If The Supreme Court Kills Obamacare, You Can Keep Your Silver Lining

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Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan
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    says:

    I’ve been struck by the government’s position.

    It’s seriously pushed more chips in the pile than SCOTUS normally likes to play with.  If they strike down the mandate and not the entire law, they’re going to be stuck striking down the pre-existing conditions and community-rating positions, I think.

    Those are the two conditions that really make the law attractive to the general public, as opposed to the specific public(s).  This goes against the assertion alluded to by some conservatives that the Obama administration doesn’t mind if the mandate goes down because that will just let them go with the Real Plan of single-payer over the next few years as insurance companies are driven out of business.  With those two other conditions going away with the mandate, that whole fantasy plan doesn’t work.

    Now, I thought that the government might take the position of trying to save those two *while* losing the mandate, but the oral arguments seemed to be an entire concession that you can’t lose one without the other two.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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      says:

      There’s been a lot of commentary, largely but not exclusively from the libs, critical of Solicitor General Verrilli in his performance in oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

      I think there’s a big difference from those who were there live (or heard the tape) and those who read the transcript. When you hear it on audio, SG Verrilli is evasive, scattered and lacks confidence. But when you read the transcript, it doesn’t seem nearly so bad.

      The second day of oral arguments represent the possibility of a profound change in our political culture. The reality is percolating that (beyond the real or imagined failings of SG Verrilli) while the Administration, the lib legal establishment and libs in general desperately want PPACA to be Constitutional, they have no clear idea why they think it is.

      Only now is it dawning on them (and just barely at that) that the Consitution and other norms represent an actual constraint on their sphere of action and the ethical limits of their intent instead of a momentary obstacle for them to maneuver around.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Koz
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        I think you’re giving them too much credit.  Of course, you can say the same thing about the GOP.  Congress, on the whole, doesn’t seem to consider the Constitution much except as something to get around.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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          says:

          Not quite. I was talking about libs in general, not just the ones in Congress. And conservatives understand very well that the Constitution is a constraint on government action, or at least it’s supposed to be.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Koz
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            says:

            So, were conservatives not in power from 2000-2006?Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Koz
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            /plonk

            So sorry, but how can one have a reasonable conversation with someone who doesn’t consider the other side valuable enough to at least have around?

            Hell, even pedophiles have valuable things to say (perhaps about how best to keep them away from kids).  To say, so baldly, “liberals would not exist in my ideal state”?

            SHIT. I hope in your hoover-inspired future, where this country runs on high speed trains, and your eisenhower future, where the president says “I can see why white got such a problem with n***** in their communities”, and your Lincoln inspired future, where the president says a house divided cannot stand, so he kicks the rest out… I hope you grow enough of a pair of balls that you can accept that other ideologies, might, possible, someday, have a point.Report

  2. Avatar Roger
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    says:

    Obamacare is what I would design if I wanted to destroy both the health insurance and health care industries. Let’s do it right with a system that both halves of the country can agree to and that leads to better long term results for all of us.

    Suggestions available upon request.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Roger
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      says:

      Suggestions available upon request.

      Man, it’s refreshing to hear someone say that about this issue! So, what’re you thinking?Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Rufus F.
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        says:

        Knowing Roger’s past prescription’s on policy, I’m guessing it comes down to removing regulations on insurance companies so they have the freedom to deny care to anybody they want for any reason they want, institute tort reform so people who have their lives ruined by malpractice can only get a pittance of money, and allow insurance companies to sell across state lines, which will essentially mean they’ll do the same thing the credit card companies did – buy a state legislature and move operations there.Report

        • Avatar Roger in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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          says:

          Jesse,

          I assure you I do not support invalidating contractual property rights or fostering crony capitalism.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger
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            says:

            Do you beleive insurance companies should be allowed to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions?

            Do you believe in caps on awards in malpractice cases>

            Do you believe insurance companies should be allowed to sell across state lines?Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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              says:

              Do you believe insurance companies should be allowed to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions?

              This is a tricky question.  As things stand right now, yes.  Do I think they should be that way?  No.  But that requires a fundamental re-engineering of the medical insurance provisioning mechanism.

              Do you believe in caps on awards in malpractice cases?

              I believe in caps on awards in most cases.  My idea of what a “cap” is… that’s probably significantly different from what most people think a “cap” is.

              The cap should be to establish a trade-off analysis wherein malfeasance has appropriate negative incentives.  If the cap is too low, you’re creating a condition where every company has too great of an incentive to cheat.  If it is too high, you’re making it impossible to outsource the risk management and insurance disappears or becomes unaffordable.

              Do you believe insurance companies should be allowed to sell across state lines?

              This is another tricky question.  Under certain conditions, yes.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                says:

                I think my insurance might already be sold across state lines.
                I have Cigna through the National Employee Benefits Assoc. (NEBA) in Jacksonville.
                Say, like if I’m working in Milwaukee (at their rates), the health & welfare funds (H&W) goes to national at the end of the calendar quarter. At the end of the next quarter, it goes to my home local (in Florida), and my insurance is effective.
                That’s why I can pay $20,000 a year for health insurance, but still have lapses in coverage.

                Maybe, on some technical level, once the money is shifted around so much it comes up as in-state at the time of purchase.
                I really don’t know all the particulars.Report

            • Avatar Roger in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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              Jesse, see below. My recommendation would not allow underwriting or rating based upon pre existing conditions. It would encourage companies to offer rewards and discounts for healthy lifestyle, though they would not be forced into these, and consumers would bee free to choose companies without them.

              I would recommend consumers and industry work together to design arbitration boards to handle malpractice. This could then be offered to consumers as an option within their insurance. The consumer should be sovereign. This means they can freely choose the current liability system if they want it.

              I do not believe there should be any restrictions on competition. I agree completely with you that companies and special interest groups will try to lobby for special privilege and other various regulatory “rents”. This needs to be managed. I have ideas to limit that too.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Roger
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                Not allowing underwriting would undermine the basic funcion of insurance policies: to manage risk.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Murali
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                Murali, I am glad you joined in I wanted to hear more of your experience.

                Yeah, I know, I was a leader of underwriting (and pricing) at a major American insurance company for years. Never in health insurance though.

                I would recommend we experiment with biting the bullet and group people into age and territory cohorts and that we limit risk management via rating to areas within the control of the insured such as smoking and fitness. The ramifications of no underwriting is that companies will be penalized for experimenting with more coverage or lower deductibles, as sick people will change to these companies, destroying them for the healthier customers (driving up rates). I have some technical ideas on how to address this, but it gets beyond the scope of the blog.

                What do they do in Singapore on underwriting?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Roger
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                What do they do in Singapore on underwriting?

                A lot of the more basic catastrophic plans just compete on different coverage and different premiums. Some of the more advanced ones get you to have a medical checkup to see what conditions you have before deciding what to cover and at what rate. Once covered, though, the insurance company must pay for whatever is covered. They can’t weasel out of that. So, there isn’t any one standard AFAIK regarding what must be covered, but you know you’re covered if its in your policy. Most just cover for hospitalisation, permanent disability, death etc. Alldepends on which insurance plan from which company.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Murali
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                Murali,

                Sounds great, especially if we added the right to opt out.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Rufus F.
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        Rufus,

        I believe health care reform requires three components:
        1) Routine health care — paid by consumers out of something similar to HSAs. Consumers would manage routine costs, and companies would be free to vary the product and the pricing, but rating would be limited to cohorts based upon age with discounts available for non smokers, controllable fitness programs, etc. In other words, people would be allowed to earn better rates with better controllable fitness improvement. Underwriting would not be allowed, but surcharges would be allowed to penalize people from going in and out of the insurance market. Any company would be free to enter the market and set premiums, but no company would be allowed to refuse to pay contractual obligations per Jesse.
        2). Catastrophic care — would work above the level of routine care for major medical expenses beyond that manageable with an HSA type account. This would be managed like social security, except it would have more options so people could tailor it to their personal preference. It could be deducted from wages, would be available to every American, but would have an opt out provision to respect liberty. Companies would compete for blocks of this business.
        3). Safety net / redistribution element — to help the poor, unemployed and elderly pay premiums or fund their HSA. This too could be deducted from all our wages with an opt out provision for hard core libertarian anarchists.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Roger
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          This seems to be a pretty good starting point.Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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            I was drawing from memory from the conversations we had on it last summer.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Roger
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              Yeah, I seem to recall we were in low orbit around a collective group of ideas.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                Yeah, it was one of the rare discussions where all three groups started to kinda almost agree with each other. It is easy when no rent seeking, special interest groups are involved. Once they get involved, the army of rationalizers will work to turn us all against each other. Battle line will be drawn and sabers will begin to rattle.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger
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                Well, except for us silly leftists who have this weird belief that there is no rational free market when it comes to health care.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                You’re right, that is silly.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James K
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                Yes, things like bounded rationality, imperfect information, inelasticity of demand…such silly, silly concepts. Von Mises never needed any of that. Pox on the notion that markets aren’t perfect!Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to James K
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                says:

                Come on, getting an artery replaced is just like buying a new belt sander at Home Depot!Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to James K
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                says:

                Nob and Jesse,

                Mises and all reasonable libertarians realize that it is imperfection of knowledge that leads to why we recommend using Free Enterorise in the first place. Markets, if set up properly, are complex adaptive problem solving systems that go beyond what is possible with centralized planning. Markets (which tap and focus human ingenuity) create/invent solutions, produce them and deliver them based upon the dynamics of the system in a positive sum process that generates prosperity and solves innumerable consumer problems. This is true in health care as well as home improvement.

                No complex adaptive system is perfect, the relevant question is which system is best. The screwed up industries are the ones with massive interference in free enterprise. If we want to improve health care it is imperative that we tap into this system. See my three recommendations above.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to James K
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                I’ve never even read Mises, you’re overgeneralising.

                I may be misreading you, be you seem to be falling victim to one of the classic policy economics blunders.  The most famous is assuming markets never fail, but only slightly less well known is this: never assume that the existence of a market failure justifies any intervention you can think of.

                I’ve actually written about healthcare before, and you will notice that while my solution leaves more room for market operations than either the ACA or the prevailing status quo before it was passed, it still leaves room the government to act.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to James K
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                says:

                James,

                My comment then as now was to cheer your proposal. It is spot on.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James K
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                James:
                You’re right of course that market failure doesn’t justify intervention and it’s a point that’s worth reminding myself of every time I look into market failures writ large.

                I’ve read your proposal and while I don’t think I commented on it at the time,  there’s a handful of things that probably bear noting.

                1. Healthcare reform in the US will have to be as much a supply-side solution as a demand side one. That is to say, you can’t simply reform health insurance if the compensation system and the way healthcare provisioning works is still based on a quasi-cartel with a fee for service model.

                2.  There is a scale issue involved here. In order to do a root and branch reform of an entire sector, you need something with adequate financial leverage to do the reforming of practices and culture. In the US this is clearly going to be Medicare. Simply moving to HSAs won’t help much if hospitals and doctor networks still work on a FfS model. I’m simply inclined to believe that for actual cost containment and cultural changes to happen in healthcare provisioning, before any market can exist, there needs to be a change in what draws payments.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Roger
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          2) What’s catastrophic? $5000? $50000?

          3) Why do we need another opt-out provision? Can’t the one for religion work instead?Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Kimmi
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            says:

            I will allow you to answer the first question. Note that the higher we set it, the less expensive catastrophe care becomes, but the more expensive the redistribution safety net support system becomes.

            The opt out woul be inclusive of people opting out altogether for whatever reason. Do note that I would make the opt out a serious decision. It has ramifications.. If a religious zealot, or libertarian wanted to opt out of the catastrophic care and redistribution system, I would expect them to sign and notarize that they assume all responsibility for their own health care from that point on. No free care for free riders that are capable of contributing. I would allow people to opt out of routine care, but they would probably wish they did not due to rating penalties.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Roger
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              says:

              Okay, let me throw Jaybird’s Monkey Wrench at you:

              Can you opt-out minors?  Or can the State demand that you cover them until majority?Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                says:

                Yeah, good one. What do you recommend?

                My thought is that they naturally enter the system when they start working.

                I guess parents could opt out for themselves, but the kids would need to be covered and by the parents opting out they would be agreeing to reimburse the state up to some level when their kid needs treatment that they can’t pay for. I certainly do not support penalizing kids because their parents are anarchists or zealots. Another option is that parents could only opt out if they proved they had alternative coverage available. This goes against my libertarian senses though.

                Jay bird, care to jump in?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                Dude, you would not believe the day I have had.

                Anyway, It should be over soon. I will compose a post on my way home.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Roger
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                says:

                Kids always screw everything up.

                There are several categories, some we can do stuff for, some we can’t. That’s pretty much the first premise. If the only acceptable outcome is “absolutely everyone gets absolutely everything they need without having to wait in line”, we’re doomed from the start.

                There’s also the issues of “how do we deal with malicious parents?”, “how do we deal with negligent parents?”, “how do we deal with stupid parents?”, and “how do we deal with poor parents? (Of those four, it seems to me that the last one is the easiest to deal with.)

                Looking at the price spiral, it seems to me that this is a TEXTBOOK example of a health care shortage… and what’s the best way to deal with that? Well, we need more doctors and nurses and whatnot. The money being poured into “insurance” should instead be poured into “we’ll pay off your tuition if you do the following” payments. Have doctors get their tuition loans paid off if the doctors work in one of the many healthcare deserts we have in the country. Pay off all of it if they stay 5 or 6 years, maybe. Some will leave at the end of those years (at which point we go through this again), some will have roots in the community and stay.

                If there are kids in the US who can’t see a doctor because the parents would have to get on a bus, ride for an hour or two, get to the office, wait for an hour, then go back, then we have a problem where there aren’t enough doctors 20 minutes away by bus. 10 minutes away. This can be fixed by making more doctors. Take care of much of the financial problems by offering to make tuition payments for the doctors who are willing to be 10 minutes away by bus.

                The biggest problem that I constantly see in the health care debate is that nobody seems to give a crap about the question “does this make it easier to be a doctor?” (or “does this make it easier to be a nurse practitioner?). Because, you know what? If the answer to that question is “no”, then your program, *WHATEVER IT IS*, will *NOT* help and will probably do harm.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jaybird
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                +1 to Jaybird on the Doctor’s thing. The AMA is a cartel that needs to be destroyed yesterday.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                Plus two. We should have free entry with transparency on certification in health care. We also need full transparency on prices.

                Yeah, Jesse and I actually agree!Report

          • Avatar Murali in reply to Kimmi
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            Things like cancer and heart attacksReport

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger
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          Sorry, all HSA’s do is shift financal risk away from insurance companies to individuals, make out-of-pocket costs higher for those with chronic conditions, and reduces primary and preventative services use by low and middle-income individuals, especially those that are already sick.

          HSA’s basically redistribute the nation’s overall financial burden of health care from the budgets of chronically healthy families to those of chronically ill families, Now, they’re fine if you’re making enough money to stock money into an HSA, but as the GAO said, most HSA’s are for, “healthy consumers, but not to those who use
          maintenance medication, have a chronic condition, have children, or may not have the funds to meet the high deductible.”

          So yeah, HSA’s are a great policy, assuming you never get sick and/or make a whole lot of money. The truth is, we should look at what works all around the world, which is highly-regulated insurance market with heavy government involvement, whether it’s subsidies, single-payer, or the like. Hell, thanks to Obama’s reforms, Medicare is growing slower than private insurance, despite being full of old people who are sick.Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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            says:

            Jesse,
            Good points all, indeed great points. The catastrophic provision and the redistribution provision counter this in two important ways. First, they work in the opposite direction, shifting benefits and premiums from the healthy to the sick and the wealthy to the poor. Second, they substantially reduce the scope of HSAs to routine expenses and care. Most importantly, the redistribution element can apply not just to paying premiums but to funding HSAs for desperate families.Report

            • Avatar Roger in reply to Roger
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              says:

              Jesse,

              Upon further reflection I agree with you even more. I grant that from a libertarian perspective it is foolish to force HSAs in the voluntary, routine care market on those like yourself that do not want them. I would simply present it as an option for free market zealots like myself (surely you will grant this concession to me?)

              Thus you will get routine health care with choice, catastrophic care for all and subsidies for the poor and elderly. Are you on board yet? There is one other minor detail, but I will await your feedback before bringing it up.Report

          • Avatar Murali in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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            Look at Singapore’s healthcare system What Roger is proposing has bee implemented in the real world.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Murali
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              Without going down tReport

              • Avatar greginak in reply to greginak
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                oh sonaof….don’t know what bit off the end of my comment. oh well. What liberals have been proposing has been working in the real world in many countries.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to greginak
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                Yeah, just saying that Roger’s proposal is even more awesome and has the additional bonus of being presentable as a market solution. Its not a free-market solution, but it tries to make healthcare function like one with certain fairly judicious interventions. Trying to encourage market-like behaviour in the right places is a good rule of thumb to follow in crafting good policy. Also Jesse Ewiak was implying that HSAs are less equitable than the current system. They are not. A poor sick person in singapore has a better chance of surviving than a poor sick person in the USReport

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Murali
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              I think that’s a different argument Murali. The argument on the table, at least in this thread, is whether the PPACA is constitutional, not whether there are other better, more practical, more libertarian, etc. ways to provide healthcare. I mean, if you want to provide healthcare, just go single payer. That’s the best way to do it. But lots of people don’t like that idea. So the issue really amounts to providing health care within some somewhat arbitrary constraints like government intrusion, and ‘re’distribution of wealth, and basic rights, and all that other stuff. The argument people are making is ‘the best health care consistent with X, Y and Z’.

              For my part, I think it’s likely that conservative’s desire to ‘protect’ America from the ravages of big librul gubmint might lead to the destruction of American ‘exceptionalism’, both in terms of the economic drain resulting from unconstrained healthcare costs as well as breaking whatever’s left of the fabric of our society.

               Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Stillwater
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                Wait, I thought this sub-thread is about Roger’s proposal and how awesome it is relatvie to other policies.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Murali
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                Oh, so you’re playing the sub-thread card on me?

                Fair enough. I guess I just don’t have a lot of patience with dream policies when the reality is a Congress comprise of … well … Congresscritters.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Stillwater
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                Stillwater,

                I did offer up a suggestion that offers health care along with what I believe is X, Y and Z.

                It is universal, it would allow competition and consumer sovereignty to manage affordability, it is voluntary, it eliminates the problems with pre existing conditions, it protects the poor and elderly with redistribution, and best of all I think it includes your feedback from the discussion last summer.Report

        • Avatar Derp in reply to Roger
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          What do you do with people who opt out of catastrophic care and have no HSA, but get in a horrific car accident?Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Derp
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            Derp,

            What do you recommend? My initial suggestion would be that we require them to sign a stack of notarized waivers that they do not want or expect any medical care. That is why he would have to be crazy to sign one unless he had the means or other insurance to cover himself. Either that or they will owe a lot of money to a hospital.

            The redistribution element protects the poor from having to sign waivers.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger
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              I suggest we don’t treat people as disposable simply because they don’t have insurance or a savings account.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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                Jesse,

                You can only do this by forcing them to have one.

                Which is best, to force rational adults with the means to buy coverage to do so, or to allow them to opt out of the process and live with the consequences of their actions?

                I am not treating anyone as disposable. I am treating them as rational and free.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Roger
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                 live with the consequences of their actions

                Lets be clear what this means.

                I think it means letting an uninsured indigent person die in the streets.

                If thats not what you meant, please explain what sort of “consequences” you have in mind.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Liberty60
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                That’s not what he meant.  He pretty much says he wants to cover the indigent here.

                What he’s saying is that people have the right to opt-out of lifesaving treatment.  If you absolutely don’t want to be covered, and you don’t want to pay (not, you don’t have the means to pay but you don’t *want* to pay for insurance), you’re opted out.  If you get in a motorcycle accident and you don’t have the money or the credit to pay for your emergency care, they let you die.  No free riders.

                I have three problems with this: it assumes a level of rationality that I think is demonstrably non-existent among at least the young certainly…  it puts first responders in the untenable position of refusing care… and finally, that’s a really tricky audit process that can result in people dying due to missing paperwork.

                However, I agree that free-riding is a problem.

                My alternative suggestion would be: If you want to opt-out of coverage, that’s fine.  No insurance.  If you get picked up on an emergency call, lifesaving treatment will be provided to you because of the last two of my three problems: you can’t check eligibility with enough accuracy under lifesaving treatment windows and you don’t want your first responders put in that position anyway.

                If you can’t pay your bill, the hospital is *not* allowed to cost-transfer.  They submits the bill to the Federal Government, and they pay your bill, and the IRS garnishes your wages until you pay it off.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                Patrick and Lib,
                I am hunky dory with this idea. It allows us to be compassionate and is vastly superior by not requiring paperwork. Liberty, does this meet your objection?

                By the way Patrick, how do you do that cool trick where you link to an earlier comment?Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                Per Jesse below, I give you props for diligently attempting a solution that doesn’t violate your free market theology.

                But then I notice how as the mechanism increasingly attempts to react to real life situations, it becomes more complex with more bells and whitles and safety cogs.

                Becoming rather like a modified free market that is massively regulated and tightly supervised by the Federal government. Instead of a mandate to buy insurance, you are free to ignore it, then are coerced by the Federal government to pay back your astronomical medical bills.

                Such a scenario could probably work, in fact.

                Leaving only my question of, to what end?

                How does this make our society better than say, Canada with their single payer version?

                Do the American people get better medical care? Not that I can see.

                Do we get medical care cheaper? I haven’t heard that claim made.

                It just seems like a contrived Rube Goldberg that is premised apriori on the notion that the marketplace must be maintained by any means necessary, even if it ends up being every bit as warped and distorted as what Obama is proposing.

                On the other hand it allow foolish young libertairians to ride motorcycles without helmets, then convulse helplessly on the pavement, while we all stand around watching.

                So there’s that.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                says:

                Such a scenario could probably work, in fact.

                Cool, glad you’re on board?

                How does this make our society better than say, Canada with their single payer version?

                It doesn’t, most likely.

                Do the American people get better medical care?

                In comparison to what we have now?  Probably.  In comparison to anybody else that has universal health care of one sort or another?  Probably not, overall.  Maybe.

                Do we get medical care cheaper?

                Given that the number of actual free-riders is probably small, and the cost shifting can’t occur, we get better accounting.  We don’t get medical care cheaper unless we increase the supply of doctors, that’s outside the scope of this particular solution.  One step at a time.

                Leaving only my question of, to what end?

                It will pass a SCOTUS challenge and actually be implemented?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                says:

                15% of medical spending goes towards waste (a lot of accountants, wading through insurance, etc…). I think we can reduce the cost of health care spending without increasing the number of doctors. it’s called single payer, you’ve heard of it?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                In my experience, the introduction of federal money does not decrease paperwork.

                It ntuples it.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Sorry, Roger, just noticed your question.

                If you right-click on the number of the comment, and choose “copy link”, you can then paste that link or put in the HTML if you’re not using the visual editor.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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                says:

                That works great. My guess is most commenters are not aware of this cool trick. Thanks again.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger
          Ignored
          says:

          First of all, even if I disagree totally with this plan, it’s still more sane than anything coming out of the modern Republican Party. So, you’ve got that going for you.

          1) All that will lead to is two types of products. Relatively cheap or moderately-priced products for healthy people and very expensive junk products for people who have chronic conditions. Nah, I’ll keep guaranteed issue and community rating instead.

          2) As Kimmi pointed out, if the price-level of catacrosphic care is low, you’re basically creating Medicare-for-All which is fantastic in my eyes, but if it’s too high, there’s a giant donut hole where well-meaning people can save money in their HSA’s, be responsible, but still be wiped out if two-or-three moderate crises happen. Say, Timmy breaks his wrist doing a skateboard jump, Sally twists her knee at gymnastics, and Dad finds out he has a chronic medical condition. All of the sudden, in a few months, that HSA is empty and bills are still coming in. So, no, I’ll stick to the risk pool of thousands or millions in a potable group health insurance plan over the shakiness of an HSA.

          3) We’ve got Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly and the poor and as long as the ACA doesn’t get obliterated by the Supreme Court, that looks better to me than creating 20 million HSA’s for poor people.Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Jesse Ewiak
            Ignored
            says:

            Jesse,

            Let me clarify. Point one guarantees the same policy choices and premiums for basic coverage irrespective of pre existing conditions or subsequent health. I am agreeing 100% with you that this plan has guaranteed issue and community rating. We are actually in agreement here.

            On two, I also completely 100% agree with you and Kimmi that the basic coverage level cannot be set too high. In addition I need to clarify that number three assists these families in establishing their account balance. Yes it does create a kind of Medicare for all, but it creates one where consumers are aware of prices and have incentives to manage their health and the costs. If we just create a system of unlimited care for all paid by a third party the system will spiral out of control on expenses and lead to a socialized, rationed product.Report

            • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Roger
              Ignored
              says:

              I question that- the notion that if we give away medical care for free, people will overuse it.

              What if you woke up tomorrow and medical care were free, paid for by a benevolent space alien.

              What medical procedure would you rush out and get?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Liberty60
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                says:

                I’d have a colonoscopy once a month.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                Asspurger’s Syndrome.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                And how long have you been waiting for a chance to use that?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Liberty60
                Ignored
                says:

                I think that it’s possible that this could be a problem at some point, but there is a practical limiter already in place.

                I have to wait 4 weeks to see a hand and wrist specialist.  The limiter is not the money.  The limiter is the availability of the doctor.

                That’s already a big enough limiter that “free care” isn’t going to open any floodgates.  If you don’t have a legitimate need, you’re not going to just arbitrarily sign yourself up for 100 specialist appointments because you can’t fill up your calendar that far in advance.

                However, if we took Jaybird’s advice and started subsidizing medical training (something I’m a big fan of myself), we’d have to make sure that 10 years from now we’re not producing doctors at a rate that’s so high that we’re cutting down that time limiter to the point where “free” actually does encourage overconsumption.

                I think there’s a big time window, there, though.  The big problem will be about 25 years from now when the boomers die off.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                There’s a lot of discretion at the margin. Tests that have a low probability of turning up anything serious. Expensive procedures that probably won’t work and won’t make much of a difference even if they do work. Life support for the terminally ill.

                What I’d like to see is an insurance model where an independent auditor publishes QALY estimates for different treatments, and insurance plans have different premiums based on cost per QALY. If a procedure has a better cost per QALY ratio than your plan’s threshold, then it’s covered, otherwise not. Government plans and discount private plans would have low thresholds, and as you paid more your ratio would go up. If you get insurance from the government, or from work or whatever, you can buy extra insurance on top to raise your threshold.

                I think this makes a lot more sense than the buffet type plans which some free-market types propose (“I want coverage for heart disease and brain cancer, but not for lung cancer or liver cancer”). That sort of thing just shuffles costs around, and leaves you vulnerable to getting a disease you didn’t plan on because you didn’t have the risk factors.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                Mr. Berg, what you describe is pretty much Britain’s NICE system, years of quality life vs. cost of treatment.

                http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/24/avastin-too-expensive-for-patients

                Of course in a socialized system, one size fits all.  It’s only fair.

                However, taking a look at the other systems that people have spoken of approvingly here, I notice that 2-tier systems are pretty much unavoidable.  Costa Rica has cheap private medical procedures for those who can afford them, but the proles have waiting lists.  Upwards of 25% of Singaporeans appear to pay out of pocket [if I read the prev link right].   The Queen of England does not queue up at the NHS.

                 

                And in a way—stick with me here—if there’s a natural right to self-defense, then it’s unjust to prevent people from buying “Cadillac” health plans such as you describe above, where the

                years of quality life [divided by] cost of treatment

                quotient is more generous.  What is “fair” isn’t necessarily just.

                [There’s a problem with setting such scientific standards, BTW—a treatment might be marginally effective for 70% of people, but very effective for 30%.  It’s hard to dial the quotient in because unlike abstract egalitarian socio-political schemes, where it comes to actual human beings, one size does not fit all.]

                 Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                Brandon,

                Cool idea.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Liberty60
                Ignored
                says:

                I wouldn’t mind having a full head of hair again. Maybe the RK so I could get rid of my glasses. Could they increase hormone production to raise my metabolism? Also, the doctor told me that my midsection is retaining fat. Could they help with that at all?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Eunuchs never go bald.   Food for thought.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                It doesn’t work *AFTER* the fact. They have to get you before you go bald.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I simply will not ask how you came to that knowledge.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                When I see a good longitudinal study regarding the long term viability of lasik I’ll consider letting someone cut my eyeball.

                This is at least 15 years down the road.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Nah, dude. These are the aliens. They have the good health care to give.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                A bunch of humans all going blind at once would be an easy herd to gather up.

                I trust aliens less than I trust people.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Man, that’s racist.

                You shouldn’t look at the aliens and say “that’s an alien”. I’m Jay. You’re Patrick. He’s Kanamit.

                We’re all the same *INSIDE*.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You and Patrick are the same, once you’re inside Kanamit.

                I mean, it is a cookbook.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                … hopefully not inside the alien, though.

                AETP. Aliens eating tasty people.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                “Xenophobe” is the historical term but I prefer “speciesist” myself.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                RK is about three generations ago.  Or is that the point?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                Basically.

                There’s been enough information to judge the efficacy and safety of the original procedure.  That’s not what I’m worried about.  Your eyes deteriorate as you get older.  So…

                … what about getting it done again?

                … is it still as safe and effective?

                … are the exception scenarios notably worse?

                I’d rather wear glasses when I need them (I can see okay without them) for twenty years and then get surgery later than get surgery now and find out twenty years from now that I can’t get it redone, or getting it redone is much more likely to lead to complications, or something of that sort.

                Of course, I can get by without glasses.  My answer may be different if I couldn’t get by without glasses.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                I was bat-blind when I had LASIK, almost 15 years ago.  For much of that, I didn’t need glasses at all.  Now I need them for driving and movies (not because the reshaping is less effective, but due to the normal decrease in the ability of the eye to change focus.)  It’s been nothing short of a miracle.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                My experience is the same as Mr. Schilling’s albeit a couple of years shorter. (And I  haven’t needed to go back to glasses yet, though my current vision is no longer the 20/15 post-op level)Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Liberty60
                Ignored
                says:

                Liberty,

                I am assuming you are being facetious here. The point is not so much that I would get unnecessary treatment, though some probably would, it I that I would have no incentive to manage the cost of the treatment. If I have no incentive to manage the cost, and those supplying the service have every incentive to increase the cost ( profit) then the problem is absolutely guaranteed to spiral out of control. I am pretty sure you agree with me on this.

                I believe third party payments are destroying the cost effectiveness of the industry. Under my 2nd suggestion, the part on catastrophic care, this would be centrally managed with cost controls and is thus the weakest part of the solution from a free market standpoint.Report

              • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                How does one “manage the cost” of one’s medical care?

                No snark, I really have no idea how anyone would do that. As others have pointed out, no one is knowledgeable about their medical care, and no one can act rationally in medical situations anyway.

                Again, it is your premise that I object to- that medical care is no different than a consumer good, and reacts well to the same market forces. I have never seen anything that would lead me to share that conclusion.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Liberty60
                Ignored
                says:

                Liberty,

                The reason I keep pushing for free markets is not quasi religious. It is because it is a complex adaptive system that is smarter at solving problems and delivering them efficiently than is coordinated control. I am just trying to use the best system at our disposal to create solutions and manage costs. That is all Free Enterprise is. It is a problem solving algorithm for a special domain of problems.

                In a free market, routine care hospitals and physicians would list their prices, consumer advocacy agencies could score and publish competing customer satisfaction results, complaints and malpractice claims would be published. We would choose between various prescriptions with advice from our chosen doctors or nurses.

                I have an HSA today, and do shop around somewhat. Often I ask my physician for advice before deciding. Today the market is totally opaque though, with massive cross subsidies occurring under the table. The market is misfiring.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Roger, myd entist shops around FOR me. she was chosen based on how nice she was, by the way (less on competency).

                “ordinary root canal” means “normal specialist”

                “oh-shit-your-face, fucking cellulitis and abcess” means “best in the damn city.”Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Liberty60
                Ignored
                says:

                @Liberty,

                How does one “manage the cost” of one’s medical care?

                Granted that one cannot exercise full control over one’s medical care, there are still many things a person can do to manage one’s care to a considerable extent.

                First, don’t see a doctor when it isn’t necessary and don’t ask for treatments that aren’t necessary.  I’ve known people who go to the doctor each time they get a cold, even though they know the doctor can’t do anything for rhinovirus.  There’s also a trend among well educated upper middle class parents to demand their doctors prescribe prophylactic antibiotics for their children.

                Second, live healthily.  Exercise regularly, eat wisely, don’t take foolish risks.  (I’m not playing moralist here–I frequently violate each of these prescriptions; but there’s no doubt that following them will help you manage your health care).

                Third, find a doctor who you can communicate with.  I’ve been quite fortunate with my last two primary care physicians in that I’ve lucked into doctors I can really communicate with, but if I hadn’t, I would have made the effort to do so.  If your doctor doesn’t listen and doesn’t answer questions in a way you really understand, make the effort to find a new one. Yes, that’s easier in some locales than in others–no advice is one size fits all and unfortunately exceptions don’t invalidate a good principle.

                Most of all, don’t think you’re helpless in the face of a vast monolithic impersonal machine.  Take responsibility and pay attention to what’s going on in your health and your health care.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                But don’t stint on preventive/diagnostic care.  Have regular checkups.  If you’re in a high-risk group for X, get tested for it as indicated.  It will be much cheaper (as well as easier to treat) if it’s caught early.   The real issue with health care isn’t that poor and working-class people can’t afford triple-bypasses; it’s that they can’t afford primary care physicians to build relationships with.

                 Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, and the very best way to manage costs is to have insurance, no matter how crappy the policy.  When I compare the PPO price I pay to list price, I wonder how anyone without insurance can afford to get the sniffles.  Vimes’s motherfishing gold-plated, diamond-studded boots.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                But don’t stint on preventive/diagnostic care.  Have regular checkups

                Agreed.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                I take it from previous statements that you don’t like the market-based approach that Obamacare is going for?? Or is it just that you’re unfamiliar with it, and thus can’t comment on the PROPOSED alternatives to pay-for-service?

                It may simply be that you’re trying to fix a problem that the corps already think they’re fixing…

                (sorry if this sounds mean, am just typin’ quick like)Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Kimmi
                Ignored
                says:

                Kimmi,

                In addition to James excellent summary as linked,
                https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/10/24/health-is-the-war-of-the-state/#comment-198337

                I strongly suggest the following summary by John Goodman. He lists ten things in our current system including Obamacare that are guaranteed to lead to health care catastrophe.
                http://healthblog.ncpa.org/what-most-needs-repealing/Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                OKAY. you know jack damn all about anything. Hell, I don’t know much, but at least I’m not pretending, Roger. You ain’t talking or quoting people in da trenches. You is talking wif someone at the edge of one of the trenches, and I gotta say — these people ain’t talking about anything relevant to the questions I posed to you.

                Try harder? I ain’t gonna even attempt to school you on things we ain’t done devising yet.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Murali
                Ignored
                says:

                Liberty, Kimmi, Jesse, Patrick and Murali,

                We would all really benefit by taking Murali’s recommendation and reviewing the experience in Singapore and South Africa. If our goals are affordable, comprehensive health care with a strong social safety nets, they offer great models. They differ, but have some things in common and put to rest the theory that people cannot influence cost containment on non emergency services.

                South Africa: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st234

                Singapore: http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st203

                Let’s get beyond political bickering and get behind something that is morally and economically superior in every way to our current cluster freaked system.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Not to put too fine a point on it, but SIngapore’s system (I haven’t done enough research into SA’s system) is based on an extremely powerful bureaucratic system focused on the Ministry of Health that does a LOT of intervention on the supply-end of medical services to maintain cost savings. They do all sorts of market interventions just not visible on the consumer end. It’s worth noting that about half of the hospitals in Singapore are government operated, and of those walk-in emergency services are provided mostly at those institutions.

                The demand-end changes that you’re proposing are only part of the situation, and unfortunately won’t fix anything on their own.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Hi Nob,

                Perhaps we are not seeing eye to eye on supply side. On the supply side I agree with Jaybird on addressing barriers to the supply of professionals in the industry. I would also address supply of pharmaceuticals and patents ( though I have not discussed this here). Most importantly, my catastrophic care, which is the majority of expenses in health care, assumes similar interventions. As much as I hate to admit it, I think we are better off partially socializing this aspect of health care. Oh sure, I add a few choices and options into the system, but truth is the government will end up rationing care.

                In other words, I suspect we agree more than you might think.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Singapore’s health system seems fairly byzantine, compulsory health savings accounts being the most interesting angle.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Singapore

                Approximately 70-80% of Singaporeans obtain their medical care within the public health system. 

                Which puts a healthy chunk of the population outside it.

                The means testing is rather intrusive, and if you have no monthly income, the %age the government picks up is pegged to the value of your home.  Permanent residents [as opposed to citizens] are also subsidized less.

                http://www.watsonwyatt.com/europe/pubs/healthcare/render2.asp?ID=13850

                So how does Singapore achieve such impressive results?

                The key to Singapore’s efficient health care system is the emphasis on the individual to assume responsibility towards their own health and, importantly, their own health expenditure. The result is a system that is predominantly funded by private rather than public expenditure. For example, in 2002, private health expenditure in Singapore (that is, financed by individuals or employers on behalf of individuals) amounted to almost 67 per cent of total health expenditure with the remaining 33 per cent financed by the Government from tax revenue. As shown in Figure 2, this is not the norm for most developed countries (the US aside), where health financing is predominantly from public expenditure.

                Report

            • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Roger
              Ignored
              says:

              Roger,

              Okay, here’s about where I stand with your plan…

              Catastrophic health care has gotta start at around the $5000 range. That’s about the Maximum I pay for ExtraShinyGood healthcare (top twenty health care for hospital employees) — counting the basic coverage as well. Please bear in mind that you have less than $1000 clearance in 2/3rds of American’s bank accounts. If you make basic care cost more than they’re already paying, they take it out of their houses (umm, lotta people underwater) or their retirement (also not something I wanna do lightly…). But… hell, let’s be generous, and say that catastrophic health care should start at around the $10,000 range (cumulative, over the course of the year).

              Okay, so where does that leave us?

              $5000 is the cost of a diagnosis of “ankle is not broken.” I’d wager a “not broken wrist” is a bit more expensive (more delicate bones).

              We aren’t talking “car accident” levels… we’re talking what a lot of folks would call “normal care.” Gotta show up at your doctor once a month for allergy shots to avoid going to the hospital? Guess what? That’s catastrophic care (and a hell of a lot cheaper than winding up in the hospital!)

              Now, I guess you could go and say… “Wait, you’re too poor to actually afford it…” … but… I’m not at the poverty line. I’m not at 1.5 times the poverty line. How much above the poverty line do you gotta get before you’re willing to say “My Scheme is NUTS!”??

              Seems like you’ve got a few choices:

              1) Run the numbers, show me that our current legal system will allow someone to amass $20,000 in debt and to not need to declare bankruptcy because of it. (bear in mind that health care currently causes most bankruptcy, and that it’s often despite having insurance). [and then say “that’s the price i wanna set”]

              2) Say, “yes, by golly, that’s what I meant!” In which case, I’m going to have a “serious talk” with you about why catastrophic insurance companies want to incentivize you heading to the doctor before your feet need to be amputated (or you collapse because of low blood sugar). *cat’s grin*

              3) Say, “yeah, I meant it to be that progressive” and say “10% of people gotta pay for it by themselves, or it’s a no go for me.” [fwiw, i think 10% of people could pull off a $20000 deductible for health insurance]Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Kimmi
                Ignored
                says:

                Hi Kimmi,

                My response to these great questions is pretty straight forward…

                First, I would be fine with consumers choosing whatever deductible and copay they would like for the voluntary routine care portion. This would allow them to tailor trade offs in premium size and out of pocket. I am even fine with them choosing no HSA at all. There premiums will be higher, but still WAY lower than current comprehensive health care.

                The shift point from routine care to catastrophic care does not have to be too low, as the consumer only pays deductible and copy, which he chooses.

                Note, the redistribution market does need to have HSAs. But remember there are two types of subsidies. Not only do we pay their premium at 100% , we can also contribute to their savings account. The objective is to get their skin in the game. They would manage their account balance because it becomes theirs. The redistribution and catastrophe portions are deductible from all our wages like Medicare and SS today. They are in effect insurance plans, as any of us can be unemployed or old.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Health insurance without free contraception you mean?  Unthinkable, in a free country.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Want to sound like a wingnut, folks?   Say “Free <HealthCareAnything>.”   The fact that it’s not free, that it’s subsidised, that it saves the nation money because women aren’t having unwanted babies, all that is discarded by the wingnut.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                That overlooks the central libertarian argument here, Blaise, the freedom to enter into mutually agreeable contracts, in this case without subsidized [have it your way] contraception. The locution “free country” definitely reinforces the absurdity of this Obamacare mandate, as it speaks of anything but a free country.

                And what’s with this “wing-nut” business, Blaise?  You used to play fair and square.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise,

                I cannot imagine anyone disagreeing that we should have a choice on whether we want to include contraception or not in our plan, right? Seems like a valid choice, and if it saves money in the process, you would indeed have to be a zealot to reject it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                The central Libertarian argument has already run off the rails and now lies on its side in a cloud of smoke and flaming cinders like an old steam locomotive run off the rails.   Give up on it already.   The Libertarian view of the Free Market is simply a mirror image of the Marxian Utopia.

                The Libertarian concept of Freedom is completely asinine.   It has no bearing on real markets, for none of you, not one, has the foggiest conception of how either Markets or Society are defined or how either actually work.   You’re like so many fish denying the existence of water.   No matter how many times I tell you lot the optimal model for insurance is one which maximally increases the pool of lives, here come these doctrinaire idiots like the monks from Holy Grail with this Free Market bullshit.   Swear to God, talking to the lot of you is exactly like all those Marxists of yore and they didn’t have a clue, either.

                Anyone who says Free Healthcare is an idiot, Tom.   It’s not free.   And thank you for using the word subsidised.   See?  now you don’t sound like a wingnut.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise,

                I thought the fish and water line was mine.

                Although I agree in a way that nobody fully understands a complex adaptive system as sophisticated as free markets, I did offer my explanation as a counter to yours last week. Here it is again. Feel free to tell me where I am wrong…

                I am not sure I agreed with anything in your initial resolution, so let me start from scratch. My definition of Free Enterprise (FE):

                FE pertains to a particular domain of human interaction. Broadly, to cooperative problem solving on the production and exchange of scarce resources.

                Based upon human nature and cultural evolution, groups of humans have discovered various conventions which allow us to interact in ways which create a complex adaptive problem solving system to meet our various needs. The first convention is often referred to as liberty or its inverse, non-coercion. Specifically this relates to the concept that adults have freedom to do whatever they like in the domain as long as it does not directly harm another. Harm is roughly defined as physical force, threats, theft, murder, rape, fraud and deception. It does not apply to opportunistic harm, or lost opportunity or status based upon the actions of another. Economic liberty means we are free to produce whatever we want, to make voluntary agreements with whomever also voluntarily agrees, to exchange with whomever also agrees.

                The next essential element is the definition of property “rights”. These are conventions that determine who owns what. The evolved conventions in FE are that we own ourselves and our efforts. In addition there are agreed upon conventions on claiming ownership of property and on rules for exchange of property. Other conventions and evolved institutions such as money and contracts further lubricates the system.

                With these basic conventions of property and liberty, humans can constructively solve problems for themselves and others. Indeed, it becomes easier to solve problems for oneself by specializing in the solving of problems for others. This ties us all together in a complex competitive cooperative system of limitless potential. Adults specialize in areas of comparative advantage and exchange their specialized efforts for the efforts or property of others.

                Humans are brilliant problem solving systems. As such, all able bodied adults can contribute to and participate in the domain. Basically they offer in their efforts and receive the efforts and property of others.

                The rules of FE basically lead to a positive sum system that creates and builds solutions to human problems. Everyone works to produce things of value and or to exchange things of less value for something with more value. As long as liberty and property rights are observed, people can only engage in win win interactions. All involved parties have to agree to the interaction, meaning that it is superior to their alternatives. Some specialize in production, some voluntarily hire others, some specialize in investments, etc. The patterns of positive sum interaction multiply and build upon each other almost limitlessly. Every involved person gains in virtually every action and interaction. The system becomes one of trillions upon trillions of cumulative positive sum interactions. It is the source of modern prosperity.

                Note also that the rules prohibit stopping someone from doing something. This means they are free to compete with you to solve other’s problems better than you. Indeed everyone is encouraged to creatively and competitively solve more problems better than anyone else ever has. Thus the system becomes an engine for problem solving. It becomes a complex adaptive learning system of positive sum solutions.

                I have already gone too long, and there are a lot of issues that I am skipping (such as externalities) but the basic points are that FE is a system of rules or conventions, and it is a creative system that allows humans to compete and cooperate in the advancement and prosperity of themselves and others.

                Other domains exist, such as science, the care of those unable to care for themselves, and sports which operate under totally different rules. It is a mistake to apply FE domain rules outside of the domain.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                “Subsidized by someone else” = free for me, Blaise, for all practical purposes.  Sophistically, you’re correct, that I’m paying a small part of the cost myself in my premiums.  But this doesn’t address the issue of the freedom to enter into mutually agreeable contracts without state interference.

                If you want to institute new rules for pejoratives like “wingnuts,” well, I was going to return fire from now on, but you know what, my heart just isn’t in it.  It’s difficult enough to get to the ideas without adding to the noise.  So do what you must, brother, but only those who already agree with you see that sort of talk as acceptable in a league of gentlepersons.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                FE pertains to a particular domain of human interaction. Broadly, to cooperative problem solving on the production and exchange of scarce resources.

                Here’s how human interaction really works.  Someone specializes, forms alliances with his suppliers and develops a vertical market. He then colludes with his competitors, they fix the prices, raise the barriers to entry and monopoly inevitably results.

                Based upon human nature and cultural evolution, groups of humans have discovered various conventions which allow us to interact in ways which create a complex adaptive problem solving system to meet our various needs.

                Wrong.  First groups of humans need a working marketplace.  That marketplace is a neutral ground with a master of the market, who makes sure people don’t get sold sawdust in the flour and that the grocer’s thumb stays off the balance.

                The first convention is often referred to as liberty or its inverse, non-coercion.

                Once again, you’re as wrong as the Marxists.  Men will attempt to cheat their fellow man and only some coercive force can prohibit them.   For this reason, forgers were always put to death.   All that simplistic hooey about Freedom and Harm and that childish crap, nonsense all of it.   If the Libertarian were serious about either Force or Fraud, and they have proven they aren’t, they would quit babbling about how the Individual can stop either in any of their manifest forms.

                Economic liberty means we are free to produce whatever we want, to make voluntary agreements with whomever also voluntarily agrees, to exchange with whomever also agrees.

                Wrong again.  Economic liberty is tightly confined.   We must either barter or pay coin of the realm for goods and services.   I put that in bold, just to keep you on track here:  no law, no regulations, no banks, no trade.   You say this is all so complex, waving your hands about.   That is either ignorance or lies and I shall choose ignorance, out of courtesy.   Only when economies are subject to regulation, in the town squares where law enforcement obliges the merchants to deal justly do markets even begin to appear.

                The next essential element is the definition of property “rights”. These are conventions that determine who owns what. The evolved conventions in FE are that we own ourselves and our efforts.

                Once again, a stupid simplicissime.  Your rights are not embodied in your property but in the society which will side with you in some rights dispute.

                In addition there are agreed upon conventions on claiming ownership of property and on rules for exchange of property. Other conventions and evolved institutions such as money and contracts further lubricates the system.

                Money?   You didn’t make that money, it was printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.   You Libertarians simply do not understand the first thing about money, its valuation, its provenance or quite literally anything about money or more specifically the markets for money.

                With these basic conventions of property and liberty, humans can constructively solve problems for themselves and others. Indeed, it becomes easier to solve problems for oneself by specializing in the solving of problems for others.

                It helps if you can, as I have already pointed out, collude with your fellow merchants and create a monopoly.

                This ties us all together in a complex competitive cooperative system of limitless potential. Adults specialize in areas of comparative advantage and exchange their specialized efforts for the efforts or property of others.

                They manifestly do not.  Buyers do not reveal the price they paid for their goods.  Do you think merchants and market makers are stupid, that they do not consider the open market their enemy and seek to avoid reducing their wares to commodities?   How little you understand of reality.

                Humans are brilliant problem solving systems. As such, all able bodied adults can contribute to and participate in the domain. Basically they offer in their efforts and receive the efforts and property of others.

                Humans are in the business of creating, not solving problems.   Nobody considers himself a contributor but instead, considers himself an extractor.   Christ, you are all so many Marxists, without any of its redeeming features.   You simply do not grasp the concept that the group is more powerful than the individual.  Like the Marxists, you hope the State will wither away. And like the Marxists, you do not understand the consequences of what you want: inevitably the death of markets. This is why you are forever doomed to political and philosophical oblivion.

                 Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise,

                Thanks for the reply.

                R: Free enterprise (FE) pertains to a particular domain of human interaction. Broadly, to cooperative problem solving on the production and exchange of scarce resources.

                B: Here’s how human interaction really works.  Someone specializes, forms alliances with his suppliers and develops a vertical market

                We Agree on the specialization part, the key is what are they specializing in?  They specialize on solving problems for others.  They create something, produce something or deliver something. Don’t know why you emphasize vertical.

                R: Based upon human nature and cultural evolution, groups of humans have discovered various conventions which allow us to interact in ways which create a complex adaptive problem solving system to meet our various needs.

                B: Wrong.  First groups of humans need a working marketplace.  That marketplace is a neutral ground with a master of the market, who makes sure people don’t get sold sawdust in the flour and that the grocer’s thumb stays off the balance.

                You don’t need a top down managed market for reciprocity or exchange, although one certainly can be centrally created.  Would you like references to prove the point, or are facts irrelevant here?

                People naturally exchange and trade things and have for as long as modern humans existed. Obviously there is always a risk of cheating or coercion.  One solution to this is to only trade with those you trust. Markets emerged spontaneously through cautious human interaction among trusted people via basic game theory principles. As exchanges expanded, we devised various institutions and protocols to facilitate exchange and manage trust. One such institutional solution is indeed a cop or government figure to ensure no cheating. I just read an interesting article on how these roles were created in the “wild west” during the pre state days of the 19th century. Yes, there were markets in the west prior to the creation of a “master of the market.”

                R: The first convention is often referred to as liberty or its inverse, non-coercion.

                B: Once again, you’re as wrong as the Marxists.  Men will attempt to cheat their fellow man and only some coercive force can prohibit them.   For this reason, forgers were always put to death.   All that simplistic hooey about Freedom and Harm and that childish crap, nonsense all of it.   If the Libertarian were serious about either Force or Fraud, and they have proven they aren’t, they would quit babbling about how the Individual can stop either in any of their manifest forms.

                You are missing my point and arguing with yourself. Human interaction based upon coercive force is of course commonplace.  It is not the domain of free markets. The role of coercion in markets is to only allow coercion to suppress coercion. The threat of retaliatory coercion is to discourage coercion and fraud. I am totally serious on the suppression of force and fraud. Free markets cannot work well unless these problems are managed or suppressed.

                There are also lots of non coercive ways to suppress force and fraud. In a market system one effective sanction is actually to no longer voluntarily exchange with the cheat. This cuts them out of the positive sum game. No libertarian believe fraud and cheating are minor problems. These are serious concerns that require institutional solutions, such as reputations, brands, credit reports, courts and cops. Death is not the only penalty.

                R: Economic liberty means we are free to produce whatever we want, to make voluntary agreements with whomever also voluntarily agrees, to exchange with whomever also agrees.

                B: Wrong again.  Economic liberty is tightly confined.   We must either barter or pay coin of the realm for goods and services.   I put that in bold, just to keep you on track here:  no law, no regulations, no banks, no trade.   You say this is all so complex, waving your hands about.   That is either ignorance or lies and I shall choose ignorance, out of courtesy.   Only when economies are subject to regulation, in the town squares where law enforcement obliges the merchants to deal justly do markets even begin to appear.

                Again, you are responding in a manner which is both factually incorrect and which misses the point.  I am defining my term economic freedom. I would agree that a regulatory state can be the enforcement mechanism of the above freedom. That said, the literature on markets preceding regulation and law enforcement is overwhelming.

                R: The next essential element is the definition of property “rights”. These are conventions that determine who owns what. The evolved conventions in FE are that we own ourselves and our efforts.

                B: Once again, a stupid simplicissime.  Your rights are not embodied in your property but in the society which will side with you in some rights dispute.

                I don’t think we are disagreeing here. I am calling them conventions. These are indeed social or shared conventions. There is extensive evidence that the core of some of these  some conventions are evolved and common in many birds and mammals. I certainly agree that they are not embodied in property in some mystical manner.

                R: In addition there are agreed upon conventions on claiming ownership of property and on rules for exchange of property. Other conventions and evolved institutions such as money and contracts further lubricates the system.

                B: Money?   You didn’t make that money, it was printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.   You Libertarians simply do not understand the first thing about money, its valuation, its provenance or quite literally anything about money or more specifically the markets for money.

                No, actually there has been something similar to money prior to the creation of the department of treasury.  There is extensive literature on the topic. In prisons they’ve often used cigarettes. Other cultures have used shells, beads, commodities, etc. Markets preceded coins, which were invented in Lydia around the 6th C BC if memory serves.

                R: With these basic conventions of property and liberty, humans can constructively solve problems for themselves and others. Indeed, it becomes easier to solve problems for oneself by specializing in the solving of problems for others.

                B: It helps if you can, as I have already pointed out, collude with your fellow merchants and create a monopoly.

                Monopolies are indeed what most producers want. No libertarian disputes this. The point is that consumers are wise to reject this, as are competitors who are attracted by monopoly profits and opportunities. Monopolies can be maintained in most circumstances only with coercion. Thus free markets do require a rule system to limit coercion and entrance barriers. At first this can be via voluntary interaction, but as the market grows and becomes institutionalized, usually cops are created as specialists to address this threat.

                R: This ties us all together in a complex competitive cooperative system of limitless potential. Adults specialize in areas of comparative advantage and exchange their specialized efforts for the efforts or property of others.

                B: They manifestly do not.  Buyers do not reveal the price they paid for their goods.  Do you think merchants and market makers are stupid, that they do not consider the open market their enemy and seek to avoid reducing their wares to commodities?   How little you understand of reality.

                I did not say they reveal their prices, nor should consumers care. Nor did I say they wanted to reduce their goods to commodity. Why are you assuming I would say this? Of course producers are threatened by open markets. This is economics 101. That is why they seek coercive monopolies.

                R: Humans are brilliant problem solving systems. As such, all able bodied adults can contribute to and participate in the domain. Basically they offer in their efforts and receive the efforts and property of others.

                B: Humans are in the business of creating, not solving problems.   Nobody considers himself a contributor but instead, considers himself an extractor.   Christ, you are all so many Marxists, without any of it redeeming features.   You simply do not grasp the concept that the group is more powerful than the individual.   This is why you are forever doomed to political and philosophical oblivion

                You really, truly view yourself as a human parasite? As an extractor? Wow. i am not sure if you are even being serious now. I am sure you have contributed to others via your productive efforts within the market.

                The point of free markets is solving problems for consumers in return for something of value for the producer. When I designed products I tried to create superior products that solved consumer needs. People bought them voluntarily. I was not an extractor of value.  I enriched people’s lives a little bit in exchange for a modest salary. I feel great about what I did, and I never tried to cheat or harm anyone. The waitress at a restaurant, the plumber, the designer of video games and the truck driver all similarly are engaged in solving problems for others in exchange for value to themselves. Free enterprise is a positive sum, value creating, problem solving system.

                And of course I grasp that the group is more powerful than the individual. This was Mises’ central insight. The power of specialization, economies of scale and comparative advantage possible within a system of liberty and property lead to prosperity impossible alone.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Admittedly I didn’t read the entirety of Roger’s long comment ;), but I want to add a couple of supportive claims.

                Blaise is right that people will try to cheat each other, but his conclusion from that is over-determined and unsophisticated.

                1. Native Americans in pre-Columbian North America had extensive trading networks that reached from the coasts deep into the interior. There was no top-down power enforcing non-cheating, but the participants in this wholly voluntary network found the exchanges mutually beneficial.

                2. Game theorists have closely examined the issue of cooperation vs. defection, particularly–although not exclusively–using the prisoner’s dilemma. They have found readily identifiable conditions that promote one or the other behavior.  While defection is the dominating alternative in any individual interaction, in the case of iterated interactions without a pre-determined final interaction cooperation is the rational strategic choice, because Adam’s defection in round X will lead to retaliatory defection by Bob in round X+1, destroying whatever gain Adam made by defecting in that prior round. This has been shown in a multitude of studies, from purely mathematical formal analyses to computer simulations to laboratory studies–it is perhaps the single most definitive finding in the social sciences. What it demonstrates is that cooperative exchange can arise spontaneously. (The single best reading on this is Robert Axelrod’s The Evolution of Cooperation.)

                Blaise’s critique implicitly assumes we’re all idiotic consumers who can always be cheated.  Apparently we’re all so dumb that we won’t selectively favor honest suppliers with our repeat business over dishonest suppliers.  So when I get food poisoning from a restaurant, I continue to go back there, regardless of how often I get sick, instead of selectively favoring the restaurants that don’t make me ill.  When one mechanic cheats me and another doesn’t, I don’t bother to distinguish between them and give my repeat business to the trustworthy one.

                The great irony here is that taking Blaise at face value I’d have to assume he cheats his customers all the time. In fact I don’t believe that. I can’t exactly say what it is about him that strikes me this way, but just from his general tone and style I get the impression that he’s a damned honest software contractor…and that it’s not just because of top-down regulations that he is so.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                James,

                The only way I can make sense of his argument is that he is assuming that when he argues with a libertarian he is really arguing with an anarchist.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Again, Roger, many thanks for a reasoned reply.

                We Agree on the specialization part, the key is what are they specializing in?  They specialize on solving problems for others.  They create something, produce something or deliver something. Don’t know why you emphasize vertical.

                The efficiency which drives Capitalism has long since dispensed with this notion of Solving Problems.   You must think larger than a hardware store or a grocery or a cobbler’s shop, where the customer has a problem which can be solved with a bolt and washer or a head of lettuce or a new set of heels on a pair of favourite shoes.

                Capitalism is about creating needs where none existed before.   You’re looking at markets on the downhill slide, already well within the sedimentary phases where  commoditisation has provided some measure of competitiveness.   That’s not where real money is made:  by the time a product or technology is in its commodity phase, margins are thin and competition has entered the picture.

                You don’t need a top down managed market for reciprocity or exchange, although one certainly can be centrally created.  Would you like references to prove the point, or are facts irrelevant here?

                Yes, such proof is required.   No working market ever emerged without external regulation, no matter how much internal regulation was applied.   Both are necessary, especially in risk markets.

                People naturally exchange and trade things and have for as long as modern humans existed. Obviously there is always a risk of cheating or coercion.  One solution to this is to only trade with those you trust.

                Naturally?   What is this, some recapitulation of Rousseau and the Utopians?  Markets are unnatural in extremis.   They must be highly regulated to efficiently serve arbitrary actors.

                This idea that we should only trade with those we trust…. once again, the shrill voice of Marxian Idealism is heard throughout the land.   Every gasoline pump and grocer’s scales bears a sticker from a regulatory agency.  Nor have markets ever emerged spontaneously:  you cannot point to one such instance.   The city-state emerged to serve the need for markets.  Less idealism and more pragmatism, please.

                You are missing my point and arguing with yourself. Human interaction based upon coercive force is of course commonplace.  It is not the domain of free markets. The role of coercion in markets is to only allow coercion to suppress coercion.

                If the Libertarians were serious about their Free Markets, they would in fact sound very much like Progressive Liberals.   They don’t.  How do you propose to deal with Force and Fraud?   Go back to the market after I’ve been sold a pound of flour full of weevils and shoot the clerk?   Your Free Market is utter folly.   It has never existed.  Mankind would not tolerate it.

                The Libertarians are not serious about either Force or Fraud.   They weep over the problem and that’s all they’ll ever do.  Like the Marxists, all the Libertarians ever do when the reality of human nature is pointed out to them, they say the system hasn’t been properly implemented and the problems would go away if it were.   Tap dancing around the problem of monopoly creation and price fixing and melamine in the milk… when I see a Libertarian back regulation, there will be two moons in the sky.

                Shells?   Beads?  Cigarettes?   These might once have been substitutes for money but they were immediately replaced when meaningful fiat money was put on offer.   The Libertarians’ hatred of the Federal Reserve system shows their true nature:  you are economic Taliban, intent upon returning the world to a glorious past which never was and never could be.

                Mises never backed the group.  “All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.”   Let’s not have any of this crap about what Ludwig von Mises believed about collective action.  Mises was a great hater of the trade union:

                “No social co-operation under the division of labour is possible when some people or unions of people are granted the right to prevent by violence and the threat of violence other people from working. When enforced by violence, a strike in vital branches of production or a general strike are tantamount to a revolutionary destruction of society.s pointless without direction.”

                In summary, the Libertarian, when pushed to it, will admit to problems the Liberals point out to him.   The Libertarian solution will never admit to collective action.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                James, I just wanted you to know that your comment didn’t fall on deaf ears. I’m going to get the book.

                Still, I’m curious what conclusions can be drawn from it at the level of the current discussion, since even if iterations of the Prisoner’s Dilemma may lead to cooperative action, it’s also possible it may not. (Or am I wrong to think so?) And I think the issue here, from a liberal’s pov, is whether the iterated prisoner’s dilemma still permits, or even gives rise to, incentives to reject cooperative mutually beneficial actions (as Roger has defined them) in favor of intrusions into markets for purely self-interested reasons. That is, even if we run the iterated prisoner’s dilemma, do we necessarily arrive at stable, decentralized, spontaneously cooperative exchanges, or do we get the possibility (inevitablility?) that some actors will try to create a stable advantage over other participants by using extra-market forces?

                 Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                The Libertarian solution will never admit to collective action.

                Blaise, it would behoove you to actually know what you’re talking about before you make such categorical statements.

                First, the set of solutions to collective action problems does not consist only of top-down mandated solutions, but also includes bottom-up voluntary solutions. There’s a universe of literature on such solutions and the ways in which they are often superior to top-down solutions (primarily because they often can take advantage of local knowledge and cultural understandings in ways that top-down solutions often cannot).

                Second, most libertarians are not–as Roger is trying to point out to you–absolute anarchists, so in cases where a solution to the collective action problem really is necessary and a bottom-up solution cannot be achieved, most libertarians will agree to a top-down solution.  As the most straightforward example, most libertarians see the state as being legitimate at least for collective defense purposes.

                It’s always interesting to debate liberarianism with people who actually understand it, but it’s a perpetual drag to keep trying to explain it to people who think their comic-book version sense of libertarianism is actually a complete and accurate understanding.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                @Blaise,

                If the Libertarians were serious about their Free Markets, they would in fact sound very much like Progressive Liberals.   They don’t.  How do you propose to deal with Force and Fraud?

                Blaise, this definitively demonstrates that you know less than nothing about libertarianism.  Seriously, I’m not sure you could have come up with anything that more obviously demonstrates that you simply don’t know what you’re talking about at all.k

                Libertarians believe force and fraud will be less common in markets than you do–ok, perhaps they’re empirically wrong about the frequency, but they do agree that it will happen sometimes. So what do they propose as the solution when it does happen?

                Goverment, you ninny. If you aren’t even familiar with libertarians’ general acceptance of the night watchman state, then you don’t know the first thing about libertarianism.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Hi Blaise, 

                I value the chance to learn and clarify my views with you. I really do want to understand where the root of our disagreement lies. 

                To make the discussion more manageable, I will divide it into bite size chunks. 

                I do not disagree with you on the creative nature of free enterprise and assure you this is not how I view markets. As someone who made a living identifying unmet consumer needs and creating innovative solutions to address this, I most assuredly see this as key to profits.  But that is what I mean by problem solving.  In this case it is creating something new. The dynamic of free enterprise drives a process of continuous exploration in how to solve new problems as well as solve old problems better. 

                Companies compete non coercively to cooperate better with consumers in solving their problems.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise, it would behoove you to actually know what you’re talking about before you make such categorical statements.

                It would behove you to stay out of this conversation if you’re not ready to at least go as far as Roger and make some effort to address the issues I’ve raised.

                First, the set of solutions to collective action problems does not consist only of top-down mandated solutions, but also includes bottom-up voluntary solutions. There’s a universe of literature on such solutions and the ways in which they are often superior to top-down solutions (primarily because they often can take advantage of local knowledge and cultural understandings in ways that top-down solutions often cannot).

                Then put forward some evidence.   The Libertarians have hardly proven themselves reasonable about necessary regulation such as the SEC, the Federal Reserve, CFTC and every other regulatory body.   Denial is not rebuttal.

                Second, most libertarians are not–as Roger is trying to point out to you–absolute anarchists, so in cases where a solution to the collective action problem really is necessary and a bottom-up solution cannot be achieved, most libertarians will agree to a top-down solution. 

                I have already said Libertarians acknowledge the problem.   They just don’t have a solution.

                As the most straightforward example, most libertarians see the state as being legitimate at least for collective defense purposes.

                But not for economic regulation.

                It’s always interesting to debate liberarianism with people who actually understand it, but it’s a perpetual drag to keep trying to explain it to people who think their comic-book version sense of libertarianism is actually a complete and accurate understanding.

                Oh bullshit.  The discussion always gets to this point every time I’ve tried to get to any understanding of what Libertarians believe.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise,

                Bite two…

                By natural I am referring to the evolved propensity to reciprocate and trade. I would add that we also have evolved dispositions on property ownership.  This is well documented in anthropology and with children. My point is that the social conventions of free enterprise are built up on these inborn human propensities. Matt Riddley has some interesting chapters on this in his Rational Optimist book. Yes markets are unnatural, complex, cultural systems built up over base of natural propensities to truck, barter and trade. I have no common ground with either Rousseau or the various utopiansReport

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                @Stillwater,

                I think you’ll enjoy the book.  The chapter on reciprocal cooperation in trench warfare in WWI is, from a generalist’s perspective, most fascinating.

                I’m curious what conclusions can be drawn from it at the level of the current discussion, since even if iterations of the Prisoner’s Dilemma may lead to cooperative action, it’s also possible it may not. (Or am I wrong to think so?)

                No, you’re not wrong. Think of the Hatfields and the McCoys–a cycle of mutual defection can develop, and can be extremely hard to break out of. The lesson is not that cooperation always will develop, but that we can be assured that cycles of mutual defection will not always develop, and that in fact cycles of mutual cooperation are generally more likely, given repeated interactions with the same persons, the ability to recognize defection, and the ability to exit out of non-cooperative relationships. And this (usually) positive outcome is driven by individual self-interest–after all, who has any self-interest in letting themselves get taken advantage of repeatedly?

                But, no, it’s not a claim that anarchy will be perfectly peaceful.  Because defection still dominates in one-time interactions, there’s room to prosper by being a roving defector–that is, if you can operate in a market where you don’t need to rely on repeat customers, you may be able to prosper from screwing people over.  E.g., folks who drive around during the summer offering to paint houses, using cheap paint, then moving on to a new community where their reputation hasn’t preceded them. From what little I understand, this may be the structure that underlies the reported prevalence of unscrupulous repair/renovation contractors in big cities.

                There are anarchic solutions (or at least semi-solutions) to these problems. One is, don’t trust strangers, or at least don’t trust them with much, until they’ve proven their reliability (and effectively aren’t strangers anymore).  Another is sources like Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon, etc., to find what customers who do have experience with a particular supplier have to say. But that’s not to say authoritative (government) responses are never legitimate.

                And I think the issue here, from a liberal’s pov, is whether the iterated prisoner’s dilemma still permits, or even gives rise to, incentives to reject cooperative mutually beneficial actions (as Roger has defined them) in favor of intrusions into markets for purely self-interested reasons. …the possibility (inevitablility?) that some actors will try to create a stable advantage over other participants by using extra-market forces?

                Oh, hell, yeah! If the anarchic system doesn’t allow you to profitably defect on others, you can certainly try to set up a system that enables you to defect profitably. In game theoretic terms, if the payoff structure of the game isn’t to your liking, you can always try to change the game.  That doesn’t undermine the social value of the original game, though. It just means that it can’t determine everyone’s ultimate preferences and choices.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise,

                Bite three is on trust and fraud….

                As James mentions we are hitting on two themes. One is the cultural evolutionary, bottoms up formation of markets. They did not spring forth from some bureaucrat or Solon’s mind. They aggregated up from individual interactions supported by various good ideas that were later adopted as institutional solutions or protocols. Yes the bureaucrats and Solons contributed ideas as well. It developed up though via trial and error and a process which can be described as cultural evolution. 

                I am not arguing that just because they evolved bottoms up over the millennia that they must remain anarchist. One solution that we discovered is indeed the role of cops that specialize in policing the system. Another is courts. Another is regulatory agencies that establish common weights and measures and labels. 

                I think food labels and various stickers are awesome ideas. I think central rules and enforcement agencies against cheating and fraud are awesome ideas. Why do you assume we don’t?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP
                Ignored
                says:

                BP, here’s my take on it. You’re looking at systems and identifying the areas where governmental intrusions are necessary. And you’re basing this claim, for the most part, on empirical evidence. Roger and James are looking at systems from another perspective: in what ways is the exercise of mutually beneficial exchanges sufficient to sustain economic systems. And they base this on empirical evidence as well as a normative ideal (one which you share, btw). At the end of it, you both may end up agreeing on the exact same set of regulations and permissions, but you’ve arrived at in different ways.

                The libertarian is looking at regulation as having to meet a necessary condition to have merit; the liberal is looking at looking at deregulation as having to meet a necessary condition. So, the difference between the two views, and the dispute you’re having with Roger in this thread, reduces to – at least, so it seems to me – where the burden of proof is placed.

                 Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                @Blaise,

                You don’t really want to go there, because I guarandamntee you I know considerably more about this than you do.  Something called dissertation research, professional interest, and all that jazz.  Your understandings are very simplistic, on the order of the average person who’s heard a thing or two about subject X, but hasn’t really studied it.  And yet you want to write as though you are really competently authoritative.  Your arrogance is way out ahead of your knowledge-base here.

                It would behove you to stay out of this conversation if you’re not ready to at least go as far as Roger and make some effort to address the issues I’ve raised.

                I have, in fact, but I’ll offer a reciprocal “fuck you.” It would behoove you not to tell me to stay out of the conversation if you’re not ready to understand how I have in fact addressed some of the issues you’ve raised.

                [JH] First, the set of solutions to collective action problems does not consist only of top-down mandated solutions, but also includes bottom-up voluntary solutions. There’s a universe of literature on such solutions and the ways in which they are often superior to top-down solutions (primarily because they often can take advantage of local knowledge and cultural understandings in ways that top-down solutions often cannot).

                [BP] Then put forward some evidence.   The Libertarians have hardly proven themselves reasonable about necessary regulation such as the SEC, the Federal Reserve, CFTC and every other regulatory body.   Denial is not rebuttal.

                It turns out there’s a whole world beyond the SEC, etc.  Try reading some of the work of Elinor Ostrom and Jimmy Walker. If I started linking I’d send this blog into moderation before I could even touch a tenth of the relevant literature.  There are examples of locally organized fishing cooperatives, grazing land cooperatives, collectively managed irrigation systems, and collectively managed forests, that have successfully sustained the participants livelihoods and the health of the resource for hundreds of years…in many cases right up until a government came in and established new rules that broke down the old system and resulted in the quick over-use of the resource.  E.g., in Spain, fishing cooperatives (cofradias) have sustainably fished well-defined fisheries for centuries, but now EU rules are opening up those fisheries to industrial scale fishing that is going to destroy the local livelihoods and destroy the sustainibility of their fisheries.

                You continually play a cheap game with your examples.  You say, “if libertarians can’t show how this particular example can work without government, then libertarianism is useless.” That’s wholly illogical, as you are trying to make a specific example a general proof. You’ll find damn few libertarians, and none here at the League, in my experience, who will say that government is never necessary–and yet you keep pretending that’s the claim.  Quit being so dishonest. Certainly feel free to talk about libertarianism’s limits, which is really the topic I find most interesting, but to pretend a particular limit on a system is a disproof of the whole system is incredibly sloppy thinking.

                [JH] Second, most libertarians are not–as Roger is trying to point out to you–absolute anarchists, so in cases where a solution to the collective action problem really is necessary and a bottom-up solution cannot be achieved, most libertarians will agree to a top-down solution. 

                [BP] I have already said Libertarians acknowledge the problem.   They just don’t have a solution.

                Again, that’s because you’re not paying attention.  You’re too eager to tell libertarians what their beliefs are, rather than let them tell you what they believe. If a libertarian accepts a top-down solution in a particular case, then that’s the solution. You want to say that lack of a purely voluntary solution in each and every case means libertarians don’t have a solution, but that’s putting your requirements on libertarianism, not libertarians’ requirements.  Our approach is, “voluntary bottom-up solutions whenever possible, and top-down mandatory solutions only when necessary.” So when a top-down solution is in fact necessary, it is the libertarians’ solution.

                You saying it’s not a libertarian solution doesn’t make it so. If you want to judge us by false standards–if you want to say that we must engage in a foolish consistency or we have utterly failed–then you’re only going to reveal how deeply fundamentally ignorant you are about libertarian thought.

                [JH] As the most straightforward example, most libertarians see the state as being legitimate at least for collective defense purposes.

                [BP] But not for economic regulation.

                True, in most cases, but not all cases. Your simply deadwrong–in fact I’ll say stupidly wrong–if you think libertarians don’t believe in regulation of fraud. There’s a strong strain of caveat emptor, to be sure, but it’s not absolute, and–to return to the night watchman state–most libertarians believe in laws against fraud.  Now as a matter of fact, most of the regulations you advocate seem to me (although I could be mistaken, I recognize) about preventing fraud. In principle there’s not that much of a gap between you and libertarians there.  There may very well be a gap in the analysis of whether and what kind of regulation is required in a specific case, and there we can have reasonable debate if you’re willing to be reasonable.  That is, if you’d stop telling libertarians, “you don’t ever believe in any regulation at any time,”–which is a stupidly false claim–and say, “here’s why a voluntary solution won’t suffice in the particular case,” then you could actually have a non-belligerent discussion with libertarians, and you might even be able to persuade some of them.  But as long as you begin with demonstrably false claims about what they believe, libertarians have no reason to take you seriously–you not only haven’t demonstrated your bona fides up front, you’ve demonstrated that in important ways you don’t know your ass from your elbow.

                Oh bullshit.  The discussion always gets to this point every time I’ve tried to get to any understanding of what Libertarians believe.

                Try asking us what we believe instead of beginning by telling us what you believe. It makes a world of difference. If you begin by acting like an ass, you can hardly justify being frustrated that people respond to you as though you’re an ass.  In other words, try on some fucking intellectual humility once upon a time.  You don’t actually know everything, and one thing you just don’t really know is what libertarians believe.  I know this because you repeatedly make statements about libertarianism that every libertarian who responds to you rejects!Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                And under the light of the double moons….

                How can things that preceded money and coins be substitutes for money?

                But again you seem to think I am against central currency and the Fed. I am not. If you want to argue with Ron Paul please email him. I think a common currency of the realm is a great idea. Much better than beads or shells or sacks of wheat. Money and the Federal Reserve are institutional solutions to enable free markets.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Inventors make technology but they seldom operate in a vacuum.  Corporations make money, not as individuals, but as groups.   He who invents a better mousetrap will not have people beating a path to his door.   He will hire in salesmen to beat a path to the marketplace, people who will convince others to stock his wares.

                There is no inborn propensity to reciprocate.  That’s Marxist talk, the worst sort of idle fantasy.  You know better.  Until someone is convinced he needs something, for any reason at all, the inventor invents in vain.

                The marketplace is not a bottom-up proposition.  Do you know the Taliban in Afghanistan’s primary tactic where the government has occupied a town is to close down the marketplace?   The marketplace is the linchpin of every society.  Marketplaces require money and security both.

                Dragging Solon into this debate has doomed your argument entirely, for Solon was a fine economist, reforming the markets of Athens, encouraging merchants to settle in Athens.   He dragged Athens out of a dismal backwater, making of it a great regional power by top-down tactics.  There was no trial and error phase:  the great powers of the area were already coining money and creating marketplaces.   Solon was merely playing catch-up.

                Roger, the Libertarians are all over the map on regulation and the mandate for such regulation.   Because the Libertarians have so consistently and stupidly opposed any top-down solutions, proposing voluntary substitutes in their stead, I must conclude the Libertarians are really just the mirror image of the Marxists.  For Marx was no enemy of capitalism, he understood it rather well.  It was his idiotic belief that man would operate in his own best interests which doomed him and his followers.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                @Stillwater,

                So, the difference between the two views, and the dispute you’re having with Roger in this thread, reduces to – at least, so it seems to me – where the burden of proof is placed.

                At first glance, at least, I think that’s a good point.  And it’s obviously legitimate for people to disagree on that issue.

                And of course that suggests that the most effective way to argue is to adopt–purely for the sake of argument–the other’s assumption about the burden of proof, and to show (if possible) how from their perspective your own preferred outcome is logically suggested. (Not claiming I always, or even frequently, manage that, of course.)

                 Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                And on to the power of groups…

                To the extent that Mises and I disagree with trade unions it is that we believe they can only influence above market rates via coercive monopoly. I laid my case out really clearly on this last month, and honestly found those that dissented with me universally backed down. They either retreated for the hills or got bored of me. Maybe both.

                In other words, we believe coercive monopolies are wrong and do more harm than good, so we reject them. I have clearly expressed my desire in keeping an open mind on the topic though. Any other liberals care to enter in on this topic again? Btw James is more on your side of the argument than mine in this case, I believe.

                I did not say though that Mises was a fan of collective action or unions. Of course only individuals think. The point of Human Action — Mises’ tome on free enterprise — is about the power of human cooperation. Indeed Human Cooperation was his alternative name for the book. Libertarians believe in the power of what I call constructive, competitive cooperation. Free enterprise and science are two separate domains of constructive, competitive cooperation.

                Libertarians are not fans of coercive cooperation or competition. We are strong advocates of voluntary cooperation and constructive competition.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                @Roger,

                Btw James is more on your side of the argument than mine in this case, I believe.

                Somewhere in the middle, I believe. My ideal world stands on your side, but I think I am somewhat more pessimistic about the ideal conditions being met than you are, so I’m inclined toward granting legitimacy to a rather larger degree of regulation than are you (although I think we are in agreement on viewing proposals on a case-by-case basis?).

                Libertarians are not fans of coercive cooperation or competition. We are strong advocates of voluntary cooperation and constructive competition.

                May I add the caveat that “not being a fan of,” doesn’t mean, “always, inevitably, and absolutely opposed to.” That’s where I think Blaise keeps going wrong in his claims about libertarianism–he mistakes deep skepticism for absolute and invariable opposition.  It’s a common misunderstanding of libertarianism (and there are some libertarians who take the absolute and invariable stance, I suppose), but to me it is one of those signals that reveals a fundamental misunderstanding. Rather like Howard Dean stating that Job is a book in the New Testament revealed his fundamental lack of knowledge about the Bible.

                Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                @Stillwater:  I see a continuum of regulation, forming a parabola in the first quadrant.   I posit two Zeroes on the X axis.   The first is a command economy, where marketplaces disappear.  The second is a libertarian paradise, an oligopoly where economic power has replaced the rule of law.

                At the zenith of this parabola, markets are both internally and externally regulated.   These Night Watchmen need to be awake during market hours.

                As for you, Hanley, I live and breathe in the real marketplaces.  Billions of dollars flow through my code every day.   Dissertation research is all fine and good, as far as it goes.

                Those who can, do.   Those that can’t, write papers.  Do not merely drop names on me.  Make your point, if you can.  All that paper writing has not produced a worthy debater in you.

                The ancient fishing cooperatives so depleted the stocks of codfish that government regulation and treaties were required.   Even now, overfishing is a huge problem.  The Roman aqueducts fell into ruin without central authority.  The Aztecs and Maya once practiced irrigation on a massive scale:  with the downfall of their empires and central authority, it all came to a dead end and the hugely destructive paradigm of slash-and-burn began again.  Once again, you can live in your libertarian paradise if you’d like.  It’s a dead end, a zero on the X axis.

                I have previously said Libertarians, like Marxists, are all over the map.  Do not now take umbrage if I take Ron Paul or Mises or Alan Greenspan or the Libertarian Party Platform as descriptive of your views, for I have read them.  I have been studying it for over a year and will not be schoolmarmed by a collection of doctrinaires.   Be not merely good, be good for something.

                I have a long history of disputing with Marxists, going back many decades.   I find in the Libertarians every one of their rhetorical deficiencies.  You may not have it both ways:  when I point out these deficiencies, you are either individuals, with your own beliefs, or you are Libertarians, for thus you would style yourselves.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                And finally,

                Blaise writes: “Yes, such proof is required.   No working market ever emerged without external regulation, no matter how much internal regulation was applied.   Both are necessary… ”

                Let me limit my response to articles that I have read this week on the topic.

                The first is on markets that emerged in the frontier territories during the 19C American west.
                Here is the link…

                http://mises.org/journals/jls/3_1/3_1_2.pdf

                I am not espousing their opinions on libertarianisms, just citing them for evidence on how markets and regulation formed from the bottom up.

                The next one is from a fascinating paper on Euvoluntary Exchange and Rawls. In it the author explains how markets spontaneously emerged in German POW camps. See page 16.

                http://michaelmunger.com/euvoldiff.pdf

                Finally, your take on Solon actually makes my point as per Wikipedia, though he was a real person, our knowledge of his works “only survive in fragments. They appear to feature interpolations by later authors and it is possible that fragments have been wrongly attributed to him…. Ancient authors such as Herodotus and Plutarch are the main source of information, yet they wrote about Solon long after his death, at a time when history was by no means an academic discipline. Fourth century orators, such as Aeschines, tended to attribute to Solon all the laws of their time…. For some scholars, our “knowledge” of Solon and his times is largely a fictive construct…”

                In other words, Solon is a real person who is was subsequently used as a fiction to attribute the various evolved cultural institutions of his era. In your defense though, this is a contentious issue. Again though, neither James nor I deny the possibility of top down influence in free markets. We just point out the widespread yet under appreciated nature of bottoms up forces.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Blaise,

                I think if you read James suggestion on Elinor Ostom, you will see evidence both of spontaneous markets and superior solutions to the tragedy of the commons issue in fishing.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                The second is a libertarian paradise, an oligopoly where economic power has replaced the rule of law.

                Again, Blaise, you demonstrate your ignorance about libertarianism (I prefer to think it’s ignorance, rather than the alternative, dishonesty). You may fairly argue that the libertarian world would in fact result in an oligopoly, but you can’t fairly argue that this result would be the libertarian paradise.

                As for you, Hanley, I live and breathe in the real marketplaces.  Billions of dollars flow through my code every day.   Dissertation research is all fine and good, as far as it goes.

                Yes, Blaise, only you live in the real world. What hubris!  All I do is make daily decisions about where to buy food for my children, which doctor to take them to, what mechanic to take my car to, which heating/AC/plumbing guy to call, which insurance company to purchase policies from, which internet service provider and phone company to sign a contract with, which outfitter to use when I go canoeing in the north country, which bookseller to make my purchases from, etc. etc.  Are those not real marketplaces?  There’s not a person participating in the League who doesn’t live and breathe in real marketplaces.

                Additionally, I spend a considerable time studying the professional economics literature, which rigorously studies real marketplaces, rather than only viewing them only casually and intuitively, as most people, do.  Oh, sure, you’ll likely reject them because they never traded on the futures market, and they don’t write code for transactions…because nothing anybody else studies or does could possibly provide any insight into the world, only what Blaise P. does has any intellectual value. But out here in the world outside your arrogantly self-centered mindspace there’s a lot of sources of knowledge about these things, and some of us make a real effort to learn from others, not having the hubris to think only our own personal experiences matter. I don’t know everything, nor do I pretend to, but I do try to keep up with the research.

                The ancient fishing cooperatives so depleted the stocks of codfish that government regulation and treaties were required.

                You are dead wrong in the case that I am talking about.  The Spanish fishing cooperatives have continued strong into the modern day, and it is EU regulations that are threatening the commons.  In Switzerland there are cooperative grazing lands that have been maintained since the 1300s and communal irrigation systems in Spain that have been maintained since the 1400s.*  You want real world experience? That’s 6 and 7 centuries of evidence undermining your claims.

                And let me go back to iterated games again, which you seem to think exist only in the laboratory. I’ve got a simple question or two for you.  Do you repeatedly patronize or do business with someone who has cheated you? When you do business with someone who has treated you fairly, are you more likely to do business with them again?

                It’s a simple question–as simple as the one you repeatedly asked another Leaguer the other day, but couldn’t get him to answer.

                _________________
                Ostrom. Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 6Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I have the cure for Elinor Ostrom’s idealism about the tragedy of the commons:  the dynamics of well-digging, something I’ve done in several places with my own money.

                Here are the dynamics of the equation:

                Two factors limit the production of cattle:  grazing and water.  Combine these two with the distance cattle can travel from water to grazing areas.   We thus arrive at a radius, centred on the well.

                Varying as the square of distance along that radius, we can determine how much grazing is possible.  As we approach the well itself, dust and mud take over completely.   At the end of the daily cattle commute, we come to the optimal grazing.   Beyond that radius, grazing is a practical impossibility.  Overload that dynamical equation with too many cattle and the grazing area cannot regrow fast enough to sustain the cattle.

                When we put in a well, the village chief and his elders demanded control of access to that well, for these excellent reasons, in accordance with Ostrom’s points about the commons.   If a commons is regulated, it isn’t a commons anymore.   Someone has to have control of it, enough control to say “you can graze, the others can’t”.  It’s not a bottom-up proposition any more than the King’s Forest was a commons.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I have the cure for Elinor Ostrom’s idealism about the tragedy of the commons: the dynamics of well-digging,

                Idealism?  Why in the world do you insist on going to such lengths to promote your ignorance? Idealism is the last word that would be applied to Ostrom’s work by anyone with even the remotest passing familiarity with it. You, obviously, know nothing of her work, haven’t bothered to read it, and can’t be bothered to read it.  Even though she is considered the world’s leading expert–bar none–on commons problems, you think you’re competent to simply dismiss her work despite having no familiarity with it.  Why not just wear a blinking neon sign that says, “Ignoramus and proud of it?”

                When we put in a well, the village chief and his elders demanded control of access to that well, for these excellent reasons, in accordance with Ostrom’s points about the commons. 

                Yeah, that can happen, but it doesn’t invariably happen. Read her book–that is, read any of the several award winning books on the research that earned her a Nobel prize–and you’ll see that it’s not all as simplistic as you think.

                If a commons is regulated, it isn’t a commons anymore.   Someone has to have control of it, enough control to say “you can graze, the others can’t”.  It’s not a bottom-up proposition any more than the King’s Forest was a commons.

                Wrong. Technically wrong. First, the commons can be governed bottom up. That’s what Ostrom’s work is about. And it’s not just her work–she has research associates literally all around the world, on every continent, who have repeatedly provided examples of bottom up governance of commons. Hell, I’ve provided three examples for you already–Spanish cofradias, irrigation systems, and Swiss grazing commons. Almost nothing could be more flatly empirically false than to claim that successful bottom up management of commons isn’t possible, given that the very thing has been repeatedly demonstrated in the real world.

                Second, regulating the commons does not mean it’s not a commons anymore.  There’s a technical definition for common pool resources: Exclusion of users is difficult and subtractibility of value (the units of the resource I use are not available to you to use) is high. Neither of those disappear in a regulated commons; subtractibility remains, and exclusion of defectors is managed on an on-going basis, but remains an ever-present difficulty, and the presence of defectors remains an ever-present risk.

                Look, if there’s any one area where I can flatter myself I have some kind of expertise, it’s precisely this stuff.  And I don’t really like simply pulling rank and saying, “I am omnisciently godlike and know better than you.”  If someone, like Stillwater did, asked a serious question I’d respond in a nice and thoughtful way.  But when you start talking down to me about something I know one hell of a lot better than you, then I don’t think you’ve earned that, and I’m more than willing to return nastiness for nastiness.  But on this issue you truly are seriously out of your depth.  And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that, since nobody’s an expertise on everything.  But there is something definitely wrong with pretending to superior knowledge in an area to which you haven’t devoted any serious study at all.

                Hell, I’d be happy to provide you with a syllabus of readings on cooperative behavior in game theory and on common pool resources.  You’d have no trouble devouring it, and within two weeks you’d know more than 95% of educated folks about this stuff.  But right now, you simply don’t know it.  At all. (Then again, that never seems to stop you–weren’t you the guy who told our resident physicist that he didn’t know enough physics?)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                You do not make decisions about where you buy food.  Your options are limited to the available sources and I dare say you don’t live out of your garden.  Your choice of doctors only betrays your inability to treat yourself:  you are completely at their mercy and the limits of their competence.  As for the rest of the specialists in your little list, hopefully a few regulatory laws apply to them or you will get corn oil poured into your crankcase and the coolant tank of your air conditioner.

                As for your choice of books, any fathead can write an economics textbook.   Some of us find the real marketplaces are not congruent with the conclusions of the fatheads with their notions of voluntary compliance.  My conclusions are based on the facts at hand, the palpable failures of markets to regulate themselves, the trusting idiots who followed the nostrums of those fatheads and deregulated marketplaces.

                But it wasn’t always so.  For about a year, I worked for an interesting character who would take advantage of investor stupidity.  Here is how he worked the angle.

                He would approach an investor, take apart his trade book, looking at where that investor had made and lost money.   Working backward from those profits and losses, he would overlay those trades onto the historical data and look for “reasons” why the profitable trades worked and the losing trades didn’t.   It was all a fallacious pantload of post hoc ergo propter hoc, but never mind all that.   Here’s where it got interesting.

                He would then construct trading models, well, more properly he’d have me construct the models which could duplicate the successful trades and avoid the losing trades.   Not hard, really.   Of course, they had no predictive value but they did approach something resembling the investor’s strategy.   Curiously, some of them worked!   But we both know these models were utterly fallacious.

                I have already pointed out in previous comments how a working cooperative can be maintained through the application of dynamical equations determining carrying capacity.   The commons as envisioned by the Libertarians does not exist:  as varies risk, so must vary regulation.  The Spanish fishing fleet is horribly inefficent and will not abide by even sensible regulations.

                http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/05/spanish-government-derail-eu-fishing-reform

                I do business with untrustworthy scoundrels all the time:  I repeat myself I engineer schemes to routinely avoid paying health care claims.  I really only care if I get paid.  I submit my invoice, they pay it, if they don’t then I have to pull up stakes.  But not until.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                “In summary, the Libertarian, when pushed to it, will admit to problems the Liberals point out to him.”

                When pushed to it, Libertarians will also admit to problems such as “unintended consequences”, “boomerang effects”, “iatrogenic diseases”, and “perverse incentives”. This tends to distinguish them further from Liberals.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                The idealism enters the picture when Ostrom contends resource management does not conform to a common model.   Every such model can be subsumed into a dynamical equation in accordance with the Gibbs Laws of thermodynamics.

                I will consider the source when accused of being an Ignoramus.  I work from the facts and derive trends from them, seeking optimality, not the other way around, except as outlined in my previous comment, with the explanation of what that is so.  I find all other approaches to be mere predictions of the past.

                A regulated commons is no longer a commons.   End of story.   As for games theory, I will not be lectured on how rules are derived by someone who seriously believes markets are organized from the ground up.   I might as well stop believing in the law of gravity.  I have never heard such a stupid thing in all my life.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Blaise and all,

                I’ve never published any papers. I have however designed real world financial products for much of my prior career. I am now retired.

                These products had to survive in the real world. And never did I seek to cheat or defraud anyone, nor coercively force anyone to buy the product or coerce competitors out of the market. Nor would I have done so.

                Blaise, it almost sounds like you were involved in defrauding people and are rationalizing it now as something we all do. Not that I am accusing you of this, it’s just what you appear to have just written. sorry if I misread it.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                When pushed to it, Libertarians will also admit to problems such as

                “unintended consequences”  Ah, there’s a fine excuse.  Deregulation didn’t set the banks up to become hugely and secretly interdependent, creating the Too Big to Fail problem.

                “boomerang effects”   Excellent.  We all understand predicted disasters never come true, especially when they’ve only happened a dozen times before.

                “iatrogenic diseases”  Those wicked old regulators, always tryin’ to keep a good man down.

                “perverse incentives”   Yes, perversity is its own reward, especially rewarding when it’s coated in a nice chocolatey layer of glossy marketing brochures so the muppets won’t know they’re just about to ingest a chihuahua turd specially prepared for their consumption and the trader’s enrichment.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                This will be my last response, because this has become mind-numbingly stupid.

                You do not make decisions about where you buy food.  Your options are limited to the available sources and I dare say you don’t live out of your garden.

                The whole world is a condition of us being limited to available sources, and yet we make decisions each day as we choose among them.  To deny that choosing between available alternatives is making choices is to abuse language and logic beyond what any reasonable person can bear.

                I can choose McDonalds over the locally owned cafe, or I can do the reverse.  It depends on which one gives me the greatest value. I can choose to buy my vegetables at my local mass market grocery store, or I can find a local co-op that sells only politically correct organics produce.  Or I can buy from the local farmer’s market.  Or if I want to put in the effort, I can make my own garden.  I can buy my pork chops from the grocery store, or I can go to the great little meat locker out in the country, or I could join my friend who invests in co-ownership of a hog each year, and receives his share–already butchered–in the fall.  These are real choices, real decisions, and it’s mind-boggling that someone would try to pretend they’re not.

                Your choice of doctors only betrays your inability to treat yourself:  you are completely at their mercy and the limits of their competence.

                My choice of mechanics also betrays my inability to repair my own car. In fact my choice of auto manufacturers only betrays my inability to build my own car from scratch–mining the ore and smelting the metal, drilling for oil (making my own tools to do so!) and refining it into plastics, etc.  But what does that mean? All it means is that markets develop to meet our needs for things we can’t, or would prefer not to, do for ourselves.  So your argument here works out to a claim that the existence of markets proves we don’t have choice?  Now we’re in wingnut territory.  And of course I’m at the mercy of my doctor’s competence–that’s precisely why I make a careful choice about my doctor, and would not stick with an incompetent one as soon as I learned s/he was incompetent.  Not having that information up-front is irrelevant–choice and decision-making is all about how we respond to the information we do have (there’s a whole decision-making literature, too).

                As for the rest of the specialists in your little list, hopefully a few regulatory laws apply to them or you will get corn oil poured into your crankcase and the coolant tank of your air conditioner.

                Really, Blaise?  What advantage would my mechanic gain from pouring corn oil in my crankcase?  I’m sincerely curious.  Because this guy wants my repeat business, and he wants me to tell other people good things about him, rather than me telling other people how bad he is. We’re talking about a guy who loaned my wife his own car while he was making a major repair on our car and I was working in another town 400 miles away. That guy is going to pour cornoil in my crankcase unless there’s a law against it?

                As for your choice of books, any fathead can write an economics textbook.   Some of us find the real marketplaces are not congruent with the conclusions of the fatheads with their notions of voluntary compliance.  My conclusions are based on the facts at hand, the palpable failures of markets to regulate themselves, the trusting idiots who followed the nostrums of those fatheads and deregulated marketplaces.

                I always love a little bit of anti-intellectualism.  If you’d bother to read some economics texts, you’d recognize that you mischaracterized approximately 98% of them.

                HBut it wasn’t always so.  For about a year, I worked for an interesting character who would take advantage of investor stupidity. …..He would then construct trading models [with] no predictive value ….

                Yes, there’s a literature on that, too.  If you haven’t read it, you might find A Random Walk Down Wall Street interesting.  It’s quite critical of such models.  So what have you shown here? Not all markets are perfect.  Congrats, you’ve just demonstrated something that 99.9% of economists already know, and something that most libertarians also agree to. That’s a big yawn, but it’s apparently very exciting to you.

                The commons as envisioned by the Libertarians does not exist:  as varies risk, so must vary regulation.  The Spanish fishing fleet is horribly inefficent and will not abide by even sensible regulations,

                Again, you don’t actually know what libertarians think, so quit pretending you do.  Regulation does not mean only top-down, as you seem to think.  The commons as envisioned by libertarians is a commons that is managed bottom-up, if and when possible. I’ve already demonstrated that in some cases it’s possible–700 years of evidence, eh?  You’ve produced nothing to counter that except your personal experience.

                http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jan/05/spanish-government-derail-eu-fishing-reform

                You might want to read your own source more carefully. To wit: “Discards are a perverse result of the current EU fishing policy:”  Not traditional cofradia fishing policy, but the new top-down EU policy.

                I do business with untrustworthy scoundrels all the time:  I repeat myself I engineer schemes to routinely avoid paying health care claims.

                Mmmhmm, health care market. That’s a fucked up one, given that the purchasers most often aren’t the users.  So the ones who get screwed aren’t the ones who get to make the purchase decisions, so they can’t effectively respond.  Of course that’s not the structure that would have developed in the absence of some bad government regulations that created perverse incentives to link health insurance to employment, so it’s not exactly a strong argument for your position.

                I really only care if I get paid.  I submit my invoice, they pay it, if they don’t then I have to pull up stakes.  But not until.

                And there we go, you demonstrate my point by your own behavior.  Of course you don’t pull up stakes before they don’t pay.  All the research on the iterated prisoner’s dilemma perfectly supports the idea that you don’t leave an iterated series as long as the other side is cooperating, but only after the other side defects. Your behavior is demonstrated to be rational by formal theory, computer simulation, and laboratory experiments.  It’s also precisely what Adam Smith suggested happens in a market.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                The idealism enters the picture when Ostrom contends resource management does not conform to a common model.   Every such model can be subsumed into a dynamical equation in accordance with the Gibbs Laws of thermodynamics.

                No, it can’t.

                Or rather, it can, and it will work predictably well as long as whatever model you’re using continues to act like a closed system.  Which most open systems do, for some delta of time.

                The issue is what happens when the delta of time gets larger.  It doesn’t even need to get arbitrarily large, just sufficiently large.  And then the model blows apart and fails.

                You probably should read Ostrom, Blaise.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I’ve never published any papers. I have however designed real world financial products for much of my prior career. I am now retired.

                These products had to survive in the real world. And never did I seek to cheat or defraud anyone, nor coercively force anyone to buy the product or coerce competitors out of the market. Nor would I have done so.

                I’m sure you’re an honest man.   You’re an equally honest debater.   Your honesty or intentions are not up for debate.   Nor, I hope, are mine.   I never defrauded anyone.   I should let you know I quit working for this creep, resigned on principle, refused to be party to any more of his quackery.   There’s an awful lot of it in AI these days, pat answers in search of complicated questions.   I call these guys Astrologers.   I won’t do any more government consulting, especially not defence contracting.   Lots of lying going on in that part of the consulting sea.

                I’ve grown intensely angry with my long involvement with the health care and insurance industries.  I’ve done things, as Roy Batty said, questionable things.   Not proud of it, and I’m hoping a bit of honesty on this front will make me look less like a pollyanna and more like someone who knows why this stuff is wrong and why more regulation is necessary.

                The design of financial products, especially unregulated synthetic risk instruments, concerns me greatly.  I believe they concern you, too.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                All,

                I have been tempted to write two front page submissions for the LoOG. They both deal with the differences in world views between libertarians and progressives. The first deals with the perception that the world can be positive sum as opposed to zero sum. Libertarians see how value can be created in a positive sum process, where progressives tend to see everything through the lens of win lose. These lead to totally different outlooks.

                The second is what I call The Big Kahuna myth. This one is that progressives (and many conservatives) see complex systems as the necessary product of top down, rational design. Libertarians acknowledge the possibility of top down, but also recognize the possibility, and often have a preference for, bottoms up design. Again this leads to different world views and outlooks.

                I think Blaise just hit the Zero Sum and Big Kahuna myths in a single comment.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                The idealism enters the picture when Ostrom contends resource management does not conform to a common model.   Every such model can be subsumed into a dynamical equation in accordance with the Gibbs Laws of thermodynamics.

                Each system has distinct sets of rules, which vary from place to place. Rules must conform to local cultural understandings or they will be rejected. This doesn’t mean any of those rule-sets violate the Gibbs Law–obviously they couldn’t.  But if you think there is a single uniform set of rules that conform to that constraint, then you’re operating from theory, not from facts as you like to claim.  A major effort of Ostrom and her colleagues has been to find commonalities among disparate sets of rules, to find out which conditions must be satisfied to make bottom-up CPR management systems work.  It’s absolutely not a case of anything goes.  But those conditions can be satisfied by differently structured rules, within bounds.  E.g., there is commonality, and the major research effort is to specify that commonality so that we can do a better job of designing CPR management systems.  But the common model contains a vast range of individual variations.  Those are the facts, as determined through observations from a much larger set of CPR management systems than either you or I have observed.

                A regulated commons is no longer a commons.  

                You can’t change technical definitions by fiat.  This is like saying an accelerator with a governor is no longer an accelerator.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Blaise thanks for clarifying. I respect your decision to leave.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Write them, Roger, if you’re willing to take the heat.

                My two cents of input is this. In talking about whether markets are created from the bottom up or top down, there is some of both going on. Obviously top-down rules are an effort to shape markets.  But note that regulations–the top down aspect–are always reactions to what is happening from the bottom-up.  And each regulation creates a new set of bottom-up responses that continually shape and re-shape markets.

                For my part, I wonder what top-down power Blaise thinks created the markets that brought high value sea shells from the coast to the mountains in pre-Columbian America.  And what top-down power created the market for running shoes, that I have stupidly thought was created by the ingenuity–technical and business–of a coach and his athlete out in Oregon.

                What top-down power makes a market in fast food?  That is, who decides that we will all want fast food and ordains that someone will supply it to us?  Or is it just that the top-down power moves in after the market develops and puts some constraints on it (some good, some bad)?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Wrong.  Gibbs’ Laws consider the transients from an equilibrium over time, including every effect of entropy.

                And don’t fucking condescend to me:  I’ve read Ostrom, her principles have guided every sensible improvement scheme for many decades.  She’s standard reading in nonprofit circles.

                I don’t dig wells and put in solar panels for the good of my health.   I do such things where I can demonstrate a payoff to my donors, considering the consequences and what will come of these schemes once the Do-Gooders have left the scene.   Someone has to own this stuff, someone has to maintain it and put the distilled water in the batteries and clean off the solar panels and rinse out the filters on the well head and believe in that system.   Without that buy-in, it’s not worth doing.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                My two cents of input is this. In talking about whether markets are created from the bottom up or top down, there is some of both going on. Obviously top-down rules are an effort to shape markets.  But note that regulations–the top down aspect–are always reactions to what is happening from the bottom-up.  And each regulation creates a new set of bottom-up responses that continually shape and re-shape markets.

                Well, yes, all true as far as it goes.   But marketplaces are created by market makers, entities such as CME or NYMEX, fora for a regulated market in risk.  They don’t just emerge full-grown from the brow of Zeus.   Sure, there’s lots of pushback from the bottom, but the rules are made by the market makers themselves, for it is their needs most clearly served.

                For my part, I wonder what top-down power Blaise thinks created the markets that brought high value sea shells from the coast to the mountains in pre-Columbian America. 

                Perceived value.   Why don’t we have a market in shells now?   I suppose we do, a few collectors.

                And what top-down power created the market for running shoes, that I have stupidly thought was created by the ingenuity–technical and business–of a coach and his athlete out in Oregon.

                Again, perceived value.  How many people actually run in those running shoes?   SUVs, tablets, hell, I’m old enough when carrying a ten-banger calculator was a status symbol.

                What top-down power makes a market in fast food?  That is, who decides that we will all want fast food and ordains that someone will supply it to us?  Or is it just that the top-down power moves in after the market develops and puts some constraints on it (some good, some bad)?

                Again, perceived value.   Cheap, greasy snack food, the street vendors selling churrascos plied the streets of Rome and Athens they do today.  Do you know most Roman dwellings didn’t have kitchens?   Fire hazards.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Wrong.  Gibbs’ Laws consider the transients from an equilibrium over time, including every effect of entropy.

                And that means the real-world differences in CPR management structures don’t exist? Or what?  Seriously, just how in the world does this contradict anything I said?

                don’t condescend to me

                Oh, get over yourself. You condescend to everybody so you can damn well suck it up when people condescend to you. Hell, you’ve been nothing but condescending on this thread, so you’ve got no grounds for whining.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                And that means the real-world differences in CPR management structures don’t exist? Or what?  Seriously, just how in the world does this contradict anything I said?

                If you want to maintain a CPR resource, it must be managed in accordance with some equations of equilibrium.  There are no other viable constructs.   End of story.

                Oh, get over yourself. You condescend to everybody so you can damn well suck it up when people condescend to you. Hell, you’ve been nothing but condescending on this thread, so you’ve got no grounds for whining.

                I will not be told to read Elinor Ostrom.  I have.  I find it all quite interesting but completely untenable in the context of changing or improving anything.   For without some effective management schemes, unsupplied by Ostrom or anyone else who goes in for that hooey, the whole thing goes tits-up, for my well-drilling has made serious changes to the communities where I put them in.  In short,  a resource in demand requires a regulator to dispense access to that resource.   No two ways about it, such structures are always top down.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                If you want to maintain a CPR resource, it must be managed in accordance with some equations of equilibrium.  There are no other viable constructs.   End of story.

                Nobody argued differently.  The fact that there are different specific rules that can satisfy the common requirements doesn’t one of those systems is not in equilibrium.  We’re talking about exactly the same thing, but you seem to think that only you understand the necessity of equilibrium in the system.  But if you think that it requires identical rules across each CPR to create equilibrium then you are clearly operating out of (bad) theory and not on facts.  Ostrom presents the facts–how system A in Peru has managed for hundreds of years with a particular set of rules, and how system B in China has managed for hundreds of years with a different set of rules, but how certain management requirements are met by those different approaches.

                Again, we’re talking about systems that have been sustained across many generations, in some cases for hundreds of years.  And the particularized rules are different.  If you deny that different rule sets can work, you’re denying reality. (But of course nobody is arguing that just any set of rules can work.)

                For without some effective management schemes, unsupplied by Ostrom or anyone else who goes in for that hooey, the whole thing goes tits-up,

                Eh, yeah, that’s exactly what Ostrom would say (although I can’t quite imagine her saying “tts up”).  You’re reiterating the primary assumption of her research, which then goes on to demonstrate what type of management systems work and what kind don’t.

                for my well-drilling has made serious changes to the communities where I put them in.

                Which is cool, seriously.

                In short,  a resource in demand requires a regulator to dispense access to that resource.  

                Yes, nobody is disagreeing with that, only about what the nature of that regulator can or must be.

                No two ways about it, such structures are always top down.

                The empirical evidence demonstrates that you are wrong. You keep making a claim that is absolutely and irrefutably rebutted by the real world empirical evidence, including the examples I’ve already given you. You can wave your hands at them, but you can’t make a 700 year old grazing co-operative disappear.

                Heck, my wife and I were part of a child-care co-op (satisfyingly, in the year I was studying with Ostrom). It began in the ’60s, idealized by hippy-dippy types, but is now a 40-year old childcare center, totally managed by the participants, from the selection of new members to setting of fees, to creation of rules and overseeing of the students we employed to assist us.  My wife and I also own some property in Montana that has a property owner’s association to manage the common area and make collective decisions about management of roads, weed control, etc. The thing was originally organized top-down by a real estate company, until they sold off all the lots; now it’s bottom-up.  We elect a president, etc., etc., but they are simply the chief organizers, and have almost no independent authority beyond bringing proposals to the membership for a vote.  You might also consider agricultural co-ops. Or the cooperative societies of the Hutterites.

                In short, your emphatic claim is emphatically rebutted by the empirical evidence.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                All CPR resources have common characteristics:   they are finite, or regrow at a finite rate.   Someone harvests them, at which point they become private property.   Someone manages them on behalf of all such harvesters or they will quickly be exhausted.   It doesn’t matter which CPR we’re discussing, they all obey the same dynamics.

                Elinor Ostrom believes neither the state nor the market can effectively regulate a CPR.   Fricking Page 1 of Governing the Commons.

                This is wrong.  Who shall punish the violator, if not the State?  The Texas Regulators, riding down these scofflaws?   Did I say scofflaws?   Which laws would be broken under a bottom-up regulatory scheme?   Oh, that’s right, we wouldn’t have any laws, just customs.  Maybe we could just shun someone, like the Amish.

                All rules require enforcement or they are moot. Even in the case of your property owners’ association, how would you go about getting someone to tow that dead car off his front lawn?   Riddle me that.  Aren’t the Libertarians all about contract enforcement?   Who will enforce them, if not the State?Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                I see a continuum of regulation, forming a parabola in the first quadrant.   I posit two Zeroes on the X axis.   The first is a command economy, where marketplaces disappear.  The second is a libertarian paradise, an oligopoly where economic power has replaced the rule of law.

                And I see an added dimension, a z-axis representing the degree to which regulators are captured by small and organized interests.  In this instance, the zenith of your parabola is merely a local maximum, and decreasing regulation, although it may move us away from the apex of your literally two-dimensional model, in fact gets us closer to the global maximum of the 3-D solid representation of economic desirability.

                Of course, even my improved model avails itself of a highly-suspect linear relationship between regulatory capture and economic desirability.  But it was Hayek, not Keynes, who pointed out this intrinsic failure of Chicago-style economics.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                And I see an added dimension, a z-axis representing the degree to which regulators are captured by small and organized interests.  In this instance, the zenith of your parabola is merely a local maximum, and decreasing regulation, although it may move us away from the apex of your literally two-dimensional model, in fact gets us closer to the global maximum of the 3-D solid representation of economic desirability.

                The Y axis is regulation and its enforcement:  I’ve already established an unenforced or selectively enforced law is moot.   Your capture phenomenon only represents some point along that parabola, pushed off the zenith by some capture mechanism, the net effect of which is a reduction in regulation.

                Of course, even my improved model avails itself of a highly-suspect linear relationship between regulatory capture and economic desirability.  But it was Hayek, not Keynes, who pointed out this intrinsic failure of Chicago-style economics.

                I’m not sure what Hayek’s critique of the Chicago School has to do with this parabola, beyond the obvious placement of a Straw Man Keynes on the Statist Zero and an equally ridiculous Hayek on the Libertarian Zero.   Neither man can be reduced to such caricatures by anyone seriously discussing the problem.  Hayek deplored the Statist Zero, yes he did, and rightly so.   But Keynes has come in for a great deal of simplistic slagging from people, well, let me rephrase that, we must make a difference between Keynes, a man of his time, and what has been made of Keynes in the mean time.Report

              • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                If the y-axis is regulation AND enforcement, then you’re already not dealing with a very clean model, and it would be very unlikely that my model’s added distinction wouldn’t more accurately represent the phenomenon in question.  But any apparent outlying specks on the graph paper are best explained by the fact that we’re just masturbating at this point.

                I hope you don’t take me for one of these freeper dipshits who hears “Keynes” and thinks “Stalin’s five-year-plans.”  I brought up Hayek because he’d be deeply skeptical of your graph to begin with. I also wanted to reiterate that Keynesianism has broadly accepted the validity of neoclassical methodology, and is a favorite tool neoliberal financial oligarchs.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                All CPR resources have common characteristics:   they are finite, or regrow at a finite rate.

                Yeah, but essentially all–or very nearly all–resources are finite, so that’s not actually a very good definition.  More critical to the definition are the two characteristics I mentioned above, high subtractibility of value (the units you use I can’t use) and difficulty of exclusion.  In fact those two dimensions, level of subtractibility (high/low) and ease/difficulty of exclusion of people from the resource define the four essential types of goods: private, public, toll, and common pool.  Which isn’t to say the finitude/finite regrowth rate isn’t important–if that wasn’t a constraint then the high subtractibility and difficulty of exclusion wouldn’t matter.

                Someone harvests them, at which point they become private property.  

                Ostrom would be very quick to note that we have to distinguish between the stock and the flow (of units of that stock).  The flow gets privatized, the stock does not.  Although in many cases one available solution to the CPR is to privatize it, a solution that’s available when exclusion becomes easier.  E.g., when barbed wire made it possible to inexpensively enclose grazing land in the western U.S., transforming a CPR into a private good by changing the technical nature of it (that is, by switching exclusion from difficult to easy).  But still, when we’re talking about a true CPR, the stock is what remains to replenish the flow, and only the units in the flow get privatized (and then they can only be privatized because of their high subtractibility, which distinguishes CPRs from purely public goods, like national defense, in which my use of it does not subtract from your use of it, or toll goods, like bridges or movie theaters, where my use does not diminish yours, up to the point at which crowding occurs).

                Someone manages them on behalf of all such harvesters or they will quickly be exhausted.   It doesn’t matter which CPR we’re discussing, they all obey the same dynamics.

                Elinor Ostrom believes neither the state nor the market can effectively regulate a CPR.   Fricking Page 1 of Governing the Commons.

                Dude, show me where I used the term “market” in relation to the commons! I’m repeatedly talking about bottom-up rather than top-down organization. Ostrom’s absolutely right, so what she focuses on is neither the market nor the state, but self-governing organizations. Here’s a quote from Ostrom’s colleague, Michael McGinnis.

                Governance does need not be restricted to the activities of formal organizations designed as part of a “government” [with] authorities having “power over” subjects or citizens, but instead can be realized in the form of citizens jointly exerting “power with” others, as they jointly endeavor to solve common problems or realize shared goals.[i]

                E.g., bottom up, voluntary organizations. And that bit about government not managing them well? Yes, that’s her critique of your favored top-down approach.
                Let me tip my hand here.  I know Lin Ostrom. As in I’m on a first name basis with her, had a post-doc fellowship at her research institute (http://www.indiana.edu/~workshop/people/priorvisitors.php), and my wife worked for her during that year. I attended her seminars, was lead author for a chapter in one of her books, have had numerous conversations with her, formal, informal, small group, large group, and have been to her house. As in I know the whole trajectory of her career, from her husband Vince Ostrom’s early work with Charles Tiebout (if you know Tiebout sorting models you know what I mean) and his work on water systems in California, to her groundbreaking studies on consolidation in metropolitan police forces, to her groundbreaking and Nobel winning research in institutional analysis and design.   As in her approach is the dominant foundation of my own thought as a political scientist.
                I’m more than happy to discuss it, but if you think you’re going to teach me about it, you’ve got a long road of prepping ahead of you.

                This is wrong.  Who shall punish the violator, if not the State? 

                Stop claiming you’ve read her work. You haven’t, or you wouldn’t be asking that question. Here’s an example, from a collective irrigation system for terrace farming (rice paddies). Everyone in the community takes their turn managing the system, shunting water to and from the different individually owned plots.  I’m a jerk, and I skip my turn to sleep in, or I allocate too much water to myself.  This is noticed (monitoring is one of those absolutely critical conditions that must be met), and you, in your turn managing the system, don’t allocate to me the water I’m allowed.  Others do so also, until I am suitably chastened.  There is no state involvement.  Here’s another example, from the Spanish cofradias (which I learned about from a Spanish grad student at Ostrom’s institute). The fishermen ensure nobody takes more than their fair share of the catch (which would risk overfishing of the resource) by meeting early in the morning at the docks and then again in the evening. If y’all come in the morning and I’m already gone, or if I come in later than everyone else in the evening, y’all assume I’m catching too many fish. And meeting at the same time allows everyone to observer everyone’s catch, as well as their equipment.  What’s the punishment for defectors? Social ostracization, which in small closely knit communities, can be damned effective.

                Seriously, if you’d actually read Ostrom you’d know this.  Now unfortunately this stuff doesn’t scale up real far, so when we’re talking about global commons, or even very large local commons, like, say Lake Michigan, these solutions will tend to fail. They’re not a panacea, and won’t resolve all commons problems.  But they exist in innumerable examples, so the claim that solutions have to be top down is refuted by an overwhelming amount of examples.

                Which laws would be broken under a bottom-up regulatory scheme?   Oh, that’s right, we wouldn’t have any laws, just customs. 

                Again, you obviously haven’t actually read Ostrom in any depth or breadth at all.  She talks about institutions all the time, and explains repeatedly the very real constraining power of customs. I think this aspect of her work is so important that it’s lecture number one in my American Gov’t class each term–the importance of institutions, including custom as well as law.  For example, there’s no federal law requiring states to allocate their congressmen by district. Sure, each state has its own law about that, but those could easily be changed if the custom wasn’t so damn strong that most people think of that as “the American way.”

                Maybe we could just shun someone, like the Amish.

                Or like the cofradias. Yes, in the right institutional settings, it works damn well.

                All rules require enforcement or they are moot.

                Yes, that’s one of Ostrom’s principles in her “Grammar of Institutions.”  But you’re implying that the enforcement has to be by a Leviathan, and Ostrom would kindly (much more kindly than me; she’s tremendously nice) disagree.

                Even in the case of your property owners’ association, how would you go about getting someone to tow that dead car off his front lawn?   Riddle me that.  Aren’t the Libertarians all about contract enforcement?   Who will enforce them, if not the State?

                Well, since this is ranchette’s in Montana, I’m not sure front lawns are relevant, but sure, that’s a fair question.  If I don’t ensure the noxious weeds are eliminated from my property the elected officials can dun me the cost of weed removal. But that’s not a rule that was put in place by a top-down authority–it was proposed by the elected officials and approved in a referendum.  OK, so what if I don’t pay?  Then, and only then, might they bring in the power of the state.  Sure, it’s there, and it’s not irrelevant, but in the 20 years or so this organization’s been in existence there’s been no need for that recourse. Now in our case that ultimate recourse is there just because that’s how our system is designed.  But in many of these other systems, that recourse is not there…and yet those systems continue to work fine. In fact for many of them the biggest issue with the state has been keeping it from interfering with their long-standing functional organizations on the misguided theory that what has been working for generations can’t possibly work.

                If anyone’s interested in a fairly simple explanation of this stuff, here’s a short essay I wrote for my environmental politics students (the doc titled “Common Pool Resources and Environmental Problems”). It’s straightforward Ostrom stuff.


                [i]. McGinnis, Michael D. 2010. “An Introduction to IAD and the Language of the Ostrom Workshiop: A Simple Guide to a Complex Framework for the Analysis of Institutions and their Development.” Manuscript prepared for the comment by participants in the Institutional Analysis and Development Symposium, University of Colorado, Denver, April 9-10, 2010. http://php.indiana.edu/~mcginnis/iad_guid.pdf.  Accessed September 29, 2010. [Unfortunately, this page is no longer accessible, but I have it cited in one of my writings.]

                 Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                If the y-axis is regulation AND enforcement, then you’re already not dealing with a very clean model

                Amen. That’s a conflation of two related but very separable things, whose correlation is often fairly weak.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Blaise,

                Respectfully jumping back in, I think you take your keen insights and apply them too broadly. You are right in many ways about market research. Consumers usually have absolutely no clue what problems they want solved. Good market research involves digging in to what consumers value, even though they cannot even begin to articulate or picture it. From the insights you creatively try to fashion various “solutions” and feed it back to them. Most have absolutely zero potential. Some concepts and products take off.

                But this is not a top down process. It is an explorative process. It is more like trying to find feedback loops that work. You try thousands of concepts and whittle it down to those that meet everyone’s needs, the consumers, the various special interests in the company, the stockholders, etc. You search for that narrow window of products where all major involved parties gain.

                ” All these nostrums about responding to your clients’ needs?   Hogwash.  They don’t know what they need and they want you to tell them. ”

                But the point is that you cannot just tell them what you want either. I wanted to sell all kinds of good products, but found there was a very, very narrow range of what they would actually buy. Yes, my team led the development process, but we always knew and respected that it was Consumer Driven Innovation. The consumer was always sovereign, and though we directed the process, we always knew who decided whether it succeeded or failed.

                There is another way that the system is decentralized though. That is that in any industry without entrance barriers, there are many companies exploring the space of what the sovereign consumer will buy. In other words, we are competing to solve consumer needs, and it isn’t even enough to meet the customers need. We need to meet it better than every competitor.

                Coke and Pepsi are corporate juggernauts, but the competitive dynamic within the beverage industry is still decentralized.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                James,

                How much progress are you able to make during the semester in influencing the outlooks of these freshmen? Do they eventually get it?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke
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                says:

                Perceived value.  

                Exactly, Blaise.  Gold star for you. (Oh, yeah, I can double down on the condescending, as long as you want to impose a double standard on that.)

                Now for what “perceived value” means.  All perceptions are subjective, so we’re right back to subjective value, which is bottom up.  So there was no top-down making of the pre-Columbian market in shells, and no top-down making of the market in running shoes.  Someone made an offer of a good, and someone else either accepted or rejected, and hence a market was created or was not.

                Have you ever done market research? It’s a multi-billion dollar business in trying to figure out what the hell consumers will actually be willing to buy.  And still most new product launches fail.

                So, “top down” market creators?  Sure, in the specific markets you’re talking about.  But perhaps you might lift your head from your coding long enough to notice that there’s no NYMEX in running shoes, or jewelry, or flower arrangements, or kitchen utensils, or the vast majority of market sectors in which we participate in.  Sure, I’ll listen to you explain NYMEX to me–I’ve got every reason to think you may understand it better than I.  An in return–as a reciprocal exchange–I’ll explain to you the market in socks and underwear.

                (Gee, condescension is particularly fun when you know it’s going to irritate an inveterate condescender!  Now, can we cut out the bullshit?)

                 Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Where’s the market for shells today?   Or the market for platform shoes, quite the rage for a while.  Maybe they’ll make a comeback.   My old man said never throw out a tie, it will always come back in fashion in a few years.

                Though running shoes aren’t traded on NYMEX, you can enter the options market on Nike stock.   I shouldn’t have to tell you such things.   Am I condescending to you?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise,

                You haven’t told me anything in this comment.  So that particular market for shells disappeared with the disappearance of the culture that created it?  So fishing what?  Gee, and people no longer buy platform shoes?  They also aren’t clamoring for leisure suits and pet rocks, but if anything that just demonstrates my point about how bottom-up those markets are–customers stopped wanting those things so suppliers aren’t stepping up to offer them.  But who knows, maybe they’ll make a comeback. We can’t predict those things, which is a key point in understanding markets.

                Of course you can enter the options market on Nike stock?  So?  In fact you didn’t need to tell me that, but more importantly, it doesn’t actually demonstrate that my point is wrong.  Yes, some authoritative figure needs to set up that market, but if there wasn’t bottom-up demand for it, either nobody would bother to meet that demand or whoever did would fail.

                The top-down only creates an institutional setting for people to engage in market activities, it doesn’t create the actual market, which is the interplay of supply and demand. There’s a subtle distinction there that I think you fail to recognize.

                Condescend away, boyo, if that’s how you want to play that game.  I’m up to the challenge.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Hanley, you need more market psychology in your scheme of things.   Think birds of paradise:  a beautiful bird hanging upside down from a tree branch, his wings spread, screaming.  The drab females sit impassively, watching the males display.   They choose the prettiest screecher.

                That’s the buying public.  The market isn’t shells or platform shoes.   It’s status and a host of other intangibles, hopefully culminating in some furtive assignation with a willin’ female or male or whatever cet obscur objet du désir happens to be.

                The market for shells didn’t disappear with those cultures.  Once those tricksy Frenchmen appeared with bags full of glass beads, the fashions changed.   Back in England, the Hudson’s Bay company started producing the now-famous point blanket for the beaver trade.   Beaver pelts?   Once beaver hats went out of fashion, so did the beaver trade.

                Every year, fashion week descends upon Paris and New York.   The buyers arrive, the tents go up and the stylists and fitters and make-up artistes furiously apply war paint to the models.   The music starts, the fashions make their way down the runway.   Within a few months, those colours and fabrics and styles will begin to influence clothing lines all over the world.   Oh, you might not see Gaultier’s influence directly, but it’s everywhere.  If you don’t see it, you’re not looking.

                It’s top down in fashion.   It’s top down in every other decision made by the buying public.   Marketing research is mostly crap.  Want to make people buy your shit?  Work on your company, make your company better.   All these nostrums about responding to your clients’ needs?   Hogwash.  They don’t know what they need and they want you to tell them.   Go to the accountants and the salespeople and the returns department, they know what makes a company profitable and unprofitable.   The rest of the company has some vague ideas about what goes on, those groups actually book and make the money and deal with the rest of the company’s failures.

                Even where things appear to be bottom-up, case in point, open source software, it’s top-down.  Linus Torvalds is Linux.  He controls the kernel.   Even Google in all its majestic power is now bringing Starship Android into orbit around Planet Penguin again.  Having forked Linux for a while, Google now see the wisdom of getting back on the road of righteousness.

                Supply and demand, my ass.   You create the demand, then supply the need you’ve just created.   That, dude, is the route to riches.   Go with the Focus Group approach and your stuff will end up in the bargain bin.  Nothing worth doing in life is the product of consensus.  It’s just a polite way of saying Groupthink.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley
                Ignored
                says:

                Supply and demand, my ass.   You create the demand, then supply the need you’ve just created.

                Yes, very shallow people think that’s true.  But you’ve leaped over the whole problem, which is how do you create demand?  You think people can just snap their fingers and suddenly people will demand what they want?  That’s idiocy.  Some people are obviously better at figuring out what will appeal to people than are others, but they still have to figure out what will appeal to people–the designer can’t make people find it appealing just because he wants them to.  And that’s why the majority of all product launches fail, not because they followed the focus group approach, but because it’s always and forever a goddam crap shoot in trying to predict what will grab the public’s fancy.

                I don’t think you understand much about marketing.  Hell, when a beer company (I believe it was Miller) has a $400 million ad campaign and their market share doesn’t rise a bit, it’s pretty damn clear that shaping consumer demand isn’t as simple a command and control operation as you want to pretend.

                And you’ve forgotten that while it may not be hard to persuade someone to try a product once, nothing will make them repeat customers unless they actually like it. And the most successful businesses aren’t built on one-off purchases, but on repeat customers.  You can’t market mass numbers of people into repeatedly buying a product they actually don’t like.

                Your arguments are getting weaker and weaker.  It’s clear that working in the futures market and writing code for the health insurance industry doesn’t necessarily lead to a real understanding of the functioning of markets, and certainly not of economics in general (which, of course, isn’t just about markets).

                I’m bored now.  You can’t even imagine how many times I’ve had this conversation with college sophomores who’ve discovered the shocking truth that businesses are trying to influence their preferences…zomygod!  And consumers are being totally manipulated into buying things they don’t need or really want!  Not them, of course. They understand the game, but others. Yeah, everyone else is an unwitting tool being manipulated by unscrupulous businessmen, but not you and the sophomores…you’re so much more perceptive and smart than everyone else.  Fuckin’ hubris and arrogance, and a really nasty level of condescension toward people whose lives, interests, and desires you don’t know shit about.  That’s what really irritates me.

                 Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                Okay, Roger. Let me ask some targeted questions, then:

                1) Should an “Is my ankle broken” routine diagnostic be considered “routine care”?

                2) Is $5000 a “too small” threshhold for “go to your insurance”?

                3) How often do you want the catastrophic plans to get tapped? (asking this because it helps set the basis…)

                4) I assume that for any “reasonable” medical problem, people have to make up the difference between what their hsa has (aka regular and expected bills…) and where the insurance kicks in. It works like a deductible.

                5) Can we all agree that needing to take out a second mortgage for a broken ankle is probably a bad thing, in a “this is bad for our economy and Americans” sort of way?

                6) If we set the catastrophic insurance at $5000, and that means a usage rate of 1 in 5 years, we’re actually assessing people approximately $16,000 over the course of twenty years (taking that $1000 is a reasonable HSA amount for routine care)… is that reasonable??Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Kimmi
                Ignored
                says:

                Hi kimmi,

                I think you missed a few of my earlier comments considering the volume of posts accumulating here.

                I am fine with the voluntary part of the routine care market having whatever deductible the consumer wants. The choice is theirs. I like high deductible policies, but value your preference for comprehensive care with a low deductible.

                I believe this addresses all your concerns on HSAs for routine care.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Roger
      Ignored
      says:

      What are the two halves of the country?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Michael Drew
        Ignored
        says:

        The halves and the halve nots.Report

        • Avatar Roger in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          I initially meant conservatives and liberals, red and blue, but this split works just as well. No solution to health care can work without caring for the poor, children and elderly.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger
            Ignored
            says:

            Except we have something that does work. It’s called Medicare and Medicaid. It’s cheaper, gets better outcomes, and is growing more slowly than private insurance is. Why make poor people have a middleman in the form of an HSA instead of just directly paying for their care?Report

            • Avatar Roger in reply to Jesse Ewiak
              Ignored
              says:

              I thought we were concerned with universal coverage and long term health care quality and affordability. I know I am. Are you instead suggesting that we just extend Medicare and Medicaid to everyone?Report

            • Avatar Mike in reply to Jesse Ewiak
              Ignored
              says:

              Jesse, I would say that outcomes from Medicaid is dubious at best.

              http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2011/03/02/why-medicaid-is-a-humanitarian-catastrophe/

              So I’m not sure I would call Medicaid a program that works.

               Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Mike
                Ignored
                says:

                I can think of an immediate explanation for that without trying very hard.  Which the author actually acknowledges in the article.  And follows up with multiple other articles, such as this one.

                Huge bonus for writing sanely about the science, I’ll totally give him that.

                However, if chronic underfunding of Medicaid is producing suboptimal results, it’s not entirely clear why he thinks scrapping Medicaid and replacing it with direct cash assistance is an improvement over actually funding MedicaidThis post is an attempt, but it’s more of an argument against a particular policy that is attempting to cover the cap than a rigorous refutation of the possibility of funding Medicaid properly.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Yup. Of course simply saying tomorrow, “OK, everyone can get Medicare for this premium amount” would be a disaster. But, a full on reform of Medicare to get it ready for Medicare-for-All is possible. And a lot less pie-in-the-sky than the dreamworld where sick people are rational actors as they search on Amazon.com to compare prices on heart valves.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Mike
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, medicare works so well that it is always getting ripped off.  Recently the feds busted the biggest fraud to date, $375 million.

                 

                http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/biggest-medicare-fraud-history-busted-feds/story?id=15809129#.T3kA6NlL0YQReport

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Scott
                Ignored
                says:

                Scott, I would think fraud is part of the cost of doing business.  The solution is not to do business, but that’s no answer.

                Here was my laugh of the day, from the Forbes essay:

                While these facts hardly disqualify Gruber from researching the issue of clinical outcomes for Medicaid patients, it’s fair to say that a literature survey that consists of four outcome studies, three of which were penned by the future architect of a massive expansion of Medicaid, is not necessarily representative of the broader literature on Medicaid and clinical outcomes.

                Looking at both sides of the same side.

                Honorable mention:

                “This is why the conversation about Medicaid is so frustrating. First critics deny Medicaid the funds it needs. Then they blame Medicaid when it doesn’t perform up to standards. Then they suggest replacing the program with a more “flexible” or private alternative that won’t actually improve access overall and might even limit it further.”—Jonathan Cohn, LiberalPerson

                Well, duh.  “Funding Medicaid [or any freebie] properly” is always the riff.

                But as Avik Roy points out:

                It would seem that this cohort assumes that there is an unlimited supply of rich people’s money that we can tax, in order to spend money on favored programs like Medicaid. However, as Margaret Thatcher once put it, “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

                 Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Roger
            Ignored
            says:

            Zoomswish.  My feeble attempts at humour will never hit paydirt here.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Roger
            Ignored
            says:

            Roger, uncompensated care provided in America currently adds up to only $40.7 billion annually or about 3 percent of our total health care spending, according to Reason Hit & Run.

            http://reason.com/blog/2012/03/29/some-questions-on-obamacares-compassion

            If true, the problem is Obama & the statists changing the entire structure for what amounts to $40B, which could be got elsewhere [if already not being accounted for via writeoffs, grants, etc.].

            As Justice Kennedy said the other day:

            JUSTICE KENNEDY: But the reason, the reason this is concerning, is because it requires the individual to do an affirmative act. In the law of torts our tradition, our law, has been that you don’t have the duty to rescue someone if that person is in danger. The blind man is walking in front of a car and you do not have a duty to stop him absent some relation between you. And there is some severe moral criticisms of that rule, but that’s generally the rule.

            And here the government is saying that the Federal Government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases and that changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in the very fundamental way.

            And that’s what’s going on here, not the wonkage of how to get health care to the needy.

            And hopefully, this means Justice Kennedy is going to vote against changing the relationship between the individual and government.  It’s been alleged he’s first and foremost a libertarian, and this goes to the heart of libertarianism.Report

            • Avatar Roger in reply to Tom Van Dyke
              Ignored
              says:

              Tom,
              I agree completely, that is why my first comment is that Obamacare is what I would pass if I wanted to destroy health insurance and health care. I hope they do throw it out.

              I do believe the market for health care in this country is FUBAR. Obamacare would make it More FUBAR. I believe we need to begin experimenting with better systems that lead to more competition, more liberty and more choice and more accountability for cost containment.

              What would you recommend?Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Tom Van Dyke
              Ignored
              says:

              I think you’re right, Tom.  I think that’s how it’s going to come down, generally.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                I like state solutions.  I for one have been fine with Romneycare from the first, under federalism.  The liberal state of Massachusetts wanted something socialized, Romney gave it to them.  Consensus, good governance.  If it works, keep it; if it doesn’t, mend it or end it, buyer’s choice.

                I dunno if I’d have been in favor of it for my own state.  But I don’t want it for the nat’l gov’t and I read enough of the 2700 pages of Obamacare to know that the Sec of HHS was being given far too much power and discretion.  It is bad law.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Why should I be mandated by the intrusive state government to be _forced_ to buy health insurance?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, from a purely liberty standpoint it’s a lot less objectionable as you have a much lower barrier to exit from a state than from the federal government.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Why is a mandate from officials I largely have no hand in electing full of more liberty (a state legislature) any different from a mandate from federal officials (national legislature)?

                But to turn it around, why should a citizen of the United States be denied certain benefits of a basic function (health care) because they happen to have the bad luck to live in a crappy state?Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                I agree with Patrick but would as a libertarian I would prefer an opt out provision even on the state version. I not only like buying across state lines, I would like to purchase coverage in Costa Rica.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                You mean, the statist universal health care available in Costa Rica?Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Costa Rica has a 2-tier system, no surprise.  CS Monitor:

                 

                Lower labor costs and fewer malpractice suits keep the prices down here. In Costa Rica’s private system, a teeth-cleaning might run $40 and a general check-up costs $50.

                Medical bargains

                More extensive surgeries? A facelift averages $2,800 to $3,200 in Costa Rica, compared to $7,000 to $9,000 in the United States. A knee replacement may cost $11,000 in Costa Rica, but can be as much as $45,000 in the United States.

                But there’s another arm of the country’s medical system – the public system – which is relied upon by a majority of the population. While celebrated by Costa Ricans for “universal access,” it’s often criticized for long wait times and delays in treatment.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Tom and Jesse,

                I figure that after we screw up health care here, that I will just handle emergencies here and go to Costa Rica for affordable care. Plane fare becomes irrelevant compared to the savings. A lot of my relatives in San Diego go to Tiajuana for dental and Rx.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                why should a citizen of the United States be denied certain benefits of a basic function… because they happen to have the bad luck to live in a crappy state?

                Apparently, you have no idea of how far that extends.
                Effectively, federal law extends to the line of sight of a federal judge.
                On the other side of the wall from him, there is no federal law.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Jesse:

                The fed gov is a gov limited by the US constitution while the states are limited by their constitutions.  The difference is that the fed gov is more limited in its authority than state govs are. This is basic civics 101 which some liberals have a hard time grasping.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                I wish I had a nickel for every time someone hauls out that old shibboleth about Constitution and Civics Class, with no more understanding of what legal precedent means in that context than the man in the moon.   I’d be a fucking millionaire.

                Read Wickard v Filburn.   Not only can the government tell you to buy insurance, it can regulate production and consumption both.   All this sea lawyering about the Constitution, you’d think SCOTUS had never ruled on this sort of thing before.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Blaise:

                If only you knew as much about law as you claim to know in so many other areas you might actually be a millionaire.  I read Wickard back in my first year con law class.  Wickard was penalized for growing wheat whereas as Obama care wants to penalize you for not doing something ( buying insurance).  there is It is a big difference b/t action and inaction.  There is also the BS argument about healthcare being so unique that the fed gov can do whatever it wants, blah blah, blah.  If the gov’t can force you to buy insurance then why can’t they force you to buy tofu or a gym membership, as surely these actions make you more healthy?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Scott, I write AI for health care claims processing.  I know more about the financial side of health care than is good for anyone.    As for what I’m worth, I’ll tell you straight up, I am not a poor man. HIPAA shows the government can regulate health care.

                It is the sovereign rule of Internet debate that he who resorts to ad-hom in lieu of any facts to rebut his opponent has lost. If you had been awake in law class, you’d have brought up Lopez instead of yapping like some demented Chihuahua dog.

                 Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                “Read Wickard v Filburn. Not only can the government tell you to buy insurance, it can regulate production and consumption both. All this sea lawyering about the Constitution, you’d think SCOTUS had never ruled on this sort of thing before.”

                Wickard is crap and everybody knows it. SCOTUS can deadletter a precedent without explicitly reversing it and for reasons of institutional politics usually does. There’s a good chance that will happen to Wickard here. It’s win-win-win if it does.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Wickard is crap only if you’re a libertarian (no offense to the libertarian’s here) or a crazy right-winger who wants to send us back to 1923.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah, there’s a great lib argument worthy of advocacy by SG Verrilli.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                The Court can also completely ignore the statute and devise their own tests, as they did with the continuity requirement for RICO actions.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Tom,

                I prefer state solutions as well. That way we could try try more variations, learn from them, benchmark them to each other and tailor them to local values and needs. If I start with that though, the liberals tune us out before we even get started.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                And I have the funny idea that you shouldn’t lose regulatory protections when it comes to your health because you get transferred from Kentucky to Alabama. There should be, at the very least, a basic level of benefits all insurance has to provide. If a state wants to mandate more, fine. But, there shouldn’t be a race to the bottom.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Jesse, it’s given that there’s going to be holes in any system.

                There will be holes in a federal system, the big drawback is that they apply everywhere.  If the feds don’t cover your Extremely Rare Syndrome, you’re totally SOL.  There will be holes in different state systems, and there will be holes moving from one state to another.  This will affect those people in those states, proportionately, and those people who are mobile.

                Whether this is worse or better is a very big “depends“.  I would contest that in this particular case, Roger and Tom have something going for their side: you’ll be able to compare one system to another.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Jesse,
                Doesn’t the race to the bottom phrase imply net benefits? In other words isn’t it kind of begging the question?

                Seriously, the point of state experimentation is that we do not know the ramifications in terms of costs and benefits and complex secondary effects of big systemic changes like this. How do we know we didn’t set the minimum benefits too high and that we collectively regret the cost of the initiative?

                If a state sets benefits too low, don’t you think they will realize that according to their values and adjust? Won’t the other states act as a shining beacon?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                Patrick/Roger : Again, I believe that as citizens of the United States, you deserve that when you buy health care, there’s a basic bundle of benefits that will be included in that insurance, no matter where you live.

                I realize that’s statist and all, but oh well. There are basic minimim standards for all sorts of things, like the food you eat and the water you drink that are set at the federal level. I see no reason why health insurance can’t be another one of those things.

                Because at this point, if all we are is 50 mini-nations who happen to have a common defense force and the same flag, then I say, let’s have a divorce. I’d rather my tax money go to people within my state if we aren’t actually helping each other as a nation.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m used to being shouted down, Roger.  You write for the occasional correspondent of good faith, and for those who are here to learn, not litigate.

                And occasionally, in a few weeks, you see something you said turn up in the most unlikely of mouths.  😉  So it goes.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Roger
      Ignored
      says:

      Once we get this all figured out just right to our liking in this comments thread, we’re then going to do… what, about it?Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Michael Drew
        Ignored
        says:

        I was thinking we send it to Mitt and Obama and call it Obamaromney Care.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Roger
          Ignored
          says:

          Obamaromney rama-lama-ding dong.Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Patrick Cahalan
            Ignored
            says:

            Yes! Half of marketing is selecting the right name.Report

            • Avatar Murali in reply to Roger
              Ignored
              says:

              The other half is having a good jingle to go with it. you know why PPACA had so much trouble passing in its original form? Because it didnt have an accompanying jingle:

              Insurance is mandatory now, doo da doo da…Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Patrick Cahalan
            Ignored
            says:

            Yeah, har har, what a completely ridiculous question.  This type of response is a pretty clear answer to it, though.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michael Drew
              Ignored
              says:

              I don’t think it’s a particularly ridiculous question.  But I don’t think it’s the topic at hand.

              If you want to ask how we implement things, about 90% of the conversations on the blog would disappear, since the odds of us ever implementing anything are very low.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, things only become the topic at hand when someone puts them on the table, right?  I’m here too.

                And in a lot of cases, I’d agree that all that matters here is our druthers.  But the context here is the very specific one of a preference to reject a very real, concrete, specific reform in favor of… maybe just being satisfied with settling amongst ourselves what we’d like to see happen in an ideal world – or maybe not.  In that context, for me part of the topic at hand is well to be to make explicit which of those is going on.  And what I think counts.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michael Drew
                Ignored
                says:

                I get the enemy of the good argument, Michael.

                It just seems to me that all of the bad consequences of this are rolled up and delivered to 2030.  Which, coincidentally, will be right about when I hope to start thinking about having disposable income again.

                In any event, I don’t think the mandate is going to stand whether or not it is a good idea.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not making the enemy of the good argument to you.  Think whatever you want of the law.  I’m just making the point that we can either be clear what the talk is, or we can pretend it’s something it’s not.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, I’ll dig the Blue phone out from under my bed and call Obama on the hotline. Then Roger will light a fire in his backyard and send smoke signals to the Affiliated-Unaffiliated-Disestablished-Established-Fourth-Reconstituted-Allied-Libertarian tribes. Then the two of us will use the clarity of  the proposed solution to force TVD and Koz into digging the Red Phone out of the back of the liquor cabinet at the Club and call Boehner and Cantor on the party line. There’ll be a quick vetting and then the alternative HCR legislation will fly through the houses and be signed by all the party leaders with much pomp and celebration; while the far left and right partisans and the anarchists all hurtle themselves into the sea in despair (or pique). After that I shall leap astride my platinum Pegasus (his name is Archimedes) and we shall have a leisurely flap up to the Mare Imbrium where I shall enjoy an amicable Thursday evening tea with the Empress of the Moon (she’s sweet on me).

        But seriously, why not chat about what ideal solutions to the healthcare concerns in the comment threads? I checked out back of the League and the barrels of internet ink are still full; there’s plenty of room and it’s not like the GOP is offering any alternative proposals.Report

        • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to North
          Ignored
          says:

          I disagree with your last paragraph in part, but this is a threadwinner.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to North
          Ignored
          says:

          Mr. North, it was bad law from the first, cutting out the GOP then wheeling & dealing the Dems, then passing it only through the back door of “reconciliation” after Ben Nelson turned against it and Scott Brown took Teddy Kennedy’s seat.  Throw it out and start over, fresh & clean.

          _________________

          CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: The reality of the passage — I mean, this was a piece of legislation which, there was — had to be a concerted effort to gather enough votes so that it could be passed. And I suspect with a lot of these miscellaneous provisions that Justice Breyer was talking about, that was the price of the vote. Put in the Indian health care provision and I will vote for the other 2700 pages. Put in the Black Lung provision, and I’ll go along with it. That’s why all — many of these provisions, I think, were put in, not because they were unobjectionable. So presumably what Congress would have done is they wouldn’t have been able to put together, cobble together the votes to get it through.

          _________________________

          And likely most importantly:

          JUSTICE KENNEDY: When you say judicial restraint, you are echoing the earlier premise that it increases the judicial power if the judiciary strikes down other provisions of the Act. I suggest to you it might be quite the opposite. We would be exercising the judicial power if one Act was — one provision was stricken and the others remained to impose a risk on insurance companies that Congress had never intended. By reason of this Court, we would have a new regime that Congress did not provide for, did not consider. That, it seems to me, can be argued at least to be a more extreme exercise of judicial power than to strike -­ than striking the whole. . . . I just don’t accept the premise.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke
            Ignored
            says:

            I guess TVD is forgetting the part where the GOP openly said they would never vote for any health care bill.Report

          • Avatar Bad-ass Motherfisher in reply to Tom Van Dyke
            Ignored
            says:

             …it was bad law from the first, cutting out the GOP then wheeling & dealing the Dems, then passing it only through the back door of “reconciliation” after Ben Nelson turned against it and Scott Brown took Teddy Kennedy’s seat.

            What a convenient sense of history.

            The Republicans made it clear that they would not participate, and intense pressure was placed by Republican leadership (including the threat of loss of committee seats and of primary challenges) to prevent the Republican New England Moderates from taking part of good faith negotiations on the bill.

            And–for those whose history is a little weak–the bill was passed with 60 votes.    Some “tweaks” (mostly related to financing) were made under reconcilliation, but the bill was already law.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Bad-ass Motherfisher
              Ignored
              says:

              That’s not exactly how it went down, sir. The “reconciliation” bill wasn’t one—because of the loss of the Nelson and Kennedy votes, they were stuck with the original Senate bill, which was never intended to be the final one.

              But it doesn’t matter now anyway.  Either the law sticks or it’s bye-bye.  Move on, as they say.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to Bad-ass Motherfisher
              Ignored
              says:

              Tom’s been saying this same thing for months, if not more than a year, and what you say here has been pointed out to him each time. He doesn’t care. He’s not interested in facts, he’s interested in winning.Report

              • Avatar Bad-ass Motherfisher in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Partisanship makes fools of us all…Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                Yup, TVD simply doesn’t get the facts. We’ve attempted to beat this into his brain, but it just doesn’t hold.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Jesse Ewiak
                Ignored
                says:

                No, you’ve ignored the facts and tried to shout them down.  And “we” is creepy, Elias.  Stand on your own two feet.  You have never acknowledged why the election of Scott Brown was significant, or the defection of Ben Nelson after the Cornhusker Kickback fiasco.  ‘Tis you who ignore the facts, no matter how often you and “yours” try to bury them.

                 

                And now it’s moot if the Supreme Court tosses this whole misbegotten mess.  And moot even if they don’t, really.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                I’d say that Roger and Jesse have a ways to go on that perfect solution to the healthcare question. Just as well, my Blue phone is buried in dirty laundry and I’m feeling especially unproductive ever since Michael melted my brain.Report

              • Avatar Will H. in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t see the perfect solution as the aim.
                I think if we could get the part done that everyone agrees about and get that going, we could work out the other details later.
                In the meantime, it would provide a data set to work from.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                The problem is quite frankly, there is no big parts that “everybody” agrees about. Because there are divergent opinions in the world and we all can’t throw out parts of what we want to make a nice muddle in the middle because for everybody, there’s certain no-go lines we can’t cross. I’m against full-stop Roger’s plan he put above. I’m sure he’s against full-stop my ideas.

                I’m sure there are little things we agree on, but the truth is, me and Roger disagree on stuff. That’s fine. That’s why we have elections.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
          Ignored
          says:

          There’s no reason not to talk about it.  No reason at all.  There’s also no reason not to be clear with ourselves whether it’s any more than idle talk; whether we intend to do any of the things necessary to make it more than idle talk; whether we will even commit to wanting what we eventually alight upon to really become policy.  And please don’t infer that I am saying I think I know what these answers are from my not saying that I do the way you inferred that by asking what we’re going to do about this I was saying we shouldn’t be having the conversation.Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    “When I think of the millions of people who, unlike myself, would immediately be thrown curbside by a 5-4 majority unable to keep its ideological zeal in-check…”

    Okay so let me get this straight.

    Anyone who thinks that PPACA is not going to accomplish its stated goal of ensuring that everyone has access to healthcare hates you personally and thinks that you should die.

    If the Supreme Court rules that requiring citizens to purchase products from private providers is an un-Constitutional extension of Congressional power, it’s because Republicans hate you personally and think that you should die.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      Fact: the conservative movement and the Republican party have done essentially none of the work necessary to pass a health care plan that would cover every American.  They basically have no interest in the concept.  I don’t know if that’s equivalent to hating Elias personally and thinking he should die; but it does betray a certain indifference to the fact that those without insurance live crappier lives.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Dan Miller
        Ignored
        says:

        That is so unfair Dan. Conservatives at think tanks and many prominent R pols pushed the most evil part of the PPACA, the mandate, for a couple decades up until 2009. They clearly thought they had a good idea and advocated for it.

        At least until O was for it and it had a chance of being passed.

        The rest of the R voter base was kind enough to not pay any attention to the issue or what many of the people they voted for were pushing.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to greginak
          Ignored
          says:

          Gee President Obama has been in office for over three years now and he can come up with his first Constitutional health care plan any day now.Report

          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Koz
            Ignored
            says:

            yeah, just as soon as carnivore finishes eating it off the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal!

            (three points if you get all three references)Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to Kimmi
              Ignored
              says:

              And while he’s at it, he could also think of a coherent strategy for Afghanistan develop an independent thought relating to contemporary macroeconomics. We can always hope.

              (No, I have no idea what your references are about.)Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                then I’ll give you one for free: Big Auto’s “fix ourselves” plan was just ripped off Wall Street Journal’s op-ed pages (the notoriously right wing oped pages). Then Obama rubberstamped it, and everything turned out sunnyside up!

                How do you like that game, malaka?Report

          • Avatar Katherine in reply to Koz
            Ignored
            says:

            Er, he did.  It was the one with the public option.  The Republicans shot it down in favour a a worse plan, with a mandate, which many liberals did not like.  I suspect this was because they knew a plan with a mandate would be easier to rally public support against than the public option.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Katherine
              Ignored
              says:

              I don’t think that’s quite right Katherine. There were never 50+1 Senators in favor of the PO. So I don’t think it’s right to say that Republicans shot it down. It never had enough support among Dems.

              The Medicare buy-in, which lots of liberals thought would lead to a public option, did have more than majority support. But Joe Lieberman, damn his soul, rejected it cuz he knew what it would lead to.Report

        • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to greginak
          Ignored
          says:

          that is in fact the game- conservatism is the opposite of what Obama wants, updated daily.

          Wildly in favor of whatever option is not on the table but always assuring us they fervently believe in something, anything except what is in place.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Liberty60
            Ignored
            says:

            that is in fact the game- conservatism is the opposite of what Obama wants, updated daily.

            You’re right. I agree. But you know, you’ve got to give credit where credit’s due: that’s Cleek’s Law.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Dan Miller
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        says:

        Re: “Fact” above, Dan Miller were you not one of the liberal voices claiming that ObamaCare was lifted wholesale from the REPUBLICANS when we were arguing about it previously? Now you want to back off that position? Or will you just tell me now that you personally weren’t one of those holding that position but neglected to disagree with those who were?

        Newly obtained White House records provide fresh details on how senior Obama administration officials used Mitt Romney’s landmark health-care law in Massachusetts as a model for the new federal law, including recruiting some of Romney’s own health care advisers and experts to help craft the act now derided by Republicans as “Obamacare.”Report

        • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to wardsmith
          Ignored
          says:

          There’s a big difference between Heritage writing a position paper and actually passing a bill.  After all, the GOP controlled House, Senate and the presidency from 2001 to 2006, and displayed zero interest in passing universal coverage.  If they had won in 2008, they would not have passed a plan that resulted in universal coverage; and if they win in 2012 and Obamacare is repealed, they will not replace it with a plan that results in universal coverage.  Can any serious person argue with this? The lack of universal coverage may be a price you’re willing to pay, but at least admit it.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Dan Miller
            Ignored
            says:

            At the risk of arguing with a wall, the GOP controlled House, Senate and the presidency from 2001 to 2006, AND passed Medicare Part D. No doubt you were on drugs at the time. What a maroon. Look at all the grief your liberal brethren gave the GOP just for what they did. I could put up thousands of links, but you’d just ignore them and scream “GOP hates everybody” at the top of your lungs until I went away. History isn’t your strong suit I’m guessing. Too bad. Those who don’t understand history will be doomed to repeat it, and I don’t mean those classes you must have flunked.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith
              Ignored
              says:

              The GOP-controlled House & Senate passed Medicare Part D because Dubya and Bill Frist, while being wrong on most things, actually cared about policies beyond taking us back to 1889. It’s true Medicare Part D passed the GOP House & Senate of the mid-2000’s. Could it pass the GOP House of 2012? I doubt it.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      In a word? Yes. You try telling this to someone whose good friends are now dead. Because of a lack of affordable health care. BECAUSE WE DIDN’T have enough CHARITY. Because even a TV Script (you know, the Famous Kind, the type people pay a mint for) can’t save a blasted life… You look someone in the eye, and you tell him that you couldn’t save his wife. That you tried your hardest, but the insurance just wouldn’t cover it — and not even forty of his friends could make the difference.

      But, in all seriousness, they don’t want us dead. They want us gone. Because ideas, new things, bother them. Because someone publishing their own home videos Bothers Them (Jesus Camp, you watched it?).

      … if palin got elected, I’d have left the country. this is not a hypothetical, this is not a “bullshitting you” sort of promise. This is “had plane tickets, and a vip hole in the emmigration process.”Report

  4. Avatar wardsmith
    Ignored
    says:

    Anyone who thinks that PPACA is not going to accomplish its stated goal of ensuring that everyone has access to [AFFORDABLE] healthcareReport

  5. Avatar Koz
    Ignored
    says:

    Finally, we can entertain some hope that the libs’ Hit Parade of corrupt advocacy and bad policy might somewhere have a stopping point.

    And if we’re really lucky, some libs at least will come to grips with the reality that the world doesn’t need libs.

    It’s like Gilbert and Sullivan wrote, I’ve got a list and they’ll never be missed.Report

  6. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Well one thing it’ll definitely do is put paid to the Obama rainbow’s and unicorns style of governance that he practiced in the aftermath of his election. This isn’t to say that his posture hasn’t been mostly snapped around back to reality by the debt ceiling debacle but if he loses his signature achievement from that period when he was doubling down on his Hope&Change post partisan shtick; an achievement, note, that was utterly riddled with Obama brand pre-emptive concessions; then I expect that his bargaining style will go down in the history books as one of the worst ever. It’s relatively apparent that he’s pretty much concluded that his posture in those early years was an error but I dare say this’ll cement it.

    I wouldn’t shed many tears over the death of that particular delusion. But that’s about all the good I can say about it.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to North
      Ignored
      says:

      “Well one thing it’ll definitely do is put paid to the Obama rainbow’s and unicorns style of governance that he practiced in the aftermath of his election.”

      This is the lib version of TVD. My guess is you wouldn’t approve of that.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Koz
        Ignored
        says:

        Koz me lad, you say the damndest things but this time I don’t have any idea what you’re actually saying. Try again? TVD? I could photoshop some awsome sunglasses onto my icon if you’d like but I doubt it’d give me any of Tom’s superpowers with prose.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to North
          Ignored
          says:

          “Obama’s rainbows and unicorns”, etc, and the analysis following it is just positioning by perceived tone without any understanding of the other relevant substantive considerations.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Koz
            Ignored
            says:

             My assertion is on the table; Obama’s bargaining style and governing philosophy regarding his opposition post election was terrible and served him poorly. I think you might disagree, maybe, but if you do you may need to assert something more clearly because at the moment you just seem to be doing the commentary equivalent of mumbling darkly. Now I think that’s fine but it sure isn’t laying out your own position very well.Report

            • Avatar Koz in reply to North
              Ignored
              says:

              Yeah but that’s a facile train of thought. President Obama’s rhetorical style wrt the Republicans is only one item in the equation, and often times not the most important one. If you can see an outside game complementary to an inside game you might appreciate that popular esteem (or the lack of it) is in some ways like the Constitution: a real constraint on action instead of a temporary obstacle.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                Closer I think but you’re still dancing around your point. Or else it’s coded in rightwingese so heavily that I’m missing it. I somehow don’t think Obama was deficient in popular esteem when he started up the HCR deliberations in 2008.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                No, President Obama had great deal of public esteem at the time. But his plans for health care reform never did. And if libs had any intent to play the outside game, that’s a real constraint on action not just a momentary obstacle.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                I almost halfway agree. Obama should certainly have started out trying to get what liberals actually wanted and then forced the GOP to lay out an alternative. Maybe we’d have ended up pretty close to where PPACA is now but at least then it’d have been a collaborative project.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, there’s a bunch of quibbles with this. The most important one is that it’s irrelevant. Coulda, shoulda, woulda whatever, what did happen is that President Obama worked the angles as hard as he could to get a plausible amount of buy-in from the American people for his health care reform proposals and failed to do it. Therefore he has to close up shop and try again tomorrow, or else he lacks legitimacy and shtt like this happens.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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      says:

      I’m not clear how this puts paid to Obama’s approach.  Are you saying single-payer (perhaps more solidly constitutional under current precedent) would have been achievable with a better approach to driving legislation from Obama?  I think that’s pretty fanciful.  In no world was Obama substantively going to pursue single-payer as president – it’s not a matter of governance style.  Beyond that, the HCR was going to look basically like this, and thus be subject to these kinds of constitutional arguments.  Clinton criticized him harshly for not having this provision in his initial plan as a candidate.  I’m just confused as to what this proves where all of those old fights are concerned.  And really, generally, I’m confused as to what, beyond a public option in HCR, you think Obama left on the table by trying to seek some degree of bipartisan support for major initiatives, which, I’ll grant TVD this much, is a desirable thing to attempt, all things being equal  (while not admitting that, finding yourself unable to achieve it, going forward with single-party majorities for what you think are important and needed measures is far from malpractice in governance or a demonstration of an intention to divide the country).Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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        says:

        Michael, my concerns were actually more tactical and tonal than what you’re discussing. Consider, for instance, Obama’s starting position. He came out right out the gate advocating the 1994 GOP position. What did he get for this? Anything at all? He certainly didn’t get hailed by his opposition for meeting them part way. He gave away everything to the left of it and got nothing in return. This is a pattern of Obama’s that he replicated repeatedly right up to and through the debt ceiling debate. Obama would look at the opposition, assume what he felt they wanted and then preemptively give it to them as a starting position. This maneuver utterly enraged his allies to the left and was scorned and then denied by his opponents to the right; they just pocketed his pre-emptive concessions, called him a far left socialist anyhow and bargained as if he’d never offered anything at all. Frankly the only thing I see him having gained in the long run from this behavior was his perception with the electorate as being far less partisan than his opposition. Fat lot of benefit that’s done him. Best case voters think he’s adult, worst case they think he’s a feeb.

        On a similar note he flat out refused to respond to what his opposition said and did. Waterloo was rolled out early on but Oama flat out ignored it. The GOP was sitting there pretty much saying “we’re trying to run out the clock” and Obama generally let it happen. If Pelosi and Reid hadn’t leaped into the breach after Scott Brown then nothing would have passed at all (and I can’t begin to imagine how much worse 2010 would have been with the Dem base in flat out revolt).Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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          says:

          That’s all fair and familiar enough.  I guess I just don’t really get what the possibility that health care gets invalidated does to confirm all that as error, or render it even greater error viewed in hindsight.  And this is because I don’t understand what you are saying he traded off.  If he could have gotten a HCR law much like this and not much more than what he did get beyond that by acting in such a way that he was perceived as a raging partisan, I’m not quite sure why anyone would wish he had done that.  But if he could have gotten a much better HCR law and a lot else besides by coming off as a raging partisan, well, then that’s definitely something to think over.  But what would those things have been, and what was the mechanism for getting it that required acting that way?  I’m just not clear what the claim is exactly.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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            says:

            Okay well consider this, let’s assume we end up with something similar to PPACA either way. Which way would have been better to get there:

            Obama’s way- Start out with something much like PPACA, a centrist idea chock a block full of GOP ideas. The GOP ignores the concessions, swears opposition and Obama is forced to pass it on party line votes and this warty middle of the road is now Obama’s baby. The GOP forswears ever liking the idea and dedicates themselves to its destruction.

            The possible alternative- Start out with what Dems wanted, some moderate version of single payer or a heavy duty public insurance scheme. The GOP counters with something a lot like PPACA and through horse trading pulls Obama’s plan to the right and we end up with PPACA but with the GOP forced to buy in and presumably with GOP support votes traded in exchange for the concessions that were given?

            I consider the latter a better outcome. From where I’m sitting instead of playing politics Obama tried to do his hope’n change schtick and say “here, I’ll meet you half way and we can be post partisan and I can get a huge victory as a post partisan President and we can sing kumbaya.” The GOP replied “Bite us Commie, you get nothing.” and then finally Obama, with time run out, gets stuck defending all on his own what is in essence a mongrel solution to the HCR question.

            This is, mind, without going into the cascading issues the HCR debacle poured out onto the legislative session. If they hadn’t spun their wheels so long on HCR maybe the Dem house could have passed a better budget. That could have eliminated the ruin of the debt ceiling fiasco. Maybe if Obama hadn’t given away the farm on the Bush Tax Cut expiration maybe we could have gotten Sarbanes Oxley enacted.

            It’s armchair quarterbacking I know but I feel like the posture Obama adopted enabled his opposition to run headlong into the weeds and produced a lot of counterproductive results. I’m a neophyte and an amateur at politics but it seems to me that the American political system works pretty well when the politicians actually get in there and fight.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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            says:

            Oh and in fairness to Obama, I acknowledge readily he’d have had to pay a price if he’d jumped into politics as usual off the bat. I can’t even say for sure he’d have turned out better than it ended up turning out this way.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Michael Drew
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            says:

            You’re assuming the GOP would come out with a plan like the PPACA. I highly doubt that considering the GOP’s actions over the past three years. The truth is, the only thing I can fault Obama for is thinking the Republican’s were willing to compromise at all.Report

            • Avatar North in reply to Jesse Ewiak
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              says:

              If they’d have said “No, we’re not offerin nuffin…” then the situation would at least be less muddled that it ended up being. To your latter comment I agree.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jesse Ewiak
              Ignored
              says:

              I think he had to try.  That is just what being president of the country rather than of just his own party required of him (and where I differ from Tom). He didn’t have to get them on board, and he didn’t have to sacrifice the basic structure of what he was trying to accomplish (that’s the leadership element), but he did have to give a good-faith effort to try to work with them in seeing if agreement could be reached by negotiating around the margins  of what he was trying to do, even in the face of broad rejectionism in the core of the party.  Collins and the other moderates who said they were considering his general approach may have just been pulling his chain, but he had a civic governance obligation to work with them.  He had no similar obligation to abandon the effort after failing to bring them aboard, nor to only pass legislation that was the preferred vehicle of the opposition party if that was all they would go along with, however.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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                says:

                We’re agreed on that and it’s that latter part of his strategy that I criticize him on. If nothing else he should have had two proposed plans in the works: the one he was trying to bargain with the GOP over and another one that was purely the Dem plan to use if the former one fell through.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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                says:

                Your critique continues to elude me.  You’d have had him have lurch left after failing to bring the GOP on board?  That would have hardly flown. Besides, the reality is this was the leftiest thing that would pass with the Congressional Democrats that existed, and them alone.  There wasn’t a secret path to a public option or anything else that was available just by giving up on Olympia Snowe and focusing on Dems.  This was it: maybe you got Olympia, maybe not; as it was you only barely got Nelson and Lincoln etc.  There were never 50 votes for doing any major part of HCR via reconciliation.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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                says:

                No, I’d have suggest that he should have started out at a sensible bargaining position. Single payer certainly wasn’t going to happen but Obama could have planted his flag considerably to the left of where PPACA turned out and forced the GOP to at least counter. Really what my criticisms boil down to are:

                -Obama was utterly hands off about the shape of legislation to begin with.

                -He was completely mum with regards to communicating or advocating to voters. His opponents had control of the narrative for almost the entire process and all Obama did was try and be aloof about it.

                -What little guidance and inclination Obama did express contained significant pre-emptive policy concessions to the right which were pocketted, and then ignored as they jawboned him as a socialist. (*note this is a pattern he displayed repeatedly in his first years. Consider the Bush tax cut expiration, total give away and he got snausages in return; the debt ceiling fiasco: he was literally giving away the store and was rescued only by the collective insanity of the rights refusal to accept what he was offering; his entire defense policy was right out of W’s playbook etc etc…)

                Frankly I think calling PPACA Obamacare is rather unfair… to the actual authors. If the bill was named according to who should have credit for its creation based on the merits it should Pelosicare of Reidcare.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                Baucuscare.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                I agree that he was basically hands off and not a good communicator about the bill or the process.  but your attaching “utterly” and “completely” to those descriptions is in error, and this indicates to me that you continue to advance this critique from a place of, frankly, political pique rather than detached analysis (which is okay!), and that you’re still not to the stage of reconsidering your initial impressions of the process.  You still can’t or won’t say what the thing to the left of PPACA that isn’t single-payer he should have opened with is, or whether there was enough support in Congress for such a thing to make doing so more than a capital-sucking.  You don’t say what the actual downside to allowing Congress to take the lead on a matter that is quintessentially Congress’ prerogative was, or what was to be gained by intervening more.  You don’t say generally what was to be gained by taking a different approach, and you take for granted that what was achieved was the minimum that might have been on any path, rather than allowing the possibility that the path to a comprehensive one was actually a fragile one that had to be navigated. On the communication, he certainly wasn’t spectacular, but he was hardly completely aloof: there were many speeches, including in prime-time before a joint session. For me, many of the unsatisfying parts of the approach that you express frustration about are things that are plausibly explained by the notion that administration having to proceed anticipating that there were more outcomes in which no comprehensive reform passed than in which they did, or certainly that such an assessment was reasonable in light of 1) the economic crisis, and 2) the 1993 failure, which in addition to being a failure of communication, was also a failure to be sufficiently cognizant and deferential to Congress’ processes and policy preferences.

                On pre-emptive concessions, I think we just have a basic difference in assessment of the dynamic here.  First, I don’t know what all these concessions are beyond the sacrifice of the public option, which is really its own story.  Not saying they aren’t there, but I just don’t know what they are.  But I just think you’re conceiving of them wrongly.  Nothing was ever going to be coming back to him from Republicans (by which I mean the two or three Senators who ever publicly considered signing on for the PPACA structure with concessions, not the bulk of the caucus) by making concessions, other than their support, which was never guaranteed with any level of concessions.  And we’ve agreed he needed to try.  Once they said, I’m not on board for X, there’s two possibilities: you move their way, or you go your separate ways.  Obama badly wanted some Republican cover for a measure this large, and I just can’t fault him for that. I’m not quite sure what else you wanted to happen (or, again, what actual concessions were made along the way that nevertheless garnered no Republican votes). The “go to their district and give a speech decrying their perfidy at denying health care etc.” thing is a great political tool once you’ve given up on any major measure actually passing and are just campaigning (witness Obama campaigning of infrastructure last fall), but while you’re still trying to gain votes, it clearly does more harm than good.  Moreover, when it came to it, it was really the needed votes in his own party that ended up having to make concessions to in order to get the thing passed, so I’m unclear on how you think there could have been a more liberal version to fall back on and pass with just Democrats when it became clear the Republicans were not seriously negotiating.  I’m just unclear about what you have Obama doing throughout the process that fundamentally changes this dynamic.  TR-style barnstorming tours may feel good (and I’m just working off of imagination here, but they don’t necessarily yield a bill to sign, something this process, for all its flaws, did do.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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                says:

                capital-sucking distraction, that is.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to North
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                says:

                So when the law was being debated, I had the interesting experience of taking a graduate course in the politics of healthcare reform under someone (former assistant HHS secretary, who was consulting for both sides at the time)  who was plugged into the process. (In fact he was in DC several times during the negotiations.)

                From what I recall, he noted the Administration was concerned with 3 main provisions of any law.
                1. It had to set up healthcare exchanges and community rating. The form of the exchange was open to debate, but it had to have a mechanism that merged the individual and small group markets.
                2. It had to have strict restrictions on medical loss ratio and caps on premium spreads.
                3. It had to have a guaranteed issue mechanism.

                They were convinced that everything else was basically optional and they were prepared to go to some rather extraordinary lengths to get something through both houses. (There was evidently a proposal called the “Rahm Special” floating around that was even more stripped down and was designed to get ANY R votes at all. It died a quiet death when it was clear no Rs were interested in participating at all.)

                The political reality is that the Obama Administration seemed to think that comprehensive reform was difficult and that they had very clear goals in mind when trying to negotiate any sort of healthcare reform bill. Given that they got all 3 items they actually wanted, I think on the whole they actually did quite well.

                Maybe I’m overly sanguine about that outcome.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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                says:

                I guess the other thing is, he did start out with a sensible bargaining position to the left of PPACA (what you call the ’94 GOP position) – namely PPACA plus a public option.  I mean, going from that to passage of a bill in which there had been some significant concessions is exactly the kind of thing you’re talking about, I think.  Granted, the concessions garnered no Republican votes.  But as it turned out, it was actually getting the votes of Dems representing swing districts and states that was the issue; ultimately there’s nothing anyone could have done to get Olympia Snowe on board if just was not going to do it.  But regardless, the public option was your bargaining chip.  The process you’re describing actually happened, just not at the scale and among the people you wish it had.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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                says:

                Nob –

                Right.  These judgments all hang on whether you’re willing to take achieving a comprehensive(-ish? – seeming?) reform like PPACA for granted as the basic minimum that should’ve been accomplished with a large House majority, theoretically filibuster-proof Senate majority (though that only functionally existed for a short period of time, and even then only on the issues that Joe Lieberman’s spitefulness allowed him to see clear to giving his sort-of-ex party such a majority on, and then on his terms); or whether you view the path to a comprehensive reform as more fraught with obstacles that could easily overturn the cart and therefore view the completion of the journey at all as a significant and indeed unlikely accomplishment all of its own.  (The latter not denying that it’s as much Nancy Pelosi as Barack Obama who kept the caravan moving when major figures in the travelling party wanted to just give up.)  Given the political context created by the economy and given the experience fo the last party who set out on this journey in 1993-94, it’s hard to see where assing the situation to be more like the latter and less like the former seems to have been fairly prudent in the moment, and in hindsight.  To me, what was left on the table needs to have been really quite significant in order for me to sneeze at what was accomplished.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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                says:

                I mean, ‘m really confused by what you’re saying here, North, partly because I still don’t know what it is (i.e., what you are saying his first bids should have been).  But in my view, he couldn’t lead with any proposal that did not have solid (like, 90-95%) support in the Dem caucuses.  At best it wold have just wasted time in a process already certain greatly to be protracted apart from the eventual disastrous slow-walk.  but that’s unrealistic.  In fact, leading with such a proposal would have decimated his capital and credibility on the issue among moderate Dems, i.e a third to half the party, many of whom, like Republicans, would have been just fine with no effort at major-scale reform at all, and would have happily joined with them in vigorous opposition to such extremism, leaving Obama profoundly marginalized and without the support of his party in Congress.  You seem to imagine a world where going for single payer (or something?) and failing leaves Republicans marginalized and perhaps ready to come the table, and Dems and Obama galvanized on the issue and ready to push through regulate-mandate-subsidize, Medicaid expansion and perhaps a public option via reconciliation should they not be.  Do I overstate your view?  Because if not, I just can’t express how unrealistic this is.

                In fact, it is Obama and the progressives that would have been marginalized, the Dems divided and uncommitted to reform (and, again, indeed much of the Senate caucus at least was), and the Republicans emboldened and quite legitimately vindicated in their description of Obama as a socialist.  Reform would have been off the table.  Perhaps Obama would have ultimately been able to sign a tort reform/interstate insurance bill that he could have called GOPamacare or something, and Peggy Noonan would have clucked wildly about how reasonable he turned out to be after learning his lesson with a failed dalliance with the Ridiculous Left of his party.

                And hey, that might have not been the worst outcome in the world. He might not have lost quite as many seats in 2010.  But would it really have been worth that outcome just in order to say that he took the path of the partisan fighter so that he could satisfy his base in that regard?Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Michael Drew
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                says:

                To buy all that you’d essentially have to say that this scrapped together grabbag of a bill is literally the left most bill that the electorate and representatives would support and frankly I don’t think the country is that far to the right.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
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                says:

                No, you wouldn’t have to say that at all. In terms of public reaction to purely the policy merits, single-payer, e.g. would absolutely fly politically (yes, there would be howls, but it would fly) if it could be accomplished smoothly and with a penumbra of bipartisan legitimacy emanating from Washington.  But that is simply not the constraining variable. This is all about the dynamics of Congress and presidential politics per se.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to North
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                says:

                If you took the opinion of every person in the country, you’d probably get France’s or Germany’s health care system or maybe even what the House passed. But, what really mattered was the opinion of mainly 100 old, rich, white people who are disproportional from culturally conservative rural states.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to North
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                says:

                When you need 60 votes to even get to cloture…PPACA was probably the closest thing you can get given the circumstances of the upper house of government.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                Just want to say many thanks  to North for this discussion.  I went on at more length than I intended, and, as is my wont, occasionally overstated my case.  I still view your take on the available alternatives to the process that occurred as unrealistic, though not absurdly so – narrowly even, if narrowly unrealistic is a state of being that can exist.  I respect your position a lot, North (as I do you), and I hope my words weren’t taken not to do so.  Moreover, I don’t hold Obama blameless or unworthy of criticism for his conduct in the saga, though I think I managed to make at least that much clear.  I just differ on where and how great the failings were.

                In any case thanks again for a really great discussion, North, at least from my perspective.  By the way, if you’re down, we should hang out.  I live in Saint Paul, but am plenty mobile to get to whatever your preferred part of Minneapolis is for drinks or coffee. We can dish about the League (or more interesting things), being we’re both true oldtimers now.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    There’s a wacky dynamic that I have noticed.

    One of the big complaints about the health care bills I’ve seen tossed around has to do with optical coverage and dental coverage (specifically the lack thereof).

    I have never heard an advertisement for a general practitioner but I have heard commercials (all the time, on the radio) for various eye doctors (sporting the newest technology!) and eyecare centers as well as commercials for dentists.

    When I got an appointment with my GP, I had to wait a month and a half… meanwhile, the optical and dental offices are begging for more patients.

    Surely it can’t be a co-incidence…Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      The obvious answer is that GPs aren’t being paid enough to make the practice attractive and so patients require higher coverage payments, whereas the optical and dental offices are charging too much for people to afford their services and therefore patients require higher coverage payments.Report

  8. Avatar karl
    Ignored
    says:

    “If for no other reason than not wanting to be remembered by future Justices as the ones who threw it all away, I think the conservative majority will restrain itself. ”

    Have you not paid attention to the public profiles of the four justices of the apocalypse?  They want to be remembered for standing athwart history, yelling “stop!”Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to karl
      Ignored
      says:

      Maybe.

      Kennedy certainly doesn’t, though.  I feel bad for him, really, because it’s going to come down to him and I don’t think he wants to vote the way he’s gonna, but he feels compelled.  That’s just what I get off of the little bit of Kennedy I read/heard over the arguments period.Report

      • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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        says:

        That’s what makes this case so interesting, the institutional politics of SCOTUS are being pulled apart. SCOTUS wants to reinforce limits to federal legislative and regulatory power but they don’t want to take down a major piece of legislation wholesale. Unfortunately as we’ve found out over the last couple days there’s no good place to draw a line between them.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Koz
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          says:

          Oh, it *could* happen that they cut just the mandate (and monkeys could fly out of my butt).  That’s the end of the medical insurance industry (over which I will cry not at all, I admit, but that’s an aside).

          They could leave the whole thing intact on the basis that it really is a unique bit of commerce, which makes some sense since insurance is really more of a commons, not a market.  But I’d be surprised if it went that way.

          Or they can cut the mandate, the no-pre-existing condition clause, and the group bit… and holy cow Romney will get eaten alive in the general.  Free trip to the basket for Obama.

          I have to admit I’m not a fan of any of the possible outcomes for various reasons other than the ones I’m throwing down here.  Sucks to be me.Report

          • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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            says:

            #1 won’t happen. That’s what they would probably like to do, but it just doesn’t make sense. That’s what we found out yesterday. #2 is still in play, and is clearly the best case scenario for libs at the moment. I’m not following your scenario for #3, ie why it hurts Romney.

            IMO, Romney’s best hope is that SCOTUS takes the whole thing down. That way, he doesn’t have to doesn’t have to get trapped in a thicket of crap about how he’s going to repeal the rest of it.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Koz
              Ignored
              says:

              SCOTUS taking the whole thing down would be the worst possible thing for Mitt.  I’d predict a big uptick in Democratic turnout in the election.

              That’s just how I see it.  Usually midterm elections the standing party has “megh” turnout.  Whatever happens, it’s going to be milked for all its worth.  I bet the day after the release I have 10 messages in my inbox from robomailers.

              I could be wrong.  I bet I’m not.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                This election is going to turn on Republican turnout, not Demo turnout. The GOP has the winning demographic hand, they just have to reel all the fish in. And if PPACA goes down wholesale, that will justify the GOP in the mind of Tea Partiers and GOP-leaning independents. I think the anti-Mitt antagonism from the Right will get dialed down in a big way.

                The Demo’s will be an interesting case. I think a good number of them will be upset but I’m not sure exactly what that will get them. On the other hand, it’s also a matter of closing the barn door after the horse has left. What the lib-Left really wants is universal coverage and to humiliate the Right. And if PPACA goes down they lose on both counts.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Koz
                Ignored
                says:

                Yep, the election is probably going to turn on Republican turnout, since the Democrat turnout is historically pretty predictable.

                Unless you get them fired up, by say, overturning PPACA and harping on contraception.  That might get the base fired up.

                Your problem, Koz, is that Mitt isn’t a GOP-firer-upper, and he ain’t gonna be.  Especially if PPACA goes down.  And the Mitt ground game looks a lot worse than the Obama ground game at this point.

                It could happen, but I’m betting against it.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                But a Mitt presidency scare anybody, and few will be genuinely sorry to see BHO go.

                Obama doesn’t have the wave of hope and enthusiasm he had in 2008, and Romney’s a better candidate than McCain, who had temperament issues.  Romney should get all the McCain voters; it’s hard to imagine BHO not losing some, either by going for Mitt or returning to their previous apathy and staying home.

                For example, Peggy Noonan was very neutral in 2008, quite open to an Obama presidency.  Now, not so much.

                 

                What is happening is that the president is coming across more and more as a trimmer, as an operator who’s not operating in good faith. This is hardening positions and leading to increased political bitterness. And it’s his fault, too. As an increase in polarization is a bad thing, it’s a big fault.

                 

                If you jumped into a time machine to the day after the election, in November, 2012, and saw a headline saying “Obama Loses,” do you imagine that would be followed by widespread sadness, pain and a rending of garments? You do not. Even his own supporters will not be that sad. It’s hard to imagine people running around in 2014 saying, “If only Obama were president!” Including Mr. Obama, who is said by all who know him to be deeply competitive, but who doesn’t seem to like his job that much. As a former president he’d be quiet, detached, aloof. He’d make speeches and write a memoir laced with a certain high-toned bitterness. It was the Republicans’ fault. They didn’t want to work with him.

                He will likely not see even then that an American president has to make the other side work with him. You think Tip O’Neill liked Ronald Reagan? You think he wanted to give him the gift of compromise? He was a mean, tough partisan who went to work every day to defeat Ronald Reagan. But forced by facts and numbers to deal, he dealt. So did Reagan.

                An American president has to make cooperation happen.

                But we’ve strayed from the point. Mr. Obama has a largely nonexistent relationship with many, and a worsening relationship with some.

                Really, he cannot win the coming election. But the Republicans, still, can lose it. At this point in the column we usually sigh.

                Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                It depends on Mitt, Tom. If he can unify his base and fire them up he should have a decent shot at the presidency. He’s going to have to up his game a lot though. Mitt has essentially out spent and out organized his opponents throughout the primary. He simply cannot do this against Obama; the Dems have a huge ground game set up and a huge war chest.

                Also, of course, the economy has a huge impact here. If unemployment continues dropping and the trajectory remains unambigously positive that’s going to add some significant tailwind to Obama and some headwind to Mitt.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Romney scares most republican rich dudes. Need I say more?

                I’d rather vote for his cousin.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                “If he can unify his base and fire them up he should have a decent shot at the presidency.”

                Firing up the base is not going to be Mitt’s job. It’s going to be up to the base to let go of their antagonism. It’s Mitt’s job to demonstrate intelligence, success, competence and their trappings. We put the scrubs in back in 2009, and now we’re 12 points down. It’s time to put Jordan and Pippen back in the game.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Mr. North, Romney has kept his powder dry.  BHO has had a free ride on his record, but that will end.  He has a lot to answer for.

                http://washingtonexaminer.com/politics/washington-secrets/2012/03/romney-readies-%E2%80%98prosecution-obama%E2%80%99/351591Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                I find it difficult to believe that Romney could possibly be responsible for anything approaching a visceral reaction on any level.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Me too, but nonetheless he is, which has caused me to significantly misread some aspects of this race.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                Really Koz, what had you mistread about the race? I recall you were very moody about the subject of the GOP nominees as a group a while back but you never were specific.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Tom Van Dyke
                Ignored
                says:

                For me, it looked like a pretty easy win for the GOP up till say, six months ago. It’s the GOP base that’s killing them and making this competitive, and in particular three things: insularity, mindlessness and antagonism. The voters in general can deal with one of these, maybe even two but all three at once is a killer.

                And in particular, the willingness of GOP primary voters to continue their antagonism to Mitt Romney this late into the primary season is very surprising to me.

                Hopefully that’s where SCOTUS comes in. Maybe the Tea Partiers can finally accept that the GOP actually delivered something, and something pretty big at that.Report

              • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah but the issue with the Republicans is getting out of their own way. It’s not just that Mitt is not a fire-upper but he’s also a target of significant antagonism among some subset of GOP-leaning voters as well.

                A comprehensive win at SCOTUS would keep the bitterenders from anklebiting Romney about how he’d repeal the rest of PPACA. But bigger than that, I expect or at least hope that we can dial down the antiestablishmentarian antagonism of the GOP from the Right, and get a massive boost for Right-fusionism generally.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Patrick Cahalan
        Ignored
        says:

        My perception of Kennedy from reading Tuesday’s transcript agrees: he was seriously asking for help in drawing a sharp line that differentiated health insurance from other markets so that one could say, “The Commerce Clause stretches this far, but not farther.”  I thought the government was very poorly prepared to help him with that question, even though it seemed like something they should have spent a lot of time on.  Hopefully their brief was better.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Cain
          Ignored
          says:

          Yep. He definitely was looking for a way to justify not tossing it while trying to signal general ideological affinity for the sentiment (and argument) to do it.  There’s just no other reason for him to so directly voice a “concern” for the issues (so poorly) articulated by the government.  That doesn’t mean he’d made up his mind to find that justification come what may though.  He was legit on the fence I think.  I wonder where he’s at right on it this minute.Report

    • Avatar Koz in reply to karl
      Ignored
      says:

      “Have you not paid attention to the public profiles of the four justices of the apocalypse? They want to be remembered for standing athwart history, yelling “stop!””

      This is wrong for the same reason the OP is wrong. The idea this is going to negatively impact the Court’s legitimacy only applies to a very narrow lib demographic who don’t matter anyway. For the rest of the world, PPACA is illegitimate so whichever way it’s made to go away is a good way. At least that’s how it will be post hoc if it breaks that way.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Koz
        Ignored
        says:

        I believe you are reading this wrong, Koz.

        Losing the mandate at the cost of the guaranteed coverage and the grouping is a solid gold campaign tradeoff, it seems to me.  The left base, which is not too happy with Obama, will be energized just at the shot of getting another justice on the court.  And the right base just won’t turn out in droves for Mitt.

        I think this is a loser for team GOP.Report

        • Avatar Koz in reply to Patrick Cahalan
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          says:

          I’m not following you. You’re talking about the exchanges, community rating, guaranteed issue all going down but the rest of it (mostly taxes) upheld, right?Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Patrick Cahalan
          Ignored
          says:

          “Losing the mandate at the cost of the guaranteed coverage and the grouping is a solid gold campaign tradeoff, it seems to me.”

          But not for health care finance reform.  A decade ago I said that the important trends suggested that the 2016 election cycle would be the one when health care finance reform was “ripe” as an issue — when a sufficient majority of voters agreed that something must be done and the politicians would be willing to throw the health insurance industry under the bus.  When the Dems moved on the issue in 2009, I said that it was too soon, and that the results would not be what the Dems hoped for at all.  The three major trends are still in place: a steadily growing majority of voters who want reform that includes universal coverage, guaranteed issue and community rating; a steadily declining percent of the population with access to group policies (through their employer) that include GI and CR; and increasing incidence of egregious behavior by the insurance companies.

          Absent attempts to change the system, the Republicans would have been (IMO) forced to put forward concrete proposals that met the voters needs in 2016, or gotten buried in the elections that year.  This year, still too soon.  As a side note, assuming the SCOTUS allows some part of the ACA to stand, and the Republicans gain control of the Senate but with less than 60 seats, who wants to bet that they do away with the filibuster somehow so that they can repeal the Act entirely?Report

      • Avatar karl in reply to Koz
        Ignored
        says:

        We agree. I don’t believe that the Court’s legitimacy is in peril — if Bush v Gore didn’t do it, nothing will.  What’s more, those four Justices know full well that they’ll be heroes to their constituency — that’s the legacy that matters.Report

  9. Avatar b-psycho
    Ignored
    says:

    The health “reform” law with the mandate could easily be described as a particularly targeted corporate welfare scheme.

    That the mainstream Left is acting like it’s the holy grail…I am amused.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to b-psycho
      Ignored
      says:

      Nah, most of us think it isn’t great, but it is better than the present situation and it’s the first step to a far better health care system down the road. The Holy Grail is actually something like Medicare-for-All.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jesse Ewiak
        Ignored
        says:

        Serious question – how are you going to get there from here, if the status quo of PPACA is mostly or entirely upheld (which I think it will be) and your ‘side’ (scare quotes or not) will have to continue fighting for the status quo and against any and all change?

        Because any and all change will be seen (and sometimes – perhaps even most of the time – correctly) as a Trojan Horse to take down the entire system.  As if, for example, what is seen now in any attempts to ‘reform’ (scare quotes or not) Social Security and Medicare – including the twist, normally recognized, that doing something ‘progressive’ (sq ? ¬) with them, like means testing, would make them politically vunerable.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe
          Ignored
          says:

          ‘As if’ should be ‘As in’ in the last sentence.Report

        • Avatar karl in reply to Kolohe
          Ignored
          says:

          It’s not change per se (you know that Medicare and Social Security have changed over the decades) — details matter and who’s doing the changing matters even more.  If politicians who share my view of the social safety net want to make changes for the better I’m more than willing to trust their judgment, that’s why I voted for them in the first place.

           Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jesse Ewiak
        Ignored
        says:

        “most of us think it isn’t great, but it is better than the present situation and it’s the first step to a far better health care system down the road.”

        Legislation is not software.  You don’t release a beta version and then patch in full functionality down the road as the bug testing is complete.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to b-psycho
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      says:

      I was wondering about that myself.Report

  10. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    Talking about PPACA is all  well and good, But i’m sure the R’s can offer good alternatives. It’s not like they are passing budgets in the House that guts Medicaid or anything……oopsReport

  11. Avatar MFarmer
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    says:

    Obama can always say “Whoops, my bad.”Report

  12. Avatar Jesse Ewiak
    Ignored
    says:

    As a side note, a special middle finger to any Nader ’00 voters who voted for Ralph because Al Gore was a corporate sellout. Because I have a funny feeling the two Gore appointments to the Supreme Court would not be in the middle of possibly throwing bricks at the modern welfare state.Report

  13. Avatar wardsmith
    Ignored
    says:

    At a time of massive unemployment, massive financial distress and an economy on the brink of a second Great Depression, Obama decides to… play with health care, fully 16% of the economy, and in the process throw a great huge monkey wrench into the works. What could possibly have gone wrong? Obamacare was a disaster in the making.Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to wardsmith
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah, it’s a good thing during the last Great Depression, we just let things work themselves out without any government intervention.Report

      • Avatar Wardsmith in reply to Jesse Ewiak
        Ignored
        says:

        The policies and missteps of FDR both prolonged and deepened the Depression. I’m sure Obama would like four terms too, but then he couldn’t keep his promise to the Russians.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Wardsmith
          Ignored
          says:

          Right, if FDR would’ve cut spending and gave some more money to rich people, we would’ve been back in business by 1934.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Jesse Ewiak
            Ignored
            says:

            Jesse, have you ever looked at any of the economic writings criticizing FDR’s response to the Depression?  Is it at all possible that you’re responding based on conventional wisdom, without actually having looked into the issue?

            Or let me put it this way.  Even if we agree that government intervention can fix the economy, does that mean that government intervention can’t be done badly and actually extend an economic crisis rather than resolve it?  And given that the Great Depression was both the economic crisis that had the most extensive government intervention, and the longest running one, is it wholly impossible that there could be a causal connection running in an unpleasant direction?Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley
              Ignored
              says:

              One can argue about FDR’s policies, though for the most part it’s his premature shifts to austerity economics that tended to create set backs, rather than the interventions that tried to pour money into the economy. Moreover, it’s important to distinguish between TYPES of intervention. FDR had a grab bag of policies, some like NIRA which were horrible, collusion based oligapoly protections that were intended to make regulatory burdens less (by removing antitrust prosecution for example in exchange for collective bargaining).

              No one, least of all Congress and the President were proposing anything like the National Industrial Recovery Act in 2009.

              I’d be happy to get into the weeds of this one, but I think most Keynesians and Monetarists would agree that a lot of FDR’s interventions were disastrous and hideous and hardly counter-cyclical.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Which is to say, it’s a separate argument on whether or not FDR’s specific policies were a good idea, versus the notion that “removing regulatory burdens” (ie stripping oversight of industries) and giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations at the expense of gutting government payrolls across all levels of government and slashing social safety net spending would somehow be an appropriate counter-cyclical measure.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                Nob,
                Rather than assume intervention was good and then argue over the various interventions, shouldn’t we first argue whether interventions were necessary or good at all? And this applies to H Hoover as well.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to Roger
                Ignored
                says:

                I found Friedman and Galbraith to be utterly convincing on this subject.

                Your mileage may vary of course.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Nob Akimoto
                Ignored
                says:

                You found polar opposite views to be convincing how? In their opposite nature?

                “All great economists are tall. There are two exceptions: John Kenneth Galbraith and Milton Friedman.”

                Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to wardsmith
                Ignored
                says:

                Polar opposite views? Have you actually read Monetary History of the United States?

                Friedman’s basic contention was that it was poor monetary policy, specifically the federal reserve standing by and allowing massive monetary contraction to happen,  was one of the causes of the Great Depression.

                Galbraith’s The Great Crash while focused more on the rampant speculation, is generally also a critique of classical economics and the assumptions of rationality and perfect competitive markets and the need for government intervention at various stages.

                That is to say, they disagree on whether the kettle is black or obsidian.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to wardsmith
                Ignored
                says:

                Nob,

                I’ll be honest; I’m having a hard time understanding your argument here.  How does critiquing improperly applied monetary policy equal critiquing classical economics?

                For my part, I think the fundamental failure of Galbraith and his ilk (yes, I called them ilk!) is that they critique rationality in markets while simultaneously holding to a belief in rationality in government.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to wardsmith
                Ignored
                says:

                My original point was that the two both made quite convincing cases that government intervention was the right course of action regarding responses to the Depression.

                As for rationality in government, I don’t think J.K. Galbraith ever really made the case there was perfect rationality in government. Rather because of the limitations of the market and the failures that are present, there needed to be several competing institutions to keep one another in check. Specifically labor, corporations and government were supposed to be the ones who policed the game.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to wardsmith
                Ignored
                says:

                Nob,

                I must dissent.  I think you’re using “government intervention” far too broadly, which leads to conflation of two radically different ideas.  The monetarist view is that government should simply ensure a sufficient money supply, and doesn’t imply any intervention in the resulting decisions about production, consumption, and pricing.  That’s a world apart from Galbraith’s vision.

                And Galbraith was a believer in centralized planning for some sectors of the economy, which necessarily requires an assumption of rationality–he thought that a government agency could collect the necessary data, analyze it, and make efficient decisions about resource allocation.  That’s as close to a common definition of rationality as we’re ever likely to get.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to wardsmith
                Ignored
                says:

                Monetary policy is a substantial area of state intervention, particularly to the extent that monetarists argue should have been the case in dealing with the Great Depression. When we’re talking about the broadest definition of whether government intervention should or should not have happened for the Great Depression, the countervailing view isn’t between monetarists and Keynesians, or even central planners, but between those who believe counter-cyclical government intervention is appropriate, versus those who believe any form of intervention including the existence of central banking to be inappropriate in general. In such circumstances, including monetarists and institutionalists seems to me, appropriate.

                Regarding Galbraith. It’s worth noting that he was as much a forerunner of institutional economics as he was of regulatory/central planning. One of his contentions was that corporations already did a form of central planning through the use of market power and setting consumer desires through power like marketing. His entire premise is that it’s possible for institutions whether public or private to be price makers. This he regarded as a failure of market mechanisms, because it went to the reverse of consumers being the price makers. Hence the need for countervailng power in the form of government, which he regarded as more response to the basic needs of consumers. This is debatable, of course.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to wardsmith
                Ignored
                says:

                Monetary policy is a substantial area of state intervention,

                Eh, not compared to regulation of prices, subsidization, prohibition of particular activities, It’s just the state throwing a big pile of money out into the economy (or out, of course), and then letting everyone make their own decisions about how much of that money to spend and what to spend it on.  With command-and-control regulation the government is telling you, to a greater or lesser extent, what you may and may not do with your money.  With strict monetarism there is no command and no control.

                Granted, most libertarians seem to see monetary policy (viz. the Fed) as an illegitimate government intrusion into markets. But here I part ways with so many of my libertarian brethren. There’s no doubt that a government can fudge up an economy royally with bad monetary policy (c.f., Zimbabwe), but it’s still not telling me whether I may or may not buy cigarettes, how much I have to charge for them, whether I have to involuntarily subsidize corn production, etc. Strictly speaking, monetary policy doesn’t even affect real prices.Report

  14. Avatar b-psycho
    Ignored
    says:

    Can I just say one thing, since this veered off topic?  Blaise:

    The Libertarians’ hatred of the Federal Reserve system shows their true nature: you are economic Taliban, intent upon returning the world to a glorious past which never was and never could be.

    There are some who hold such ill-advised nostalgia. I don’t. For the most part, the best way you can describe the past here is as Theft, in the form of slavery, stolen land, and collusion to screw the rubes. Nothing to be proud of or return to there.

    But that doesn’t even REMOTELY let the Federal Reserve off the hook.

    I don’t oppose the Fed because of nostalgia or a want to return to the gold standard. Personally I don’t even see what is particularly “free market” about pegging a currency to a commodity, as it involves price fixing (if a dollar is worth X amount of gold, you’re also saying each amount of gold is worth $X.). No, the problem with the Fed is that it is a clearly self-serving and to-the-bone corrupt institution run to the detriment of most of the public rather than our benefit.  Did the trillions in corporate welfare it handed out like candy above and beyond the hated TARP, and the fact that its directors personally benefited from Fed actions really not sound an alarm as to their (total lack of) legitimacy?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to b-psycho
      Ignored
      says:

      You are preaching to the choir, sir.   While Greenspan ran it, every time the economy got the sniffles, here came Mama Fed to knock a few basis points off the Fed funds rate.   As you say, asymptotically corrupt, serving the interests of the few.   Congress simply did not provide any oversight, not that it was any less corrupt.

      Greenspan should have been boiled in oil for his lax oversight.Report

  15. Avatar BlaiseP
    Ignored
    says:

    Hey Robert Greer, I’ve outdented here in response to this comment

    If the y-axis is regulation AND enforcement, then you’re already not dealing with a very clean model, and it would be very unlikely that my model’s added distinction wouldn’t more accurately represent the phenomenon in question.  

    Not really.  Let’s define regulation as laws which are enforced, to the exclusion of those which aren’t enforced.  A strictly provable aspect of regulation, that trades clear the exchange.

    I do not take you for one of these freeper dipshits who hears “Keynes” and thinks “Stalin’s five-year-plans.” to your everlasting credit, you’re not.   I’ve been reading Hayek for some time now, trying to come to grips with what he’s saying and part of the formulation of this parabola is derived from his entirely justified hatred of the Central Planners.

    I brought up Hayek because he’d be deeply skeptical of your graph to begin with. I also wanted to reiterate that Keynesianism has broadly accepted the validity of neoclassical methodology, and is a favorite tool neoliberal financial oligarchs.

    Neo-classical anything is a contradiction in terms. Neoclassical economics is bunk, all of it.  Man is not a rational animal.  He is pulled this way and that by every passing breeze.   Utility is a fantasy:  all value is perceived.   And man is a herd animal, easily panicked and led astray by marketing weasels and the illusions of advertising.  His consent is manufactured, his dissent also. Most perniciously, the Individual is a delusion:  we exist within the framework of a society, small figures in a large landscape, of which we are only dimly aware.

    Hayek would approve of my little parabola, I think.  He was not the doctrinaire his opponents made him out to be.  He understood the principle I’ve laid out in my first paragraph, that unenforced law is no law at all.  I believe in the Goldilocks Theory of Regulation:  not too much but not too little.   This Hayek understood very well indeed.   If he erred anywhere, it was in his conclusions, not in his facts.Report

    • Avatar Robert Greer in reply to BlaiseP
      Ignored
      says:

      I agree that neoclassical econ is crap, but I think you’re falling into its classic mistake: You’re hiding the pitfalls of your ideology in the dubious assumptions of an alluring but ultimately simplistic mathematical construct.

      Hayek wouldn’t be averse to your parabola in the way most fanatical free-marketers would hope, but again, I think you’re similarly distorting his position on regulation being a simple more/less dichotomy.  I think there’s a passage in The Road to Serfdom about this.  I’ll look for it tonight.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Robert Greer
        Ignored
        says:

        Oh it’s only a description.  All metaphors and equations fail in describing such complexities.  I only mean to say regulation is a tricksy thing, with well-meaning people tussling over how such things are best conducted.   Only straw men stand on the Zeroes, nobody in the real world does.

        The Road to Serfdom was done in an illustrated book which I used to have, before I went on the road.   Useful book, detailing the route idealism takes to tyranny.   The worst evils are done with the best of intentions.   That’s an easy way to spot evil in the world:  it has excellent reasons for what it does.  Good never needs excuses and is characterised by doubt.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
      Ignored
      says:

      Utility is a fantasy:  all value is perceived.

      Uh, yeah…that’s why neoclassical economists focused on subjective utility. Don’t confuse them with Benthamite utilitarians.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        Subjective utility is a contradiction in terms.  Either it’s actually useful or you just want it.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          If utility isn’t subjective then how can trade exist?Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            Because things can be genuinely more useful to me than to you.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
              Ignored
              says:

              If we agree that a thing is not intrinsically useful but usefulness can vary from person to person… for example this man may find a gallon of milk to be more genuinely useful than the three dollars in his pocket and that man may find the three dollars more genuinely useful than the gallon of milk he holds, and, from there, if we can agree that they can both be enriched from the exchange…

              Well, I’m pretty sure that nobody on the crazy libertarian side will have too much of a problem with that particular hair having been split.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Until a few moments ago, I didn’t realize that anyone in 2012 questioned the existence of subjective utility (or subjective expected utility) as a phenomen. Apparently all that research on it is research on an oxymoron.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                You’ve seen The Last Unicorn, I’m sure. The scene with the skeleton on the mantle? Schmendrick offers to turn water into wine and the skeleton gets excited at the prospect. When asked “why? you don’t have a tongue to taste it or a belly to hold it”, the skeleton says “I CAN REMEMBER!”

                That’s how I feel when I read stuff like that.

                I can remember.Report

            • Avatar Roger in reply to Mike Schilling
              Ignored
              says:

              For what it is worth, I think there is often confusion on the multiple definitions of subjective and objective. In some cases, they are opposites of each other. Objective can mean not subjective. But in other uses they work together fine. We can objectively study subjective utility.Report

          • Avatar Annelid Gustator in reply to DensityDuck
            Ignored
            says:

            The anisotropy of the physical environment, path dependence, the declining marginal utility, the existence of multiple goods and services gets you there I believe.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          Subjective utility is a contradiction in terms.

          Just because something’s value is subjectively determined doesn’t mean that the ascribed value isn’t real. Another way to say it is that the subjectively determined value ascribed to object O by person P at time T can be objectively measured by a proxy for utiles C (cash money). Is that a contradiction?  It doesn’t seem like one to me.Report

  16. Avatar Dave
    Ignored
    says:

    A response to BlaiseP:

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone hauls out that old shibboleth about Constitution and Civics Class, with no more understanding of what legal precedent means in that context than the man in the moon.   I’d be a fucking millionaire.

    Read Wickard v Filburn.   Not only can the government tell you to buy insurance, it can regulate production and consumption both.   All this sea lawyering about the Constitution, you’d think SCOTUS had never ruled on this sort of thing before.

    Scott’s description of Wickard is accurate, and yes, it is not completely clear that the SCOTUS has ruled on this kind of issue before. There is nothing explicit in Wickard that mandated Roscoe Fillburn to purchase wheat.  The gist of the ruling was that the government can regulate local non-economic activity if that activity impacted interstate commerce.  While it was not explicitly mentioned, the understood meaning of being engaged in commerce at that time was that a person was engaged in some kind of activity.

    As far as your characterization of sea lawyering is concerned, which side did more of it?  The side that argued that the individual mandate is unprecedented because it requires an individual that may not be engaged in an activity to become engaged in that activity?  Or was it the side that attempted to blur the activity vs. non-activity distinction by suggesting that the nature of the healthcare market is such that, in the eyes of the law, all individuals should be considered market participants because 1) health insurance is the essential means by which health insurance is financed and 2)  those that aren’t in the market now will be in the market at some point and those that may be subsidizing the healthcare costs of others now will have their healthcare costs subsidized by others in the future.  Why would the government have to make these arguments to fit the mandate under the constitutional safety of Wickard v Fillburn if the mandate was already there?

    The fact that the government was making arguments to the effect that market participation was a function of expectation other than the actual act of engaging in commerce tells me that the government thought that it was a much safer move to convince the court that the purpose of the individual mandate was to regulate the timing of a purchase.  Again, why would it go through these hoops if Wickard’s reach was already here?

    Furthermore, why would the government and every left-leaning pundit and legal academic go to great lengths to argue that healthcare is such a unique and specific market with such unique and specific characteristics that a mandate would not only be necessary and proper in the market for healthcare but would also not apply elsewhere?  If something is covered under the existing framework, there is no reason to carve out an exception.

    The mandate’s opponents are correct to point out that it moves past the pre-existing boundaries set forth in Wickard and Gonzales.   That in of itself does not automatically render the mandate unconstitutional but it certainly puts that issue in play.  If the court can do a better job than the SG at articulating a limiting principle and somehow all but conclusively establish that a mandate can in no way, shape or form apply outside of healthcare (personally, I’m skeptical), then maybe there is hope. 

    No matter what, it’s not an easy sell, and I wished that the supporters of the mandate were a little more cognizant of this.

    Report

  17. Avatar Scott
    Ignored
    says:

    Sounds like Barry has gotten word of the SCOTUS vote given his rant today.  Barry said, “Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”  Funny that a con law prof should say such things b/c last time I checked, the constitutionality of a law had jack to do with it being passed by a majority of congress.

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/combative-obama-warns-supreme-court-health-law-192629533.html

     Report