actually cost less. Only ideology – your ideology – stands in the way.

  • [][]
    Moshe Averick (June 30, 2012 11:22 pm): If I like to eat roasted human beings, the issue of “truth” has no relevance.
    Since life has no inherent value it’s up to me to personally decide if I want to continue the practice, it’s not right or wrong, true or false
    [][]

    It’s no different for theists and it is for atheists. God (aka Allah, etc.) has sometimes commanded things at least as bad as “to eat roasted human beings.”

    If you participate in killing all the first born children in a country, how is it bad only if you’re an atheist — and perfectly fine if you’re a theist?

  • [[]]
    Moshe Averick (June 30, 2012 11:22 pm): [T]he “truth” is Steve that as an atheist I am accountable to no one but myself. The only thing that counts is if I can live with it or not. [[]]

    As a human being you cannot escape the fact that you have to live by the choices YOU make. There is nobody else that can live your life for you.

    Even if your choice is to abandon your own mind and judgment, and devote yourself to following the commands of some imagined “Ruler of the Universe,” it is still YOUR choice nobody else’s.

  • This all ties together because socialized medicine is based on the religion doctrine that you are your brothers’ keeper. It’s just that the government has to force people to live by that commandment ’cause God isn’t getting the job done alone.

    The supernaturalist beliefs in “Creation, by God!” and the “Brothers’ Keeper!” doctrines make no sense in relation to objective reality. Unfortunately, reliance on supernatural guidance/commandments in place of thinking for oneself is a popular indulgence. In the modern world (as in the Dark Ages), obedience trumps intelligence.

  • [[]]“… hospital beds and doctors per 1000 people.”[[]]

    Per 1000 taxpayers?

    Per 1000 citizens?

    Per 1000 residents?

    Per 1000 sick people?

    Per 1000 people admitted to the hospitals?

    Per 1000 people who don’t die waiting to get in?

    You are being vague, jp. (Not to mention gullible, if you believe “statistics” put out by the UN.)

    • After you clear up the confusion you set up on this point, jp, you could check below for some links I added. You were putting up links, so I thought I’d counter with some new ones.

      • jp

        per 1000 population. If you need help understanding the basic units in which these measurements are expressed, then your clearly are not familiar with this area.

        • You seem to believe that you can establish your case by calling someone who disagrees with you an idiot. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

          • jp

            It’s not that, it’s just that even basic debate about it is impossible with somebody who continually fails to understand even the basic terms of the subject. I’m happy to keep defining them for you up to a point, but it really doesn’t fill me with confidence that you have any expertise to offer.

            Health politics, including learning from international experience, is a family business for me. This is stuff that’s been discussed over the dinner table at my house for decades. You don’t seem to even be at the most basic level of understanding, and so I’m being patient with you, but your resistance to learning anything means you simply aren’t going to learn anything. Which is fine, I don’t really care if you do or not, but I’m pretty much at the point where I’ve decided that you’re not honestly engaging in the discussion, and so there really is not discussion. If you were at my dinner table, I’d change the subject out of boredom or frustration, or I’d kick you out for being an asshole who doesn’t want an honest dialog.

          • Calling me names does not make you right and me wrong. Life doesn’t work that way.

            There’s an old saying that applies to your attitude: If you can’t stand the heat, you should stay out of the kitchen.

          • [][]“… but I’m pretty much at the point where I’ve decided that you’re not honestly engaging in the discussion,…”[][]

            Based on the fact that I’m not buying the UN pablum you’re serving up? Some dinner!

          • jp

            I can handle the heat. Why don’t you hit me those facts about how the US provides better healthcare at lower cost than UHC countries, instead of more whining. Unless you can back up your disagreement with every authoritative source on the planet with some facts, I’ll keep calling you an idiot for repeating an opinion that is at odds with objective reality.

      • jp

        You’re showing your true colours by denying reality if it’s presented in the form of statistics collated by the UN. Please feel free to demonstrate that the UN statistics are unreliable any old time.

        • Probably the most famous example are those deeply fraudulent IPCC reports.

        • Then there was the deeply fraudulent Goldstone report.

        • You have a long, long, long way to go to prove that the UN can be trusted.

          In fact, I think you’ve set an impossible job for yourself in that regard.

          And claiming that not trusting the UN is “denying reality” …. ??!!! Whoa.

          • jp

            Things like the percentage of GDP spent in each country on health are a mater of public record. The UN doesn’t make up the numbers, it just asks each nation for them, making sure they ask for figures that include the same categories of spending so they are truly comparable, and publishes the collated data. They are not the source of any of the data, so politics doesn’t even come into it. You are demonstrating a truly total lack of understanding of this subject at almost every level – you’re not even at the level of someone who’s educated themselves 5 minutes ago using wikipedia, and yet you think you can pass yourself off as an authority on this. If you knew more, you’d be embarrassed, but you don’t even know enough to realise how little you know. Seriously, it’s clear that health politics is not an area you’ve delved into in any great detail, but feel emboldened to hold forth on because you’re committed to libertarianism, and want to defend your ideology without any specific knowledge.

          • jp

            Also, as I said earlier: if you have a different source of statistics than the UN or OECD that shows that the US healthcare system is more cost-effective than UHC systems, there’s nothing stopping you presenting it.

            You claim to be a rationalist, so you must have based your belief that the US system is more cost-effective on some evidence. All you need to do is present it. I’m only familiar, after nearly three decades of interest in this subject, with evidence that points the other way, but I’d be happy to see what you’ve got. Care to teach an old dog new tricks?

            Let me make one thing perfectly clear though: I’m really not interested in any opinion that’s not backed up with data. You’re a rationalist, so you understand why I want evidence to back claims made, I’m sure.

          • [][]“The UN doesn’t make up the numbers, it just asks each nation for them,… so politics doesn’t even come into it.”[][]

            That attitude raises the question of either “how naive are you?” or “how stupid do you believe the rest of us are?”

            You don’t believe that nations engage in politics??!! Not even in the UN? Ever hear of Israel? Climate change? Castro?

          • jp, your attitude toward the UN is like somebody who, living in Chicago some years ago, who would proclaim, “Al Capone can do no wrong!”

          • [][]“… you must have based your belief that the US system is more cost-effective on some evidence.”[][]

            I have plenty of direct experience that my money can be used more “cost-effectively” by me than by government regulators — that is, that private enterprise is better than socialism. (For instance, I’ve had to skip some doctor’s visits lately because paying taxes has left me unable to afford them. If the government wasn’t making me pay for providing things to other people, I could use my money more cost-effectively by taking care of myself. And another example is how it would be more cost-effective to be able to buy cars without catalytic converters. It would be more cost-effective to be able to buy real 100W lightbulbs than the junk mandated by the government. Our gas prices would be much lower, making driving more cost-effective, if the government was not sabotaging the oil industry. Etc., etc., etc.)

          • jp

            I asked you for evidence to back up your claims about healthcare being cheaper in the US than in UHC countries. You gave me no data, just anecdotes.

            Hilariously, one of your anecdotes was how you couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, a problem I will never have even if I had not a dollar to my name.

            Pure. Comedy. Gold.

          • [][]“… how you couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, a problem I will never have even if I had not a dollar to my name.”[][]

            Where do you expect the money to come from to pay for doctor visits you won’t pay for? Do you think money grows on trees, or will fall from the sky like manna from heaven? Or do you expect doctors to always work and never get paid? You seem to believe in supernatural health care.

            http://www.aim.org/briefing/myths-about-socialized-medicine/

            “… the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development that found that 38 percent of patients having elective surgery in 2001 in Britain waited more than 4 months for that surgery. So did 27 percent of patients in Canada, 26 percent of patients in New Zealand, and 23 percent of patients in Australia. Comparatively, the United States had only 5 percent of patients wait that long. Elective surgery includes important procedures such as cataract surgery, hip replacement, and coronary artery bypass surgery.”

          • jp

            It’s true that the US system is very responsive. It’s the one measure that the US comes out best in, although it’s skewed by the fact that many people who wait for elective surgery in other countries don’t wait in the US because they can’t afford it: the stats only cover procedures that actually get done, and in the US many cases simply don’t get done because of the inability for the patient to afford them. Just like your doctor’s appointment’s you skipped because you couldn’t afford them – there was no long wait because you never had them at all.

            In those other countries, if you don’t want to wait 4 months for a free elective procedure, you can pay and get it done straight away. It’s a trade-off. And as those stats show, for a clear majority of cases in those UHC countries there isn’t a long wait in any case. Those systems could be improved, for sure, but overall they deliver a pretty equivalent level of care for about half the cost, as documented extensively.

            If you want to claim to the contrary, get some evidence, particularly on cost-effectiveness which you have completely failed to address with objective data.

          • [][]“Those systems could be improved, for sure, but overall they deliver a pretty equivalent level of care for about half the cost, as documented extensively.”[][]

            You are engaging in “magical thinking” on this issue.

            If private citizens cannot afford the medical services they want, where in the world do you feel the government can get the money to pay for it? Taxation of private citizens is the only source of “government money.” Politician don’t have a miraculous pipeline to God whereby they get free money.

            The best you can do — and it is very bad — is use political power to force other people to pay for what you want. And, of course, that does seem to “work” for a while — until you inevitably run out of other people’s money and bankrupt the country.

  • Socialized medicine “is always cheaper, which makes sense if there are no profit margins to be made.”[][]

    That is a big myth.

    How do you expect an industry to be able to keep running at a loss? If the computer industry, for instance, were unprofitable, by what magic would you expect us to have computers?

    Note also that while medicine might be cheaper for the people who get the taxpayers to pick up their bills, it is certainly more expensive for the taxpayers.

    • jp

      http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.TOTL.ZS?order=wbapi_data_value_2010+wbapi_data_value+wbapi_data_value-last&sort=desc

      Of course, in a UHC system, those getting free treatment ARE taxpayers, who are paying half as much in tax for health as US citizens pay their HMO’s. If you reckon you’re getting a cheap deal, then that’s fine, but that hasn’t got anything to do with reality. Remember reality, Steve? You say you’re fond of it, but it seems only when it suits you.

      • You are trying to pull a fast one by substituting corrupt UN “statistics” (which is what the World Bank claims to derive its “indicators” from) for reality.

      • [][]“…in a UHC system, those getting free treatment ARE taxpayers,…”[][]

        You certainly have a problem trying to explain that.

        How can you claim the system to be “universal” if non-taxpayers are refused treatment? And if people are required to pay taxes for the system, how in the world do you figure that means it is “free”?

        • jp

          You know free refers to the cost of access, not the cost of provision through taxes. Either you’re playing disingenuous semantic games, or you’re an idiot. My money’s on the second causing the first.

          • I don’t buy your semantic game of dividing up “cost of access” from “cost of provision.”

          • jp

            It’s not a semantic game. Cost to access is a cost that is borne at time of access by the person receiving the healthcare. Cost of provision is a pooled cost borne by those in the funding pool, be that taxpayers or HMO plan customers. Any instance of access to the healthcare system may incur one or both of these costs – that is, the person receiving the care may pay anywhere between 0% and 100% of the cost of that instance of care, and the rest comes from a public or HMO funding pool. Do you really not understand this, even though you are holding forth as some sort of expert. You’re unfamiliarity with the basic concepts of healthcare funding is frankly almost total.

          • Basically, the notion of disconnecting “cost of access” from “cost of provision” is a dishonest scheme for people who want to get services without paying for them to get the government to force other people to pay for them.

            Imagine a “UGC” system — a universal grocery care system — where some people had to pay for the provision of food on the store shelves so that other people could have free access to groceries.

          • [][]“that is, the person receiving the care may pay anywhere between 0% and 100% of the cost of that instance of care, and the rest comes from a public or HMO funding pool. Do you really not understand this,…”[][]

            I understand it quite well, but I’m not sure you do. That scheme is so utterly unfair if taxpayers have to pay anything to provide care for anyone who cannot or will not pay his own way.

          • That “cost of access” vs. “cost of provision” dichotomy is a disingenuous attempt to pretend that it is somehow practical to try to use services without paying for them.

            The practice of “UHC” can only result (if it’s not given up soon enough) in putting the doctors out of business and running out of other people’s money.

          • “UHC” could be implemented more honestly by drafting all the doctors, and ordering them to treat everyone without charge — or be shot for treason.

          • jp

            The key difference between universal provision of groceries and healthcare is that demand for healthcare is determined by people’s health, not price. If you you give away bread, it’s in everybody’s interest to go get some free bread. If you give away free chemotherapy, then only people with cancer will take you up on it, and demand doesn’t rise when the price goes to zero.

            Your analogies are specious and ignorant. Your understanding is below even the most rudimentary level.

            As more asking others to pay for your healthcare, it cuts both ways. All the people who pay into a UHC system are also entitled to claim on it whenever they required. It’s somewhat like an HMO, except the pool is the whole nation. If you pay into an HMO, do you get shitty about the fact your premiums get used to provide care to other people insured by that HMO? The principles involved in private health insurance and UHC are the same, just on a different scale, and UHC has a funding formula that’s progressive the same way income taxes are.

            I’m perfectly fine with you being against this on Randian libertarian principles. I think those principles are valid, if naive, but while you’re entitled to your own opinions, you’re not entitled to your own facts, and as long as you keep claiming that UHC systems give poorer care for greater cost, both of which are demonstrably untrue, I’ll continue to call you out on those untruths.

            Restating your ideology without evidential support will do nothing to sway me. If you want to get any traction, I suggest marshalling some facts. Good luck with that.

  • [][] The Political Compassâ„¢ : … the neo-liberal “anarchism” championed by the likes of Ayn Rand,… [][]

    The folks at “The Political Compass” are truly intellectually crippled if they feel that Ayn Rand, the arch-laissez-faire capitalist champions “anarchism” in any way, shape, or form. If “The Political Compass” is not crazy satire, it is wildly dishonest.

    • jp

      Steve, do you know what “laissez-faire” means?

      We know you’ve got a boner for Rand, but it seems to be affecting your ability to think (as boners often do).

      • [[]]do you know what “laissez-faire” means?[[]]

        Yes, I do.

        It is a French idiom meaning “Let Do.” It means the government should keep its hands off the economy (to avoid the anarchy of socialism/fascism).

        • jp

          Oy, socialism is anarchy now? I thought it was government oppression of the masses? Make up your mind.

          • Study some economics. Socialism has always been oppression leading to anarchy. It couldn’t be otherwise. This is not some sudden new “break-out.”

          • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticisms_of_socialism

            The socialist planner, therefore, is left trying to steer the collectivist economy blindfolded. He cannot know what products to produce, the relative quantities to produce, and the most economically appropriate way to produce them with the resources and labor at his central command. This leads to “planned chaos,” as Mises called it, or to the “planned anarchy” to which Pravda referred…. Even if we ignore the fact that the rulers of socialist countries have cared very little for the welfare of their own subjects; even if we discount the lack of personal incentives in socialist economies; and even if we disregard the total lack of concern for the consumer under socialism; the basic problem remains the same: the most well-intentioned socialist planner just does not know what to do. The heart of Mises’ argument against socialism is that central planning by the government destroys the essential tool — competitively formed market prices — by which people in a society make rational economic decisions.[7]

          • jp

            Yes, but that’s a criticism of a form of socialism different to that practised in Europe and the non-US Anglosphere. It’s not relevant.

            You wanted socialist success stories, just look at Norway, or New Zealand, or Sweden.

            You’ll scoff, and say “those countries aren’t really socialist” to deny their success, but the minute a US politician tried to make the US more like them, you’d be screaming “Socialism!” at the top of your lungs. Quit the double standard and pick one.

            Is Norway socialist? If yes, the it’s a socialist success story. If, no, then what’s the problem of making the US more like Norway?

            Spin, Steve, spin! It’s like watching a dog chasing it’s tail, especially in the way it stops being interesting after about 5 minutes.

          • Socialism can be regarded as “successful” only if you believe that a government is successful to the extent that it violates human rights (rather than securing and protecting them).

          • jp

            Evasion, Steve. Just answer the questions.

            Norway has UHC, high and very progressive income tax, and totally taxpayer-funded universities. New parents receive 46 weeks of taxpayer funded parental leave. It has the largest public sector employment percentage in the OECD.

            Would you regard Norway socialist, or moves toward such a system in the US as socialist?

          • [][]“Norway has UHC, high and very progressive income tax,…”[][]

            I’d say that makes Norway both socialist and unsuccessful. Societal success requires low taxes, the freedom to choose whose doctor bills you will pay, and, for the doctors, the freedom to charge what the free market will bear.

          • jp

            Sure, if you measure success as “How much does Steve agree with your country’s political philosophy?” then Norway is a failure.

            If on the other hand you measure societal success through low levels of foreign debt, high per capita GDP, low crime levels, high education levels, high levels of press freedom, high levels of health, low levels of avoidable mortality, low levels of poverty, or other standard metrics of societal health, then Norway is stunningly successful.

            So which should we use: the objective, or the subjective? Steve usually says objective, but when objective doesn’t suit, subjective becomes king. Can you spell hypocrisy, Steve?

          • If Norway is such an obviously “stunning success,” then you should be able to explain where the money comes from.

            And then there is this question: If “UHC” is so wonderfully cost-effective, why does the government have to force people into the system?

          • jp

            Because public universality is the source of the cost-effectiveness.

            No multiple credentialling, a tiny fraction of the administrative staff, no debtors collection, vastly simplified billing procedures, bulk buying discounts on pharmaceuticals, no extra margin for dividends to shareholders.

  • Hamas wants to have people die from rockets, knives, and such. Obama and Roberts want people to die from bureaucratic denial and destruction of medical care.

    Who is there to protect the people from such governments?

  • [][] moshe averick (June 29, 2012 1:01 pm): When I say that the values which humans construct are not “real” I mean that no value system that any particular society constructs is more or less significant than any other.[][]

    Your view only follows, Moshe, if you don’t care about the truth of your values. The real world significance of any “value system” lies in whether or not it is objectively true.

    • Moshe Averick

      Steve,

      You don’t even realize it but you have made truth a “value.” If I consider blacks to be inferior and that belief makes me comfortable and gives me enjoyment and fulfillment, I may not care if its true or not. the “truth” is Steve that as an atheist I am accountable to no one but myself. The only thing that counts is if I can live with it or not.

      but it goes much deeper. If I like to eat roasted human beings, the issue of “truth” has no relevance.
      Since life has no inherent value it’s up to me to personally decide if I want to continue the practice, it’s not right or wrong, true or false.

      • Truth really is a very great value. People shouldn’t leave home without it. Or stay home without it. Its moral and practical benefits are just incredible. Naturally.

  • [][]“If life has inherent, absolute value …”[][]

    Step outside the abortion box and notice that the ideology of “life has inherent, absolute value” is impractical and dangerous. Following that ideology would make self-defense (for individuals and countries) against the initiation of deadly force improper.

    Leftists would like to outlaw self-defense, but any such anti-defense policy is terribly immoral.

    Note also that a pregnant woman is only one living being, not some mystical conglomerate of two or more lives.

    • jp

      “Leftists would like to outlaw self-defense”

      Whack that strawman a bit harder Steve, I think you’ve nearly got him beat.

      • I’ll leave the “whacking” to you and Rex, thanks.

      • [][]“Obama is considerable to the right of not only Hamas, but pretty much every right wing party in Europe, Canada, Australia or NZ.”[][]

        So what?

        Do you think he will want to move to one of those places after he loses in November and try to run for something there?

        • jp

          So what? So it makes him a rightist, that’s all.

          • Maybe on your planet, but in America he’s a leftist — a really screwy, far-out leftist.

          • jp

            Nice link. It supports my contention that Obama’s a rightist, not a leftist, in far stronger terms than I’d put it (or than I think is accurate). But it certainly agrees with my position, and argues against yours.

          • That is some trick, jp, where you interpret an article to mean the opposite of what it says. Must be one of your mystical powers.

          • jp

            Steve, even the title of the article states that in the author’s opinion Obama is not a socialist (left) but a fascist (right). If you want to use definitions of words different from those used by the rest of the world, that’s up to you.

          • Did you read the article, jp?

            “Fascist” is just as left as “socialist.” Both are very left, and are basically variations of the same collectivist ideology.

  • [][]“I live in a country with universal health care…. but it’s superior by any objective metric.”[][]

    In terms of the efficacy of actual medical care, you cannot back up that claim with real life facts. Governmental economic intrusion into any industry makes things worse. Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried — universally.

    (Note that “life expectancy” is not a valid measure of medical care.)

    • jp

      Guess we should just fire the police and let people hire their own security.

      There are plenty of countries where the government doesn’t intrude into the security industry. I’m glad I don’t live in one.

      One could talk for ages about the successes of socialism in countries like Sweden, New Zealand, France, Australia or the Netherlands, (or even the US), and you’d just come back and say “that isn’t a real success” or “that isn’t real socialism”, just as you’re about to do with favouring a police force over private security. There’s no point discussing things with an ideologue with his hands over his ears screaming “La, la, la, I can’t hear you.” It’s like talking reality to Moshe. You and Moshe have lots in common, you know?

      • jp, you are ignoring the fact that the police power is a proper function of government, whereas interfering in private areas such a medicine is not a legitimate government function.

      • [][]“One could talk for ages about the successes of socialism …”[][] … and never find it anywhere in the real world.

        Try to find evidence for such success. You cannot pull off the trick. But, please, at least try. The results could be interesting.

        • jp

          I provided example in the very next words after the ones you quoted, which you omitted from your quote before imploring me to find examples. This is a plainly dishonest rhetorical tactic. But let’s just keep to a single example: Norway.

          UHC, no university fees, high income tax, largest public sector in the OECD, 46 weeks taxpayer funded parental leave. Socialist, or not?

          Debt free, largest per capita GDP on the planet, rated most politically stable on the planet, and with the freest press on the planet. Lower crime rates than the USA, higher life expectancy than the USA, higher levels of education than the USA, higher levels of literacy than the USA, child mortality less than half of the USA. Successful, or not?

      • If you said, “Guess we should just fire the TSA and let airlines hire their own security,” I think I’d have to agree.

  • [][]“I live in a country with universal health care…. but it’s superior by any objective metric.”[][]

    In terms of the efficacy of actual medical care cannot back up that claim with real life facts. Governmental economic intrusion into any industry makes things worse. Social has failed everywhere it has been tried — universally.

    (Note that “life expectancy” is not a valid measure of medical care.)

  • Regarding the “Political Compass,” it would be more accurate to say that, since both Republicans and Democrats are for bigger government, the U.S. does not have a major party on the right side of the political spectrum.

    That spectrum or scale goes from the totalitarians on the far left who have zero respect for individual rights — to the constitutionally limited republicans on the far right, where the government is 100% dedicated to respecting, securing, and protecting individual rights.

    Certainly Obama is far to the left side on that scale, and (at least since Goldwater died) there aren’t any Republicans (as in the Party) who come in to the right of the center.

    Just what intellectual shenanigans do the people at “The Political Compass” pull to get to “Obama is a rightist”! He may be to the right of Hamas, Morsi, and Putin, but what does that really count for?

    • jp

      The whole point of the political compass is to put authoritarianism/libertarianism on a separate axis to socialism/corporatism.

      The political compass agrees that the Dems and Repubs are both authoritarian, while also being right wing in the traditional sense.

      Obama is considerable to the right of not only Hamas, but pretty much every right wing party in Europe, Canada, Australia or NZ. That counts for plenty.

      • Not in America, it doesn’t.

        You are not taking into account the very important fact of American exceptionalism, i.e., the dedication to individualism and freedom.

      • [][]“The whole point of the political compass is to put authoritarianism/libertarianism on a separate axis to socialism/corporatism.”[][]

        Since “socialism” and “corporatism” are essentially the same political doctrine of government control over the economy, that gives you an “axis” of basically zero length — and that’s no good for measuring anything.

        • jp

          No Steve, corporatism is about corporations controlling the government, not the other way around.

          • In your dreams. Not in reality. You may prefer to forget reality, but that is rather impractical.

          • The government has the guns and the regulators. It is the government that runs the show in any “partnership” between corporations and government.

  • [][]“Who champions the pre-Enlightenment values of a plutocracy from whom wealth trickles down, the left or the right?”[][]

    Well, that is definitely the “left.” In America, the Democrats are fanatical “true believers” in the fairy tale that wealth must trickle down from the government plutocrats, bureaucrats, and all-knowing politicians! “Government Spending” is their God. Obama, for instance, fancies himself as a real Dark Ages robber baron (like Nixon on steroids).

    And outside the U.S., many are still “pre-Elightenment,” and many others are in a terrific hurry to get back to the “pre-Enlightment” state of affairs.

    Don’t like Obama? Darn.

    • jp (June 28, 2012 9:22 pm): “If you mean to reply to me, you could either reply to my comments,…”

      I clearly did mean to reply to you, since I did reply to your comments. Why are you trying to pretend otherwise?

      • jp

        I’m not, I was just confused as to what you were referring to, as you hadn’t said at that point, and were commenting in an entirely different part of the conversation. You’ve cleared up the confusion you created by commenting in an unrelated place, and now I’ve responded to your comments, so it’s disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

    • jp

      If you want to believe the left champions plutocracy, then go right ahead. And if you want to believe the left strives for bigger government, especially in face of the Republicans growing government spending faster than the Democrats for the last 40 years, then go right ahead. And if you want to call Obama or the US Democrats leftist, then go right ahead.

      I’m very happy to agree to disagree.

      • All of Obama’s golfing, vacationing, subsidizing, unionizing, etc., sure does look like “plutocracy.” If you disagree, what in the world do you feel it is?

      • If the constant striving for increases in the debt limit doesn’t mean that the Bush-Obama political axis “strives for bigger government,” what in the world do you feel it means?

      • If you don’t think Obama and the Democrats are “leftist plutocrats,” what planet are you living on?

        Although I have to admit that their constant striving for more government spending/stimulus is so ’round-the-bend as to be nearly unbelievable.

        • jp

          Like all mainstream US politicians, Obama is a rightist. The US has no leftist large leftist party, just centre-right (D) and far-right (R).

          Don’t just take my word for it: http://www.politicalcompass.org/uselection2012

          • [][]“Obama is a rightist.”[][]

            You’re kidding, right? That is a really strange notion you have there.

            Are you trying to say that everyone who is not a member or the Nazi or Communist Parties is therefore a “rightist”?

          • I checked out that “Political Compass” link, and that is a really bizarre site. How do they come up with such twisted views of the political landscape?

            “… someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.” !!!

            Whom are they trying to kid? Or is this an Onion project?

          • jp

            No, it’s legit.

            America has no leftist parties. Get over it, or educate yourself on world politics.

            No point getting yourself into a tizzy because reality doesn’t agree with you. Leave that to Moshe.

          • So maybe “The Political Compass” isn’t an Onion satire — it is not an intellectually sound project. Using an “axis” which starts and ends in the same place does not render viable measurements.

          • jp

            It’s second axis runs from authoritarianism to libertarianism. If you think those are the same, then there’s no hope for you. I suspect you know they’re different, as you’ve argued strongly for one and against the other, and you’re just criticising because you want to discredit a source that flat out disagrees with you. It’s what Moshe would do, so you’re in the right place.

          • And Obama is an authoritarian. He is far closer to being a total authoritarian (i.e., totalitarian) than he is to being an advocate or protector of liberty. In other words, Obama is way over to the left.

          • jp

            You don’t get it, do you? Obama is an authoritarian, and a rightist. They’re separate ideas, not the same. To say that being on the right automatically makes you a libertarian, and on the left an authoritarian is just plainly ignorant. That would make Reagan, Pinochet and Thatcher leftists, for heaven’s sake, and the permissive Dutch and Canadians off to the right. You use that system if you like, I’ll stick to using the terms left and right like they’re commonly understood.

  • [][]“Who’s the enemy of the freedom to choose on abortion, the left or the right?”[][]

    Both.

    The “right” tends to wish to deprive people of the choice to have an abortion if they want one. The “left” tends to wish to deprive people of the right not to pay for abortions if they don’t want to.

    • jp

      The right wants to criminalise self-funded abortions, too.

      I’m sorry that you, like so many on the right, think that universal health care is evil, and not a mark of civilisation, but that’s not the issue at hand.

      • There is nothing “evil” about “universal health care.” Everyone in the universe who wants to take care of their health should be free to do so. It is government-controlled/directed/funded “health care” that is evil.

        • jp

          You see, this is the sort of stupidity I was referring to. You know perfectly well what “universal health care” means.

          • Oh, yeah.

            “Universal Health Care” is a fraudulent phrase that socialists use to deceive people about their plans to destroy the medical industry and put everyone under the control of politicians and their death panels. They are trying to con people into believing that if the government controls health care and promises to make it free for everyone, then everyone will get good health care — when “universal health care” actually means deteriorating/disappearing heath care and totalitarian rule.

            It is a stupid and vicious scheme.

            But if the government would just get out of the way, we could have a free market of really great health care.

            “Universal Health Care” means Socialized Medicine, which means in practice: really lousy health care.

          • Okay, so I see the stupidity of so-called “universal health care” — but it is not clear that you do.

          • jp

            I live in a country with universal health care. Our average life expectancy is significantly higher than yours, and our health system is world-class and death-panel-free, for around half the cost of yours.

            It’s not perfect, but it’s superior by any objective metric. You claim to like objective metrics, or is that only when they give results that align with your ideology?

          • “Universal Health Care” means Socialized Medicine, which means in practice: worse medical care than the free market would achieve. Government control of medicine usually means really lousy medical care.

          • jp

            Well people who go around comparing overall quality of health care consistently put systems like France’s, Australia’s and Japan’s above the US at the top of the list. The US is also up there, so there’s no denying it’s a good system, but the evidence simply doesn’t support your idea that socialised health is “usually lousy”. It can be just as good or better, and is always cheaper, which makes sense if there are no profit margins to be made.

          • [][]“people who go around comparing overall quality of health care consistently put systems like France’s, Australia’s and Japan’s above the US at the top of the list.”[][]

            On what grounds, pray tell?

            How in the world do they believe that socialized medicine is “cheaper”?! Seems like they can do so only by holding human life as extremely cheap.

          • jp

            Better, in the sense that their populations are healthier and live longer, and die less often of preventable diseases, and their systems are better resourced in terms of hospital beds and doctors per 1000 people.

            Cheaper, in sense that they cost less.

            Seriously, you’re demonstrating a real lack of knowledge here, and you don’t seem the slightest interested in seeking out facts, just spouting blind faith in your ideology. You’re turning into Moshe.

          • You don’t seem to be thinking this through, jp.

            For instance, are the beds cheaper because they’re smaller, have cheaper mattresses, are made out of wood instead of metal, or what? You’re not getting to the details that are relevant to having actual knowledge of the situation.

            After all, bicycles cost less than cars — so is everybody supposed to prefer bicycles to cars for all their transportation needs?

            Even “living longer” could be a result of lifestyle choices rather than medical care. Does correlation prove causation?

          • jp

            Our hospital beds are cheaper mainly because we don’t hire dozens of people to act as gatekeepers to the beds. In the US, before a patient can get into the bed, there have to be checks to see if their plan covers their claim, and credentialling to check whether the the HMO will cover the work of particular doctors, and complex billing to recover the funds for the bed. All of that takes approximately 7 times as many administration staff as in UHC systems. Also, profit margins are added to the cost in private systems, but not in UHC systems, resulting in lower cost.

            Again, your ignorance of basics is showing. If you want to quit with the snide remarks that show up your ignorance, you could just present a relative cost comparison showing the US provided care cheaper than a UHC system like those in France, Japan or Australia. Nothing’s stopping you except your own ignorance, and the reality that the US is more expensive than those systems.

          • [][]“Also, profit margins are added to the cost in private systems, but not in UHC systems, resulting in lower cost.”[][]

            And, eventually, bankruptcy.

            In practice, removing profits doesn’t lower costs, it just gets rid of the ability to afford the costs of providing services.

          • jp

            Removing profit margins to pay shareholders doesn’t reduce costs? You’re innumerate.

            Running at break-even is cheaper to the consumer, and does not lead to bankruptcy.

  • [][]jp (June 28, 2012 11:13 pm): “The climate change denialism in one is moronic and anti-rational,…”[][]

    Did you actually read the post I made? I did not (and never have) denied climate change. I did, however, dissent from the “left’s” favored fairy tale of “man-made global warming catastrophe!”

    In fact, the Earth’s climate has been changing for millions of years, and will keep changing for millions more. But the “current catastrophic warming” is a fake, a fraud, a political fairy tale.

    It is certainly not rational to believe in “man-made global warming” — or in “Creation, by God!”

    • Sorry for the grammar glitch.

      I do not deny climate change. I never have denied climate change. Naturally, the climate changes over time. The fact that it hasn’t been warming recently does not disprove climate variability.

    • jp

      Yes, yes, there’s a rising trend, we’re talking about the additional break-out on top of that and you know that, or should.

      I think you’re wrong, but I don’t care, because I think you’re an idiot.

      Happy now?

      • There is a “rising trend” of politically motivated junk science, e.g., “AGW,” but there isn’t a “rising trend” in global temperature.

        And your “idiotic,” “moronic” attacks don’t exactly make me happy, but I’m satisfied that they are revealing of the fairy-tale-believing mentality of the “left” (including warmists, feminists, tax-and-spendists, single-payerists, etc.).

  • RexTugwell

    jp, your own reply to ayla I shall use against you:
    “[you’re] showing your own ignorance on the matter, which was expected, and your adoption of enough [pro]-choice cliches to fill a bingo card tells me you’ve not done much of your own thinking on this.”

    Rex, like most pro-choice people, I don’t advocate abortion; I’d like to see as little abortion as possible.
    I’ll have to take you at your word. It’s a bit hard to believe, though, when the pro-abort lobby opposes laws like requiring ultrasounds of the baby be shown to the mother before terminating. It’s a fact that most women upon seeing the ultrasound opt NOT to abort. So why the opposition?

    I’d prefer better education. I’d prefer to see proper education.
    It’s also a fact that sex education leads to more sexual activity which leads to pregnancy and abortion.

    Not just on the mechanics of sex and pregnancy, but also on relationship dynamics.
    This used to be done by moms and dads in intact families but thanks to the sexual revolution and “it-takes-a-village” mentality, intact families are becoming fewer and fewer. Oh, the left promised us so much with sexual liberation: no unwanted children through birth control, fewer abortions, more fulfilling marriages leading to fewer divorces, higher standards of living with 1.5 children, etc. Have you delivered on your promises? More poverty, more divorces, more abortions, more children in single-parent and foster homes. The left has given us nothing but ruined lives and families.

    Even in countries with legal abortion, gratuitous abortion of babies that would be viable outside the womb is still rightly criminalised.
    First time I’ve heard this. Which countries? Also, “still rightly criminalized”?!! What’ll you say when viability is achieved at 3 weeks due to advanced technology?

    A vast proportion of abortions happen very early in pregnancy when there is no baby. No consciousness. No nervous system. While the cells in a zygote have human DNA, they have no more personhood at that stage than the hair your barber cuts off, or your toenail clippings.
    Is this a standard argument because a philosophy professor I once debated used the same examples of hair and toenails? You fail to distinguish between human tissue and a human being. Left to itself with nutrition, air, water and protection, a toenail won’t have a heart beating at 3 weeks or have brainwaves at 8 weeks post fertilization. Hair clippings do not grow to become our children! What a stupid line of reasoning!! So what’s jp’s arbitrary point at which a fetus becomes a person? If you say you don’t know or don’t care or “haven’t really thought about it” then what you’re really saying is that your willingness to abort is a willingness to kill an innocent person. If you think about it, a human being “is never fully developed. We’re not born complete. We grow, change, mature and grow constantly” – Dougherty. Hello, Peter Singer. Let’s not forget what happened to blacks and Jews who were excluded from the community of persons. Today’s pro-aborts are yesterday’s slave traders and Nazis.

    Mid or late term abortions are only done in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, on the basis that it’s better to lose one life than two. These are pregnancies that would not go to term anyway, with consequent loss of the fetus through maternal death.
    Surgeon General C. Everett Koop stated that with modern medicine, it’s almost never necessary to abort to save the mother’s life.

    …the health decisions of a pregnant woman when she is the only existent person involved. That’s the basis of Roe vs Wade.
    I’m afraid you don’t know wtf you’re talking about. Justice Blackmun in Roe v. Wade made no decision on personhood: “We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

    • A fetus becomes a person when it is born.

      Birth is not an “arbitrary point,” it is a necessary step in the biological process of becoming a human.

      A pregnant woman is one person not some mystical conglomerate of two or more people.

    • The collectivist “it-takes-a-village” mentality tries to destroy whatever it touches. It is absurdly contrary to the great American ideal of rugged individualism (aka freedom and self-responsibility).

    • jp

      Starting from the bottom, your own quote shows that the Roe decision explicitly did not grant personhood to the fetus, thus leaving the woman as the only legally recognised entity involved in the choice. It would be unconstitutional to override her rights in favour of the rights of a person not legally recognised to exist.

      If we get to viability at 3 weeks, then I think that aborting 3 week zygotes should not be allowed without a medical reason, just as I think aborting viable fetuses now should not be allowed without a medical reason. This is no reason not to allow choice before viability is reached. Currently, the vast majority of abortions are performed long, long before viability, and the exceptions are those performed for life-saving medical reasons. Do you have a problem with those two types of abortion, or only the type (viable fetus for no medical reason) that doesn’t actually happen?

      And good sex education does reduce teen pregnancy, which is highest in areas with abstinence-only (ie, non-education) programs. Look it up.

      • RexTugwell

        So Stoddard claims personhood is a matter of geography. You say that it is the State that confers personhood. So what’s your basis for saying the slave traders and Nazis were wrong by denying personhood to blacks and Jews?

        Your term “medical” vis-a-vis abortion is such a vacuous word. “Abortion for the health of the mother” has been interpreted to mean mental health which could mean a bad hair day. Does a woman nowadays have to justify her abortion to her doctor for medical reasons? Is she ever denied one if her reasons don’t meet the “medical” smell test? I think not.

        • “Geography”??

          Is that some more of that “Political Compass” nonsense?

        • jp

          Yes, Rex, certainly in my country, and anywhere in the US, a woman who wanted to terminate a pregnancy at 7 months just because she felt like it would get turned down. If she found someone to do it, they, and her, could be prosecuted.

          Clearly you (and myself) both object to this sort of abortion, which is rare to non-existant. I asked you whether you objected to the two far more common types of abortion (very early, and medically required). Got an answer?

        • jp

          Yes, Rex, certainly in my country, and anywhere in the US, a woman who wanted to terminate a pregnancy at 7 months just because she felt like it would get turned down. If she found someone to do it, they, and her, could be prosecuted.

          Clearly you (and myself) both object to this sort of abortion, which is rare to non-existant. I asked you whether you objected to the two far more common types of abortion (very early, and medically required). Got an answer?

        • jp

          Oh, and Rex, as for your strawman about denying personhood to blacks or jews: it’s wrong because they are people. Pretty simple. A zygote is not a person. It might become one, but it isn’t one. If you disagree, don’t ever have or perform an abortion – it’s not compulsory.

          • Anonymous

            You’re begging the question, jp. “Blacks and Jews are people ’cause they’re people and unborn babies aren’t people ’cause they’re not people.”

            I wouldn’t be criticizing Steve’s honesty and sanity if I were you. You’ve got your own cerebral shortcomings. How about a little intellectual rigor? 

          • RexTugwell

            You’re begging the question, jp. “Blacks and Jews are people because they’re people and unborn babies are not people because they’re not people.” That’s rich!

            I wouldn’t be criticizing Steve’s honesty or sanity. You’ve got your own cerebral issues. How about a little intellectual rigor for a change.

            Fetuses are different from you and me only by degree and not by kind.

            Pretty simple.

          • jp

            And blacks and Jews are different in neither kind nor degree. As I said, if you think a zygote is person, then don’t perform abortions.

          • Anonymous

            …and the Nazis would say, “if you think Jews are people then don’t run a concentration camp.”

            …or don’t own a slave if you think Blacks are peeps.

          • RexTugwell

            …and the Nazis would say, “If you think Jews are people then don’t run concentration camps.”

            …and don’t own a slave if you think Blacks are peeps.

            You must think your “don’t perform abortions” reply is some kind of a thought stopper but only if you’ve run out of defenses for your position.

      • moshe averick

        jp,

        “viability” itself is a purely arbitrary designation.
        Blackwell himself wrote in the decision that neither he nor anyone else knows when life begins and then he arbitrarily decided that “viability” was the definition; a clear self-contradictory statement.

        George Tiller killed many unborn children well after viability without any consequences. In fact, he was a hero to those who are pro-killing unborn children. If “viability” is the definition, what a about a child who can’t survive without life support. That child also lacks “viability.”
        We should able to kill that child also. In fact that is why atheistic “ethicists” have now introduced the concept of an “after birth abortion.”

        The essential point is whether or not life has inherent value. From a Darwinian/atheistic point of view, life does not have inherent value. Therefore you are free to make up any definition that pleases you. If life has inherent, absolute value we face an agonizing moral dilemma trying to determine, not some arbitrary, pragmatic guideline, but when does life actually begin. If we err we are committing murder. With that in mind one approaches the issue in an entirely different way.

        • “After birth abortion” is as nonsensical a notion a “pre-birth personhood.”

          Before birth, the fetus is not a person. After birth, aborting the pregnancy is no longer possible (since the pregnancy has naturally concluded).

        • jp

          What do you think of the killing of George Tiller, Moshe? Did his life have inherent, absolute value?

          I agree there’s a grey area, but that doesn’t mean the whole area is grey. Best to leave people to their own consciences in that area in my book. We can still have strict law in the black and white area.

          Much as you believe in imposing your morality on others, and much as you use dishonest rhetoric to distort debate, you’re actually refreshingly more honest and sane that our mate Steve. You’re lucky to have him around to make you look reasonable.

  • RexTugwell

    It’s really quite simple to understand Alice Walker’s actions. The left lives by the principle, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Typically, the enemy of the left is the Judeo-Christian tradition. Anything, including Islam, that is opposed to that tradition and all it stands for, is befriended.

    If you ever wonder why there are alliances between two unlikely people or groups, this is why. They have a common enemy and it’s enough to become “friends” over. There is good and there is evil. It’s easy to see which side is which by seeing who’s on what side.

    This principle is also helpful in vetting groups who have been “friended” by questionable organizations. For example, the Democrats are endorsed by NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) and the Communist Party USA among others. Why? Because they all have a common foe in the Republican, conservative camp.

    • [][]“the enemy of the left is the Judeo-Christian tradition.”[][]

      I don’t think that’s quite accurate. The left is the enemy of the Enlightenment and the American tradition of freedom and individual rights. In that sense, the “Judeo-Christian tradition” is the friend of the political “left” (as well as the political “right”).

      • jp

        That’s just specious bullshit.

        Who’s the enemy of the freedom to choose on abortion, the left or the right?

        Who’s the enemy of the freedom of same-sex attracted people to marry their partners, the left or the right?

        Who’s the enemy of enlightenment values to teach science over fairytales in science classrooms, the left or the right?

        Who champions the pre-Enlightenment values of a plutocracy from whom wealth trickles down, the left or the right?

        You need to take off your blinkers, and realise that the only two freedoms the right champions are the right of the powerful to exploit the weak (and the planet), and the right to bear arms.

        • RexTugwell

          Whoopsie!! I hit a nerve.

          • Well, you’re not quite as good as nails on a chalkboard, but you do have your irritating moments. (And you have those amusing shoot-yourself-in-the-foot moments, too.)

          • jp

            Actually Rex, while wide of the mark, your post had some truth in it. It was Steve’s post that my comments were aimed at.

          • Yes, jp, but why not respond when your aim misses the mark — and gets a return criticism?

          • By not being able and willing to deal with dissent, you are following Rabbi Averick’s methodology.

          • jp

            Steve, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I’m fine with dissent, where did I say I wasn’t?

            You’ve written a few comments in this sub-thread that are replies to Rex’s. If you mean to reply to me, you could either reply to my comments, or be specific who you’re talking to. Either way is fine for me.

          • I made two specific replies, with direct quotes, to your post — and you ignored them. You are saying you are “fine with dissent,” but actions speak louder than words in this case: you are not dealing with dissent.

            [see June 25 — 7:05 and 7:22 pm]

          • jp

            You sound like Sarah Palin complaining that her First Amendment rights were being infringed by people calling her an idiot.

            The two posts you mention I deemed unworthy of my time. The climate change denialism in one is moronic and anti-rational, and the other seeks to criticise the left by criticising Obama, a politican to the right of most right-wing parties outside the US.

            Let me make it clear, I’m happy for you to air your dissenting views. I’d fight for your right to do so, even. But not replying to your posts is not anything to do with not wanting to deal with dissent. That implies that dissent is something that needs to be dealt with. I accept dissent to the extent that I don’t see any need to deal with all of it. So you disagree with me? So what?

        • ayla

          Talk about specious bs. The left is more concerned about keeping themselves elected than trying to raise up the poor from their cycle of dependence, plying them with freebies and keeping them needy and weak. Instead of nurturing the innate drive to succeed and prosper, the left feeds their dependents with lies and promises of more and more handouts from the government. In an earlier post about morality and abortion, I thought of including my thoughts on this matter, but didn’t, so I’ll put it here: one of the most beneficial things that could happen to poor families is that they limit the number of children they produce. It would benefit both parents and children, as the children are the innocent victims of our current welfare and entitlement system. They are neglected at best, abused at worst. It is my sincere belief that the offer of surgical sterilization should be on the table for the parents, especially the males. And I say OFFER, not forced.Incentives, like electronics (cell phones, etc) could be offered, and then we would start seeing rapid improvement in the lives of the existing children, the numbers of abortions would decrease, benefits all the way around. You may question my morality for this approach, but I know whereof I speak on this matter and I’m telling you, it is a needed plan.

          • Not only is there no good reason to force taxpayers to pay for “sterilization of the poor,” but there is no good reason for anyone to advocate or “offer” such sterilization — or for anyone to take such an offer on such crazy terms.

        • ayla

          Talk about specious bs. The left is more concerned about keeping themselves elected than trying to raise up the poor from their cycle of dependence, plying them with freebies and keeping them needy and weak. Instead of nurturing the innate drive to succeed and prosper, the left feeds their dependents with lies and promises of more and more handouts from the government. In an earlier post about morality and abortion, I thought of including my thoughts on this matter, but didn’t, so I’ll put it here: one of the most beneficial things that could happen to poor families is that they limit the number of children they produce. It would benefit both parents and children, as the children are the innocent victims of our current welfare and entitlement system. They are neglected at best, abused at worst. It is my sincere belief that the offer of surgical sterilization should be on the table for the parents, especially the males. And I say OFFER, not forced.Incentives, like electronics (cell phones, etc) could be offered, and then we would start seeing rapid improvement in the lives of the existing children, the numbers of abortions would decrease, benefits all the way around. You may question my morality for this approach, but I know whereof I speak on this matter and I’m telling you, it is a needed plan.

          • Whom would you force to pay for that “OFFER”?

          • ayla

            Steve: I know of MANY in the medical profession who would gladly offer services free of charge… plus I’ll bet donations could be raised, and then in the end, if the taxpayer foots the bill, we would all still come out ahead with this approach.

          • The taxpayers would not “come out ahead.” They would just be forced to pay for something they don’t want or need.

          • [][]“I know of MANY in the medical profession who would gladly offer services free of charge…”[][]

            So why aren’t they?

          • ayla

            Steve: You ask why this isn’t already happening… the answer is lawsuits. Accusations of racism. When it is purely by choice that it would be done, crazy, but we are an incredibly litigious society, and too many people are looking for something for nothing. So, even if they chose to have the procedure, there is always the chance they will come back and sue at a later date. Without protection from this, it can’t be implemented.

          • That’s certainly not a valid reason to force taxpayers to pay for it.

        • [][]“Who’s the enemy of the freedom to choose on abortion, the left or the right?”[][]

          Both.

          The “right” tends to wish to deprive people of the choice to have an abortion if they want one. The “left” tends to wish to deprive people of the right not to pay for abortions if they don’t want to.

          [][]“Who’s the enemy of enlightenment values to teach science over fairytales in science classrooms, the left or the right?”[][]

          Both. The “right” tends to favor the fairy tale of “Creation, by God!” The “left” tends to favor the fairy tale of “man-made global warming catastrophe!”

        • [][]“Who champions the pre-Enlightenment values of a plutocracy from whom wealth trickles down, the left or the right?”[][]

          Well, that is definitely the “left.” Obama and his ilk are “true believers” in the fairy tale that wealth must trickle down from the government plutocrats, bureaucrats, and all-knowing politicians! “Government Spending” is their God. Obama fancies himself as a real Dark Ages robber baron (like Nixon on steroids).

          • Of course, the “right” shares the belief of the “left” that the government should take money from people who make it (and therefore don’t deserve it) and give it to the politically-favored who don’t earn it (and therefore do deserve it).

        • RexTugwell

          jp, you’re not much of a feminist if you advocate abortion. In the words of Mary Eberstadt, abortion “has liberated men…from the bondage of having to take responsibility for the women they have sex with and/or for the children that resulted.” Women who abort their babies, on the other hand, are sentenced to a lifetime of regret and shame and guilt. Ironically enough, feminists lead the charge in the so-called “War on Women”.

          But G-d is merciful.

          • [][]“Women who abort their babies,…”[][]

            Note that in the context of “abortion rights,” nobody aborts babies: only pregnancies get aborted, i.e., are stopped before any babies come into existence.

          • jp

            Rex, like most pro-choice people, I don’t advocate abortion; I’d like to see as little abortion as possible.

            The question is, how to make that happen.

            I’d prefer better education. I’d prefer to see proper education. Not just on the mechanics of sex and pregnancy, but also on relationship dynamics. This doesn’t have to be some huge program in schools (although spending the current resources on better content would be nice), but rather I’d like to see a shift towards a society that was capable of talking about sex frankly and without the ridiculous amounts of baggage that it currently carries.

            When that education fails though, I’d like to see things treated as a health issue, not a criminal law issue. As Steve pointed out no baby is ever aborted by choice. Even in countries with legal abortion, gratuitous abortion of babies that would be viable outside the womb is still rightly criminalised.

            A vast proportion of abortions happen very early in pregnancy when there is no baby. No consciousness. No nervous system. While the cells in a zygote have human DNA, they have no more personhood at that stage than the hair your barber cuts off, or your toenail clippings.

            Mid or late term abortions are only done in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, on the basis that it’s better to lose one life than two. These are pregnancies that would not go to term anyway, with consequent loss of the fetus through maternal death. To want a legal system that requires that women die to protect a fetus that will die itself anyway is barbaric, primitive, and misogynistic.

            Which is why feminists don’t want that sort of legal system. Funny that.

            Given that the rights of viable, existent people (born and unborn) are protected under both systems, it comes down to whether you believe the State has the right to interfere in the health decisions of a pregnant woman when she is the only existent person involved. That’s the basis of Roe vs Wade. It’s a decision to uphold medical privacy, no more, no less.

            So it really IS about being pro-choice, not pro-abortion. But if you want to advocate for the state interfering in privacy rights while at the same time condemning the left for wanting a big, intrusive state that takes away freedoms, then you go right ahead. You won’t be the first.

        • RexTugwell

          Clarification: true feminists are concerned with the welfare of women and real men take responsibility for their actions.

          • jp

            That’s great, Rex. Two lovely motherhood statements. Which of them justifies the state overriding a woman’s medical privacy?

    • Mitchel Shore

      Alice shames her history comparing the Palestinian issues with their propaganda. The daily threats of slaughter, indiscrimate bombings by Palestinians, the precursor attacks continually throughout the decades, the vitriolic, open, public and interestingly anti-Christian Arab policies, all ignored for the first bus she can throw Israel under.
      It makes one think if her hatred does not stem from her own deep-rooted prejudices.

    • Do you seriously believe that Obama considers me his friend because I think Bush was a very terrible President? Even though I think Obama is a very, very, very terrible President?

  • Rabbi Averick asks: “In a purely materialistic universe, what else is there?”

    There is real life. That is what we have and, as humans, our job is to learn how to live with it. The answers to life’s problems are not automatic, nor revealed by heavenly ghosts.

    The subjectivism of theistic philosophy (aka religion) is not designed to deal reasonably with real life. Blind faith doesn’t cut the mustard, so to speak.

    Religion is the pretense that evidence and logic are a waste of time.

  • The Flawed Worldview of the Theist

    We live in the natural world, but theists feel deprived by that. They wish for something “other” than nature. So they imagine God/Allah and the Supernatural.

    There is no logic or evidence for theists to go by, so they invented blind (i.e., religious) faith. They feel more comfortable with blind faith than with reason and reality.

    And for some reason, theists really like to complain that not everyone shares their flawed outlook on life. Some even wish to kill those who disagree.

  • jp

    “When the Faith wanes, there is no security
    There is no this-worldliness for those who have no faith
    Those who wish to live their life without religion
    Have made annihilation the equivalent of life”

    Sounds like Moshe when he goes on about atheism being a slippery slope to pedophilia, or off on one of his anti-abortion rants.

    It’s ironic that Moshe can’t see that his own rhetoric shares far more with the Hamas Charter than it does with the writings and speeches of Dr King.

    And it’s ironic that Moshe doesn’t understand that the criticism he receives in the comments on his blog are also the fruits of Dr King’s dream that people be judged on their characters.

    For Moshe does not reach out and search out common ground, but spews divisive bile: atheists are necessarily amoral; feminists are crazy; Muslims are murderous. Even in this piece he couldn’t resist getting a small kick in to Reform Judaism.

    There’s plenty revealed about Moshe’s character in all this, and it’s the sort of thing that I guess it pays, for Moshe, to blind to. Too much introspection could lead to some uncomfortable places.

    • [][]“… atheists are necessarily amoral; feminists are crazy; Muslims are murderous.”[][]

      Atheism is not a big enough idea to be able to imply a moral system, but theism is irrational and therefore incapable of being moral.

      “Feminism” is a crazy ideology.

      Islam is a murderous religion — just like Christianity used to be.

      • While theism strangely leads to pedophilia in some instances, atheism cannot lead anywhere (being nothing more substantial than an absence of theism). And abortion is not murder.

    • Moshe Averick

      Jp,

      YOu are one strange guy.

      • And here I thought jp was a girl.

        But if you want to talk about “one strange guy,” Moshe, how about your “IDOL” (aka the “intelligent designer of life”)? Real people are possible, but your God isn’t.

        • jp

          Gee, what have I said in the past to give anyone a clue?

          I’ve mentioned my wife and kids.

          And I’ve mentioned being a feminist.

          Male feminist?

          Or lesbian parent?

          Decisions, decisions!

          But either way a weirdo, right?

        • RexTugwell

          jp’s attacks on Rabbi Maverick are quite unladylike so I’m gonna have to go with male feminist. Then again a phrase like “spews divisive bile” is a bit effeminate. On the other hand, that’s something the new castrati would say. I’m stumped.

      • jp

        In response to pointing out that Moshe’s divisive rhetoric more resembles the writings of Hamas than those of MLK, Moshe wrote “Jp, YOu are one strange guy.”

        What Moshe didn’t write, rather tellingly, was anything that addressed the point.

        Moshe, these evasions do not go unnoticed.

        • They do go unappreciated, however — as we wait (perhaps in vain) for some substantial evidence, discussion, logic, argumentation, etc.

        • Sorry. I just don’t spend enough time paying attention to personalities instead of ideology.

    • ayla

      Interesting that, in your first paragraph, you label the Rabbi’s writings that condemn abortion as the murder of a human life as a “rant”. So, I’m guessing you’re an abortion supporter. And then, a few paragraphs down, you express disdain for his writings again that point out the questionable morality of atheists, which I’m assuming you are one. See any problems here? Ah, irony.

      • One huge problem is that atheists have basically the same mistaken morality that theists have, viz., altruism. Obviously, neither theism nor atheism gives reasonable insight into morality.

        • ayla

          Are you implying altruism is a mistake? I’m betting even you have been the beneficiary of many an altruistic act in your lifetime, beginning with your mother’s decision to bring you into the world. The problem with atheism’s morality is that it is subjective, blowing this way and that, depending on what’s popular at any given time. The theist has absolute morality, or should anyway, and it is fixed and unchanging. Altruism is an inner desire to aid those who are in need of help, to teach those who can benefit by our knowledge, an integral part of any moral person’s life. I’ve always wondered if any comparisons have been done on charitable giving of money and time by atheists and theists.

          • [][]“Are you implying altruism is a mistake?”[][]

            No; sorry you took it as an implication.

            I was trying to say explicitly that altruism is a mistake in the field of morality. A really horrible mistake.

            [][]“The problem with atheism’s morality is that it is subjective,…”[][]

            Except that there is no such thing as “atheism’s morality.” Atheism does not have — or imply — any morality at all, not even of any kind.

            It is theism’s morality (aka “God’s List of Commandments”) that is utterly subjective, blowing this way and that, depending on what (necessarily imaginary) God is popular at any given time. (Killing unbelievers is too often a popular practice that people like to believe God is commanding them to obediently follow. Blind faith doesn’t register rational human relations well at all.)

          • [][]“The theist has absolute morality, or should anyway, and it is fixed and unchanging.”[][]

            The theist, qua theist, can have nothing but a fantasy morality — the imaginary commandments of the imaginary Supernatural Ruler of the Universe. Absolutely unreal, as it were.

          • [][]“Altruism is an inner desire to aid those who are in need of help,…”[][]

            The problem with altruism is that it violates the principle of justice. The desire to help people who deserve it is just, but altruism subverts that by making the moral demand to help those who do not deserve it.

            Need per se is not the proper criterion.

            Self-sacrifice is NOT rational/moral.

        • Anonymous

          ayla, a word of advice. Engaging Stoddard in any meaningful dialogue is a waste of time. He says the same things he was saying 3 months ago when I found this column. He’s a guy with limited vocabulary and thought. Try if you want but you’ve been warned.

          • [][]“He says the same things he was saying 3 months ago …”[][]

            You are a little behind the times: I’m still saying what I was saying 3 years ago (and 30 years ago, too).

            If you think there is a good reason I should change my mind on something, you could explain yourself. Or you can keep evading …

            “Limited thought” is the right way to go: it would be crazy to try believe everything on every side of every issue.

          • ayla

            Thank you for the advice, I visit this site here and there, as time allows, and I know his stance and methods.I came on board around the same time as you.

          • ayla

            Thank you for the advice, I visit this site here and there, as time allows, and I know his stance and methods.I came on board around the same time as you.

          • Question for Anon and ayla: why do you wish to avoid engaging in “any meaningful dialogue”? What is your problem with it?

      • jp

        Ayla, do you honestly think it’s impossible to be both moral, and pro-choice? That’s nice and black and white for you, I guess.

        • Rationally speaking, it is impossible to be both moral and politically anti-abortion.

          A rational morality respects individual rights. Outlawing abortion is a violation of individual rights.

        • ayla

          jp: I don’t believe this is a black and white issue. I think someone could be moral and yet be prochoice under uninformed conditions. Someone who has not seen an ultrasound of an abortion, for instance, might be persuaded by all the prochoice rhetoric of how right and compassionate it is to support abortions for everyone, no matter the reason. I find it difficult to imagine how anyone who has educated themself on what is actually happening during an abortion could still be a moral person, since it is a gruesome and violent procedure. Does that answer your question?

          • [][]“abortion … is a gruesome and violent procedure.”[][]

            Actually, it’s not.

            But if you are opposed to it on such grounds, are you also opposed to open-heart surgery, kidney transplants, amputations, etc.?

        • ayla

          jp: I don’t believe this is a black and white issue. I think someone could be moral and yet be prochoice under uninformed conditions. Someone who has not seen an ultrasound of an abortion, for instance, might be persuaded by all the prochoice rhetoric of how right and compassionate it is to support abortions for everyone, no matter the reason. I find it difficult to imagine how anyone who has educated themself on what is actually happening during an abortion could still be a moral person, since it is a gruesome and violent procedure. Does that answer your question?

          • jp

            It does, but not in the way you are intended.

            It answers my question by showing your own ignorance on the matter, which was expected, and your adoption of enough anti-choice cliches to fill a bingo card tells me you’ve not done much of your own thinking on this.

            But please, educate me if you think I’m wrong and describe, in your own words please, no lazy-brain links to websites, about the gruesome violence of the abortion of a 7 week old fetus.

          • Say it was a pregnant Jewish lady and the fetus was aborted in the Hamas way by beheading the lady . . . . that would be “a gruesome and violent procedure.”

    • Moshe Averick

      JP,

      You are free to say whatever you want about me but I would prefer that you at least don’t distort what I say.

      I have written over and over again that my point about atheism and amorality has nothing to do with the behavior or values of any individual atheist. I have also written that amorality does not imply a LACK of values or standards by which a particular atheist may conduct his or her life. An atheistic worldview necessarily implies that all values/ethics/morality do not reflect any inherent reality, they simply reflect the personal preferences or the individual or the societal preferences of the environmnet in which that person lives. In a purely materialistic universe, what else is there?

      In other words, the values of the atheist are necessarily determined by their personal preference and any standard of morality or ethics is nothing more than a reflection of their personal prefernces. The two terms are completely interchangeable.

      This obviously true idea is agreed upon by all prominent atheistic thinkers..for the simple reason that it is the truth. This includes Peter Singer, Joel Marks, Michael Ruse, Jerry Coyne, Jean paul Sartre, Will Provine, Michael Tooley, Jason Rosenhouse, etc.

      Why you have such a problem grasping this escapes me.

      • jp

        Why you think that the societies that humans construct and live in are not real escapes me, too.

        And why you dismiss biological bases of morality in favour of idealism is a bit of a mystery as well.

        [Actually, I tell two lies there. Why you think such absurd things does not actually escape me!]

        • [][]“And why you dismiss biological bases of morality in favour of idealism is a bit of a mystery as well.”[][]

          It is, though, the very essence of religion to favor “idealism” in the philosophic sense of non-realism (or anti-realism). For theists, blind faith trumps biology in particular and nature in general.

        • moshe averick

          Jp,

          When I say that the values which humans construct are not “real” I mean that no value system that any particular society constructs is more or less significant than any other. The cannibalistic practices of the Fiji islanders are no more or less significant or “real” than our own.

          The “biological” basis for morality that you mentioned means whatever you want it to mean.
          “Big fish eating little fish” is as much a biological reality as is the “altruism” which some humans and animals show each other. The one which you choose to dominate your own personal value system reflects nothing more than your personal preference.

          It’s hard for me to see what is arguable about any of this.

      • [][]“[T]he values of the atheist are necessarily determined by their personal preference.”[][]

        On that score, atheists are exactly like theists. Morality is a matter of choice for all humans qua humans. Morality is a code of values accepted by choice.

        [][]“[A]ny standard of morality or ethics is nothing more than a reflection of their personal preferences.[][]

        But the issue of moral STANDARDS is in reality an objective problem. People still have to choose (and always will), but the key principle is that they have the choice to choose objectively rather than default to subjectivism.

        And your belief that “God provides an objective standard” is wildly illogical. God is a fictional character and whatever you believe He commands you to do is, therefore, necessarily completely subjective.

        Your blind faith in an “IDOL” is intellectually equivalent to claiming that “reality is unreliable, but Winnie-the-Pooh is infallible!”

      • [][]“An atheistic worldview necessarily implies that all values/ethics/morality do not reflect any inherent reality, they simply reflect the personal preferences of the individual.”[][]

        All people naturally have personal preferences as an inherent part of being human (having a mind and volition). There is no way to escape having personal preferences. The choice is whether to choose those preferences objectively or subjectively.

        Religion is a preference for disdaining nature and basing one’s values subjectively on imaginary commands from a supernatural realm.

        Theists don’t trust their own minds and thought, so they imagine a “Super Mind” that supercedes their own — making it unnecessary (even unwise) to think for oneself.

  • Islam illustrates one of the defects of theism, viz., the refusal to deal rationally with life and people. Islam is certainly not evidence for Moshe’s “IDOL“, and does not logically support the notion of “Creation, by God/Allah!”

    • BTW if the Israelis were wise, they would take out the Iranian theocracy — and bulldoze Hamas from Gaza into the sea.

  • In March 1968 Dr. King stated:” If you are an antiZionist then you are an antiSemite”. HELLO ALICE WALKER!

    • HELLO RICHARD SHERMAN!

      “Zionism” is a political movement that a person can choose to join, or not.

      But a person is born Semitic (or something else) and has no choice in the matter.

      To equate “Zionism” and “Semitism(!)” is rather muddled thinking.

    • moshe averick

      Richard,

      Well written, nothing more need be said.

      • Except that it is inaccurate to claim that to be “antizionist” is to be “antisemitic.”

  • In March 1968 Dr. King stated:” If you are an antiZionist then you are an antiSemite”. HELLO ALICE WALKER!

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