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What Lieberman has wrought

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Joe Lieberman's reckless decision to blow up last week's compromise has had exactly the impact many of us predicted. Much of the left has flipped into vicious, angry opposition to the bill. Is that because the Medicare buy-in, a good but limited policy, has disappeared from the bill? Ostensibly. But not really. If you don't believe the bill has cost controls, Medicare buy-in was not an answer to your concerns. If you believe the mandate is bad policy, letting the small slice of exchange-users between 55 and 64 choose public insurance did not answer your fears.

But progressives had compromised plenty already. Single payer became a strong public option, a strong public option became a weak public option, a weak public option became Medicare buy-in, and Medicare buy-in became Joe Lieberman's revenge. Progressive ends are submitting to conservative means, and industry is laughing all the way to the bank. All this amid the first year of a president they elected, a Democratic majority they built.

And it's not just the policy that galls. It's the precedent they fear. Continual compromise with swing senators who are willing to kill good legislation for bad reasons is not a path they want to continue down. They saw the results in the stimulus, a too-small bill that was made yet smaller by, among others, Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Susan Collins. And now, health-care reform is being weakened too, with the subsidies coming in beneath what experts believe we need and the public option erased from the bill.

Worse, it all feels divorced from detectable policy principles. Medicare buy-in was a policy Lieberman supported. It was a compromise that had been communicated to him directly. It emerged from meetings that he was invited to attend. He didn't bother to wait for the Congressional Budget Office's report, or even to offer a coherent argument against the policy. He had the power, he knew it, and he used it. Now he's giving happy, triumphant interviews to any camera and reporter he can find. My personal favorite was his comment to the New York Times. “My wife said to me, 'Why do you always end up being the point person here?’ ” Did Lieberman say this somberly? Did he seem weighed down by the responsibility? No. He was "flashing a broad grin."

A lot of people have made a lot of compromises to protect this process. Ask Rockefeller and Schumer and Brown and Wyden how fun this has been for them. But they grit their teeth because it's important. There are no pearly whites on display as they sit for interviews for front-page profiles in the New York Times.

Lieberman has tossed the process into chaos. But the short-term satisfactions won't overwhelm the long-term judgments. Lieberman is "point person" because he has appointed himself the 60th senator. Every other member of the Democratic caucus could have done the same, but most all have judged the underlying bill more important than their disagreements with it. Lieberman did the opposite, and there's little evidence that he actually had disagreements with the bill so much as dislike for some of its supporters.

And Lieberman, let's remember, is not a lefty blogger. He isn't a pundit or an op-ed columnist. He is the "point man," and by choice. He bears a special responsibility. Atop the shoulders of another man, it would make for a heavy load. But not his. His recklessness has endangered the bill, and through it, many, many lives. He may not be ashamed. But he should be.

Photo credit: By Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

By Ezra Klein  |  December 18, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Next: Does this end the individual mandate debate?


Bravo, Mr. Klein, bravo! If we'd wanted a coroporate repub administration the 2008 election would have been decided differently. the voters chose change. How disappointed to discover we were misled all along.

Posted by: mybandy | December 18, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

EK: letting people between 55 and 64 choose public insurance did not answer your concerns [about mandates].

Well it went a long way because people in the 55-64 range and the hardest to insure from the insurance co's point of view and they would be charged the most to buy private insurance. By letting them buy into medicare, it would lower premiums for everybody else by potentially taking them out of the risk pool.

So, the medicare buy in does help with the mandate problem because it lowers insurance costs to those not yet 55.

Posted by: srw3 | December 18, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

A smart administration, looking at this sorry record, would stop coming to Congress with bills that are pre-compromised. They'd realize what is going to happen, submit a bill that shoots for the moon, and then compromise.

Posted by: pj_camp | December 18, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Well put.

Posted by: simpleton1 | December 18, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Does Reid really know and understand his caucus? Does he talk to them regularly? Shouldn't he be aware of these problems ahead of time? Would these senators be pulling the last minute surprises if they respected or feared Reid? I don't question his work-ethic, intelligence, or dedication, but is he a true leader?

Posted by: marvyT | December 18, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Gotta procedural question. I know that the Dems could remove Joe from his committee chairmanship post, but can they also exclude him from their caucus?

After the dust settles on all of this, I'd like to see him completely shunned by the Dems. I know, I know, ... "but we will need his vote on future issues ...". Surely, the Dems can be creative and figure out a way to work around him ... as if he, literally, did not exist.

Posted by: onewing1 | December 18, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I never wanted to scream obscenities at any senator more than after I read that NY Times quote from Lieberman. What an egomaniacal, contemptible, pathetic excuse for a man, seriously.

Posted by: Chris_O | December 18, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the Banana Republic of Aggrieved Factions.

It really must hurt that your tyrannical ambitions are so difficult implement.

However, I'm sure your fanaticism will prevail.

To everyone's detriment.

Sally forth, Valley Girl.

Posted by: msoja | December 18, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"Single payer became a strong public option, a strong public option became a weak public option, a weak public option became Medicare buy-in, and Medicare buy-in became Joe Lieberman's revenge."

Yet a sizable chunk of the population is still screaming about the socialistic government take over of the health care system.

PS. Joe Lieberman's utter lack of empathy for his fellow Americans puts him dangerously close to being categorized as a sociopath. To hear he had the Joker's grin on his face is no surprise. The fact that people might die because of his grandstanding is of no concern to him.

Posted by: nylund | December 18, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Count me among the angry liberals who'd rather see that a hole stripped of his chairmanship than pass this horrid bill. Joe has to go!

Posted by: bmull | December 18, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

this is all so lamentable...and right before christmas.
was hoping it would be a time for celebration and accomplishment.
so many people, each in their own way, have broken the chain...
and others have tried so hard to keep it together.
a grave disappointment and a moment lost, if it doesnt come to pass.

Posted by: jkaren | December 18, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm Jewish and this drek Lieberman is making even me want to become an Anti-Semite.

Shame on you Lieberman. You brought shame on all the Jews.

At the same time I've got to tell you "Thank You."

Thank you for finally making me happy that you lost the elections to a Dick (Cheney).

Posted by: shimon31 | December 18, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

many of these selfish, callous, intractable, hidden-away-in-ivory-towered, wealthy senators and egotistical, inflexible, non-compromising grandstanding leaders may very well win their battle, and the rest of us, including many who need this bill the most, will lose the war, and all else that will now be at stake.

wake up. wake up, before it is too late.

Posted by: jkaren | December 18, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

"His recklessness has endangered the bill, and through it, many, many lives."

You're still peddling that line? Because he opposed a bill just because it included a medicare buy-in? What about progressives who might not vote for the bill just because ooooh they're so angry they could just scream? What about Howard Dean, who opposed a bill just because it did not include a medicare buy-in? What about your bozo commenters who want to kill this bill when it's the best deal they're going to get for a long, long time?

Posted by: ostap666 | December 18, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you are letting off the hook the too willing facilitators of Lieberman: Emanuel, Reid, and Obama himself. I blame them mostly. There's always a crazy Joe in any crowd (and a crazy State like CT which vote for him). The key is whether the grown up are letting him run the show.
For the Iraq war I never blamed Bush and Cheney because Tonny Blair, Collin Powell, and Tom Friedman knew better, could have stopped it, and chose to let the crazies run the show...
Same for Health Care.

Posted by: Yoni1 | December 18, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

"His recklessness has endangered the bill, and through it, many, many lives." By his I hope you mean Obama, he gave LIEberman the means to do this.

Posted by: obrier2 | December 18, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Good heavens, Yoni1, you have a very strange way of dishing out responsibility for things. What exactly could Obama due to take influence away from Lieberman? Kick him out of the caucus? How would that have helped bills get out of the Senate?

Posted by: Chris_O | December 18, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

And obrier2 as well! Obama instituted the filibuster? Obama created the rules that make running health care reform through reconciliation all but impossible?

Yglesias is right that this country fetishizes the power of the President way too much. If only he could do these things you think he could!

Posted by: Chris_O | December 18, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Joe Lieberman is a disgrace. If the bill dies due to his efforts, there will someday be be an accounting. His conscience will never more be clear, no matter his suave grandstanding. His hypocrisy, and the fact that this is not based on any strongly held principle, is abundant when you look at how his positions have altered over the last few months. His efforts, which if the bill fails will deprive tens of millions the health care they need, will undoubtedly drag his soul straight to hell. It's easy for someone in his position, with the great health care he has, to posture and preen and lie. Meanwhile someone is dying for the lack of health care. Lieberman needs to read the Bible he claims in his faith and see that God will assuredly judge him for this act. In many very real and tangible ways that affect poor Americans, his actions here are far, far worse than his support for the Iraq War. He should be praying that the bill passes soon, so that his guilt does not turn into a monstrous crime. This is not a man who opposed the bill on fundamental principles or with reasoned logic. This is a man who engaged in his hypocrisy for the sheer pleasure of making himself the "point person." An exercise in self glorification amidst the suffering of the sick.

Posted by: mark_cohen | December 18, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I voted for Obama to end the wars, not to throw us into further fiscal chaos by expanding overpriced, overused health care. If we reform Medicare, there will be money to support expanding public coverage. If we can't cut back on Medicare costs for political reasons, then the blame lies on the voters who selfishly demand we give them our money.

I detest Lieberman, but health care reform is being done backwards, dessert before dinner style. Any sensible person would be opposed to this contribution to this destructive, short-term thinking. Ezra Klein has maintained that this is the only politically feasible way to do it is to give out the free stuff and tax people like me to do it. I am hoping he is proven wrong in his views of the stupidity of the American people, and that the people that call themselves progressives will stop thinking they can engineer human behavior.

Posted by: staticvars | December 18, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Just out of curiosity, how different is the Senate bill from Hillarycare? Aren't they pretty similar?

Posted by: sold2u | December 18, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

What a load of hogwash!

Lieberman should have asked for more, you statist storm troopers get off easy.

Here's hoping Nelson and/or Snowe have a more monumental demand, including no House tampering with Senate product, in exchange for their support.

Posted by: turiya76 | December 18, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I love how Mr. Klein continues to believe that these are "good" bills. Let's review the results, shall we?

1. The official scoring of these bills is that they will cost $900B to $1.2T depending on which one you pick. There are other credible studies that say the real number is more like $2T or more.

2. They use a gimmick to get those sub $1 trillin figures by collecting taxes for the proposals 3 years before the benefits are actually paid out. This means than any scoring of these bills that includes those 3 years is essentially fraud because including them depresses how much they really cost. They have also written in $500B in medicare cuts that they will never actually enforce because they are terrified of losing the old people vote.

3. Health care costs wouldn't actually go down, they would increase.

4. After spending said trillions on these bills, only a net of about 9 Million extra people would be covered by an insurance plan, since studies have shown that millions will be forced out of their current employer-based insurance plans.

All of these bills are utter disasters that will lead to a single-payer health care. I know that that would be a good thing in Mr. Klein's eyes, but I do have personal experience with a single-payer system, and I thank God every day that we don't have it here.

All of this information and more can be found at on the CBO's website or just google some of these claims and you will find them.

Posted by: octopi213 | December 18, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

To say Leiberman should be ashamed is ricidulus! Leiberman is holding to the values he possesses and is in touch with the majority of the American public. Those who paint him as an obstructionist are just pissed off because he might stand in the way of putting the federal government into the patient/doctor relationship. I hope Nelson and a couple of other democrats that are sick of drinking Obama's kool-aid will stand against this terrible bill. Look at the polls!! Be objective for a change and see on what the voters really want. 85% of the population is satisfied with their healthcare. Why screw it up?!?! Fix the fraud and abuse...then move on to refining the process to make a better bill than the mess that is before the Senate now!

Posted by: my4653 | December 18, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

If Joe Lieberman's goal was to spit in the face of liberals, is it possible he gave in too easily? If the bill passes with basically everything except a (very weak) public option and/or the limited Medicare buy-in for a tiny part of the population, then it seems to me that liberals get a great victory (though not the perfect outcome they fervently wished for) and Lieberman's victory turns to ashes in his mouth. If he *really* wanted to stick it to liberals, I guess he could have just said he won't vote for any bill (and still may pull off one more betrayal), though in that case, I'm guessing Reid and the White House would have given Olympia Snowe whatever she wanted.

So in the end, Lieberman may have been bought off cheap by his temporary glee in hearing the anguish and rage of the liberals. But in the end, if we sucker him into voting for it, I think we win.

Honest folks can disagree about this. But there's one thing we can all agree on: by comparison to Lieberman, John Edwards is a shining moral paragon. He only betrayed one woman with cancer.

Posted by: robbins2 | December 18, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

*people that call themselves progressives will stop thinking they can engineer human behavior.*

WTF does this even *mean*? Creating a system that allows everyone to get health coverage isn't "engineer[ing] human behavior" unless you're talking about trying to engineer senators to vote the right way.

Posted by: constans | December 18, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

--"Creating a system that allows everyone to get health coverage isn't "engineer[ing] human behavior" unless you're talking about trying to engineer senators to vote the right way."--

What do you call it when the system isn't voluntary? Um, it's not engineering... it's on the tip of my tongue...

How proud you petty despots must be.

Posted by: msoja | December 18, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Nicely said. And very true.

Posted by: slag | December 18, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Why can't the Democrats throw Sen. Lieberman out of the Caucus, and take away his Chairmanships?

Lieberman is a Dictator for life at this point, since he moves where the money pays the best and in 2012 he will be a Republican-Independent representing a. his own corrupt interests, which include being a pious fraud and enriching himself by betraying the American people, and b. the Insurance companies and their employees.

Lieberman gets tremendous traction out of the Jewish vote and his own oily nature. Lieberman is a disgraceful cutthroat traitor millionaire whose fortune comes from selling his vote: let the GOP have this turncoat sorry excuse for human plasma.

Posted by: wapoisrightwingrag | December 18, 2009 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is a long term Washington insider, dedicated to tranferring public money into politically well-connected private hands. This is the reason why so many lobbyists hand him millions of dollars in contributions. He is too entrenched in the ways of Washington to care about the judgment of history.

Posted by: Ladyrantsalot | December 18, 2009 11:37 PM | Report abuse

msoja: "What do you call it when the system isn't voluntary? Um, it's not engineering... it's on the tip of my tongue...

"How proud you petty despots must be."

Every system is engineered. The "free market" is a kind of system set up and enforced by government. Those born into wealth have an advantage; those born into poverty have opportunity, but certainly would not "voluntarily" choose their starting point.

Moreover, we have "engineered" education, "engineered" police and fire services. We have no choice but to participate, yet most of us think these things produce a net societal benefit--and most people don't think these programs are the result of petty despotism.

As far as health care goes, let's compare two systems. System A covers 80% of the public while System B covers 100%, gets the same results, and costs from 30% to 50% less. Why would anyone choose system A except out of ideology?

The debate should not be about "engineering." It should not be about "big government" v. "free markets." It should be about what works and what doesn't, not on what labels one puts on what works and what doesn't. There are plenty of examples from our peer nations about what works a lot better than what we do, and citizens those nations don't consider themselves the victims of despotism.

Really, it shouldn't be this difficult. Unless one wants to deny reality in favor of ideology.

Posted by: dasimon | December 18, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Progressives are a vicious, angry lot, so its not surprising that Lieberman's patriotism has made them more vicious and angry.

Posted by: TomR4 | December 19, 2009 12:49 AM | Report abuse

--"System A covers 80% of the public while System B covers 100%, gets the same results, and costs from 30% to 50% less."--

Not even the Valley Girl Klein believes (or has claimed) that health costs are going to be reduced 30%. The most he'll go out on the limb for is a "bending of the cost curve", which is as perfectly nebulous as an airhead needs it to be.

Do you understand? American health care costs are the result of a number of factors, almost all of them completely outside the arrangement of the system itself. The United States is not going to suddenly (or even over the long term) wake up with expenditure rates on a par with Canada. If you think that it is, you're deeply confused (and that is exactly what I think you are.)

And, since you mentioned it, we need to get the government out of education, too, as soon as possible, if not sooner. Public education in the country is a JOKE, which is why people like you are so confused about the simplest things. Education is the kind of JOKE that health care is on its way to becoming, and it got that way with endless government meddling.

Take care of that and we can work on privatizing the police and fire departments, later.

Posted by: msoja | December 19, 2009 8:41 AM | Report abuse

--"It should be about what works and what doesn't"--

I hope it's not too early in the day to provoke Godwin, but what you're talking about is how Hitler got the trains to run on time.

What you and the despicable Klein are saying is that individuals must subsume themselves to the Fatherland, or whatever crackpot notions are held as being emblematic of the greater good of the Fatherland.

The trouble is, the crackpot notions that you and the despicable Kleins of the world hold dear are of absolutely no value to whole swaths of other people, and in order to bring your crackpot notions to fruition you have to enslave (the modern phrase is "bring the mandate") those people. First, you have to commandeer the insurance companies. Then you have to force people, under very real threats of impoverishment, incarceration, and death, to become involuntary subscribers to those bastardized businesses. Then you'll legislate every aspect of the services those bastardized businesses will deliver as deemed appropriate by whatever corrupt political party holds power at the time.

And there you are cheering the whole rot down upon yourself.

Posted by: msoja | December 19, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Oops. Pardon me for confusing my collectivist despots. It was Mussolini who made the trains run on time. Or at least he propagandized that he made the trains run on time. As usual with the things government tries to control, things actually get worse while those in power keep proclaiming how great a job they've done.

Of course, Hitler had his trains running, too, but they were of a different sort.

Posted by: msoja | December 19, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Ezra: Wonderful post. My question is this: Why does the WPost treat Sen. Lieberman's antics with kid gloves? Tens of thousands of Americans live in fear of going bankrupt due to lack of health insurance, and Lierberman smiles for the cameras? Tens of thousands of Americans are suffering pain and anguish due to lack of health insurance, and Lierbman is quoting his wife's question? He has no shame. And neither due the Wpost reporters.

Posted by: gregw571 | December 19, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

msoja: "What you and the despicable Klein are saying is that individuals must subsume themselves to the Fatherland, or whatever crackpot notions are held as being emblematic of the greater good of the Fatherland."

I'd ask if you're serious, but I'm afraid I know the answer.

Do you really think the Canadians have "subsumed themselves to the Fatherland"? Or the Swiss? Or the Australians? Or the French? Or any of our peer nations, all of which have universal coverage--and some form of a mandate?

As for all the other assertions you make about "commandeering" insurance companies and threats of "incarceration" and "death" (really? death?), these things simply have not happened elsewhere. And yet "elsewhere" does better than we do. And, by the way, in most of those places the insurance companies are private, the hospitals are private, and the doctors are private. So even the talk about "commandeering" rings false.

Again, facts matter. Just about all of our peer nations get comparable results, cover everyone, spend less, and hardly force their citizens to swear unflagging loyalty to their Dear Leaders--or do you dispute that? If not, you'll have to come up with better arguments than the specter of the Third Reich.

"The United States is not going to suddenly (or even over the long term) wake up with expenditure rates on a par with Canada."

Did I say that? No. But we have to start somewhere. And the point wasn't that wer were suddenly going to start spending what other countries do; it was that these other countries show that there are ways of providing as good outcomes for a lot less money, and we can get there eventually (indeed, we have to if we're not going to go bankrupt). Gawande's New Yorker piece is a good read on how the Senate bill would be a big help.

By the way, there are plenty of public schools that perform quite well, if you'd take a look. And even if they don't, that doesn't mean we reject the notion of pubic schools, only that they need to be revamped. If you've got an idea for a market system that educates people who can't pay for their own education, let's see it. Otherwise, government will be involved, at a minimum though "mandatory" tax assessments for vouchers (horrors!). Slavery would be sure to follow, no?

And yes, I invoke Godwin's Law on this one.

Posted by: dasimon | December 19, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

--"Do you really think the Canadians have "subsumed themselves to the Fatherland"? Or the Swiss? Or the Australians? Or the French? Or any of our peer nations, all of which have universal coverage--and some form of a mandate?"--

Certainly do. None of them are Americans. None of them have the spirit, the love of freedom. Except maybe the Australians, and their health care is a disaster and many of them absolutely chafe at the horrible yoke of it.

Frankly, I'd rather live a free man and die of lack of health insurance, then live subjected to the idiocy of being "mandated" into Klein's little box of stupidity. And if I'm thinking that way, a lot of other people are, too.

But even if there isn't a general rebellion, the general decline in living standards and affordability will pick up its pace, until we're all as miserably confined and sullen as the British (a land of thieves, I might add, but that's another story).

--"hardly force their citizens to swear unflagging loyalty to their Dear Leaders--or do you dispute that?"--

Of course. But their oaths of fealty are rendered in the horrendous taxes they pay. They've barely progressed beyond feudal times, if truth be told.

And it is slavery.

Posted by: msoja | December 19, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

"Europe is no longer a free society. It is, in effect, a tyranny ruled by the unelected Kommissars of the European Union. That is perhaps one reason why police forces throughout Europe, including that in the UK, have become far more brutal than was once acceptable in their treatment of the citizens they are sworn to serve.

"It is exactly this species of tyranny that the UN would like to impose upon the entire planet, in the name of saving us from ourselves – or, as Ugo Chavez would put it, saving us from Western capitalist democracy."

-- Lord Monckton, of his visit to Copenhagen, three days ago.

It is instructive to reflect upon the fact that the Europeans *never* gave their citizens the freedom which the Americans decided upon. The French had their chance in 1789 but chose the collectivist road, rejecting the terms of the Enlightenment as embraced just a few years ealier by the stalwart Americans. The struggle has continued all these years, until now, when it appears we are to be swallowed back into the old tyrannies.

Posted by: msoja | December 20, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

My apologies if this double-posts. My prior attempt didn't go through perhaps due to length, so I'll try it in two parts.

msoja: "But their oaths of fealty are rendered in the horrendous taxes they pay. They've barely progressed beyond feudal times, if truth be told."

In your view, it seems, any taxes are "horrendous" because they're mandated, and therefore not "freely" chosen. So the level of taxation seems to be irrelevant to your argument. Plus, if their taxes were so horrendous, they to change it, perhaps? So obviously their opinions differ.

As far as living standards go, again the fact is that theirs is comparable to ours--and hardly medieval.

Moreover, you ignore our “horrendous” medical expenses. Again, the facts are that we spend far more than they do for no better results. They pay more in taxes, but we pay far more in total with premiums, deductibles, co-pays. I don’t see why that’s not equally "horrendous." (Or again, do you dispute these facts about GNP spend on health care?)

As far as the Monckton quote goes, I suppose the fact that one person says something makes it true? (And I suppose our neighbors in Canada have been "swallowed back into the old tyrannies" too?)

Posted by: dasimon | December 20, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

msoja: You would rather live a "free man" and die of lack of health insurance. I would rather not be mandated to pay taxes for B-2 bombers, which I think is a waste of money. But I lost that vote. I have the freedom to tell others that the program is a waste of money, and if I succeed then I'll win that vote. If you feel a health care mandate is so terrible, you have that same freedom to change people's minds and relieve yourself and others of that burden. You say if you think a mandate is a bad idea, then many others think so too. So have at it. Welcome to democracy. But that doesn’t make it tyranny.

Yes, there is always a danger of the "tyranny of the majority." But there is also such a thing as majority rule. Your conception of "freedom" would seem to hold that any majority decision is tyranny, which would mean no government at all and a deny of any form of democracy, which would make modern society impossible. Indeed, such an approach could be "medieval" because infrastructure wouldn't get built (why should I have to pay for a bridge I don't want?), and huge portions of the public wouldn't learn to read or write (because there's no market mechanism to educate lower-income people, or at least you didn't answer my prior question about it).

Other societies have made different choices. (And, by the way, it's not just "Europe." It's Canada, and Australia, and New Zealand, and Japan.) On the scale of things, our differences are not that great. But those differences are enough so that people here die because they can't access medical care, such as Nikki White who died of lupus and made too much for Medicaid but couldn't get insurance because of her preexisting condition ( Any one of us could be in that position. And given a Rawlsian "veil of ignorance," ( then it can be considered "just" to create a system that covers all of us.

But that choice doesn't send us down the path of despotism. To argue otherwise I think shows that it's useless to have further discussion when the experiences of other countries expressly refute the conclusions.

When facts conflict with ideology, I think the ideology needs to be adjusted. It seems that others think otherwise. But if facts are irrelevant, then there's not much of a basis for discussion. And then it's not worth my time.

Posted by: dasimon | December 20, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Go Ezra!
Go Ezra!

Posted by: 4jkb4ia | December 20, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

dasimon - I called 'em "horrendous" because they really are high. Not all taxes are horrendous, but they are certainly superfluous.

Time and space dictate brevity, so I'll spell it like this...

In a free country, yes, those who will not or cannot provide for themselves die in greater proportions than those who are better equipped to deal with life's vagaries, but overall, there are rarely any shortages, innovation takes place at a break neck speed, and freedom is served. The "system" is one of no particular system, but runs exceedingly well.

With a government "system" of health care there is a normal reluctance among those furnishing the health care dollars to contribute marginally more than they themselves use, which engenders an eternal shortage of goods, so the government decides who gets what and how much of it, based on arbitrary political considerations, albeit to the benefit of those who cannot or will not (in a free market) endeavor to provide for themselves, but to the detriment of those who otherwise would be able to acquire the goods absent said political considerations. Enter various avenues for corruption (etc., and if you need the etceteras expanded, you're hopeless, anyway.) The end result is the inculcation, the subsidization, the preservation, the increased life span (in the case of health care) of the weakest of society's members, and a gradual decline in the overall numbers of society's unweak members. The process can be witnessed around the world, wherever government command and control has crept in. The decline is long term, certainly, and does take a generation or two to be noticeable to even those disinclined to notice it, but it is inevitable. Where it has been long extant, socialist health care is in far more dire straits than the still ostensibly free system which is painted as being in such crisis here.


Posted by: msoja | December 21, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

--"(really? death?)"--

I take it you haven't considered what might happen to a person who refused to buy insurance at the government's urging, and then refused to pay the fine the government imposes for not buying insurance, and then refused to be carted off to the hoosegow to face charges on the sundry refusals. Do you think the policeman will say, "Uh, okay," and go merrily on his way, or will he draw his gun? And what then?

All government endeavor carries a threat of death behind it.

Posted by: msoja | December 21, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

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