Al Franken kicks eleventy-million kinds of ass in health-care hearing

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120 Responses to “Al Franken kicks eleventy-million kinds of ass in health-care hearing”

  1. jso says:

    I’ve noticed a trend here. There is a rather attractive woman behind Franken in both this video and another about the Jamie Leigh Jones matter. Is he hiring models or am I studying the wrong things (Robotics)? *sigh*

    Carry on the rational debate of important matters. Thank you.

    • StRevAlex says:

      I noticed exactly the same thing. The bespectacled woman behind Franken is HOT.

      Also, did you see the “kid” in a suit behind the Hudson Institute woman? He was cracking up with laughter.

  2. trueblue2 says:

    It is baffling to me that anyone would want Norm Coleman over Franken.

    Also, in terms of traditional rules of testifying at a government hearing, you only speak when spoken to, so it seems to me that she was out of line to speak after he had closed out his questions/comments. I may be entirely wrong here, and someone please correct me if I am, but from what I understand it’s basically the equivalent of a witness in a trial saying something after a lawyer has said “No more questions, your honor.”

  3. Fletcherism says:

    After looking at this i did check out a couple of sites. It is weird how per captia we seem to pay an insane amount of money to be ranked 37th (as a whole) in the world. I know we need “Healthcare Reform” but we really need a shit-load of Insurance Reform. I have to call these places for our patients every day and these companies all intentionally are vague and don’t like to pay for ANYTHING

  4. Anonymous says:

    The thing that should be taken away from this discussion is that for the US to get hold of its healthcare costs is good for everybody because these measures will go a very long way towards initiating a new level of competitive and robust entrepreneurship. For corporations it means they can become unfettered from the bulk of inefficient healthcare costs and “Legacy” issues that contributed to General Motors problems. For ex: in Canada GMC plants were much more profitable, and simply because of healthcare costs alone. All mistakes and leadership being equal. Think about it, this means the healthcare costs of those that work merely at the dealership level as well. It is a safety net, for everybody. All of the first world.
    Recipe for success: remove the worry and redundant costs of healthcare, add the respect for individual rights to quality of life as a nation, plow these monies into real R and D to produce innovations = the next tier of economic status-quo. Consider it a “Trickle Up” theory.

    Guess which of these ingredients China’s government cares about right now? Here is a hint, the first 2 don’t count.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank God for Franken!

  6. thequickbrownfox says:

    Insurance lady exhibits some Reptilian shapeshifting at various points in video.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This comes down to a question of what different people value, which is subjective and therefore nonrational. To some, such as Billy, a somewhat arbitrary idea of liberty vs. tyranny is of greater importance than human life and happiness, which is just the way he is. Most people in the thread seem to be different. As for me, I’m only interested in the former insofar as it serves the latter.

  8. Anonymous says:

    at the moment, i don’t have insurance.

    i have three jobs, and recently one of my employers offered the chance for me to sign up for coverage through Cigna, a company that is currently refusing to pay for my wisdom teeth extraction from 2 years ago. at the time i was a full time student and under my mother’s coverage, but they are denying the claim because we failed to file it within a timely manner. this happened for a really stupid reason, my mom had just started a new job, and we told the dentist office to send the claim to United Health, (a ridiculously huge insurance company with terrible customer service), unaware at the time that our dental coverage was through an entirely different company (Cigna). United Healthcare has also randomly refused to pay lab fees for my annual gyno visits during my time in school, something i did not know about until having a bill sent to a collection agency. i’m certainly not in any danger of going bankrupt from these stupid incidents, but i’m far from trusting of insurance companies.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m loving Senator Franken more and more for his great common sense logic and plainly-spoken support for his arguments. I hope he continues to do well in the senate.

  10. eustace says:

    Wow! Watching that video raised my testosterone level!

  11. Anonymous says:

    So this was an awesome video and he made so much sense. Our healthcare system is complete shite and its time to try something new. If it doesn’t work than we are back where we started, but following evidence and trends from other countries, this could be our best option. Also i know this has nothing to do with the video but the girl in the background behind senator franken is soooo beautiful.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Just one point I’d like to make. I live in Australia. I’ve been a frequent user of our Medicare system, which we fund via taxation. I’ve never been refused medical treatment due to expense and have had procedures and tests done that cost megabucks. Sometimes I’ve had to wait to have a particular treatment or test. But if there is something requiring emergency treatment it is always available. To anyone, without thought to cost. If I lived in the US I would be in debt to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or dead. Or maybe both, eh?
    Espousing libertarian ideology as a reason to defend the honour of US healthcare is just kind of sad. Time to grow up America and do what most developed nations do and look after your people. That’s an ideology worth defending.

  13. benher says:

    Mine too. It makes me sad that I left MN all those years ago.

    I love his slow methodical way of speaking… it’s like a slow, painful torture the opponents to healthcare deserve to endure. On video. For the entire country to see.

  14. Sam says:

    Interesting … I suppose bankruptcies would be lower if the government owned all your money to begin with.

    Tax Rates:
    Swiss: 45%
    German: 45%
    French: 40%
    United States: 25-28% (average) 35% for rich people

    Sources:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_rates_of_Europe
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States

    We will see similar taxes to those European countries. You just have to decide if you think your $5-10k/year extra could be spent in a better way by you.

    The health care system is broken, but I’m not sure a European system is the best way to fix it (although it would probably be marginally better than what we have now – speaking from experience).

    • Anonymous says:

      But we would be getting more money because our employers will not have to subsidize our health care!

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re citing the maximum tax rates for those countries. Your figure for the US should be 35%, no less.

      To compare apples to apples, take the income tax rates of Canada, which range from 0% to 29%

    • Lt DirtyFreq says:

      Hell I would pay more taxes if it gives people better help. I already pay way over $600 for my diabetes supplies. My state is slightly helping me now (which I am grateful for). BUT one of my medicines is over $200. Why am I paying money to continue to live? I didn’t choose to have a health condition.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for the links in your post. So, you want to compare the MAXIMUM rates in Europe with the average rates in the US? Is that fair?

      Taking a straight comparison it’s more like 45% top rate in Switzerland, 35% in the US. Given my income, I’d LOVE to have socialized medicine eat up an extra 10% of my income PROVIDED that I no longer have to pay the 15% of my income that I currently do for my sucky, profit bloated health insurance that will dump me the moment I need it for anything more than annual checkups.

      Look pal, I USED to defend the 30% bloat fee on top of the actuarial calculations as a necessary fee for the rare chance that they have to cough out something catastrophic for me. Watching their greedy behavior? I’d rather bank the money at this point.

    • apoxia says:

      I live in New Zealand, not Europe, and we have tax-payer funded healthcare here. Also, our tax rates are pretty much the same as you quoted for the US. We also have no-fault accident compensation which also extends to tourists. If you break your leg in New Zealand as a tourist you get free health care.

      • billy_ran_away says:

        If you break your leg in New Zealand as a tourist you get free health care.

        Wow the doctors work for free in New Zealand? No of course not, the health care isn’t free, someone pays for it.

  15. cinemajay says:

    I’ve said it before, but this is exactly why I voted for him. That, and I’ve met him several times and he’s just about the most sincere public figure I’ve ever met.

    /go Al!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but when did real life become exactly like Boston Legal? The woman in the background is unrealistically attractive…

  17. jfrancis says:

    What is the cancer survival rate in the US for uninsured cancer sufferers who cannot afford and don’t receive treatment?

  18. The Life Of Bryan says:

    That’s a powerful bit of Biden there! A bit creepy too, but in a somewhat Nicholsonian way.

  19. jgs says:

    @Sam — I’ll see your $5-10k/year and raise you $13,400/year, which is “the average employer-sponsored premium for a family of four” (http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml). Yeah, only 27% of that comes out of the part of the paycheck you see… the rest of it comes out of the part you don’t see. Kinda like the payroll tax.

    Sounds like “you can pay me now, or you can pay me later”. I’m not convinced that moving the costs from one part of the balance sheet to another is so bad.

  20. Roach says:

    Two problems I can see so far with his statements:

    1. There will be no bankruptcies because there will be none allowed, not because there will be no cases anymore where such would have occurred. Universal healthcare only works if the government can refuse to pay for a certain number of treatments, most especially those for the elderly which don’t have a large degree of standard or length of life increase. I would really like to see a comparison between the American bankruptcy cases touted and the British or Canadians refused treatment, because that seems to me the real comparison, rather than the purely monetary questions. What Franken misses, or does not mention, is that if the government takes on the job then it will have to avoid numerous medical procedures or else go bankrupt itself.

    2. Our proposed system “working” is a debatable point in the first place, as we have no idea how such a large tax rate is going to wind up affecting our economy. We can’t compare ourselves to Canada or European countries either, because there are just too many differences. I’m so far waiting to be convinced that the overall decrease in our economy won’t be a much bigger hit than the problems we have with our healthcare system right now (or at least those that might be fixed under universal healthcare).

    3. At Padraig above directly – a tip is NOT a tax because you are not required to pay a specific amount (or to pay at all). You can give 5% or 30%. If we eliminate the tipping system, we eliminate one of the impetuses for wait staff to provide good or even excellent service. It’s already at the point where waiters expect 20% for adequacy; I’m not sure I want the entitlement to go any further in the service industries. In any case, if you refuse to tip the government, they’ll toss you in jail.

  21. johnnyaction says:

    This kicks Mucho ass! Many in congress suck up to the healthcare monopoly but not Al! Thanks Al for being awesome.

    The corporate shill was definitely cut down.

  22. IronEdithKidd says:

    I’ve learned three things today. 1) Al Frankin should have run for public office years ago instead of writing fantasy fiction about running for office. 2) Lots of Americans have been hoodwinked into believing that private insurance doesn’t ration care. 3) Lots of Americans don’t understand how insurance actually works. As in: a large number of people are pooled into a single group to aggregate risk in order to maximize profit and minimize payout). Perhaps the people who don’t really understand insurance have never needed treatment for anything more serious than a sprain or bronchitis. Those people are fortunate, but willfully ignorant and shouldn’t be driving the debate about how to fix our horrendously broken system.

    • Roach says:

      I don’t think you understand how insurance works yourself, IEK. Risk is not aggregated to maximize profit; it is so that rare, costly emergencies can be paid for out of the pool which is bigger than any one person would have – so aggregating risk for the insured, not the shareholders. Originally insurance didn’t even have shareholders at all (and mine still doesn’t, as it’s a trust and not really an insurance company in the standard sense, so they do exist in America). The maximizing profit and minimizing payout came later, after insurance companies got so huge (because other companies were huge and were required to buy insurance for their employees) that they were no longer accountable to individuals and began to sell shares. Insurance itself need not have those problems. Your narrative is backwards.

  23. bcsizemo says:

    I bet she’s just thinking: “Ass..”

    And the woman behind him is pretty hot, but I think it helps she is behind the focal point of the camera giving her a soft focus kind of feel.

  24. ill lich says:

    It’s funny how she brings up the cancer survival rates– clearly changing the subject, and he’s smart enough to call her out on it. Whenever you watch Ann Coulter in a debate of any kind she finds a way to throw Ted Kennedy and Chappaquidick into the conversation, like it’s some magic trump card she has to “prove” that liberals are evil or something, thus all her opponents ideas must be wrong.

  25. anmorton says:

    Apples and oranges. Do Switzerland, France, Germany, et al. have the same bankruptcy laws as the US? (No, Senator Al). If you want their results, you have to use their system – ALL of it.

  26. O_M says:

    …The woman behind him *IS* drop dead gorgeous at the very least. Someone here at BB needs to call the Senator’s office and find out who she is, and whether she’s available for dinner!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Yes, let us all focus on the woman that’s “hot” and not the very serious political matters at hand. After all, women just exist to cater to the male gaze 24/7, right?

    It’s sooooo disappointing to see that just about every time a woman is shown in pictures or video, so many just feel the need to point out if they are “hot or not”.

    *sigh*

  28. Modusoperandi says:

    billy_ran_away “Is it sharing when it’s forcibly taken?”
    You do vote, right? You don’t choose what the State does directly. You vote for someone to represent you. The government isn’t some distant, unaccountable entity.
    “I don’t think anyone should be forced to shoulder my, or my childrens’ medical bills.”
    Society is more than just “I”. It’s “we”. The argument is deciding on where the line lays. I don’t mind paying some to help you. Even from a purely self-centred position, the system will be there to help me out when I need it. Think of universal healthcare as the Golden Rule.
    “I would gladly go into debt as much as any creditor would grant me for my family’s health.”
    And when that runs out…?
    “I’m all for helping people but I’m not naive enough to think the government is the most effective method.”
    And how’s that working out for you? What about your neighbour? How’s that compare to the general experience of virtually every other nation in the world?
    “We can’t compare ourselves to Canada or European countries either, because there are just too many differences.”
    Is there something special about American heart attacks of which the rest of the world isn’t aware?

    “That’s inflammatory rhetoric, everyone can receive free healthcare at an emergency room.”
    …the most expensive and least effective form, too, since using it that way only catches problems once it’s too late to treat them in their earlier state. It’s like using the Fire Department to turn off your stove…by pouring water on your house while it’s burning down.
    “People go bankrupt for healthcare bills quite willing!”
    But they shouldn’t have to.
    “What Franken misses, or does not mention, is that if the government takes on the job then it will have to avoid numerous medical procedures or else go bankrupt itself.”
    The State is contracted by its shareholders to provide a service. The private sphere is contracted by its shareholder to provide a profit. The first set of shareholder is “all Americans”. The latter is a tiny subset of that.
    “The sad reality is healthcare is like any other resource, it costs money, and while everyone wants to live everyone has their limits, cash, net worth, or even credit worthiness, even governments.”
    Yes. The State does the same task cheaper. The rest of the world isn’t fighting for an “American-style” system (“I want to pay more for poorer coverage! Go USA! Woo!”).
    “Socialism” isn’t just a dirty word, it’s also a practical way to not lose the house when dad has a heart attack or mom falls down the stairs. Think if it as reciprocal altruism at the national level.
    Paying more is unnecessary. Profitting from misery is profoundly anti-humanist. Paying more so that others can profit from your misery is just stupid.

    Roach “Universal healthcare only works if the government can refuse to pay for a certain number of treatments, most especially those for the elderly which don’t have a large degree of standard or length of life increase.”
    You say that as though there’s no rationing now. There is. It doesn’t go by how badly you need the medicine/surgery. It goes by how rich you are. With the current system, you’re not a customer, you’re a revenue stream. The more they get from you and the less they spend on you, the more profit for their shareholders. With socialized healthcare, you’re both the customer and the shareholder.
    …and other countries that have socialized healthcare do well with critical health services. Those aren’t “rationed”. It’s non-critical things like hip surgery that get that (and even with those services, waiting 18 months for a new hip is better than never getting it at all because your insurance doesn’t cover it or you can’t afford it).

    • billy_ran_away says:

      You do vote, right? You don’t choose what the State does directly. You vote for someone to represent you. The government isn’t some distant, unaccountable entity.

      Are you familiar with the term tyranny of the majority? Segregated schools were okay because blacks could vote, right? The government is infact distant, and sometimes unaccountable, that is why the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, to keep the government in check. If it were truly accountable we’d not be fighting two wars overseas right now, nor would we be wasting billions on a war on marijuana.

      Society is more than just “I”. It’s “we”. The argument is deciding on where the line lays. I don’t mind paying some to help you. Even from a purely self-centred position, the system will be there to help me out when I need it. Think of universal healthcare as the Golden Rule.

      Yes society is a collective, but this country was founded on the individual’s liberty. And while you might not mind paying for others’ health care, and truthfully I don’t mind either (thus my charitable contributions), others do, and shouldn’t be forced to pay anyone’s medical bills. After all is it really the golden rule when it’s enforced by the government?

      But they shouldn’t have to.

      Why not? Everyone must pay for other resources and often take on debt to pay for large expenses.

      The State is contracted by its shareholders to provide a service. The private sphere is contracted by its shareholder to provide a profit. The first set of shareholder is “all Americans”. The latter is a tiny subset of that.

      Yes but despite our best wishes even the government has it’s limits. Just like ourselves, our government does not have an unlimited supply of money. But it’d be nice if they did…

      Yes. The State does the same task cheaper. The rest of the world isn’t fighting for an “American-style” system (“I want to pay more for poorer coverage! Go USA! Woo!”).

      You’re right, no one is fighting for American-style system but doesn’t mean everyone is fighting for single payer or public options. Less regulations, more HSA options would go a long way towards making our health care system an improvement.

      “Socialism” isn’t just a dirty word, it’s also a practical way to not lose the house when dad has a heart attack or mom falls down the stairs. Think if it as reciprocal altruism at the national level.

      Socialism is many things, but practical is not one of them. Why wouldn’t mom or dad give up their house to stay alive or healthy if they have no other means? If my wife or children needed medical care and selling my house was the means to provide it, I’d not only have a For Sale sign but I’d be on the street passing out flyers. Nothing in life is free. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Asking the government to make others cover expenses you cannot is not right. Asking others themselves is better.

      Paying more is unnecessary. Profitting from misery is profoundly anti-humanist. Paying more so that others can profit from your misery is just stupid.

      I don’t see how you can honestly believe any of those sentences. A doctor’s bill would still cost the same whether the government is paying for it, a private insurer, or private party. Infact what incentive does the government have to limit expenses? They have no bottom line. Profitting from human misery is how the world works. Isn’t it it miserable being hungry? Does that mean the farmer profits from human misery? I’d say yes. If health insurance is so stupid why do they exist?

      An aside for anyone, if you want single payer so bad why not move to a country that provides it? I respect Cory Doctorow because he wants single payer and he lives in a country with single payer. Why force others to provide for you? This country is about the individual, if you want the government to care about the collective, go find one. Individuals in this country overwhelming want it to continue to protect the individual from the collective.

      This American Life did an excellent episode about health care that I thought was very insightful. What was great about, IMHO, was it didn’t push any agenda very much, to me, it just told stories that highlighted facts.

      The Atlantic had an article that I thought was the most clear elucidation of the US health care system and their causes that I’ve ever read. And while I don’t support everything the author suggests I’d call my Congressman hourly to try and have it implemented.

      • Modusoperandi says:

        “Are you familiar with the term tyranny of the majority?”
        “Tyranny of the majority” is “trying to provide cheaper healthcare to everybody” now? Tyranny of the majority is when the popular majority oppresses an unpopular minority, not when people decide to not fuck over their neighbour.

        “…nor would we be wasting billions on a war on marijuana.”
        I’m with you there.

        “And while you might not mind paying for others’ health care, and truthfully I don’t mind either (thus my charitable contributions), others do, and shouldn’t be forced to pay anyone’s medical bills.”
        Now substitute “defense”, “schooling”, “libraries” or “roads” for “medical bills”, or anything else that benefits everyone but not everyone wants to pay for. Nobody likes taxes. The alternative is Social Darwinism (which the Right is supposedly against).

        “Everyone must pay for other resources and often take on debt to pay for large expenses.”
        My neighbour won’t die if he can’t afford a house. His kids won’t die if they can’t afford college. They won’t suffer if they can’t afford a new car.

        “Yes but despite our best wishes even the government has it’s limits. Just like ourselves, our government does not have an unlimited supply of money.”
        But they can do it cheaper. Government isn’t all about pork, divisive partisan rhetoric and thousand dollar toilet seats. If other countries can do it, why can’t America, the Greatest Nation in the World®â€¦(pause for applause)..do it?

        “You’re right, no one is fighting for American-style system but doesn’t mean everyone is fighting for single payer or public options.”
        They should. Same outcome, less money.

        “Less regulations…”
        And how well has that worked out so far? Good regulation is better than less regulation. “Deregulation!” is the rallying cry of groups that find regulation makes it too hard to “externalize” costs, gain monopoly or commit fraud.

        “…more HSA options would go a long way towards making our health care system an improvement.”
        Being able to write medical expenses off your taxes does you no good if you can’t afford the expense in the first place.

        “Asking the government to make others cover expenses you cannot is not right. Asking others themselves is better.”
        They’re the same people…and others are paying for it right now, and at ER rates, no less.
        When you can’t afford it, universal healthcare is there for you, and when you can, your contribution is helping someone else.

        “I don’t see how you can honestly believe any of those sentences.”
        And I don’t see how anyone could honesty argue to fuck over their neighbour.

        “A doctor’s bill would still cost the same whether the government is paying for it, a private insurer, or private party.”
        The State has far lower administration rates. The State doesn’t have to advertise. The State’s shareholder demand only value for money, rather than maximum profit.

        “Infact what incentive does the government have to limit expenses?”
        They get voted out or fired.

        “Profitting from human misery is how the world works.”
        No comment. I’m just putting that out there.

        “An aside for anyone, if you want single payer so bad why not move to a country that provides it?”
        Too late. As much as we bitch about it up here in Canada…(pause for a smattering of polite applause)…it works. Not perfectly. No system does. I like that my co-worker got a brain tumour out of his head without bankrupting him. That’s worth paying in to a system which I rarely use (the closest I get to bitching about it is whining about how it doesn’t seem to cover dental).

        “This country is about the individual, if you want the government to care about the collective, go find one.”
        “Of the People, by the People, and For the People”.

        “Individuals in this country overwhelming want it to continue to protect the individual from the collective.”
        By paying more for the same, in a manner that most get less and some get none.

        “The Atlantic had an article that I thought was the most clear elucidation of the US health care system and their causes that I’ve ever read.”
        Yes. There are a bunch of things that can be done to improve medical services. Weeding out the bad doctors, for one (the opposite of tort reform, which just makes it cheaper to be incompetent). I’m not arguing that universal healthcare is “it”. If I’ve given that appearance by arguing for it, I apologize (and if I’ve given the impression that, say, Canada’s version is “the” version, I apologize. Switzerland, for example, does it differently. I assume that Japan’s system involves Godzilla in some manner).

  29. O_M says:

    “Yes, let us all focus on the woman that’s “hot” and not the very serious political matters at hand. After all, women just exist to cater to the male gaze 24/7, right?”

    …Sorry kids, but it was my *leg* that was cut off last year, not my dick. And yes, public health care paid for the fake one, but only after *seven* months of red tape caused by an assistant who wound up getting fired because of deliberate delays. Which is why the only health care reform I will support is reduction of red tape and severe penalties for any worthless excuse for an office worker who imposes said in an attempt to create her own power trip.

  30. Anonymous says:

    this is awesome

  31. mdh says:

    People are not dying in the streets beacuse they don’t have health insurance. That’s inflammatory rhetoric…

    Yes, yes it is.

  32. mdh says:

    That’s inflammatory rhetoric

    or did you expect a calm response from that line?

  33. jtegnell says:

    Sam: how come Canadians and Germans and Swiss and French and Japanese aren’t all suffering horribly under the yoke of higher taxation, living their lives in oppressive slums? How come their businesses aren’t collapsing under the weight of massive taxes?

    Let me take you on a little trip around my wonderful home state of North Carolina. I can show you poverty that will shock you.

    Next we can go to my present home in Japan, and I will challenge you to find anything approaching what you saw in the US.

    When we’re done, you can explain to me how the lower taxes in the US are creating a wonderful society, and how the higher taxation in Japan creates a business culture that is an utter failure at international competition.

  34. straponego says:

    To all those yammering about how hot the woman behind Franken is: you guys are pigs.

    Besides, the one in his KBR video was way hotter.

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/10/16/793976/-Holy-Crap!-Franken-ANNIHILATES-KBR-attorney-during-testimony-%28w-video%29

  35. benher says:

    To second Jtegnell, Japan’s healthcare system is pretty nice – you don’t even have to be a full-fledged citizen to get coverage.

    I think I shared this in another post, but the guy at the office would not let me leave without giving me a healthcare card. He said something to the effect of “Oh you can just pay whenever. I’d feel terrible if something happened to you on your way home today and you had no coverage.”

    Keep pushin’ Al. We’ll get there too.

  36. ZippySpincycle says:

    Probably too late to really contribute much to this thread, but what the hey…I just finished reading TR Reid’s The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, which is one of those books that I wish I could just hand to anyone who wants to talk about the topic. Basically, Reid does a point-by-point of the various systems used by industrial nations to deliver and pay for healthcare, comparing them to the dysfunctional US system, which works great if you’re covered, and barely at all if you’re not. If you don’t have time to look for the book, at least read Reid’s column on myths about foreign health care systems. He also did a terrific interview on NPR’s Fresh Air back in August.

    Billy’s right, though–Americans aren’t dying in the streets from lack of coverage. They’re just getting sicker and sicker from treatable illness, then dying in hospitals after they’re finally sick enough to go to the ER, where their care is far more expensive and the inflated costs get shifted to all other users. Hurrah.

  37. DOuglas3 says:

    Lets see, personal-insolvency in Switzerland means that everything you own gets auctioned and if the proceeds aren’t enough to cover the debt, you are still on the hook for it anyway. One can imagine that people who accrue debt when they have a medical crisis might not choose that route.
    Germany got around to thinking that approach was too severe, so around ’99 they instituted the reform that everything gets auctioned and then for the next seven years until the debt is officially discharged all of your wages are garnished and you get a subsistence allowance. In some cases the courts have canceled the discharge because the debtor “didn’t work hard enough” to earn money in the meantime.
    Shall I talk about France?
    If Franken had said UK or Canada I’m sure that he would have been called out, because we read the same media and know that government studies in Canada show that medical crises contribute to greater than 0% of bankruptcies.

    • paradoxcycle says:

      I can’t believe there are actually people on here advocating for the current state of our health care coverage. Are you KIDDING ME? Better that people continue to die on the streets and have their financial livelihood destroyed than admit our way isn’t the best way. You people make me sick.

      • billy_ran_away says:

        I can’t believe there are actually people on here advocating for the current state of our health care coverage. Are you KIDDING ME? Better that people continue to die on the streets and have their financial livelihood destroyed than admit our way isn’t the best way. You people make me sick.

        I’m fairly certain most are for some kind of reform but that doesn’t necessarily mean a public option. People are not dying in the streets beacuse they don’t have health insurance. That’s inflammatory rhetoric, everyone can receive free healthcare at an emergency room. People go bankrupt for healthcare bills quite willing! They want their loved ones or themselves to live and healthcare costs money. Single payer or some kind of public option would still leave people in debt when the government hits their limit. So to stop medical bankruptcy you’d have to not let people pay for medical care on credit because when the government says no most people will still take on any amount of debt to keep their family or themselves alive. The sad reality is healthcare is like any other resource, it costs money, and while everyone wants to live everyone has their limits, cash, net worth, or even credit worthiness, even governments.

        • grimc says:

          People are not dying in the streets beacuse they don’t have health insurance.

          The Harvard study that says 45,000 Americans die each year because of no health insurance puts the lie to that–unless literally “dying in the streets” is a requirement.

          That’s inflammatory rhetoric, everyone can receive free healthcare at an emergency room.

          Wait–why are US emergency rooms “free” but not New Zealands? Wow, the doctors work for free in the US?

          People go bankrupt for healthcare bills quite willing! They want their loved ones or themselves to live and healthcare costs money.

          Yes, it’s their choice to live! Sick people should just die, already.

          Single payer or some kind of public option would still leave people in debt when the government hits their limit.

          Link, please.

          So to stop medical bankruptcy you’d have to not let people pay for medical care on credit because when the government says no most people will still take on any amount of debt to keep their family or themselves alive.

          To stop eating disorders you’d have to not let people eat.

          The sad reality is healthcare is like any other resource, it costs money, and while everyone wants to live everyone has their limits, cash, net worth, or even credit worthiness, even governments.

          So sorry, Mrs. Jones. We know you want to live, but you’re just not rich enough. If you could be a dear and just pass on as quietly as possibly, that’d be great. And not in the streets. You, without health insurance, dying in the streets? We can’t have that. Find a secluded spot in the woods, if you could.

          • billy_ran_away says:

            The Harvard study that says 45,000 Americans die each year because of no health insurance puts the lie to that–unless literally “dying in the streets” is a requirement.

            Well he did say in the street…

            Wait–why are US emergency rooms “free” but not New Zealands? Wow, the doctors work for free in the US?

            Damn you’re good! But yea I guess I should have put “free” in quotes. My point is we already have some public subsidized health care.

            Yes, it’s their choice to live! Sick people should just die, already.

            If they cannot afford or borrow any more health care what can they do? It’s analogous to food. If someone cannot afford food they go hungry. It’s sad, it’s unfortunate, but it’s reality. It’s also why I donate and volunteer at homeless shelters. I find the plight of the homeless particularly moving. I also participate in various food drives for the needy. I also donate to health care funds for the poor. What I’m against is being forced to do so. It’s hard to consider yourself free when you’re forced to do charity work.

            Link, please.

            Really? It’s common sense. If you have an illiness, oh let’s say cancer. If the state decides it’s too expensive to treat you your only choice at that point is to pony up your only money, or if someone will lend it to you, borrow it. Borrow enough and it might be in your best interest to declare bankruptcy.

            To stop eating disorders you’d have to not let people eat.

            If you’re saying there’s another way to prevent medical bankruptcies besides not allowing people to borrow money (thus putting themselves in debt) I’d love to hear it. No one can afford unlimited healthcare, not Bill Gates, especially not the US government.

            So sorry, Mrs. Jones. We know you want to live, but you’re just not rich enough. If you could be a dear and just pass on as quietly as possibly, that’d be great. And not in the streets. You, without health insurance, dying in the streets? We can’t have that. Find a secluded spot in the woods, if you could.

            Yes it’s sad, but I’m not sure what the alternative is. If someone doesn’t have the resources to provide adequate medical care then short of forcibly taking (more money than already taken for emergency room visits) money from someone else what else can be done? And once again reality is ignored, Ms. Jones can be taken to a hospital and die peacefully there. This whole thing reminds me of when I give money directly to a homeless person and they ask for more. Are you not grateful for what has been provided already?

          • AirPillo says:

            Really? It’s common sense. If you have an illiness, oh let’s say cancer. If the state decides it’s too expensive to treat you your only choice at that point is to pony up your only money, or if someone will lend it to you, borrow it. Borrow enough and it might be in your best interest to declare bankruptcy.

            Okay, the thing you are seriously failing to comprehend in this argument is that your insurance company already has every intent to cut you off when you run up too much a bill. It happens to people every day. What’s more, people often die because when they contract an expensive disease, the insurance companies will stonewall all payments quibbling over an undotted i or uncrossed t in the paperwork (not literally, it’s a metaphor) hoping the patient will die in the interim so they can be removed of the burden of payment.

            The difference is that the insurer’s prime directive is turning a profit. The state’s prime directive would be providing coverage without depleting all of their funds. They don’t have executives to give massive salaries and benefits to. They don’t have shareholders to pay dividends to.

            You’d be signing up for the same variety of service except your current private insurer would be pressured to screw you less, and the public insurer would be working with the same amount of money, without the giant parasitic organism of corporatism sucking up a vast quantity of the capital.

            Regardless of how you spin it, you will receive better care from the same amount of money if you receive it from an altruism-oriented organization than you will from an organization designed to squirrel most of the capital away or use it to grow others’ wealth.

            All of the arguments in which you explain the failings of public health care are problems you are already dealing with today, right now, with private health care. You just don’t realize how much worse it is with private health care.

          • octopod says:

            >what else can be done?

            well mrs jones, we’re so sorry to hear you can’t pay, but we did notice you have two functioning kidneys. so..

          • billy_ran_away says:

            well mrs jones, we’re so sorry to hear you can’t pay, but we did notice you have two functioning kidneys. so..

            You joke, why

  • freshacconci says:

    I don’t want to wade into too much of this, as this line of argument leaves me angry and just plain sad. All I can contribute is my own personal experience within the Canadian healthcare system. My father had ulcerated colitis and my mother had cancer. Both received excellent care, were able to choose which hospital to go to, which doctors to see and were able to have any treatment and medications they wished, including experimental. There was no cap, no government bureaucrats were ever involved, no treatments were off-limits. There is no such thing as “pre-existing” conditions. Because of the severity of my father’s condition, he required three surgeries. No one ever tried to limit his access to surgery. That was 20 years ago and he’s now 75 and healthy. My mother eventually died of cancer, but I can assure you, she received world-class care, which included home nursing towards the end. And it never cost us a thing. Yes, it cost us in taxes, but as others have pointed out, the degree of taxing is actually much less than private health care advocates claim. In the end, both my parents received treatment that simply would not have been equaled by private insurance. There were no limits whatsoever.

  • billy_ran_away says:

    I can appreciate your story and what you and your parents went though. I’m sorry for loss. I’m not saying there isn’t merits to the single payer system. I just don’t see how forcing others to pay for my medical care is compatible with individual liberty. Nor do I think most Americans are willing to tolerate a tax rate that would make an unlimited system for unlimited people sustainable. I guess it comes down to comprehensive, universal, cheap, pick two. For me, it’s liberty or death.

  • freshacconci says:

    I understand what you’re saying. And I appreciate your frankness. What frustrates me are the lies that are being used by some opponents of universal health care in the US. If your specific issue with universal health care is about paying for others and having the option to pay into a private insurance scheme, then that’s valid. I admit I don’t understand that point of view, but you’re being honest and not using distortions to win an argument (death panels and so on). The vast majority of Canadians like the current system (from the numerous polls I’ve seen) and do not feel individual liberty is being sacrificed. Most seem to feel it is an essential part of government services, like the military, police and so on. What problems there are with the current system (and there are problems), comes from government cut-backs. Again, most Canadians, if polls are to be believed, feel the government should be investing more into health care. Which means higher taxes. But that seems to be fine was the majority of Canadians. Higher taxes have not reduced our standard of living nor our competitiveness in the world market. But I guess it does come down to national character. Did you Americans know that the closest thing Canadians have to the Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness slogan is “peace, order and good government”? It does serve to illustrate some fundamental differences in our two nations. I also wonder of the health care system in the Netherlands would be worth looking into for the US, as it does offer a mix of public and private options. The main difference is that everyone is covered no matter what.

  • ZippySpincycle says:

    Billy, you are positing a false dilemma, as if the only choices are “single payer” or “the incredibly tangled clusterfuck of a ‘system’ we have now.” America currently spends the highest percentage of GDP on healthcare for a system that not only doesn’t cover everyone, it doesn’t even necessarily cover everyone who HAS insurance (see discussions of “recission” of benefits). You may want to take a look at the TR Reid piece I linked above–not even all European systems are “single payer;” France, Germany, and Switzerland all have multiple insurance companies which compete with each other.

  • billy_ran_away says:

    No I agree we have a tangled mess right now for a health care system. And I feel like a lot people feel like it’s single payer/public option or nothing. I infact posted a link to an article in The Atlantic that I thought offered up some good suggestions, not all I agreed with, but as I said I’d definitely support it as a bill.

    The Atlantic had an article that I thought was the most clear elucidation of the US health care system and their causes that I’ve ever read. And while I don’t support everything the author suggests I’d call my Congressman hourly to try and have it implemented.

    And thanks for the complement. I always appreciate the level of discourse on Boing Boing.

  • Antinous / Moderator says:

    billy_ran_away,

    You’ve made your point. Over and over and over and over. Unless you have anything new to add, give it a rest.

  • Anonymous says:

    How is the US different?

    Technically, we have bankruptcy protection laws, but how many people take advantage of them when they still have something left to save? I imagine most people would sell much of their possessions, maybe even their home, before they went through the cost, hassle and agony of filing for bankruptcy. I’ve never been through it, but I doubt it’s a fun ride.

    At any rate, this doesn’t void Franken’s point, that the chief reason in the US for filing bankruptcy is medical expenses, and yet none are filed for this reason in either Switzerland or Germany.

  • Infinite Jones says:

    Guys, Al Franken should be your president. Don’t get me wrong, I like Obama and you did really well to get him elected. But just think how cool the whole world would become if everything was negotiated with a mixture of sarcasm and hard statistics.

  • jkohagen says:

    I don’t understand Franken’s point about the cancers being the more survivable one’s. If the US system is better at the easy ones than other countries are at the same cancers, what does that tell you?

  • jtegnell says:

    Oh, so that’s why Canada and the UK are going to adopt our health care model.

    Let’s be fair: the main reason most people are against some form of socialized medicine in the US is, deep down inside, they don’t want to share what’s theirs with someone who they deem is less deserving.

    And, perhaps deep deep down inside many people’s hearts, there’s a kernel of racism tied up with that.

    That’s most certainly the case in the southeastern, staunchly Republican, parts of the US.

    • billy_ran_away says:

      Let’s be fair: the main reason most people are against some form of socialized medicine in the US is, deep down inside, they don’t want to share what’s theirs with someone who they deem is less deserving.
      And, perhaps deep deep down inside many people’s hearts, there’s a kernel of racism tied up with that.

      Is it sharing when it’s forcibly taken? And color me impressed with your mind reading skills. Please tell me… what’s deep down inside my heart!

      But to the main point, all medical care costs money. Plain and simple. I don’t think anyone should be forced to shoulder my, or my childrens’ medical bills. I would gladly go into debt as much as any creditor would grant me for my family’s health.

      I’m all for helping people but I’m not naive enough to think the government is the most effective method.

      • Anonymous says:

        “But to the main point, all medical care costs money. Plain and simple. I don’t think anyone should be forced to shoulder my, or my childrens’ medical bills.”

        So, am I correct in assuming that you don’t have health insurance and pay for all your medical care out of pocket?

        After all, when you have health insurance, you shoulder the medical bills of everyone in your insurance group. Or, they shoulder yours. I know that my family pays way more in premiums than we use in medical care. What do you think that money is used for? It pays for the medical care of others with the same insurance.

        Likewise, there was one year where we used more in medical care than we paid in premiums. Our medical care that year was essentially paid by members of our insurance group who had few medical needs that year. That’s what insurance is.

        I don’t really understand this argument against health insurance reform (that’s really what it is — not health care reform). If you want to argue against a public option because you think the government would do a poor job of administering such a program, that’s one thing. But, if you’re saying you don’t want to pay for anyone else’s medical care and you don’t want anyone to pay for yours, then you better be paying cash for your medical care.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, and if your house gets broken into and your wife murdered, I shouldn’t have to shoulder your police costs. If your house burns down I shouldn’t have to shoulder your fire department bills, if you drive on a road I paid for, I shouldn’t have to pay for your driving privileges, if you mail a letter I shouldn’t have to pay for your socialist postal service, if your kid goes to public school I shouldn’t have to pay for their communist education. If you don’t want to eat tainted beef I shouldn’t have to pay for your socialized food standards programs. Your communist “internet” was developed and paid for using MY tax dollars, so get the fuck off my damn internet, commie.
        News flash, you already pay for hundreds of “socialized” services, healthcare is one that benefits you more than most, and costs less than most. The health and wellbeing of the populace helps the economy and society at large, you shouldn’t be against it, that makes less sense than cutting the police force altogether and making people hire private vigilantes if they want justice.

        • Anonymous says:

          Uh, OK, I get your point.

          But I’m TOTALLY DOWN with that “disband the police and let people hire private vigilantes” thing. Since the rich people already own the police, why not let them pay for my children to beaten up on their own nickel instead of mine.

          Bring back the code duello!

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t drive — I walk everywhere. May I now demand not to pay road taxes? (ah, sez u, that is more complicated, due to transportation of food etc)

        Health care is an extreme example of the weaknesses of ‘capitalism’ — let’s take the ‘your sick child’ argument.

        You don’t expect anyone else to pay for his care. Yet you claim to be willing to exhaust your options to borrow money. Your subsequent bankruptcy means someone else pays, maybe the bank or the government.

        Also, how are you going to feel when you can afford the first course of medicine but not the second? Do your libertarian ideals extend to a contented acceptance of your child’s death while contemplating Pfizer’s CEO’s gold-plated yacht?

        Those of us who have and appreciate single-payer consider it a sign of maturity and decency in government.

    • Randwulf says:

      Let’s be fair: the main reason most people are against some form of socialized medicine in the US is, deep down inside, they don’t want to share what’s theirs with someone who they deem is less deserving.

      Pardon the swear word, but the attitude you’re referring to is sometimes known as “Fuck You, Got Mine”.

  • ArnoDick says:

    It’s very bizarre that people are using arguments about refused care and detrimental rationing against the “single payer” system, as if universal health care is some distant hypothetical that has only existed in our wild imaginations.

    Universal health care exists in many countries, and none of the crazy, dystopian horror stories some of you are referring to have occurred.

    “But America is so different, it will never work here!”

    Wow, that’s a pretty special country you have there.

  • DefMech says:

    What’s the point of all this “liberty or death” dilemma if you’re too sick or dead to take advantage of it? Really, if you’d rather let sick people die instead of give away a little more of your paycheck, you’re a horrible person and what does your opinion on this matter anyway?

    • billy_ran_away says:

      What’s the point of all this “liberty or death” dilemma if you’re too sick or dead to take advantage of it? Really, if you’d rather let sick people die instead of give away a little more of your paycheck, you’re a horrible person and what does your opinion on this matter anyway?

      I guess that’d be question for the Founding Fathers. I do donate to charity monthly to various charitable organizations. But I think it’s wrong to force others to as well? And I guess you missed my point earlier, how is it given away when it’s forcibly taken from you in the form of taxes?

      @Antinous I thought I had added something new when I had posted the links to the This American Life episode and The Atlantic article.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I thought I had added something new when I had posted the links to the This American Life episode and The Atlantic article.

        That would fall into the ‘something new to add’ category.

        Iterations of “I’m no big fancy expert, I just love America!”, not so much.

  • European dude says:

    An interesting fact about healthcare:

    Number of Americans, familiar with the American system, who would like something much closer to the European system:

    More than half.

    Number of Europeans, familiar with the Europeen system, who would like something much closer to the American system:

    Virtually NONE. (I’ve never heard that sentiment expressed.)

    We pay less tax for our system than you’d pay for an equivelant insurance, nobody tries to cheat us when a problem occurs (“preexisting condition”, “not covered”) and it’s solidaric; we’re all covered. We all sleep better at night knowing we’re “covered”, and knowing homeless people are too.

    Please copy us, we don’t might sharing our experiences, as we’ve copied tons of good US ideas over the years.

  • jfarnold says:

    Someone commented that they would prefer that insurance reform focus on tort reform. I must call BS on that.
    Malpractice insurance pays out almost nothing compared to what is collected in premiums.
    For an analysis by the DOJ back in 2007 look here:
    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/newsroom/pressreleases/2007/BJS07015H.htm

    For a recent study sponsored by a coalition of consumer groups look here: http://www.insurance-reform.org/TrueRiskF.pdf

    I believe a single payer system would be the most effective and efficient use of our county’s health care resources. Insurance companies are a blight to health and our economy.

  • Roach says:

    Modus – “You say that as though there’s no rationing now. ”

    No, I don’t. I don’t say it as anything of the kind, and I think conservatives ignore that that is rationing – although it is a very different kind of rationing, which is not controlled by any government entity but rather individuals’ abilities and choices (!) to pay. You’re assuming that by disagreeing with one option, I automatically take what you consider the other side, when I take neither.

    “With the current system, you’re not a customer, you’re a revenue stream.”

    I’m not sure I understand what that means. Isn’t the definition of the customer someone who pays money for a service? Do you not believe hospitals provide that service, or provide it badly? And how would the hospitals dealing directly with the government (which they already do for Medicare) make it any better? These are questions I’ve not seen answered satisfactorily by the pro-universal-healthcare crowd.

    Also, we only become shareholders in the medical industry under a Britain-like system, where the doctors work for the government. Otherwise we only become shareholders in an insurance company, and there’s no reason to believe that’ll be any better, particularly any more efficient, than the ones we have now. Government agencies may not be run for profit, but they still have to follow a budget.

    Perhaps you meant we’re not customers because health care costs aren’t transparent and are driven artificially high, as a result of insurance companies and Medicare interfering with the market. Then I agree, and it’s also a point made in the excellent Atlantic article posted above. I get better service at a restaurant or a mechanic because they have to talk directly to me and are directly accountable to me. But under both the current system and socialized medicare they are accountable to numerous other entities instead, and I get no direct say. Being able to wait six years to vote out my senator because I don’t like how the state hospitals treated my dying mother isn’t exactly a great source of accountability.

    I am nevertheless grateful to Obama and the rest of the Democratic party for making the debate happen, as the Republicans don’t seem to care at all. However, I hope that their public option fails and instead a number of smaller, more intelligent reforms that have been posed by all sorts of commentators take hold instead.

    • Modusoperandi says:

      Roach “I don’t say it as anything of the kind, and I think conservatives ignore that that is rationing – although it is a very different kind of rationing, which is not controlled by any government entity but rather individuals’ abilities and choices (!) to pay.”
      …and the insurance company’s willingness to follow through. They aren’t there to provide you better service. They’re there to provide you as little service as they can get away with.

      “I’m not sure I understand what that means.”
      You’re how the insurance industry makes money. The less they provide and the more they take, the more profit they provide their real customers, the shareholders. They’re Walmart. You’re Rubbermaid.

      “And how would the hospitals dealing directly with the government (which they already do for Medicare) make it any better?”
      Single payer has lower administration costs, and lower costs pretty much all ’round.

      “Also, we only become shareholders in the medical industry under a Britain-like system, where the doctors work for the government.”
      I’m not sure about that, but any of the choices offered by pretty much every other First World nation (and some Third World ones as well) is better for you than what you’ve got.

      “Government agencies may not be run for profit, but they still have to follow a budget.”
      A budget that includes no arm whose job is to obfuscate, delay or deny your coverage. Socialized coverage fights fraud. Private coverage fights you.

      “I get better service at a restaurant or a mechanic because they have to talk directly to me and are directly accountable to me. But under both the current system and socialized medicare they are accountable to numerous other entities instead, and I get no direct say.”
      The only time you get a “direct say” is if you’re paying out of pocket. Nobody in their right mind is arguing for that as, while haggling is a fun way to burn off time in between chemo appointments, it pits little you against big everybody else.

      “Being able to wait six years to vote out my senator because I don’t like how the state hospitals treated my dying mother isn’t exactly a great source of accountability.”
      If that’s the worst of the alternative, it still looks better than the current…um…ive.

      “I am nevertheless grateful to Obama and the rest of the Democratic party for making the debate happen…”
      I wish they were better at it, though. The “other side” always seems to control the dialogue (which is probably much easier to pull off since they abandoned reality)

      “…as the Republicans don’t seem to care at all.”
      True. Seeing the other guy lose is more important than doing the right thing. The US needs a viable opposition party. Opposition is not the same as obstruction.

      “However, I hope that their public option fails and instead a number of smaller, more intelligent reforms that have been posed by all sorts of commentators take hold instead.”
      Why not both? While “Everybody else is doing it” is a terrible argument by itself, the reason everybody else is doing it is because it works.

      • Roach says:

        “Single payer has lower administration costs, and lower costs pretty much all ’round.”

        Do you have a source that takes into account differing standards of care? I’ve heard this both ways. The other issue is that single payer might be cheaper because they treat cases in an assembly-line fashion, since treatments are controlled by government policy, with the problem that human beings’ health is more complicated than that approach allows.

        “Why not both? While “Everybody else is doing it” is a terrible argument by itself, the reason everybody else is doing it is because it works.”

        “It works” is far too simplistic, as is “our system is broken.” Nor am I convinced that everybody else’s system is really working. Nor am I convinced that we are like everybody else, even in the subset of factors affecting healthcare. And most important, I’m still not convinced that universal healthcare will not depress our economy to the point where the harms outweigh the benefits (though I don’t argue that there are benefits).

        “[Socialized healthcare has] A budget that includes no arm whose job is to obfuscate, delay or deny your coverage.”

        I don’t believe that for a second. Medicare denies coverage all the time (and of course, Medicare will probably suffer under the plan). If an arm does not exist, one will develop. The government already has plenty of public relations arms, and that’s their job same as in a corporation. I’d find it much easier to buy that the government is somehow accountable to me if they hadn’t done so much over my lifetime, and especially recent memory, with which I profoundly disagree. And keep in mind that Republicans will be in control of the system at some point in the future, probably not long after the system’s in place.

        “The only time you get a “direct say” is if you’re paying out of pocket. Nobody in their right mind is arguing for that as, while haggling is a fun way to burn off time in between chemo appointments, it pits little you against big everybody else.”

        Well then I’m not in my right mind, because I think we need to move back in that direction. To mirror your earlier point, everything else (ie every other industry) does it that way. We rely on “haggling” (well, the law of supply and demand) to set prices from food to gas to, well, everything you own but your health. I think it’d be a much better idea to reduce the deathgrip insurance has on the health industry, and relegate it to its original function of being a pool for rare, emergency situations. That may be impossible, but I’d rather that than giving myself over to another gigantic entity.

        I still find it troubling that you think government is accountable to you (which it is, to some extent) but insurance companies are not. All companies are accountable to their customers as well as to their shareholders, because customers choose which companies to pay and for what goods or services. They can’t pay their shareholders if all their customers leave them because of crap service, so the question is why they don’t if everyone hates the insurance companies so much in the US (a lot of the bitching derives from a false sense of entitlement, but there are still serious problems).

        The real issue is that insurers are less accountable because the government first mandated that all employers give coverage, which created a relative monopoly and a guaranteed customer base among insurers who got bigger and bigger (thus more and more distant) to provide insurance for thousands in a group rather than individuals choosing in a marketplace, and then Medicare and Medicaid further amped prices by artificially setting them in law, because government payments being legally defined means they are not held to supply and demand. Government control doesn’t address the root of the problem, which is that insurance companies got license for bad behavior because they were guaranteed customers and high prices for their services by the government.

        The vast majority of the problems with insurance corporations currently will be the same problems with government control, because both are massive entities with bottom lines who need only please a bare majority, rather than all. And government control brings a host of new problems in addition.

        • grimc says:

          All companies are accountable to their customers as well as to their shareholders, because customers choose which companies to pay and for what goods or services. They can’t pay their shareholders if all their customers leave them because of crap service, so the question is why they don’t if everyone hates the insurance companies so much in the US

          If all the companies provide a necessity in the same crappy manner, the only choice a customer has is to either accept it or do without. And as long as they make a profit doing so, the shareholders are perfectly happy.

          And to be precise, there are health insurance “customers” and health insurance “beneficiaries”. Beneficiaries are the individuals covered, and customers (in the US) are overwhelmingly employers. Insurers, shareholders, customers, beneficiaries–each group has it’s own goals, and certainly in the case of insurance companies and benficiaries, those goals can be at odds.

        • Modusoperandi says:

          Roach “Do you have a source that takes into account differing standards of care?”
          A cursory googling comes up with stuff like Costs of Health Care Administration in the United States and Canada. There’s probably better data out there, but where I am right now (not work!) I simply don’t have the time. As for “differing standards of care”, if a knee operation in one country is cheaper than the next, it’s still a knee, right?

          “I’m still not convinced that universal healthcare will not depress our economy to the point where the harms outweigh the benefits.”
          The economy is already depressed by costs, and it’s getting worse.
          The odd part of the discussion is that it has basically pit one business sector against all other sectors (and labour).

          “And keep in mind that Republicans will be in control of the system at some point in the future, probably not long after the system’s in place.”
          Kind of freaky how they’re suddenly defenders of Medicare, isn’t it?

          “Well then I’m not in my right mind, because I think we need to move back in that direction.”
          Between “Hi, I’d like to purchase one artifical hip.” and “Hello, we would like to purchase a thousand artificial hips.” who do you think gets a better per unit price? Yes, private insurance does that, but part of their savings goes to CEO bonuses and ads about how social conscious they are.

          “I still find it troubling that you think government is accountable to you (which it is, to some extent)…”
          Well, that there is one little difference that ends up making a big difference. We’ve got more than two choices here (which leads to coalition governments, and if one Party becomes an obvious corporate front or it loses its collective mind, there’s always some other Party that isn’t as dirty).

        • AirPillo says:

          Well, Roach, you’ve made your point clearly and eloquently, so I hate to nitpick, but for the sake of discussion I will use a narrow focus:

          The relative monopoly that makes insurers so unaccountable to customers is the real point the public option is meant to address. As far as I can tell it isn’t intended primarily to be socialized healthcare as much as it is intended to be a new entity of competition in the insurance market.

          The public option coverage would represent a basic minimum of available healthcare, a plan which represents the basic expectations of decency and reasonable coverage in the market. The idea wouldn’t be to provide top-notch healthcare from the government, but rather to define the minimum “fair” coverage.

          Any private insurer whose quality of basic-level service then falls below that of the public option is pressured to improve their service through the mechanism of good old time-honored free market economy that we as a nation are fond of and familiar with.

          I support this concept less as a baby step towards a single-payer plan, and more as a government intervention to create competition, and therefore stimulate the private market to balance itself further towards consumer benefit.

          I realize much of the discussion here doesn’t necessarily focus on the public option but rather more broadly on socialist trends in healthcare… but I wanted to address this specific point.

          • Roach says:

            Airpillo – Thanks for the reply. I know that the public option is generally regarded as competition. I don’t think it is, however, and it’s certainly not fair competition (not that we have that now). The reason is that the public option is an apparently free service – not free to the taxpayer or to the government, but free to the consumer. Apparently free services have unlimited demand, or are limited only by factors other than cost, like availability or whatever hassle is involved in getting it. I know that the Democrats have put provisions into their bills to keep companies from switching unless necessary, but that will most likely become a legal fiction quickly (and those insurance companies you mention who don’t provide the minimum standard won’t raise their standards to it – because how can they compete with free? – but will go out of business). After all, if a company is faced with paying for insurance or putting its employees on the dole while costing itself nothing, or if an individual faces the same choice, what do you think it will choose? We’ll have a rush on the public option, and competition will quickly vanish for all but those so rich that they are willing to pay exorbitant prices for luxury insurance. Of course, all this will only be apparently free, not in truth. In addition, all those who are pushed into the public option by their companies will be getting, as you put it, the MINIMUM of care.

            Some people think that the Democrats know this, and the public option is just a cynical way of eliminating the insurance companies. I don’t believe it myself – I think it’s an attempt at compromise – but I think elimination will be the end result nevertheless.

            Modus – Differing standards of care do matter, if we’re primarily concerned about saving lives. Less efficient systems are not as good at that. One knee is not every other knee, and one brain is certainly not every other, so neither are the conditions that affect them. I’m not saying I know for sure whether one system is worse than the other – only that thus far I haven’t seen enough on it, and I think it’s too important to be ignored.

            The whole two-party thing, well, that’s too much to go into. I’m not a fan, obviously. Although few countries have it as bad as us, most do tend toward consolidation, and it won’t be much longer before other countries are like the US, I’d guess.

            For those interested in alternative reforms, besides the Atlantic article above, here’s a fairly involved list of possibilities (not mine, but I agree with most of them). These include eliminating the preexisting condition exception (of which the Republicans are mysteriously the new champions).

  • Anonymous says:

    GParker: let go of the Tort Reform Meme, its BS.

    Medical Malcpractice suits contribute only about 1 to 1.5% of total medical costs and has remained relatively constant since the early ’80′s.

    The only place that tort reform could possibly make a difference is encouraging Dr’s from over-testing and over-analysis being unsure of their diagnosis, but really this just goes back to outrageous malpractice insurance rates to begin with.

  • The Chemist says:

    What we need is universal healthcare. However would we pay for it?

    [small voice] Can we cut the stupid fucking Pentagon budget already? We pwn everyone else in terms of pure firepower as it is, and our most futuristic weapons research is pretty much only good for crappy shows on Discovery- not fighting in Tora Bora. We could also, like, stop occupying countries and destabilizing regions. Might save a little money.[/small voice]

  • danlalan says:

    Conservatives like to make the argument that rich people should not be forced to pay for healthcare for the poor, as if the wealthy got that way by some means other than by taking a piece of the labors of the not wealthy.

    Half of the population has below average intelligence (just a mathematical truth, not a condemnation) with the limits that are inherent in such a state. Many are born in the lower end of the socioeconomic scale and start with a handicap for accumulating wealth. The peculiarities of any individuals life can put them in an economically disadvantaged position.

    Health care is different in kind from other expenses. To argue against universal health care is very close to arguing for social darwinism. If a person is working to their limit, but is only capable of getting a job with limited pay and limited benefits, should that person be denied the best health care or be driven into destitution because they wish to stay alive?

    Reducing the argument being made by opponents of universal health care to it’s basics: perhaps for the good of society such people should just be allowed to die without expending the resources of society trying to save them.

    After all, there are many available to step into their role.

    Excuse me, I feel a little sick now.

  • paradoxcycle says:

    Yes, yes it is.

    or did you expect a calm response from that line?

    No, no it’s not, mdh. The deaths referenced by the Harvard study are not, in fact, rhetorical.

  • Anonymous says:

    My buddy the waiter put it this way. “those people don’t always go away. You know, the ones without health care. They stay on your “other side of the tracks”, in your cities, in the apartment buildings down the street, on the other side of Wisteria Place. They drink and have sex with your kids. They wait on you, they bartend for you, they cut your lawns and use your bathrooms when they’re not supposed to be.

  • billy_ran_away says:

    “Tyranny of the majority” is “trying to provide cheaper healthcare to everybody” now? Tyranny of the majority is when the popular majority oppresses an unpopular minority, not when people decide to not fuck over their neighbour.

    To me, forcing me to pay for a neighbor’s health care is tyranny. Just as it would be if I were forced to give him/her a ride to work if they’re car broke down. See it’s about the principle, I don’t mind helping, when I can do so freely. I do mind when I’m forced. This is America, no one should be forced to help anyone. They perhaps should feel obligated, they even should help, but forced?

    I’m with you there.

    Well I’m glad you agree I think you missed my larger point, and that’s the government can’t possibly represent everyone, so the less it tries to represent, the less people will be misrepresented. No one should tell someone they can’t grow or smoke a plant in their own home, and no one should tell someone they must contribute to someone else’s (children not withstanding) health care.

    Now substitute “defense”, “schooling”, “libraries” or “roads” for “medical bills”, or anything else that benefits everyone but not everyone wants to pay for. Nobody likes taxes. The alternative is Social Darwinism (which the Right is supposedly against).

    Well everything except defense and roads I’m somewhat apathetically against. Defense protects the entire nation’s liberties. Roads make use of public land and belong wholly to the public. Now I could be convinced that perhaps a pay for what you use scheme could be benefical in conjunction with being taxed less (or nothing) for road construction. Libraries I feel are kind of outdated as it is, information wanting to be free and all. And schools, well schools are something that the greater public does benefit from, but I do feel that an individual shouldn’t be held accountable for another’s education, however I do feel it’s less egregious then public health care.

    But they can do it cheaper. Government isn’t all about pork, divisive partisan rhetoric and thousand dollar toilet seats. If other countries can do it, why can’t America, the Greatest Nation in the World®…(pause for applause)..do it?

    From the statistics I’ve seen it can’t be done. Medicare is sometimes quoted as being cheaper, but if you listen to the This American Life podcast episode I posted earlier you hear how it’s subsidized though higher medical costs for others.

    And I don’t see how anyone could honesty argue to fuck over their neighbor.

    I’m not sure how it is fucking over their neighbor anymore than someone not being able to buy water, food, or shelter. No am I actually arguing to fuck over my neighbor, I love all people and contribute and volunteer. What I’m arguing for is the freedom to not be forced to help your neighbor. No one should forced to do anything that doesn’t violate someone’s right. Just like I think no one should be forced to fight in a war, or made to volunteer, no one should be forced to pay for another’s health care. Pure and simple. It’s about freedom and principles, the foundation of the United States.

    I’m happy that you enjoy the health care in Canada, and I can certainly appreciate why you moved there. I think it speaks highly of someone when they can admit flaws of their ideas or arguments as you did.

    So in that same vein, the flaws with the ideals I push for are that it does have unequal coverage for people. And not everyone can afford complete coverage. Nor is it always the most cost effective. But it does preserve freedom and liberty, which are ideals this country was founded on, besides, what good is health and life if you don’t have freedom and liberty?

    • Anonymous says:

      Billy, I think you are at heart a good person, but you have a very short-sighted concept of liberty, and this perspective prevents you from seeing the health care subject in its entirety. I sincerely hope you’ll do some more soul-searching on this subject, because I think you’ll find in the end that the Ayn Rand notions of the way the world should work are incompatible with the good deeds you do on the individual level. (I’m not saying you’re necessarily an Objectivist but your comments seem to dance around that worldview, and unfortunately Ayn Rand was a very smart and talented woman who was nevertheless stunted by a couple of traumatic childhood experiences.)

      I understand the argument that forced charity is not charity at all, but I think you’ll find in time that a modern civil society is quite a bit more complicated (and promising) than that.

    • danlalan says:

      But it does preserve freedom and liberty, which are ideals this country was founded on, besides, what good is health and life if you don’t have freedom and liberty?

      Actually, from the Declaration of Independence:

      “…certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

      Seems fairly clear to me that the country was founded on with the concept that living is a primary right, as life is necessary to enjoy the other rights, and that it is the role of government to act to ensure that as many of the governed are around to enjoy their rights as possible.

    • Modusoperandi says:

      billy_ran_away “To me, forcing me to pay for a neighbor’s health care is tyranny.”
      As I said before, you already are paying for it, morally as well as financially. They use the ER, you pay for it (and they’re using it when it’s too late to fight the problem cheaply…and the ER itself is expensive…and having the ER treat problems that aren’t caught before they’re emergencies clogs the ER, which already has the regular kind of emergencies to deal with).

      “…and that’s the government can’t possibly represent everyone, so the less it tries to represent, the less people will be misrepresented.”
      No. The less it represents, the less people it protects.

      “Libraries I feel are kind of outdated as it is, information wanting to be free and all. And schools, well schools are something that the greater public does benefit from, but I do feel that an individual shouldn’t be held accountable for another’s education, however I do feel it’s less egregious then public health care.”
      Education is one of the keys to a healthy society. It’s a rung on the ladder up from “poor, ignorant and scared”. If you don’t pay for it now, you will pay for it later.

      “From the statistics I’ve seen it can’t be done.”
      Then you should widen your statistical net.

      “What I’m arguing for is the freedom to not be forced to help your neighbor.”
      Except that you’re also arguing that the People aren’t the State. Ideally, they are. Practically, not so much, since corporations count as people (immortal, amoral billionaire people). The People, however, are not Big Business, whether ideally or in actuality. You work for a company, the State is supposed to work for you.

      “I’m happy that you enjoy the health care in Canada, and I can certainly appreciate why you moved there.”
      I’ve always been Canadian, eh. For one thing, it makes the commute home considerably shorter.

      “So in that same vein, the flaws with the ideals I push for are that it does have unequal coverage for people.”
      The kind of flaws that lead to a million and a half personal bankruptcies and 45,000 unnecessary deaths per year are the kind of flaws that indicate something is seriously wrong.

    • failix says:

      “What I’m arguing for is the freedom to not be forced to help your neighbor.”

      Dude, do you understand the point of society?!

  • The Rizz says:

    I hear the same arguments against socialized healthcare all the time: (1) It’s not free. Your taxes will raise to pay for it! (2) We’ll get crappy healthcare like in some third world countries! (3) If it’s free people will just go to the doctor all the time and make it impossible to get in when you have a problem!

    Why these “reasons” are actually bullshit:

    1) So my taxes raise? Fine, let it – not even counting the employer-paid portion of my healthcare (which is, in my case, 85% of the premuim), I paid more money in healthcare costs than I did in taxes last year! I am not talking poverty-line income, either – I’m pretty solidly in the middle class. I didn’t even have excessive costs, or non-covered conditions, or anything like that. Simply paying the deductibles and prescriptions, and other out of pocket costs came to more than my income tax bill.
    So, as far as I’m concerned, if you double my taxes but provide me full healthcare coverage, I’ll take that deal and come out ahead!

    2) Crappy third-world-quality healthcare? Yeah, if you let those who are looking for it to fail write the laws. Make sure that the funding actually goes to doctors and hospitals rather than to pencil-pushing claim deniers and I think we’ll be fine. So long as the laws take an “err on the side of better health rather than cost savings” and you have some adjusters go around and check up on fraudulent “necessary” procedures (which already happens anyway), you should be fine and keep or (likely) improve current quality of care.

    3) “No charge for services” is not the same as “totally free”, and this is the fallacy people fall into here – even without the $ cost, there is a cost in the form of having to take time out of your day to go to the doctor. While there will be some people who go to the doctor at the first sign of a runny nose, those will be by far the minority.
    However, people will be more likely to go to the doctor when they’re genuinely not feeling well, and that will be a GOOD thing! Nearly half the people I know don’t go to the doctor when they should – they either don’t have insurance, or can’t afford to be paying $50-100 co-pay charges. Even when they think they have the flu, might or might not have broken a bone, have daily migraines, etc. Their refusal to go to the doctor saves them money in the short run, but loses money in the long run due to decreased work performance (their employer loses), or due to getting sicker and missing work.
    Add onto this all the different varieties of degenerative diseases that are cheap to treat if caught in the early stages, but expensive if allowed to progress to later stages (diabetes, etc.), or ones that treatment is only/more effective if caught early (cancer), and you end up with it actually being cheaper overall to have people come in more often, and for problems that “aren’t that bad”. The extra expenses in doctor visits will be far outweighed by cutting down expensive procedures to treat conditions that could have been prevented.
    As far as the wait times becoming too long to see someone, I’ve had to wait up to 4 months before to see even the more generalized “specialists” that I’ve been referred to. This is pretty much in line with all the “long wait times” I hear as reasons socialized healthcare is worse – so their “worse” wait times are really no worse than ours, in my experience.

  • StRevAlex says:

    I’m extremely glad he’s in the Senate. Beyond the fact that I’ve always been very fond of his comedy and his books, he’s turning out to be a real muckraker. Virtually anyone would be better than Norm Coleman, but Franken – you’re my boy!

  • Anonymous says:

    I’d like to point that Franken didn’t dismiss cancer survival rates. He dismissed one, possibly flawed, study that cherry picked cancer survival rates. It’s a subtle, but important difference.

  • demidan says:

    Go Al! Your good enough your smart enough and gosh darn it people like you!

  • Anonymous says:

    The reportage on medically related bankruptcy in the us has until this point concatenated the causes of medical bills and loss of income due to time off work. What Franken means when he says “zero” is specifically medical bankruptcy due to medical bills only. Great theatre, but then that’s his job, isn’t it.

  • AirPillo says:

    This is not an issue on which we want to side with the big hitters of the Republican party, especially not those of us with conservative values. The one group of people screwed the most by those politicians are conservatives.

    Mainstream contemporary Republican values and preferences fly in the face of classic conservatism, unfortunately. Personal accountability, equality as a method to give everyone an equal chance to make their own success, encouraging competition as a means to foster proper self-balancing markets… all those things that made conservatism worthwhile and productive are now inconvenient and spoken out against.

    Their preferences instead are just diverting all the efforts we make to give to the poor or those who need government help, and give that privilege and clout to the rich instead. It’s a corrupt socialist government plan with a veneer of conservative pretenses.

    I’d gladly support a conservative politician who actually was conservative instead of being a corporate employee in a government seat. I’d gladly support a conservative option instead of a welfare package for those who need it the least.

    These things flown as “conservatism” never are. At best, someone cooks up an idea to fatten 1% of the population in a way which also allows the middle class to suckle at the scumlike residual edges of it for some sort of profit. People see that chance to benefit and see it as pro business and pro individual and completely disregard the true intent.

    This is all far more Ayn Rand than Ronald Reagan. It’s childish bullshit that’s a textbook example of the tragedy of the commons.

    Take a good, hard look at the things which made the Soviet Union’s government miserable and rotten and make the honest attempt to see parallels in our own. The two grow closer every day. It’s full of schemes to benefit a ruling elite with every action, while putting a face on it that makes it look like the morally correct and traditionally proper thing to do.

    What exactly does it matter whether government actions are for the benefit of a Stalin, a Caesar, or a Madoff? They all suck, and they both are not what’s best for you.

    If you want an America that’s just a cheap Michael Bay re-do of Caesar’s Rome or the USSR, then do go ahead and stonewall these kinds of reform. If you want one that isn’t going to be harder for your kids to live in than it already is for you, then start asking harder questions and making tougher demands to people you think you agree with.

  • jk says:

    Billy_ran_away, your preparedness to go into debt is inspiring. You are a true hero. Unfortunately you do not know wtf you are talking about when it comes to healthcare in other countries. The US ranks 37 in the world for quality of healthcare for a reason. I live in Australia, where we have a healthcare system that doesn’t send people into debt when they have a medical need. Here we *are* naive enough to believe that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. And yes, we do pay for it. One of the myriad of services for which we pay taxes. To the government. They build hospitals. And pay doctors, and nurses, and all manner of health professionals on our behalf. And so far, everything seems to be working fine. The communists have not taken over here yet. The socialists haven’t brainwashed the kiddies into giving up their Happy Meals. And the government here hasn’t spent trillions of dollars fighting wars nobody wants. Maybe it’s to do with a different set of priorities.

  • Anonymous says:

    Well one can just pay for healthcare until one cannot. If I am not liquid enough, I don’t deserve to live. In the US there is no actual healthcare accountability, in the sense of a budget; only medical companies and the insurance groups as individual corporations, with their own budgets.
    In other words there is no upper limit to how much the US system will charge its citizens because it is all for profit.

  • gparker32 says:

    Interesting video. As a supporter of healt-care reform (though not the kind being talked about in congress, I’d support malpractice tort reform instead), I’d say Franken came off as a jerk here. To compare where we (Congress) are going to where France is now is apples and oranges, unless Congress is debating single-payer. And then he casually dismisses cancer survival rates as a small part of our health system, despite cancer being the second leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease, according to the CDC website. The clip really only shows Franken talking, so I can’t comment on the lady’s previous comments that the proposed system will increase bankruptcies (though it very well might, as private insurance will become more expensive, if insurance companies can’t underwrite, yet there’s a very weak mandate to purchase).

    • Anonymous says:

      No offense, but you didn’t pay attention to what AL said. He didn’t dismiss cancer, but said the stated cancer study showing US survival rate higher then in places like France was flawed. It was flawed because the corporate sponcered study cherry picked more easily survirable cancers in the US to pad the results. Further, he was pointing out to the lady that Cancer wasn’t the issue at hand. They were there to talk about medical bankruptcies.

      Further, the most states already have malpractice caps. In places like Michigan it is almost impossible to sue for medical malpractice. You have fallen victim to corporate marketing.

    • Brainspore says:

      The reason Franken didn’t want to get sidetracked into the cancer rate discussion is that this was a hearing specifically related to medical bankruptcies. His dismissal was completely justified in that context.

  • Brandon West says:

    Ass-kicking to some, rude comparison of disparate systems alongside a citation-free refutation of a study to others. I like the guy but I’m not seeing anyone’s ass get kicked.

    • StRevAlex says:

      Oh, but didn’t you see; it’s not just one ass, it’s “eleventy-million kinds” of ass…*sarcastic eyeroll*.

      It’s still a good clip, but Cory has a tendency towards hyperbole, as we all know.

  • Derk says:

    Sam you have wrongly quoted the Tax rates from the Wiki article, you quoted the highest rate instead of the starting rate.And Wiki is wrong on some of those figures

    So it should be:
    Tax Rates:
    Swiss:
    In general, Swiss income tax rates are progressive. Very often different rates apply for married and single taxpayers, as the income of husband and wife is aggregated and taxed together. The maximum federal income tax rate is 11.5%. A taxable income of CHF 100’000 is taxed at about 4% (singles) and 3% (married). The rates for CHF 200’000 are 8% and 7.5% respectively. But there are different taxes for property and other things. It is a different system and comparisons are not easily made

    German: 15% to a maximum of 45% Note the Starting rate is 15%!!

    French: starting rate is 5.5% with steps up to 14%, 30% and 40% Maximum

    United States: 25-28% (average) 35% for rich people

    The truth is out there, just look.

  • straponego says:

    That was some good sarcasm. He reminded me of Peter Falk in Princess Bride: “Yes, yes, you’re very smart. Shut up.” But nicer.

    gparker32: he did not dismiss cancer survival rates. He noted that the study she referred to used different and more survivable cancers than the ones in other countries.

    Franken has quickly become my favorite Senator. The way he hanged the pro-gang-rape attorney for KBR the other day with the attorney’s own words was priceless.

  • drpetey says:

    Nice discussion. I think taking care of people is laudable and required for a well-functioning society. However, my concern is that I don’t trust the elected folks to do what’s in the nation’s best interest. Politicians are neither trustworthy nor altruistic. The USA is a nation where laws are passed to serve the special-interest groups while ignoring the majority of the populace. Could it be because the “majority” don’t vote? Legislation in this country is often passed as a reaction to the most politically correct squeaky wheel. I cannot trust this government, or any other for that matter, to do what is right and necessary. No matter where you live you get the government that you deserve. Ours is a mess and I want it to be known that this government does not speak for me.

    One other point. Comparing the USA with every other country in the world doesn’t make sense to me. As far as I know, there is no other country in the world that is as heterogeneous as the US of A. That’s a great thing! But, it can be a big problem when you have such divergent viewpoints. So be it!

    • octopod says:

      >As far as I know, there is no other country in the world that is as heterogeneous as the US of A. That’s a great thing! But, it can be a big problem when you have such divergent viewpoints. So be it!

      india for sure.

  • SmorgasOfBorg says:

    The high point of the video was near the very end, as it became obvious from the slow tilting of the woman’s head to one side that Franken had successfully melted her brain and her head was about to fall off.

  • readbot42 says:

    See, this is a good example why I’ve always had a soft spot for the Democratic Party; at least, for the most part they seem to be the only check on runaway-think-tank driven predatory corporations – as imperfect and of course hypocritical as they often can be… I just wish they’d address the 800 lb primate in the room personified by the 36,000+ lobbyists that are the conduit of legalized corporate bribes. Oh, I could go on a rant here, but hey… oh, and love Al. :-)

  • 2k says:

    I believe it goes like this.
    1. Franken doesn’t accurately represent all the facts associated with every statement he posits.
    2. Franken doesn’t represent every single known fact that might be interpreted to in some way bring into question the light in which he is choosing to interpret the stated facts because if he were to legitimately question those interpretations he might at some point choose to re-word his characterisation to more accurately represent a more realistic course of events.
    3. Franken is a liar.
    4. Franken is evil and is trying to sucker the American people into the homicide of it’s elderly at the expense of the freedom of it’s people to determine their own destiny.
    5. Profit.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you Al for kicking some serious arse.

  • W. James Au says:

    Haha, that shill’s deer-in-headlights look at the end is frigging priceless. This video totally needs a Keyboard Cat to play her ass off.

  • ssgchester says:

    So there are those who are crying that they will have to help pay for their neighbor?
    Do they understand that their neighbor with their taxes have also help pay for THEIR treatments in the past?
    I’ve met a person who had a bankruptcy due to medical bills that piled up due to his wife’s treatments. Sadly, the women didn’t make it.
    Medical bankruptcy is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the US.
    I’m for the national health care plan.
    I’m FOR a public OPTION.
    Why?
    I use to sell life and health insurance.
    I suggest those who are against any national health care go sell life and health for a year.
    The first thing you’ll learn is that when a person who is tired of their employer’s sponsored health insurance calls up for a quote and they get that quote, they thank you and hang up.
    Why?
    Simple.
    When they find out just how much a personal health insurance policy is, then what they get from their employer, well, it isn’t that bad then.
    If you don’t believe me, then do this:
    Monday call up an insurance company or two and get a quote on a personal health care policy.
    Make sure you are sitting down when you get the quote.

  • Padraig says:

    Jesus, they’re at it again – the idiots who think the US health care system is worth the money paid and the heartache involved.

    The US health care system is a laughing stock – both within and outside of the USA.

    There are NO countries that look at it as source of interest for change, improvement or modification.

    Having worked in the health system here (NSW, Australia) there was never an instance of anyone raising the US system as a point of discussion other than of odious comparison and a ‘Thank God we don’t do that!’

    There is NO evidence whatsover that the US system works or is of a benefit to the WHOLE US population. It merely helps some.

    In Australia the biggest concern in general is that the Aboriginal population is not adequately assisted – there is no discussion about private organisations helping out other than peripherally. Health insurance covers everyone and so it should. The US is the ONLY first world country with second world health care. Unless you have universal health care you are not serious about caring for the population.

    Seriously, give it a rest and find something else to be a pillock about.

    Can I just make another point. If you pay someone a tip, you are being taxed. Why is this not included in your tax calculations? People talk about the food being cheap and then tell me about the OBLIGATORY tax – a tip. FFS. If you pay people proper wage, they won’t need to tax you directly.

  • holtt says:

    That was mediocre ass kicking.

    This is masterful ass kicking…

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-june-9-2004/finding-memo

    Gets good about 2:20.

    Ever since I saw that, I’ve been a huge Biden fan

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