National Review: supreme court "pretended" mandate was constitutional

As a Brit in the US, I landed on a left-leaning limb of the tree. This is not unusual—our conservatives are often more liberal than your liberals, after all. That said, I often found myself enjoying conservative writing on this side of the pond. Especially The National Review.

NR offered a pleasing critical distance, a political culture suffused with observational subtleties and literary aspirations. Reactionary waves broke often over the sandcastles of reason, but this only enhanced its charm, at least for this foreigner.

By the time of Obama's election, however, the charm had worn off. As political failure sank in, sententious contempt oozed out. When Christopher Buckley endorsed the Democrat and was canned for apostasy, an editor there called him "cretinous". (Added Buckley: "I retain the fondest feelings for the magazine that my father founded, but I will admit to a certain sadness that an act of publishing a reasoned argument for the opposition should result in acrimony and disavowal.")

It only got worse. At one point, editor Rich Lowry wrote a shamelessly infantile mash note for Sarah Palin, a posting whose power to amuse will only grow as the seasons pass. By the time one contributor's racist screeds forced it to fire him, the Review's post announcing his departure was notable mostly for its regretful tone, clouded further by his colleagues' unendurable handwringing over it.

Still, I'd often find myself back there for one reason or another (i.e. Jonah Goldberg). Every time, I'd putter around only to chance across something hot, and want to leap on it and write this very post: "This is why I had to stop reading these scoundrels!" But the urge would always pass, because it hardly matters.

Today, however, a single word finally gets it out of me. In the wake of today's Supreme Court ruling upholding The Affordable Care Act's insurance mandates, The Review offered a collective editorial that began like so:

The Court, by a 5–4 margin, refused to join all the august legal experts who insisted that of course it granted that authorization, that only yahoos and Republican partisans could possibly doubt it. It then pretended that this requirement is constitutional anyway, because it is merely an application of the taxing authority. Rarely has the maxim that the power to tax is the power to destroy been so apt, a portion of liberty being the direct object in this case.

Now, leave aside the magical thinking here, as if it were enough to stock a sentence with certain words for it to attain salience. Instead, let me just repeat the key phrase in it, to make it clear.

The supreme court pretended that the requirement is constitutional.

They pretended.

This is American conservatism's immune system going into anaphylactic shock. Fun to watch, while it lasts!


      1. Innit the Fox News party these days?

        Might as well be… they seemed incapable of sufficiently distancing themselves from the almighty Limbaugh’s truly demented ranting earlier this year.

        To anyone who can understand the phrase, they’re intellectually bankrupt.

        Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be a large enough proportion of folks to be the death of these scumbags…

  1. ” This is American conservatism’s immune system going into anaphylactic shock. Fun to watch, while it lasts!”

    Yes, but also, there is something much deeper.  To the tribalistic, fearful ones, there must always be an “other”.  An “other” that directs all that fear and uncertainty.  Already I’ve read threats of assassination and armed, “America, Fuck Yeah” revolution on Fox Nation , many web posts indicating we’ve just declared single payer constitutional thus we are communist (single payer not remotely close to the ACA). 

    While I do love and “get”  your post, the power of fear, ignorance and downright stupidity scares the crap out of me and I worry these uninformed folks quite a bit..   They’re losing their shit today.

    1. as you say, they will always be there.  we just all hope they move MUCH further to the left. 

  2.  Still better than the Republican senator from Kentucky, who dropped the following bombshell while speaking on the issue –

     “Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so.”

    Uh, Y’know dude, I think that’s actually pretty much what it means. In fact, exactly what it means.

    No seriously America, Stop electing these people. I don’t mean republicans, I mean idiots. Seriously, if you don’t know how the government works at a basic level, then you shouldn’t be part of the bloody government, let alone a senator.

    1. That is actually a common and worrying attitude. There is a whole mess of “oath-keepers” who swear to uphold “the Constitution” no matter what “the government” (eg the Court) says about it. What that amounts to is the belief that the military can interpret the Constitution and supersede the Court’s view–a dangerous belief, indeed.

      1. There are, however, cases where the Supreme Court has gotten it wrong (Citizens United, anyone?), and the founding fathers did intend the second amendment to be the final check and balance – if a government completely ran amok, the people would have the tools to take it down.

        But, assassination is a rather extreme measure, especially when the constitutional interpretation on this particular case is one that can be worked around by having Congress and the President approve a law shooting down the PPACA, if the people hate it that much. (Honestly, I don’t like PPACA, but it’s slightly better than what it replaced, and banning it on constitutional grounds likely would have banned single payer as well, which is where we need to go.)

        Citizens United would be a far better one to assassinate on (I’m not saying to do it), because it’s far, FAR harder to reverse without creating a new constitutional amendment, or replacing part the Supreme Court.

        1. i hate the effect of citizens united.  but i don’t think they got it wrong.  they were just ruling on a case brought before them based on upholding the constitution and current precedents.  It is up to the rest of the legislative branch to place sane limits on campaign contributions (or, none at all, other than public funds). 
          then again, i’m not a lawyer.  have links to any sane arguments as to why the decision was wrong?

          1. It is up to the rest of the legislative branch to place sane limits on campaign contributions (or, none at all, other than public funds). 

            Those sane limits will be struck down.

          2.  Well first of all, they weren’t “ruling on a case brought before them.” Roberts expanded the scope of the question under review far beyond what the issues ruled upon by the lower courts in a manner unprecedented in SCOTUS history. Also, based on the sweeping scope of Citizens United, I don’t think there are any limits (sane or otherwise) which the Roberts majority would uphold in the context of campaign spending.  It is now perfectly legal for the wealthy to outright purchase politicians by offering to fund their entire campaigns with the expectation that the politicians will support whatever policies the wealthy desire. Citizens United effectively legalized political bribery.

      2. “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!” – Andrew Jackson

      1. Unfortunately, yes. At the time. Because what is constitutional and what is not is, by law, decided by SCOTUS and no other entity. It was WRONG, but, legally, it was constitutional. 

        Another case where constitutional amendments were required, notably Amendments #13, 14 and 15, in order to set the country on its proper course.  

        1. so the dissenters were just wrong?

          “Nor, these justices argued, was there any Constitutional basis for the claim that blacks could not be citizens. At the time of the ratification of the Constitution, black men could vote in five of the thirteen states. This made them citizens not only of their states but of the United States.[19] Therefore, Justice McLean concluded that the argument that Scott was not a citizen was “more a matter of taste than of law.” (wikipedia)

          They should not have said Taney had no constitutional basis for his decision, because when the court makes a decision, its automatically ‘constitutional’

        2. If you’re a republican, the politically correct interpretation is that Taney was an “activist” judge.

          1.  Except that modern republicans WOULDN’T consider him an activist but rather a strict constructionist! I imagine Trent Lott, if you caught him in an unguarded moment, would have said that if Taney’s beliefs had remained in force, “we wouldn’t have all these problems we have today.”

      2.  Yes.

        A very bad one.

        Quite possibly the WORST one.

        But, by definition, constitutional.

        Related: I remember — maybe during the ’08 season, maybe ’10, it may even have been Rand Paul too — a politician referring to Prohibition as “unconstitutional”.

        Regardless of your feelings on Prohibition (and I must say, I’m agin it), it really doesn’t get any more constitutional than an Amendment to the US Constitution.

        And that’s the problem here — this notion that anything you (not you specifically, but a hypothetical “you”) personally disagree with is a violation of the Constitution.

        It’s the political equivalent of That’s Not My Batman.  It’s an angry nerd saying something he doesn’t like doesn’t count.

        I think Citizens United is a terrible decision.  But I have to accept that, for the time being at least, it is part of the constitutional canon, for good or ill.  I can say it’s contrary to what I believe was the INTENT of the US Constitution as originally written (but then, so was freeing the slaves and giving women the vote), but as of now, this moment in American history, it’s as constitutional as it gets.

        1. Say a court judge gets $1million to switch his vote and nobody finds out for 100 years.  Constitutional?

          How can any precedent be overturned? All judges who are trying to figure out if a decision should be made in accordance with the constitution, if they have to take all precedents as already ‘constitutional’ on the face of them, have no decisions to make about whether to follow precedent. They must!

          Anyway, I think its reasonable for people to have a view of what passes constitutional muster that is independent of whether the Court has ruled or not in their favor. The congress and president are all constitutional officers and should be making those calls when they are doing their jobs of considering legislation or not. 

          I think many people can (and more people should) make a distinction between something one ‘personally disagrees with” and something that they consider, on the merits, does not pass “constitutionality’  The dissenters put forward their reasons for dissent, and its not just personal preference (they may not even like the policy) but a consideration of other matters. 

          1. Say a court judge gets $1million to switch his vote and nobody finds out for 100 years.  Constitutional?

            I don’t see why we need to make up hypothetical situations about judges being bribed when they already wear their biases and affiliations on their sleeves.

            How can any precedent be overturned? All judges who are trying to figure out if a decision should be made in accordance with the constitution, if they have to take all precedents as already ‘constitutional’ on the face of them, have no decisions to make about whether to follow precedent. They must!

            It’s rare for precedent to be overturned either by the courts or by Congress (through amendment), but it happens.  I would argue that it SHOULD be rare.

            Anyway, I think its reasonable for people to have a view of what passes constitutional muster that is independent of whether the Court has ruled or not in their favor.

            I guess it’s down to semantics.  You can disagree with the court but it’s the final arbiter of what is and isn’t constitutional; you aren’t.

            I mean, we can dispute Marbury v Madison if we really want to, but are we prepared to argue against the last 209 years of case law?

      3. Dred Scott V. Sandford?

        It was, yes.

        Morally abhorrent, most certainly, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t constitutional. As much as I wish I could say it wasn’t, that’s simply how it works, an undeniable legal reality.

        Thankfully, while it’s never been explicitly overruled, a number of constitutional amendments prevent it from being constitutional any longer.

        And y’know what? That’s what is important, in my eyes. No governmental system is perfect, and thinking so is crass idiocy – what is important is not that they never make a mistake, but that they correct those errors.

        1. The impression I got from reading Dred Scott was that Taney mucked about with all of the political compromises that staved off war.

          1.  No.  Taney was a southern sympathizer to the core, and wanted to put the stake in abolitionism.  His decision was probably a major factor in moving Northern opinion in favor of conflict to rid the nation of slavery.  Before Dred Scott, there was always the fiction that slavery only existed in the South.  After Dred Scott, Northerners could be prosecute for interfering with slavers seizing blacks in the north as alleged escaped slaves.

    2. To be fair RP did say that the decision is legitimate and enforceable. In any Supreme Court decision there are some who agree and some who disagree, and the opposing justices in this case could be characterized as saying that they found the ACA to be unconstitutional. That RP or any other citizen think the ACA is wrongly decided as well simply means they agree with the dissenters. 

      That said there is an interesting thing that the court does that ordinary people do not; once a decision is made, it becomes stare decisis. It is, in effect, settled law for all judges, dissenting or not. And that’s why it’s best to use terms like “wrongly decided” rather than “unconstitutional” because it respects stare decisis while suggesting that there can still be reasonable disagreement.

      1. the opposing justices in this case could be characterized as saying that they found the ACA to be unconstitutional.

        I’m not so sure you can use the word “found” — doesn’t it have a specific legal meaning that does not hold as a reference to a minority opinion?

      2. From Justice Robert’s concurrence in the Citizens United case:

        “If adherence to a precedent actually impedes the stable and orderly adjudication of future cases, its stare decisis effect is also diminished. This can happen in a number of circumstances, such as when the precedent’s validity is so hotly contested that it cannot reliably function as a basis for decision in future cases, when its rationale threatens to upend our settled jurisprudence in related areas of law, and when the precedent’s underlying reasoning has become so discredited that the Court cannot keep the precedent alive without jury-rigging new and different justifications to shore up the original mistake.”

      3. As much as I see your point, there is only so much one can forgive, here.

        If it weren’t for the fact he was making a negative statement, rather than a positive one, He’d simply be describing exactly what the Supreme Court does.

        And considering Rand’s statements in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised if A)He genuinely believed exactly what he has said, and B)Doesn’t actually know how the US government works.

        He is, by all appearances, not a clever lad.

  3. I’m not American, not right up on my Supreme Court details, so correct me if I’m wrong: deciding if stuff is constitutional is the /job/ of the Supreme Court, right?

    1. It is until you disagree with the decision, then they are overstepping bounds to “legislate from the bench” or what have you.

      1. Many here challenged the legitimacy of the Citizens United decision just as others now do about Obamacare.

        Goose, gander, sauce.

        1. The issue is that while Supreme Court decisions are sometimes presented as some sort of scientific conclusion obviously determined by the Constitution (as if the Founding Fathers were Hari Seldon and could predict what would be the best solution centuries on and encode it in their document for ruling a primitive 18th century agricultural nation), at the end of the day, they are just the opinions  (albiet legally binding) of a group of people chosen by Presidents to serve on the Court because they share (or are thought to share) their political views. Sometimes they surprise us (pleasantly or not).

        2. Citizen’s United broke with a couple centuries worth of precedence.  The health care ruling upheld a couple centuries worth of precedence.  False equivalence blows.  

          1.  The word you’re looking for is “precedent”.

            I think CU was a terrible decision but I’m not sure what “couple centuries’ worth of precedent” it broke.  Corporate personhood, rightly or wrongly, goes back to the middle of the 19th century.

            (Wrongly, I would certainly argue, as the original comments in its favor were erroneously entered into the record by a transcriber who had a personal stake.  But that’s a whole other discussion.)

          2. Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, or at least the part evocating corporate “personhood” out of the whole cloth, wasn’t wasn’t so much decided by the Supreme Court, as it was decided by a court clerk…

        3. As noted by others, this is a false equivalency.

          Nonetheless, not one of the opponents of CU has proposed armed insurrection as a solution.

          Instead, there is a movement to amend the constitution. 

          The CU decision was clearly wrong and thoroughly twisted several hundred years of precedent. Corporations are not persons. Corporations do not have birth certificates and they cannot be put in prison for breaking the law. Dollars are not speech, they are dollars. 

          Nonetheless, CU is currently the law of the land. SCOTUS is fallible. SCOTUS makes wrong decisions. 

          But the answer to a SCOTUS fail is not insurrection. The Constitution has a remedy: it’s called the Amendment process. 

    2.  Yes, but there are nine judges on the court, and it’s very rare that decisions are 9-0.  They’re typically 5-4 or 6-3, and there are currently five judges that Americans consider to be conservative, four that we call liberal (Europeans would probably call them “not quite as rabidly right-wing”) and most of the partisan kinds of decisions follow the couple of people in the middle.    (And the Republican Party has been very aggressive about trying to appoint conservative judges when they’re in power, preferably young ones because the Supreme Court members serve for life.  The current chief judge is a recent Bush appointee, and while he’s not a right-winger, he strongly believes that the President and Executive Branch should almost always be allowed to do anything they want.) 

      And just because their opinions are Official, that doesn’t mean they’re always correct, or even vaguely close to correct.  (Also, they usually try to decide whether an issue is constitutionally permissible, as opposed to whether it’s a good idea or not, which they view as Congress’s job.)  Traditionally the right wing in the US complains bitterly if the courts do anything that increases individual civil liberties, and applaud loudly if it upholds the power of Republican presidents. 

      1.  In particular, Antonin Scalia has dropped his former pretense that he’s smarter than everyone else on the court and uses oral arguments to parrot right-wing radio/TV talking points, while Clarence Thomas–the same one who squeaked through Senate approval after being accused of sexual harassment–has long since given up on participating in oral arguments at all.

        1.  I sure gotta hand it to Scalia on Brown v EMA, though.  I hate the guy but he was pretty amazing on that one.

      2. he’s not a right-winger 

        I think in most of American history a judge as conservative as Chief Justice Roberts would very much be considered a right winger.  That’s he’s not quite John Birch Society material doesn’t change that. 

        After all, the man’s served on the steering committee of the DC chapter of the Federalist Society.

      3. Very rare? Perhaps the court has changed markedly from the Rehnquist era, but unanimous decisions have historically been fairly common

        In recent decades, the court has strived to limit its workload– most of the legal questions should be disposed of at the appellate level, by the application of well designed legal rules. If two of more circuits disagree about the proper application of these rules, the Supreme Court may choose to step in and rewrite those rules to more effectively disambiguate the law. In other words, the Supreme Court works well when it doesn’t have to hear cases. When the court is unanimous, it believes that what it has written resolves all of the outstanding legal questions, and won’t have to hear a similar case in the future. When the court is split, it either has philosophical differences, or is unsure of the universal applicability of the law.

        Think of the court as a body of judges who would like to be lazy.

    3. Yes.  For example, they decided that the Federal government clearly has the power to ban a person’s personal cultivation and use of a doctor-prescribed plant because, hey, that’s a legitimate regulation of interstate commerce.

      1. Yes, but in that decision (Gonzales v. Reich), it was the court’s liberals + Scalia who held that the Federal government could regulate marijuana. Thomas and the other conservatives dissented.

    4. Mr. Chief Justice Marshall asserted that to be so, and it has grown into an accepted tradition. However, the question remains open, as a result of this portion of Article III, Section 2, Clause 2: “with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”

      There are those among all political philosophies who believe that Mr. Chief Justice Marshall stretched the Constitution with his assertion, and that Congress reining the Court back in is long overdue.

    5. Sort of. 

      The Supreme Court’s main job is supposed to be acting as the ultimate court of appeals for matters of federal law. In other words, it’s supposed to ride herd over the lower federal courts and verify that they’re making decisions correctly. And every so often there’ll be a case that can’t be handled by a lower court, and they handle that directly. 

      What’s going on here is that the court is being asked to strike down a piece of legislation passed by Congress. That power is called judicial review, and it’s not a power explicitly granted in the US Constitution. The court gave itself that power in 1803, in the case Marbury v Madison

      That’s why it’s funny seeing all these people claiming to care about limited Constitutional powers, asking the Supreme Court to strike down a law by exercising a power that isn’t among the limited Constitutional powers. 

  4. It’s not that the National Review thinks that everyone’s stupid. They just think no-one can possibly be as smart as they are. Therefore, it is impossible for the judicial majority to have sincerely believed the mandate is constitutional. Therefore, they were pretending.

    Man, I just cannot get over how funny that word is.

    1. I can see you’re a decent chap and wish to be as fair as possible to your natural antithetes, so I offer you this.

      Perhaps they’re being more erudite than you’re giving ’em credit for.  Maybe they’re using the word ‘pretend’ in a more technical sense, as in pre-tend. Some sort of ‘before’ ‘holding’ deal? Dunno. Just a thought.

    2.  I don’t see it as necessarily pretending to be smarter than everyone else (that was WFB’s perennial schtick, an essential gloss over his racism), it’s a smug, fatuous laziness that is Jonah Goldberg’s stock in trade (you’ll recall that he got his start courtesy of his mom, Lucianne, who engineered the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal) and has been adopted by just about everyone else who writes there. They’ll just throw this shit out there and don’t care about making even the slimmest case for it because there’s something else to babble about tomorrow.

    3. To be fair as possible to NR, they appear to be using “the Court” as a synonym for “Chief Justice Roberts:” Roberts sided with the Court’s radical right wing (plus Kennedy) on every matter of substance, but then faked the handoff and threw his “the mandate is valid under the taxing power” argument to the left. In that sense, it’s probably fair to accuse Roberts of playing both sides, agreeing with the federalist arguments while refusing to let them win, lest the Court appear a nakedly political tool of party-line interests.
      Now, one can ask what it says about NR that they want the Court to be a nakedly political tool of party-line interests…

  5. arn’t a majority of the supreme court justices appointed by republican presidents? If so doesn’t that mean that the court is currently right leaning?

    1. Left/right is a little simple. You’ve also got the whole Federal vs State vs Individual – both ‘leftists’ and ‘rightists’ are all over the map on that one depending on which issue it is. They’ll both happily crush you if they think they’ll gain from it.

      SCOTUS has been leaning heavily Federal  (in my opinion), except where it interferes with the rights of Corporations, which are like rilly rilly important Individuals.

      For instance, in the Arizona SB1070 decision, there was almost nothing in there about crap like individual rights. It boiled down to State vs Federal, and Feds trump State because immigration is a diplomatic issue. Feds make immigration policy, you can’t defy it.  The only place they even acknowledged that people were involved was saying we really hope you don’t racial profile when you do the paper checks. *fingerwag*

      1. Does Toobin’s assessment still hold up?

        After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.

        John Roberts and the Supreme Court (2009)

  6. The irony, while Democrats pretends this isn’t a tax hike because raising taxes is bad politics, and while the Republicans pretend this isn’t a tax hike because “mandate” is more authoritarian sounding, the supreme court calls it what it is… and they’re accused of pretending.

      1.  Well, no, if that were true then it wouldn’t have been upheld.

        The 4 “liberal” Justices justified the Healthcare Act on both commerce clause AND taxation grounds, while Roberts only justified it as a tax.  That’s 5 votes declaring it a tax, and a majority opinion.

  7. It’s kind of fun to watch all around:.

    Supremes: “Well, you said this was okay under the commerce clause… it’s not. BUT! We think we can save you here. It’s a tax. That’s perfectly okay. We kind of foreshadowed this earlier this week – did you catch it? Ahahaha.”

    Obama: “IT IS NOT A TAX. Again, THIS IS NOT A TAX. But anyhow we’re running with the taxation is okay thing.” 

    Republican heads: *KERSPLODE*

    Lookin’ forward to Rush moving to Costa Rica and Bill apologizing for existing.

    It’s also a good day for,2849/ – if there’s ever been a day that confirms that ‘reason’ is for winning arguments instead of finding the truth, this is it.

      1.  And I’m just gonna not click on a link to an URL I don’t recognize with no explanation as to just what I’m clicking on.

          1. it’s a link to “The Authoritarians” by bob Altemeyer.  It is pretty good (I read it a while ago) and scary. 
            Revisit Sinclair Lewis’ “It can’t happen here” and look around for “friendly fascism” and get further depressed.

        1. As IEK said, it’s worth reading (about authoritarianism).  Not the first time the link has been provided in a BB thread.

      2. Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians fucking pwns, yo.

        I nominate it for inclusion in primary school curriculum. Prevent the idiocy before it truly takes hold.

    1. Alpha-nurultha-foxtrot-five authenticate message . . .  transmission garbled . . . syntactically confusing . . .  over

    2. Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up.

      1. There’s people who say a thing like your momma’s beachball is tired, but I don’t cause it goes all night long on a pogo stick, and not to mention goes damn fine with cheese and biscuits.

        Why, many’s the time I’ve turned it up to eleven and every Wednesday I give all those bitches what they’re paying for, so don’t you go changin’.

          1.  Blue, dawg, butt hit images after yell-o — or we  needs to call the plenum plumbers to adjust your livery whites.

  8. I still don’t understand all the oposition to ObamaCare. Do americans want to be sick and without medical benifits unless you are super wealthy?? Is that a good thing?? Cheap healthcare for all seems like a no brainer for any 1st world country, imo.

    1. Too many Americans would rather stick with the horrible status quo  than take action that would allow “the wrong people” get anything from the government that they don’t “deserve”.   

      1. Yeah, we definitely want to keep the wrong people from defrauding the system and ripping off taxpayers. And the penalties should be very strong. In Florida, for instance, the punishment is being elected governor.

        1. Republican insurance executives are part of “the right people”, which makes anything they do OK.  Obviously Scott was diverting money being used inefficiently by the sclerotic government bureaucracy to the dynamic private sector where job creators could make better use of it.  

    2. The law really isn’t about cheap healthcare.  That people think so is an artifact of magical thinking and good sales pitches.  The individual mandate, in particular, is mostly about trying to make healthy young people subsidize insurance for (statistically) old sick people.  For all the President’s talk about “bending the curve” of rising healthcare costs, when the government puts subsidies on a thing, the total cost almost invariably goes up.

      1. when the government puts subsidizes [sic] on a thing, the total cost almost invariably goes up.

        [citation needed]

        1. Wikipedia has a nice, clear article on it.  Note the takeaway: That a subsidy will “increase the price received by the producers”, whether the subsidy goes to the consumers or the producers.

          [I was going to respond simply “Economics 101”, which would be entirely true, but Wikipedia means that you don’t actually have to spend much time to educate yourself on this effect.]

          1. A “nice, clear article” with one citation which (at a fast glance) contains at least one statement that’s probably false:

            Suppose the government required consumers to keep track of their purchases and send a tax payment to the government based on the number of units of taxable goods purchased. If the graph shows quantities demanded and quantities supplied as a function of the price received by producers the supply curve would stay fixed and the demand curve would shift vertically downward by the amount of the tax. This is equivalent to a leftward shift in the in demand resulting in a smaller quantity produced and bought. The price received by the producers would fall as a result of the tax. The price paid by consumers, which is the price received by producers plus the amount of the tax, would rise. It will rise by exactly the same amount as the it would rise if the same tax were collected from the producers rather than the consumers.

            I’d like to see the result of an experiment that shows this to be true. I’d bet a small amount that experiment shows the bolded sentence is wrong and that demand drops faster when the tax is collected from the consumers.

          2.  You do have to explain why universal health care systems in Canada and Europe seem to have better outcomes at lower costs than private healthcare in the US.  It’s not actually hard to do.  But it undermines your argument so you probably won’t “be able” to understand it.

          3. Wikipedia has a nice, clear article on it.

            If you don’t want people to laugh you off the internet, don’t link to Wikipedia articles that have a “lacks citations” box at the top.

            Oops, too late.

    3. Why would some Americans want to keep a health care system that cost twice what the rest of the first world pays but gets worse outcomes? Is it something to do with freedom and apple pie?

      1.  Pretty much.  It’s an abstract “free market” versus “socialism” fracas.  (Where “socialism” means “making everyone give money to private companies”.)

        The Dems really screwed the pooch on branding with this one.

        The Republicans are usually at a natural advantage because their arguments are simple gut-check emotional responses — punish criminals, lower taxes, God is great, leave me alone — while Democrats tend to have more complex and abstract arguments that don’t have that immediate resonance with people.

        Healthcare is an exception.  Healthcare is a case where the Dems have the simple, gut-check argument on their side — “People are dying so fat cats can get richer” — while Republicans have to dither with abstract economic principles.  And yet, the Republicans still won the argument, in terms of public perception.

        This is because Democrats are fucking spineless.

        1. i find it’s that the Dems are more concerned with accuracy and transparency, honest and honor.  The repubs being in the “win at any cost” camp. in general…

          1. I was thinking about this earlier.  Obama’s biggest problem, in some ways, is that unlike all of the major Republican presidential nominees, he’s an actual follower of Jesus’s teachings.  (Calling yourself “Christian” when your value system is “what would Jesus do?  Let’s do the exact opposite” doesn’t count.)  Worshipping Mammon leads to power and prestige, whereas turning the other cheek and caring about your neighbor makes you appear soft and weak.  If you go into politics, you have to be willing to dirty your soul to have enough control to get anything done.  Being right doesn’t matter.  Being kind doesn’t matter.  If you’re not willing to crush your opponent, you will lose to that opponent, who *is* willing to crush you.

            Note: IANAC, and certainly am not arguing for a pro-Christian government.

          2. That doesn’t come close to explaining their total failure to reframe at least this one issue successfully.

            And what about when Rush Limbaugh took a giant steaming dump on decency and sanity in the name of Republican values earlier this year, and all the GOP slime could say about it was they wouldn’t have ‘used quite those words’ to pillory Sandra Fluke…?

            It was a golden opportunity to hammer those pricks until they were a smoking crater in the ground. They would surely have done the same were the tables (apparently, superficially) turned, only with Limbaughesque degrees of decorum, accuracy and justification, given half a chance.

            The Dems had those GOP fucks bang to rights, with their colours nailed to the mast of a sinking ship. But where the hell were they? I should have been able to hear the sustained and brutal arseraping from across the Pacific. But not a bloody peep, AFAIK.

            Sometimes I wonder if so-called ‘left’ major parties are nothing more than a front. They all show up on the right of the political compass anyway…


            As that site says, “This is a US election that defies logic and brings the nation closer towards a one-party state masquerading as a two-party state.”

            As Alex Jones said in Waking Life, you have two management teams bidding for control of Slavery Incorporated.

            Forget the fucking ‘Democrats’. They won’t save you.

            Cry bloody revolution instead. The only way to sort out this mess at this stage of the game is via torches, pitchforks and a few heads on stakes.

          3. But in this case, accuracy, transparency, honesty, and honor JUST HAPPEN to coincide with what’s good politics.  And they blew it ANYWAY.

            (Again, in terms of politics.  In terms of actually passing the thing, yeah, they won.  In the sense that getting the Heritage Foundation’s version of healthcare passed qualifies as “winning”.)

          4. @Kimmoth:disqus , a bit off topic but just after Alex Jones rousing rant in Waking Life was an antidote from old Friend Otto Hofmann:

            The quest is to be liberated from the negative, which is really our own will to nothingness. And once having said yes to the instant, the affirmation is contagious. It bursts into a chain of affirmations that knows no limit. To say yes to one instant is to say yes to all of existence.

    4. Trememdous amounts of money and political rhetoric have gone into making the program seem sinister and troubling. 

      1. “making the program sinister and troubling, ineffective and non-representative”  there i fixed it for you

    5. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s because the people at the top don’t want more of the people at the bottom.

      1. that’s idiotic.  who do you think pays them?  population is NOT shrinking in the US, even with our piss poor health-care “system”

        1. Yeah, it’s a pretty well-established fact that birth rate INCREASES as life expectancy decreases.  I mean, that should be obvious, from an evolutionary standpoint.

          (That said, no, our life expectancy isn’t decreasing, either.)

      2. I think if you do your research on human nature, you’ll find it’s because the kind of pricks who find their way to the top aren’t happy with all the luxuries money can buy; they want life to suck for the plebs.

        Sadly, that’s closer to a scientifically validated fact than most would credit.

    6.  As a Canadian who loves our health care system, let me point out a few things:

      (1) Most Americans are employed and enjoy health insurance better than what you would get in Canada – roughly same outcomes, but shorter wait times, better amenities, etc.
      (2) Because of the high costs, medical technologies are developed in the US first, giving its citizens access to drugs that eventually filter to the rest of the world.
      (3) Unlike in Canada, if you decide you want better health-care, you can chose to pay for better care.
      (4) Unlike Canada, if you *don’t* want health insurance, you don’t have to pay for it.  Universal coverage is only possible by forcing people to buy coverage when they’d rather use the money elsewhere (Forcing the young + healthy to buy insurance is like being forced to buy flood insurance when your miles away from a river just so that the people living close to the river can keep *their* costs down.)

      Now, I personally consider these benefits NOT to be be worth losing universal coverage, but it’s not impossible that reasonable people might feel the benefits of the American system are worth the trade-off.

      1. While most do, one out of six Americans have no health insurance.  The amount of unisured Americans is greater than the population of Canada. 

        In catastrophic situations, the unisured typically find that, no, they can’t afford to pay for it.  For many of  those who are insured, the coverage is incomplete, and they find that the uncovered expenses are enough to bankrupt them.  Medical bankrupcy is common in the US.

        In Canada, if you’re rich enough to pay for it, you can get better health care by leaving the country.  Impossible for most, but just as impossible for many Americans to pay for better care.

        Nobody really wants to pay for healthcare, but sensible adults recognize that they may need it.  The argument that “I’m healthy, I don’t need healthcare” is common but incredibly shortsighted.  Nobody plans to get sick.  Cancer wards are full of young folks saying “before this, I was never sick a day in my life”.   While you might live far away from a flood plan, there is no one in this world who can expect he’ll always be young and never need healthcare. 

        1. The argument that “I’m healthy, I don’t need healthcare” is common but incredibly shortsighted.

          I’d personally agree, but the case is whether you should have the freedom to choose.  For example, I might value saving for a house down-payment or attending a state university over health insurance.

          Again, I *don’t* think you should have that freedom, as I feel society is obligated to pick up the tab anyway, but I can accept that reasonable people may feel differently.

          1. the problem is that reasonable (and informed) people CAN’T feel differently.  single payer healthcare is cheaper and more effective than what we have.  full stop. 

          2. It’s not really a choice, because they know that even though they’re freeloading, if push came to shove they or their dependents can go to the ER, or throw themselves on the mercy of the medical system and likely get some lifesaving measures.   I would rather have had the money for a new computer than the money that went to the Iraq war or to pay for Iraqui infrastructure, but I was never given that freedom.  We don’t live in an ala carte society, and one surety is that the vast majority of us will need access to heathcare during our lives. 

            Yes OoreictoO, single payer would be much better, if you can get that through congress I will wash your car and buy you a pony.

          3. OoerictoO: the problem is that reasonable (and informed) people CAN’T feel differently.  single payer healthcare is cheaper and more effective than what we have.  full stop.

            Yes, of *course* single payer healthcare is more efficient, but that is not the only criteria a lot of people use to measure the system.  Having single payer clothing would also be a lot more efficient (and would be fine with me), but most people feel the loss of freedom to pay more or less for different clothing is not worth the extra efficiency.

            I HATE the attitude that anyone who disagrees with me is stupid, evil, or both.  It essentially declares that a huge swathe (even majority) of people are unfit to rule themselves, either because they’re too ignorant, or too malignant.

            The idea that the majority of Americans value their economic freedom higher than they value covering their fellow Americans does not make them unreasonable (and by implication, unworthy of franchise), even though I find the attitude at strong variance from my own.  If there’s only one reasonable course of action, why bother with democracy?

          4. I HATE the attitude that anyone who disagrees with me is stupid, evil, or both. It essentially declares that a huge swathe (even majority) of people are unfit to rule themselves, either because they’re too ignorant, or too malignant.

            Just because you hate it, doesn’t make it false.

        1. Disagree with which parts?  That every choice, including universal coverage, involves trade-offs?

      2. Yes, I know that you’re generally right about #1: for those of us with health care, it is an easier/quicker process here.
        However, I’d argue that #1 is more about funding issues than anything else.
        What is your third point about?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but Canada doesn’t PROHIBIT private practice with your own money, does it?
        And last–your fourth point is just a distraction.  I agree with Snig here, and I’ll also tear apart your flood insurance argument.  If everyone were forced to have flood insurance, not everyone would pay the same rate because of different risks.  A house high on the hill would be like your young and healthy person: there is a very small risk that the basement/cellar would flood, but being high and dry means they’re generally very low risk.  If the insurance mandate set a rate for the uninsured, I bet you’d have competition for low risk market share at a discount to that for healthy people who we’d agree to be generally low risk.

        1.  but Canada doesn’t PROHIBIT private practice with your own money, does it?

          Essentially so (you can’t be “partially in”, so it’s like private schools – you pay the *entire* cost, not just what isn’t covered. – thus there’s essentially no meaningful private system).  It’s a point of contention, but it prevents a parallel system from eroding our current system with the death of a thousand minor cuts.

          However, it does mean that USA provides a needed safety net for Canadians who can afford better coverage and would use their influence to establish a second tier within our borders.

          As for mandates, the *whole point* is for young, healthy people to pay more to subsidize the older, sicker people.  This is how it won’t break the government bank.  The flood insurance analogy is apt.  If you want to give people who live in the flood plain insurance, even if they can’t afford it, you *must* make somebody else pay for it.  Hence me up on the hill is buying not-especially-cheap flood insurance.  I have no problem with this as a cost of universal coverage – BUT THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH.

          In Canada, because it’s tax based, it’s the wealthy, not the healthy that do the subsidization.  I’m decently paid, so my family probably pays 2-3 times what the province spends on us in health-care. 

          For somebody in the gainfully employed middle-class, the Canadian system is actually a net loss on a personal level.  However, I (and most Canadians) think it’s a net benefit on the society level.

          (Sorry, it’s my hobby horse – I want people who support what I support to know exactly what the costs are for their choice.)

      3. (1) just plain wrong.  Canadians are MUCH healthier overall than americans
        (2) this is no longer true, most medical technologies and techniques come out of europe (read: socialized insurance), SOME pharm being the exception
        (4) there are some countries you can live in where you don’t have to pay for roads or clean water if you don’t want them.  no one thinks this is a good idea in modern society.

        1.  just plain wrong.  Canadians are MUCH healthier overall than americans

          Actually, if you compare health-care outcomes in cross-border studies, the advantage is slightly to the Americans.  On the other hand, they pay literally twice as much, so I don’t think they’re necessarily getting better value for their money.

          this is no longer true, most medical technologies and techniques come out of europe (read: socialized insurance), SOME pharm being the exception

          The idea of waiting for an MRI is almost unknown to most Americans who have decent health insurance (which is the majority).  You can wait a long time in Canada, if it’s non-urgent (but still quality of life harming).  We also save money by not using expensive technology (that produces lightly better outcomes).

          Canada saves money by not having MRIs on every corner.  Do you think Canadians waved a magic wand?  You want to save money, you make trade-offs.  Personally, I think the trade-offs are worth it. 

          I’d rather have a Corolla health-care system for all than a Lexus health-care system for the majority, but don’t pretend that there’s no difference between a Corolla and a Lexus.

          there are some countries you can live in where you don’t have to pay for roads or clean water if you don’t want them.  no one thinks this is a good idea in modern society.

          I’d agree.  But, I don’t a majority of Americans are stupid or evil for disagreeing with me (at least on healthcare).  The American culture is much more about each person pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.  Seems odd to me, but I’m not going to criticize how Americans choose to rule themselves – merely try to point out the advantages (and costs) of my own preferred policies.

          1. Actually, if you compare health-care outcomes in cross-border studies

            That statement might be credible if there were a citation attached to it.

          2. Me: Actually, if you compare health-care outcomes in cross-border studies

            Aninous: That statement might be credible if there were a citation attached to it.

            First, let me clarify – I am talking about health-care outcomes based on medical care received.  I don’t dispute that American health measures are generally lower, but that’s pretty much due to other social factors. and not the medical care that Americans receive (when they receive it).

            I will still claim that Americans do get something for their extra money – marginally better health-care outcomes for medical procedures for much larger bills. 

            I, of course, think Americans would be better off spending 3/4’s as much, getting slightly lower outcomes, but now be able to cover the uncovered, who would get much *better* outcomes.  HOWEVER, I don’t dispute the the majority of Americans would be slightly worse of (medical-wise) to make the minority of Americans much better off.  That trade-off is apparently not acceptable to the majority of Americans.  I’ll do my best to persuade them otherwise, but not by pretending that the trade-off doesn’t exist.

            As for the reference, I searched the CBC site in vain.  The article was about a year ago when the health-care debate south of the border was in full swing.  It was a study done by 4 hospitals looking for best practices on the outcomes of 5 major procedures (treating heart-attack, breast cancer, etc.)  In the end, the Americans came out ahead on one, slightly ahead on one, tied on two, and the Canadian recovery rates were slightly better on one.  Analysis indicated some procedural changes for both sides, and some cases where the higher spending on the American side afforded slightly better diagnosis (and thus outcomes).

            The total difference, in my opinion, was not worth the nearly double costs south of the border, but the health outcomes *were* slightly better.  i.e. individual Americans were getting something for the extra money.

            My favourite line in an interview of a hospital staff worker interviewed when asked the difference between the two health-care systems:  “We’re here to improve patient care on both sides of the border, not provide fodder for politician’s debate.”

      4. On your point 4 there is an important flaw in your analogy,

        A person who doesnt live in a flood zone may never live in a flood zone, but everyone who is young today becomes old eventually and no matter how healthy you are when you get older you need health care. Not to mention being young and healthy is no guarantee you won’t need health care tomorrow, accidents happen to everyone and many diseases come out of no where, many seemingly healthy people get cancer for example. Things like smoking increase the risk, but not smoking is no gurantee you won’t get it, etc.

        1.  Not to mention being young and healthy is no guarantee you won’t need health care tomorrow

          Agreed.  But then, living away from a river is no guarantee of a flood-free future (as people find out in micro-bursts that flood a house in an hour.

          Anyway, it’s basically a question of whether you feel its ethical to make young and healthy people subsidize the old and sickly (which means the young and healthy forego things they might prefer like education, better housing, or more beer.)  Personally, I’m okay with it, although I think taking from tax revenue is generally fairer (and also means that people can point to something that their taxes are used for that they approve of), but I think this is the best compromise the American culture and electorate will allow.

      5. Most job creation in the US is in small companies….many of which cannot afford to offer health care benefits to their employees.

        And many of the large corporations make a point of keeping their employees at just below the official “full time” status so that they don’t have to offer health benefits.

        1.  I’d agree, and since I fraternize with the self-employed, I’m constantly amazed by (1) how low the uninsured figures are and (2) how most Americans are satisfied with their personal level of care.

          However, I have to take raw statistics over my personal impression.

          1. I’m constantly amazed by (1) how low the uninsured figures are and (2) how most Americans are satisfied with their personal level of care.

            You should be amazed because you’re living in an anomaly. Fifteen comments in this thread and not a single citation to back up your claims. That relegates your commentary to vague philosophical ramblings.

          2.  Okay, the wikipedia stat for uninsured is 16.7%, which is about half to a third what I would have estimated, given my personal contacts.  

            Here’s the URL for the Yglesias article indicating 75% of Americans are satisfied with their personal health-care:

            It also adds a 52% unfavorable impression of the new health-care law!  It might be a no-brainer improvement as far as you or I are concerned, but it’s got a ways to go before a strong majority of Americans approve (38% approval ?!?)

            However, let me state that this is a blog.  Of course it’s about vague philosophical ramblings.  This particular topic is not packed with references by anyone, and I don’t think it would be greatly improved with twice the statistics and one fifth the comments.

            Unless one’s idea of a good thread is 150 “ditto” remarks :-(.

      6. 1) In the U.S. the average person’s medical care isn’t really guaranteed to be better than what you have in Canada.  Typical insurance plans can really suck ass.  The largest employer in the U.S. is WalMart and their benefits are awful.  Around 20% of the population have no insurance.  If you happen to have a good job, the benefits can be good, but most people would be far better of with the care in Canada than what they get here.

        2) That’s true.  In the U.S. medical research is well funded.  That’s due to the government subsidizing research more than people paying for it through their insurance, though.

        3) I know people in Canada who have supplemental insurance, though maybe that’s not what you mean.  When I lived in Canada we paid for upgrades at the hospital, though, and it worked out.  

        4) Nobody plans to be injured or get a disease.  The point of insurance is to cover for accidents.  Good drivers still need car insurance.  Younger healthier people get much better rates if they buy private insurance, and need insurance just as much as anyone else, even if they don’t like paying for it.  Uninsured people drive up costs of care at hospitals which raise the expense for everyone else.

        1. (1)  Of course there are no guarantees.  But from what I can tell, medical coverage is going to be roughly comparable, and things like knee and hip replacements take a lot less time.  There is also a lot more diagnostic equipment south of the border.

          I still don’t think the improvements are worth twice the cost (and yes, my mother did have to wait several months), but given most Americans seem to be happy with the personal level of care, it’s not alienating everyone.

          (2) I have to say that the drug companies behavior belies that.  They won’t develop much for diseases that aren’t big markets, which indicates to me that the development DOES depend on a rich marker that’s willing to pay for extraordinary development costs.  If everywhere was Canada, I don’t think that most companies would continue to do much development.

          Honestly, as a Canadian, I’m willing to acknowledge the debt we owe to Americans for funding development of stuff we can use on the cheap (and providing a just-accessible-enough second tier for wealthy Canadians).

          (3) Supplemental insurance covers a few odd knick-knacks like private rooms as well as, more importantly, drug coverage.  Note that you can’t usually get private rooms in hospitals even with the supplement because it’s not cost-effective to provide them.  We get cheaper health-care, but you DO make trade-offs.  You want choice, go southward.

          (4) Car insurance is for the other guy.  You don’t have to buycar insurance to protect yourself.  Your point about covering people who don’t have insurance anyway is a good one.  However, I think the stories of being harassed to pay a huge bill for the rest of your life is supposed to mean that you are on the hook for any expenses anyway.

          It’s all part of the traditional American mores that freedom means the freedom to do stupid, self-destructive things like not buying health insurance.  I don’t value freedom that highly, but I’m not American either.  And I’m not going to hold those who do in contempt, even if I disagree with them.

      7.  4) isn’t really true — well, the part about being able to choose not to have health insurance is true; the part about being able to choose not to pay for it isn’t.  About half of all spending on health care in the USA comes from the government (taxes), and per-capita government expenditure on health care is about 20% higher in the US than in Canada.  In other words, an American who chooses not to buy health insurance is still paying more in taxes for health care than an equivalent Canadian, despite not getting health insurance.  Most Americans really don’t understand how expensive their system is.

        1.  I’ve always been amazed at how much the American government spends on health-care.  However, I think a considerable amount of that spending goes to medical coverage for veterans, etc. which can be a large, continuous expense, so I think that figure’s slightly skewed.

          Still, the government health-care spending level is a tribute to the fact that the Americans are far more generous to their poor than they are given credit for.

          It’s just a pity that the cost of economic health-care freedom is so enormous.

          Lastly, I will say that I do find a lot of Americans strangely allergic to the one very Canadian-like aspect of their system: HMOs.  These did significantly cut costs by rejecting treatments that had to low a cost-benefit ratio, reducing choices in primary care and specialists, etc.  All things that Canadians automatically accept, yet caused Americans conniptions (if the media was any judge).

          I had to wonder, how did the Americans think that costs get brought down?  The cost-saving fairy?

          Honestly, I think it slightly demeans the Canadian choice of universal coverage by pretending that Canadians aren’t making any sacrifices at all to achieve that goal.

    7. As one of the conservatives on BB I’ll chime in with my opinion.  Almost everyone I know thinks the idea of basic healthcare for all is a good thing.  That point is almost unarguable, but the question is how do you get there.  Our current system of high cost medical coupled with greedy insurance companies means that if you just say well everyone now gets to buy X insurance nothing in the core workings of the system changes.  You just add another layer on top of the already 4 or 5 we have now. 

      Republicans and conservatives in general don’t express their issues well…  If you ask the right questions and talk to most people who identify as conservative you begin to realize it’s not entirely about forcing something on everyone (although there are those that see this as a major issue).  It is really about how do “we” (the taxpayers – through the government) pay for all this?  There is no mention of insurance restructuring, medical cost analysis, or anything that shows the government is looking into why things cost the price they do.  It simply becomes another “tax” where we/the government is using a somewhat broken system to try and fix a situation.

      I don’t believe you can have an efficient use of resources handed out by the government with the current system of insurers and medical personal we have today.  The idea of “free market” left the medical field decades ago…  Now adding in the deep pockets of the government to the current mix means even more waste and cost for the whole. 

      1. I’m one of those that know they don’t know enough about the issue and getting someone unbiased to explain things isn’t likely (everyone has SOME bias on this.)

        You have made a clear, and more importantly, coherent point. Thanks.

        1. His point is totally deceptive and wrong though.  

          The problem we’re having with health care in the US is that most of the time, people are required to be treated, at least in emergency situations, whether they can/will pay or not.  So the people paying for insurance end up paying not just for themselves, but also for the uninsured.

          That causes insurance rates to go up, which causes more people to stop paying, which in turn causes rates for the insured to go up more, and so on.  It’s breaking our system and everyone agrees it needs to be fixed.

          There are two ways to fix this- either get everyone covered, or let hospitals turn people away and die out in the streets.  Pretty much everyone, even most libertarian types, agrees that the latter isn’t OK, so the former it is- get everyone covered.

          The rightwing approach to this has always been through mandates, ie. requiring everyone to purchase private health insurance.  The leftwing approach has been to move to a single-payer/socialist model like the rest of the world.  

          “Obamacare” splits the difference- expanded Medicaid (gov’t healthcare previously reserved for mostly the disabled) coverage for the poor, subsidies to assist with private insurance purchases for the working and middle class, and everyone is mandated to get covered through one of these means, public or private.

          1. Yeah, all this talk about “socialized medicine” is sorta horse-has-left-the-barn stuff; we’ve had socialized medicine since 1986, when Reagan signed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act and gave access to taxpayer-funded healthcare to everyone in America.

            What a bolshevik, that guy.

      2. As one of the conservatives on BB I’ll chime in with my opinion.  Almost everyone I know thinks the idea of basic healthcare for all is a good thing.  That point is almost unarguable, but the question is how do you get there.

        The irony of course, is that up until Baucus put mandates into “Obamacare”, the conservative answer to that question of how do we get everyone insured was… mandates.  

        For twenty years, the mandated purchasing of health insurance was the answer to this problem for conservatives.  The current opposition to it is insane and purely political.  A conservative Democrat puts it into Obama’s bill, and overnight it becomes anathema.

      3.  Free market economics can’t work in medicine. For a free market to function properly, the consumer must have choice and the knowledge to make that choice. In medicine that isn’t possible, as it is to much of a bother for everyone to become doctors. So instead we let doctors prescribe meds and we follow their instructions.
        “Efficient” and health care are not compatible.

        1. Not to mention the point that as soon as you let profit enter into the equation, you are introducing a point where the cost and the revenue of keeping a human being alive intersect — a point where profit is equal to zero.

          1.  You meet that point *everywhere*.  Do you think the Canadian government will spend 10 million dollars for a 10% chance of survival?

            The lines intersect in every system.

            (The main advantage of the Canadian system is that you are lied to.  When they say “there’s nothing that can be done”, it feels much better that “there’s nothing we’re willing to do”, even though the second is actually the truth.

            Even better, by being denied the truth, you don’t face the personal choice of personally deciding how much your child’s life is worth.  You *can’t* mortgage the future of you and your family’s life, no matter how much you might want to, which means you also don’t have to live with the consequence of choosing *not* to do so.

            Sometimes freedom’s a burden, and in this case (for me at least), the burden is not worth the truth.

      4.  “I don’t believe you can have an efficient use of resources handed out by the government…”

        but, the government isn’t handing out any resources here. with the mandate/tax, it’s basically acting as a shepherd, herding citizens into insurance plans which will spread the cost and risk wide and thin enough that (nearly) everyone can be insured.

        the government isn’t taking over the means of production, or even the delivery of services, it’s just helping the private insurance companies get bigger risk pools.

    8. I still don’t understand all the oposition to ObamaCare. Do americans want to be sick and without medical benifits unless you are super wealthy?? Is that a good thing?? Cheap healthcare for all seems like a no brainer for any 1st world country, imo.

      Unparallelled testament to the efficacy, duration and scale of the elite’s mission to brainwash the plebs into stoneage stupidity.

  9. (Edit: was meant to be a reply to Frederik)

    The problem with the PPACA is that it doesn’t actually fix the systemic issues with the healthcare system, it just slaps a band-aid on. (But, that’s not why most people oppose it, and I don’t oppose it, because it is better than before, I just want something better than it.)

    In any case, it’s the government telling people to do something, and many Americans have a romantic image of themselves being “rugged individuals”, who don’t need help from anyone, and resent being told what to do, even if it’s for their own good. Plus, it’s expanding the use of tax money to pay more people who have less money than they do (meaning, in fucked up right-wing ethics, they’re less valuable people), which is the government stealing from them to pay some worthless slobs who don’t get off their ass and just get a good job (because there’s tons of good jobs that someone can just walk into and get, you know), never mind the economic benefits of having the lower classes be healthy (both in terms of early treatment of issues reducing treatment costs of that issue, and in terms of being able to work more).

    1. Ah, that atleast makes some sense, in a twisted kind of way. I geuse to get out of that there needs to be a new kind of right wing way of thinking. That patriotism requires more then an individual as sooner or later everybody gets old and or sick and nobody makes a million dollars by themselfs, you’re always in it “together” as a society.

      1. you just described a liberal (in the US).  people who think they can do it all themselves are at best, ignorant, at worst dangerous to themselves and to society. 
        pooling resources is why we live to 70+, etc,etc, etc
        sick/dead people aren’t very productive.  we need to heal/prevent and educate our people if our country is to recover.  republicans in power don’t want this (they are already rich), and their supporters are ignorant enough to think they can do it on their own. 

        1. Most people who vote Republican in the US aren’t rich, or even close to it.  They’re voting against their own interests.

          1. I think you’re defining “interests” very narrowly. 

            If a party’s policy is to seize all the belongings of people whose last names start with A-M and give it all to people whose last names start with W, am I voting against my interests, even though it would leave me rich?

            I am not a fan of the Republican platform, but the idea that *personal* economic gain is the only standard by which ones interests are defined seems pretty odd.

          2. @ tlwest

            I was responding to OoerictoO’s comment about Republicans in power already being rich and their supporters thinking they can get there too.  The reality is, virtually none of them will ever get there, or even close.

            I agree with you that there are many, many ways in which Republican party policies are dangerous to the middle and working classes (to say nothing of the poorest of our citizenry).

    2. One argument that I think they could have used to sell it:  The person who’s making your kid’s food at a restaurant, do you want him to have an infectious disease or not? The person who cleaned the bathroom you sat in, infectious disease or not?

      1. The foundation of your idea is sound but I beg to differ on the delivery. Using infectious disease would be a better basis for stronger labor laws that protected workers when calling out when sick.

        Healthcare reform isn’t about common infections; it’s about the big diseases that kill thousands every year, chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

    3. The funny thing is, arguing that national health care is an insurance policy to ensure more healthy, hard-working (and thus tax-paying) citizens so that the rest of us don’t have to carry their burden on top of our own would actually be a conservative viewpoint.  It’s just not a “conservative” viewpoint.

  10. ‘I still don’t understand all the oposition to ObamaCare.’

    Not hard to understand. Look at all the citizens on parade in North Korea, expressing fanatical devotion to their rulers.

    The details are different, but the difference in mortaility between the US and, say, Canada system is not that far off that bettween North and South Korea. But you rarely get that fanaticism of patriotism in either better-off country.

    The power to kill is a source of loyalty. Bosses who have the literal power of life and death inspire transfer of identification. So dissendents become traitors, the poor become lazy, and endless energy must be spent denouncing them.

    1. Agreed.  It’s very much about identification with power.

      In relation to this, I’ve wondered whether there isn’t something inherently self-destructive about the middle-class world-view.  People in the middle class are taught to better themselves, to move ahead in the world — but that means they’re encouraged to “identify upwards”, with someone who has already left (or was never in) the class position they inhabit.  (Hence the worship of the ultra-successful businessman, or the just plain wealthy person.  And it goes without saying that they’re taught to despise the whatever class happens to be below them: that’s what they’re leaving behind.)  What they’re not encouraged to do is identify with their own interests *as a class*.  And those interests don’t coincide with those of the ultra-wealthy.

      In the middle-class world view — topsy-turvy as it is — to go against the interests of the class above oneself is to be a traitor to one’s own class.

      But in reality, to support those interests is to destroy one’s own class — which is precisely what the American middle class has been busily doing for the last 30 years.

    2.  Where are the stats? Having seen North Koreans while living in South Korea, I really think you pulled that one out of thin air.
      NK had fairly good medical care and now they use soda bottles to hold IV solutions.
      I don’t think the approximately 1% in the labor camps gets much health care either.

  11. An intelligent President ultimately raises the level of discourse all the way up to the Supreme Court.  Weasel arguments by Chief Justice Roberts or not:  Barack Hussein Obama, I love you. I see what you did there, I understand what you’re dealing with.

    It’s like spinning King Crimson to the uninitiated.  Or Gil Scott-Heron.

  12. The bloggers over at Reason did exactly the same thing.  Relatively restrained coverage before the ruling when they thought it was a lock to be overturned (thick with veiled condescension for the opposition), roiling fury since (post count is up at least 2x).

    1. I really used to appreciate Reason.  I was rather more libertarian-ish back then — and Reason seemed less like Red State for people with an Associates Degree or higher.  But, just as I came to recognize that government and regulation are necessary and even (perish the though!) beneficial at times, Reaason lost its “free minds” bearings, and its purportedly “free markets” position is constantly moaning about the mote of entitlements, unions, Pres. Obama’s center-left governing, and attempts to return to Glass-Steagall while ignoring the plank of corporate welfare, our warlike nature as a country, the intrusion of preacher class into politics, etc.

    1. I have a feeling that since there’s no limit to how twisted a person’s paradigm can get, it all depends where you stand.

      The number of folks who actually consider themselves evil (and are justified in that assessment rather than merely deranged) would be vanishingly small, I bet… it may even be a fictional category.

    2.  I don’t know.  But once a significant segment of the population believes another significant segment is incontrovertibly evil, that society is, in the long term, doomed to self-destruction.

      The assumption of good-faith on the part one’s political opponents is a fundamental requirement for democracy.  Once that is lost, the only logical choice is authoritarianism with you at the top.

  13. Its interesting you say you like Goldberg, since he seems to say the same thing in other words

    “Of course, there are substantive arguments in favor of Roberts’s reasoning. But as far as I can tell, no one is confident, never mind certain, that Roberts actually believes his own position. And among supporters of Obamacare, from the White House on down, no one cares whether he does. ” 

    1.  Remember that the Court’s job isn’t usually to decide whether something’s a good idea – it’s to decide whether it’s Constitutionally permissible.  Roberts may very well think Obamacare is Constitutional while also thinking it’s a bad idea, and that’s just fine. 

      (Also, Roberts has a history of thinking that anything the Executive Branch wants to do is Constitutional, whether it’s torturing prisoners, holding American citizens without habeas corpus based on accusations of terrorism, or whatever.  Obamacare should be a piece of cake to excuse Constitutionally compared to those.)

  14. In the Republican response to Romneycare, there is much to confuse the onlooker.

    Our current system essentially forces corporations to assume the financial burden of what is elsewhere a government social program. Corporations have spent the last 40 years shrugging off government taxation and regulation, but are still hung with the greatly inflated bill of providing health care to their workers.  I can see how a Republican would whole-heartedly support the status quo.

    More importantly, our current health care system lays an unfair burden on entrepreneurs, innovators and job-creators.  Small business and freelance workers are particularly singled out for punishing expenses.  I can see how a Republican would whole-heartedly support the status quo.

    One of the major financial drags on our country’s attempt to climb out of the current Great Depression is the expense of providing health care to new hires.  This expense is distributed more or less evenly and fairly amongst Job-Creators and Non-Mooching Looters: Even Wall Street banks and financial institutions must shell out for over-priced health care for their employees.  I can see how a Republican would whole-heartedly support the status quo.

    A major part of the expense of running a government is in providing health care to government workers.  The health care benefits currently enjoyed by Democrats in Congress are vastly superior to those afforded to hard-working Americans.  I don’t need to point out how expensive this is, I’ll just state that I can see how a Republican would whole-heartedly support the status quo.

    Finally, the only individuals in our country that have guaranteed health care are incarcerated terrorists, pedophiles and pot dealers.  I can see how a Republican would whole-heartedly support the status quo.

    In fact, the status quo adheres so closely to Republican ideology that they have found it completely unnecessary to provide an alternative to the much-loathed Romneycare.

  15. I do have some good news, we have a semi-convert! My cousin received a form letter regarding her membership in the Republican Party. It pissed her off, it was scolding in nature and insulting, so she’s changed her political affiliation to ‘NONE’. 

    I hope she still votes. I don’t care who she votes for, I just want her to stay involved in the process. 

  16. My Grandfather went to his grave railing on about the unbelievable horror of Social Security almost 50 years after it became law (even though he cashed those checks for decades). To conservatives who regularly pillory FDR and LBJ for the socialist creep of the New Deal and the Great Revolution, the Affordable Care Act and President Obama now will be added to their list of bogeymen. But even if the GOP actually ends up with the power to undue this law legislatively, they will face the same political threat that has prevented them from undoing these earlier social welfare programs.

  17. Remember the 1986 sodomy decision, reversed just 16 years later (I believe you can see them wondering how they got it so wrong just a few short years before). 

    But it is a good question, the law is what the Supremes say it is, but that doesn’t always mean they are right. 

    And the commerce clause is the of the Constitution, you can fit damn near anything through it.

  18. NR gave up its credibility long before Buckley was gone. The nonsense that has been posted on there since the Obama was elected and the conservative hate-fest kicked into hyperactive hyperdrive.

    And Goldberg – who makes about as much sense as “Jabberowky” – has been in “screech” mode for the last three years.

  19. To be fair, SCOTUS very often pretends we each have certain constitutional rights, e.g., against cruel and unusual punishment, to due process, to free speech, etc.

    It’s just not very good at following through with that pretending in cases that actually matter.

  20. What I find hilarious is all the Conservatives saying they will leave the US because if this and the places they pick all have much more socialized medicine than the ACA, and of course also better healthcare outcomes at a lower cost…

  21. I’m an American “Social Democrat”. America at this point is such a far right wing country that that means ‘communist’. What other countries take for granted is here seen as a moral failure because it protects the middle class. The middle class is supposed to live in fear both because it compels us to work, and because it gives maximum control of our lives to our bosses (witness the hatred among the right for working people to get CONTRACEPTION!)

    Christians here are truly delusional and swept up in an alternative universe. Frightening…

  22. Probably by this point no one’s reading the thread.
     There are several ways it would be fair to say that the court “pretended” to find the mandate a tax.

    A: the president says it’s not a tax, but his lawyers, using a legal fiction, say it is, and the court will go along with that pretense.

    B: Roberts says, translated into plain english, this doesn’t look much like a tax, but there’s a presumption of constitutionality, so we will -interpret- it here as a tax, in order to uphold the statute.

    C: Now I personally think Roberts believed what he wrote, but stategically it’s brilliant. Marbury v Madison may have gotten the facts wrong about which papers were on whose desk, but strategically the case gave the court an important new power. Roberts gives the liberals a minor win by upholding Obamacare (less the state medicare aspect based on federalism), but scores a victory by finding 5 votes to limit the commerce clause, changing the dynamic between court and congress.

    That assumption of power would have been called activist and partisan, if he hadn’t conceded on the tax issue. He comes off as a statesman not a hack.

    The next point I want to address is Rand Paul and who gets to decide what is constitutional. The government has three coequal branches. Each of them has a role as a protector of the constitution. Rand can vote to repeal unconstitutional statutes. Obama can veto unconstitutional bills, and maybe choose not to enforce unconstitutional statutes. The court can declare statutes unconstitutioanal, if they get a case or controversy, although unfortunately they have made up a rule about presumptions of constitutionality. The health of the republic depends on all three branches doing their job well. Rand is correct to have his own views. There is a similarity here with the protestant v roman catholic worldview. For protestants, jesus speaks to them through prayer and the bible, not just through a pope. When I swore to uphold the constitution, as a state employee and as a lawyer, my oath was to what the constitution means, not just what this court today says it means.

  23. As long as the Republican Party is the only other viable alternative to the Democrats, it will continue its ways. With it’s superior media messaging, the subjugation of dissent, authoritarian ‘top down’ demeanor, and an electorate that prefers easy, absolutist answers to complex questions, it works, however short term. Oh, let’s not forget the huge gobs of new cash due to SCOTUS’ Citizens United ruling…

    In the long run however, it will have to come to terms with its one dimensional, shrinking white, aging, uneducated followers and attempt to make nice with so many groups that it has demonized. And again, oh, let’s not forget the huge gobs of new cash due to SCOTUS’ Citizens United ruling…

    And finally, oh, let’s not forget the huge gobs of new cash due to SCOTUS’ Citizens United ruling…

  24. If corporations are citizens even though they don’t have birth certificates, does that mean a corporation can become president one day?

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