Category Archives: SOCIALIZED MEDICINE

It was inevitable that socialized medicine gave up on the elderly with COVID-19

It’s no surprise that socialized medicine countries stopped treating their old people. Socialized medicine rations care even when there’s not an emergency.

I was talking to a friend in Spain who has taken his 88-year-old mother into his home. His mother had previously been living in a retirement community near his house. There, as here, retirement communities are exceptionally vulnerable to COVID-19. But it wasn’t quite the fear of the virus itself, which hadn’t even hit her community, that led him to take her to his home. What spurred him to move her in with him was the fact that, as he told me, Spain will no longer provide any treatment to people in retirement communities or skilled nursing facilities. Its system is overwhelmed and triage means the old will never make it to the ER or the ICU. For him, this meant that his mother faced two threats: First, the possibility that she would get COVID-19 and, second, the certainty that, if she got it, she would die.

My friend was right. That’s exactly what’s happening in Spain:

Medical Director at Spain’s Clinical Hospital San Carlos, Professor Julio Mayol explained the country was having to prioritise different patients in the battle against coronavirus. Professor Mayol told Sky News’ Mark Austin that due to a mass surge in coronavirus cases and limited equipment, decisions were being made to not admit the elderly and frail into intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Spain has seen a massive spike in coronavirus cases over the past weeks and this has resulted in an unprecedented death toll in a short period of time.

Italy is doing the same:

Italy has suffered more coronavirus-related fatalities than China, with 4,825 confirmed deaths and 5,000 confirmed patients in the last 24 hours, Channel 12 reported on Sunday.

As his department receives coronavirus patients who are terminally ill, the focus is to allow patients to meet loved ones and communicate with them during their last moments despite the quarantine regulations. Other reports claim that, as the number of dead increases, some families find themselves unable to secure a proper burial for their loved ones.

Peleg said that, from what he hears, patients over 60 tend to receive less treatment with anesthesia and artificial respiratory machines. Peleg stresses that not everyone can be put to sleep and receive artificial respiration, but that each case is looked at carefully.

Some may say, and rightly so, that Spain and Italy are facing a crisis situation and that here in America COVID-19 might prove so overwhelming that our hospitals will also start drawing bright lines: “If you’re over X age or have Y medical conditions, we’re putting you on palliative care until you die. No ventilator or chloroquine for you.” So far, though, American hospitals are planning to treat people based on need, rather than refusing treatment based on disqualifying factors.

What I want to argue in this post is that, while Spain and Italy are going public about refusing treatment to the elderly, the reality is that the elderly always get less care under socialized medicine. That’s the system, rather than a bug in the system.

Unlike free-market medicine which mostly chugs along with care available to everyone, socialized medicine always functions in the equivalent of an emergency environment. Because there’s no profit motive to incentivize innovation or hard work, huge drags always exist in socialized medicine systems, limiting the amount of available care.

As Dan Bongino likes to say, except for the air we breathe, everything is finite. There is nothing that comes in unlimited quantities. There are only two ways to distribute finite goods: rationing or the free market. I like the free market because its incentives encourage people to push back against something’s finite status.

Think of Fuji apples, which were once a delicacy that farmers could sell for huge profits in Japan. Those promised profits encouraged more and more farmers to grow Fuji apples. Eventually, they became so common that, while farmers couldn’t get rich anymore, ordinary consumers could enjoy the pleasures of one of the most delicious apples ever grown. I adore Fuji apples and am grateful every day for the free market that allows me to eat them without selling my firstborn to afford them.

The same is true for flash drives. When they first appeared, they cost a fortune and could hold almost no data. Now, they’re sold by the dozen for chump change and can hold as much data as my first three computers put together. The profit motive drove that.

In America, the profit motive encourages better doctors and nurses, better equipment, more beds, etc. It’s when the government steps in and limits the number of beds or other things that we start having problems.

And as noted, in socialized medicine countries, the government rations everything. There’s no profit to be had from medicine; there are only expenses and the expenses can be paid for only by taxing people. That leads to constant rationing and constant triaging.

That’s why, in England, the country with which I’m most familiar, you ended up with the deadly Liverpool Care Pathway which led to thousands of treatable elderly patients being left to die. That’s also how England openly or through subterfuge denies life-saving treatment (e.g., cancer treatment) or quality of life treatment (e.g., new hips or knees) to elderly patients. With rationing and triage, these people just fall by the wayside. I’ve told people here before about my father, in America, who got a new hip two weeks after he was told it was the only way to keep him mobile. I compared him to my friend’s nice middle-class mother, in Britain, who was told she needed a new hip and died ten years later without ever getting that hip, and having spent the last ten years of her life with extreme pain and limited mobility.

Given the stark realities of socialized medicine, and how those failings are being highlighted with COVID-19’s race through Europe, it’s disturbing to see American Democrats double down on their calls for socialized medicine. How dumb do you have to be never to understand that access is not the same as treatment and that people will not work harder or innovate more if there’s nothing in it for them? I find myself becoming quite hostile to left-wingers who are so deeply immersed in their theories that they never bother to embrace the facts on the ground.

Image credit: Fuji apples by Apple and Pear Australia Ltd. (cropped); Creative Commons.

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Stephen Colbert echoes my claim that socialized medicine is like public school

As I did, Stephen Colbert analogizes socialized medicine to public school, but he misses that this analogy reveals how bad socialized medicine will be.

A little background: On Friday, Scott Adams did a podcast in which he inquired whether there had been any critiques of the hybrid healthcare plan some Dem candidates are putting forward, which would see Medicare for All with an opt-out provision. (And I don’t know about you, but I think it’s profoundly un-American when the government graciously gives you permission to buy a product that has always been sold freely on the open market. It’s just as bad as Obamacare’s mandate that one has to buy a product, whether or not one wants it.)

I decided Adams was correct and took it upon myself to address this hybrid idea. You can read my post here, but I’ll summarize briefly. I started by challenging socialized medicine by making the following points:

  • Healthcare is not a right.
  • Socialized medicine is a bad idea because we can’t afford it — and Europe afforded it as long as it did only because we paid for it.
  • Socialized medicine will inevitably bring about rationing, serious, “euthanasia is a good thing” rationing.

I then turned my attention to Adams’ specific question about the hybrid proposal of Medicare for All, which carves out an exception for those who wish to and are able to pay twice, once out of their taxes for a service they don’t use and once out of their pocket for private insurance. I explained that this will not work economically because, over the long run, those who are privately insured will be forced to underwrite drug and medical supply costs. That’s so because the companies that manufacture these medical necessities will be bullied into giving the government below-cost prices and will have to look elsewhere for profit. As private insurance costs rise, increasing numbers of privately insured people will be forced into the socialized system, the insurance companies will go under for lack of customers, and we’ll have only socialized medicine.

However, I said, before the insurance companies collapse, there’ll be a long, slow slide that will look remarkably like public schools. Quoting myself:

It takes time, of course, for the collapse I described to happen. What will happen first will play out like a medical version of public versus private schools — because when you think about it, what the so-called moderate candidates are calling for is the equivalent of public school, with a right (if you have the money) to opt out for private school.

America’s public schools are not healthy. They are modeled on Henry Ford’s assembly line because Progressives in days of yore admired that efficiency. Except the assembly line is broken and our schools do not turn out new, shiny, educated students. Instead, they turn out kids who are remarkably ill-informed and incapable. Moreover, while public schools were meant to be places free from political indoctrination, the militant, unionized, college-educated teachers in way too many schools look on those sweet young faces before them and think, “They’re so easy to indoctrinate when they’re young and malleable.”

In theory, people can opt out of public school. In fact, that’s not so easy. We’ve all paid for public schools through our taxes (property taxes for local schools, state taxes for school boards, and federal taxes to the Department of Education). If you’re not rich, having spent once for your child’s education, you’re not about to spend twice — so you end up sending your children to public schools, no matter that they’re gang ridden, that the teachers are incompetent, or that the facilities are broken down. As a product of San Francisco public schools, I know whereof I speak.

Even my kids’ affluent Marin County schools left a lot to be desired. I would have preferred sending them to Montessori, but having already paid many thousands in property taxes . . . well, my kids got factory educated. I’ve written reams about the fundamental problems with traditional public school education, so I won’t repeat it here. I’ll simply say that uneducated teachers (and that’s what so many are, even at the best public schools) and lousy teaching methods produce uneducated students.

What happens is inevitable: those with enough money put their kids in private school. In essence, they can afford to pay twice for their kids’ education — once through taxes, once through tuition. Pulling these kids out makes public education worse because the kids being pulled out are the ones whose parents are most committed to education, which means these are the students most likely to work hard and contribute to a classroom. It’s a brain drain. The inequality continues into college, as the private school children do better on tests on and essays, making them more attractive to colleges.

I wrote the above on September 16. On September 17, this colloquy occurred between Stephen Colbert and Elizabeth Warren (emphasis mine):

Colbert: You keep being asked in the debates: “How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to raise the middle-class taxes?” How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to raise the middle-class taxes?

Warren: So, here’s how we’re going to do this: Costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations.

Colbert: Taxes is what you mean by costs?

Warren: Yeah, and hard-working middle-class families are going to see their costs go down.

Colbert: But will their taxes go up?

Warren: But, here’s the thing—

Colbert: But, here’s the thing. I’ve listened to these answers a few times before and I just want to make a parallel suggestion for you about how you might defend the taxes that perhaps you’re not mentioning in your sentence… Isn’t Medicare-for-all like public school? There might be taxes for it, but you certainly save a lot of money on sending your kids to school and do you want to live in a world where kids aren’t educated? Do you want to live in a world where your fellow citizens are dying, even if it costs a little bit of money?

Warren: So, I accept your point and I believe in your point. Health care is a basic human right. We fight for basic human rights, and that’s Medicare-for-all. Everyone gets covered.

Of course, Colbert is totally wrong with his public school analogy, while I am not wrong about mine. For one thing, what Warren is demanding isn’t the two-tiered private system that allows people to opt out, even if it means paying twice, something that works with my public school analogy. If Warren were proposing schools instead of healthcare, she’s demanding a world in which public school is mandatory. I don’t think Colbert would like that because I suspect, although I could not find proof, that his children probably attend[ed] private schools. It’s the rare famous person who’s willing to risk his precious children’s educations in the public school district, even if the district offers good schools.

Colbert’s claim about socialized medicine being a public benefit like paying for public school is also wrong. To understand this, it helps to view public benefits as a a hierarchy. At the top of the hierarchy are things such as the military. First, the military is in the Constitution, which makes it a federal obligation on all citizens. Second, a country’s defense cannot reasonably depend on a multitude of private contractors, making the public option the only option. Third, a nation needs national defense. It is a necessity for a country and therefore reasonable for everyone to pay into it.

Next on the hierarchy might be public schools, but they’re not like the military. First, as I forgot to mention in my prior post, they’re not a federal responsibility because they’re not mentioned in the constitution. Despite the federal Department of Education, public schooling in America has always been a local matter, for which states and smaller government entities are responsible.

Second, American school systems have always functioned alongside private school systems. Moreover, parents never needed permission from the government to opt-out of public school, an obscenity that the hybrid Medicare for All proponents seem to be suggesting. Warren and Bernie are even worse: if they were messing about with education, they’d demand the instant closure of all public schools.

Third, private schools are not forced to subsidize public schools when it comes to supplies. As I noted about drugs and other medical supplies, private insurance companies and their insureds will be forced to subsidize the third parties who must take a loss in order to work with the government.

Fourth, when America was a nation of legal immigrants who all agreed ought to be melted into the cultural pot, public school homogenized immigrant children by ensuring that young people absorbed the same pro-American values. Nowadays, public schools teach kids to hate our history, hate our institutions, hate our country, and hate each other. I don’t see a public benefit to that.

Fifth, too many American public schools stink, especially in poor and minority communities, and that’s true no matter how much funding they get. Is that really an analogy you want to make if you’re advocating for Medicare for All?

At the bottom of the hierarchy of public goods you’ll find socialized medicine. I’m not going to repeat all my arguments about socialized medicine. You can read my other post for them. I just want to talk about the “public benefit” issue.

The military provides a clear public benefit. Public schools, provided they are able to fulfill their mission, arguably provide a public benefit by ensuring minimal literacy in a post-industrial nation. But what public benefit does socialized medicine provide?

I’ll let Dan Bongino explain (and the “he” to whom Bongino refers is Bernie who, like Warren, wants full socialized medicine):

I guess my point is that, while I found amusing and blogworthy the fact that Colbert echoed my public school analogy, he did it in a way with which I totally disagree. Public education in America — locally managed and funded, and arguably created at least a marginally educated populace — is not the same as paying for the illness your neighbor suffers from long years of abusing his body with unhealthy food and dangerous behaviors. It’s just not. That’s true whether you make the analogy in the context of fully socialized medicine, as Warren and Bernie want, or some weird hybrid, as the other candidates purport to want (knowing that it will inevitably destroy private insurance).

One more random point I’ve been meaning to make about Warren: I know she’s rising in the polls, but will black and hispanic voters really warm up to a scolding, old white woman who made her millions by lying about her ethnicity in order to steal an academic position from another minority candidate? I mean, we always speak in terms of her offending Native Americans, but the reality is that, if Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania were trolling for minorities to increase diversity, they might also have chosen a black or Hispanic woman if Warren hadn’t lied.

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Why Buttigieg’s and Biden’s healthcare plan is a bad thing (No. 17 Bookworm Podcast)

Socialized medicine is bad and the “moderate” plan to have a public/private hybrid healthcare system only draws out the agony on the road to single payer.

(If you prefer listening over reading, the companion podcast to this post is embedded below, or you can listen to it at Libsyn or at Apple podcasts. I’m trying to make a go of my podcasting so, if you like the podcasts, please share them with your friends and on social media. Giving my podcast good ratings helps too.)

In Scott Adams’ Friday podcast, he noted that, while he’s aware of many attacks on Bernie’s and Warren’s “Medicare for All” plan (aka socialized medicine in an already debt-burdened society), he hasn’t heard challenges to a slightly different plan coming from others, most notably Biden and Buttigieg. This alternative Democrat healthcare plan promises “free Medicare for everyone who wants it,” while allowing those who prefer private insurance to opt-out and buy their own insurance.

To Adams, this second plan sounded kind of like the free market, with insurers competing with the government for customers. If the government could squeeze a low price out of drug manufacturers, Adams posited, wouldn’t that mean insurance companies could do so too? He hastened to add that he was just thinking out loud, rather than advocating for this “Medicare for All Lite.”

I’m glad Adams was just advocating and not thinking. When you start thinking about it, you realize that this is a recipe for worse care than we have now, plus increasing health care inequality for the American people.

Before going further, I should begin with my two strong biases against socialized medicine, because these biases inform my belief that even a hybrid system is a bad system: My first bias is that I don’t believe medical care is a right. I think it’s a wonderful thing. I’m tremendously grateful I live in modern times because I didn’t die from a massive cyst in my 20s or during childbirth. I’m also not consigned to a wheelchair or in perpetual pain from joint problems, nor am I rendered dysfunctional by chronic migraine syndrome, nor am I legally blind. Modern medicine has been very good to me.

Just because it’s good, though, doesn’t make it a right. Instead, the blessings of modern medicine are a product of the free market system. In America, the medical field has been given room to grow in extraordinary ways, both in terms of medical and scientific breakthroughs (which overlap, but aren’t always the same) and in terms of ease-of-access. That’s why those who say we have lousy medical care in America are talking through their hats.

On the subject of the quality of care in America, as Scott Atlas wrote in an article that should be required reading in every American high school and college, America has the best medical outcomes in the world. To conclude the opposite, you have to game the statistics in one of two ways. The first is to give a high value to factors other than a good medical outcome. This means arguing that the best medical care means seeing a doctor for free, even if it’s after an interminable wait and even if you die unnecessarily, are euthanized, live in constant pain, or otherwise never get any meaningful treatment. The second is to lie about the economic cost, as Elizabeth Warren did with her faulty, shoddy study that grossly overestimated medical bankruptcies.

But back to the point about healthcare being “a right.” Traditionally, in America, rights are freedoms inherent in all people and have nothing to do with government. Rights aren’t given by government; they need to be protected from government.

The only way to protect an inherent right is to amend the Constitution to state explicitly that “X” is a right inherent in all people, separate from government. Progressives talking about “rights” should therefore agitate for a 28th Amendment saying, simply, “Americans have a right to healthcare.”

The problem is that this amendment wouldn’t achieve Progressive goals. Enshrining the “right” to medical care in the Constitution means only that state and federal governments cannot prevent Americans from seeking healthcare. The Amendment, if it existed, could not impose on the taxpayer the obligation to pay for everyone else’s healthcare in a government-run system.

Put another way, Progressives aren’t demanding a right — that is, an inviolate area of human activity into which the government cannot intrude or can intrude only minimally. Instead, they are demanding a raw exercise of government power, beginning with the police power to take our money and extending to the financial and institutional power to control our bodies through a government managed medical system.

So that’s my primary bias. My secondary bias is that, aside from the poorer outcomes normative under socialized medicine (see a doctor; don’t get better), Europeans have another problem; namely, that the care they’re getting today is nothing like the glowingly wonderful healthcare they crowed about thirty or forty years ago. Back in the day, my parents, who had fantastic insurance through my Dad’s teachers union (awful salaries, great benefits), still envied their friends in Europe who told them about private hospital rooms, good hospital food, and free old age homes.

What my parents didn’t understand was that post-WWII socialized medicine in Europe succeeded for as long as it did thanks to us. We Americans funded Europe’s socialized medicine. After the war, America paid for much of Europe’s rebuilding, sparing the continent the cost of infrastructure costs. Additionally, throughout the Cold War, America absorbed Europe’s defense costs, leaving Europeans with more money to use for “healthcare for all.” (We still see this today, with Europe’s unwillingness to pony up NATO money, even though it’s in the geographic front lines of the benefits NATO confers.)

In other words, Americans worked like dogs and paid for their own healthcare, either out of pocket or through insurance, so that Europeans could enjoy “free” medical care. Of course, we didn’t pay for all of the costs associated with socialized medicine, which leads me to my second point about the decades’ long success of the European socialized medical system.

Up until the last 20 years or so, there was a strong social contract in once homogeneous European countries that everyone should pay high taxes when young and able, so that the government would care for them when they were old and sick. The social contract became very fragile when Europeans stopped having babies. By the 1970s, the post-war baby boom in Europe had vanished, and the European birthrate plummeted.

That’s why, also starting in the 1970s, the Europeans began importing cheap, young labor from Turkey, North Africa, and the Middle East. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Europeans would get their free healthcare, 35-hour work weeks, eight weeks of paid vacation, year-long maternity leaves, etc., while all those nice, brown-skinned people would do all the jobs Europeans didn’t want to (and could no longer) do.

What Europeans hadn’t accounted for was that the nice brown-skinned people didn’t think this was a good social compact — especially if they were Muslims. Muslims, after all, believe that the kafir (nonbelievers) should be working for them, rather than vice versa. So it was that more and more poured into Europe seeking, not work, but Europe’s extraordinarily generous welfare benefits (made possible in part by America funding their defense costs).

Even before the disastrous summer of 2015, when Angela Merkel extended an open invitation to military-aged men from all over the Muslim Middle East and Africa to come to Europe and taste its welfare sweets, the system was beginning to fall apart. That, not concern for the sick, was why Europe began embracing euthanasia as a sophisticated, humane approach to medical treatment.

As Dan Bongino repeatedly explains, everything is finite, including potable water. The only way to allocate finite things is through the free market (pricing) or through rationing.

One of the beauties of the free market is that it encourages creativity and invention, thereby making things somewhat less finite and therefore cheaper. I remember when my husband first brought a flash drive home. It was 512K and was a clever substitute for a 3 1/4″ floppy — only it cost several hundred dollars. Today, you can get ten 2GB flash drives for less than $25.

The same is true for Fuji apples. They appeared on the scene in the 1980s as a high priced luxury fruit for the Japanese market. When apple growers realized there was gold in them thar’ apples, competition increased, quantities expanded, and prices dropped.

Under rationing, the people in power of the product determine who gets what and how much they get. When there’s lots of money (as was true in Europe with U.S. capital investment and Cold War funding), those in charge can afford to be generous. As the money dries up, which inevitably happens in a non-market based economy, the people in charge of the product start rationing. They never ration themselves, of course. They just ration other people.

Twenty-five years ago, Europe moved to euthanasia, ostensibly to spare terminally ill people from suffering. They recently extended euthanasia to depressed children. A doctor in Holland was acquitted just the other day for killing a demented 74-year-old woman as she fought to stay alive:

A Dutch doctor has been acquitted of breaking euthanasia laws in a landmark case over ending the life of a 74-year-old woman.

The unnamed doctor had been accused by prosecutors of failing to consult the woman who had Alzheimer’s.

But a judge today ruled that a declaration written by the patient four years earlier had sufficed.

The Hague District Court heard that the patient had to be held down by her family after a lethal dose of a drug was administered by the doctor.

This reminded me of Terri Schiavo’s case. She was the young woman in a coma whose husband wanted to remarry, but could not divorce her because Florida’s law required her consent . . . which she could not give. Her parents, who cared for physical needs, didn’t want her to die. The matter went to court and the judge said, “pull the plug.” At that time, I wrote the following, which I still stand by:

Many years ago, when Holland first enacted its euthanasia law, NPR ran an interview with a Dutchman who explained why euthanasia was a good idea in Holland, while it would be a terrible idea in America. The secret to Holland’s euthanasia, he said, was socialized medicine. The man explained that, in America, where medical costs could bankrupt families, those with terminal illnesses could be actively or passively coerced into turning to euthanasia in order to save their family’s finances.

Put another way, this man and the NPR host who interviewed him were both certain that Americans, when given the choice, would cheerfully throw Grandma from the train in order to save some money. Europeans, the Dutchman explained, with their cradle to grave care, would never be pressured into killing themselves. The beneficent state would pay all the medical bills, so money would not be an issue when it came to life and death decisions. The only thing that would matter in Europe, said this Dutchman, was the terminally ill person’s wishes.

[snip]

History has revealed that this Dutchman was absolutely and completely wrong. In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members.  Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life.  People have hearts and souls.  They connect to others, especially to those in their families.

It’s very different in socialist states, where euthanasia is the name of the game, often without the patient’s, or her family’s, agreement.  England had the scandal of the Liverpool Care Pathway.  It was meant to be a national hospice program that provided palliative care to the terminally ill in their final days.  What ended up happening, of course, when the National Health Service started running out of money is that thousands (even tens of thousands) of elderly patients who were terminally ill, but weren’t anywhere near death’s door, were hastened to their deaths.  They had become too expensive or just too difficult to manage.

It turns out that, twenty-odd years ago, when I heard that Dutchman speak, he had failed to consider two pertinent facts:  First, socialist states invariably run out of money once they finally destroy their productive class; and second, the state has neither heart nor soul.  To you, Patient X is your beloved mother, or brother, or child.  To the state, Patient X is an unnecessary cost to an already strained system.

Another problem with rationing is that it’s a downward spiral, creating more shortages. As the money runs out, innovation dries up, and doctors find that there is less they can do and that they’re getting paid very poorly, all for the same long hours and stress as before. With those disincentives, they drop out of the practice and fewer go to medical school. Four years in college, four years in medical school, one year as an intern, two years as a resident and then, for specialties, another one to eight years of study — all of that just isn’t worth it for a mediocre wage in a demoralizing workplace with increasingly limited resources and a bureaucrat looking over your shoulder saying, “She’s old; let her die.” The same holds true for nurses who have one of the most brutal undergraduate curricula in college.

Put simply, socialized medicine is as system in which finite resources eventually vanish — hospital beds, available space, treatments, new medicines . . . they all goes away. And then, suddenly, you’re in a Cuban-style hospital with 18 dirty beds in a single open room, and a doctor saying in a tired voice, “Take him home so he can die with his family around him.”

So my bias is that socialized medicine cannot and does not work. Once it burns through whatever money is initially lying around, it reduces medical care and destroys good outcomes.

But back to Scott Adams’ query: Even if we accept that socialized medicine is a bad thing, won’t we alleviate many of those problems if we allow private insurance to co-exist with it? After all, if the government can bully drug companies into giving low prices, why can’t private insurance do the same?

To answer the last question about pharmaceuticals first, the reason it won’t work is that, if the government is going to force (yes, because of its size it will force) drug companies to give it low prices, that doesn’t mean the drug companies will negotiate those same low prices with insurance companies. Instead, the drug companies will try to recoup from private insurance the money they’re losing to the government. This will force insurance companies either to raise premiums to impossible heights or to stop covering all but the most basic generic meds. Eventually, those people paying for private insurance will be forced by ridiculous premiums or impossibly expensive meds to ditch their insurance and turn to the public option. The same analysis holds true for medical devices such as stents or sutures.

The next domino to fall will be the insurance companies themselves, for they will have to close shop once too many customers are priced out and reluctantly turn to the public option. Once everyone is back in the government’s belly, things won’t get better. Without insurance companies and/or privately insured people to subsidize drugs and other medical supplies, the companies that make them will either end innovation (bad) or go out of business altogether (really bad).

It takes time, of course, for the collapse I described to happen. What will happen first will play out like a medical version of public versus private schools — because when you think about it, what the so-called moderate candidates are calling for is the equivalent of public school, with a right (if you have the money) to opt out for private school.

America’s public schools are not healthy. They are modeled on Henry Ford’s assembly line because Progressives in days of yore admired that efficiency. Except the assembly line is broken and our schools do not turn out new, shiny, educated students. Instead, they turn out kids who are remarkably ill-informed and incapable. Moreover, while public schools were meant to be places free from political indoctrination, the militant, unionized, college-educated teachers in way too many schools look on those sweet young faces before them and think, “They’re so easy to indoctrinate when they’re young and malleable.”

In theory, people can opt out of public school. In fact, that’s not so easy. We’ve all paid for public schools through our taxes (property taxes for local schools, state taxes for school boards, and federal taxes to the Department of Education). If you’re not rich, having spent once for your child’s education, you’re not about to spend twice — so you end up sending your children to public schools, no matter that they’re gang ridden, that the teachers are incompetent, or that the facilities are broken down. As a product of San Francisco public schools, I know whereof I speak.

Even my kids’ affluent Marin County schools left a lot to be desired. I would have preferred sending them to Montessori, but having already paid many thousands in property taxes . . . well, my kids got factory educated. I’ve written reams about the fundamental problems with traditional public school education, so I won’t repeat it here. I’ll simply say that uneducated teachers (and that’s what so many are, even at the best public schools) and lousy teaching methods produce uneducated students.

What happens is inevitable: those with enough money put their kids in private school. In essence, they can afford to pay twice for their kids’ education — once through taxes, once through tuition. Pulling these kids out makes public education worse because the kids being pulled out are the ones whose parents are most committed to education, which means these are the students most likely to work hard and contribute to a classroom. It’s a brain drain. The inequality continues into college, as the private school children do better on tests on and essays, making them more attractive to colleges.

We’ll inevitably see the same thing with a hybrid medical system. The rich will get fancy private insurance and be in nice hospitals. Everyone else, having already been taxed up to here and beyond, will get Cuban-style medical care. Eventually, though, as I described above, there won’t be enough rich to enable insurance companies to compete with the government behemoth and its marketplace bullying. They’ll fall by the wayside and we’ll be right where Bernie wanted us to be all along: Socialized medicine in America, with all of the rationing problems I described above, not to mention the death of freedom over the most important thing we possess: our own bodies.

Image credit: I found the collage of Cuban hospital care at PoliNation.

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To too many, a Bernie life takeover is a GOOD thing

Sadly, not only Leftists, but beleaguered working and lower middle class voters will like intrigued the Bernie promise to make their lives safer and easier.

Monica Showalter of American Thinker, is one of the most astute political bloggers out there. Nevertheless, I believe her conservative outlook caused her to make a conceptual error. Today she wrote a short post about an Axios list of the things Bernie wants to bring under government control — and Showalter thinks that Axios published the list because it’s concerned about Bernie’s proposed power grab:

In a startling Axios summary list called “Bernie Sanders’ 2020 plan to restructure your life,” Axios publisher Jim Vanderhei (and Juliet Bartz), are sounding the alarm about the nightmare scenario of a potential Bernie Sanders presidency.

The piece was featured in Mike Allen’s widely read Top 10 — at the top. It’s a piece that looks like it belongs more at Issues & Insights than center-left Axios. Axios warns that Sanders is surging in the polls and influencing other Democratic candidates with his ideas and they don’t sound happy.

I have to disagree with Showalter. First of all, looking at the list from the purely Proggie viewpoint, I think it’s a very happy list. In the chart below, the left-hand column quotes verbatim from that Axios summary. The right-hand column has the reaction from the average hard-core, college-educated Leftist.

[table id=3 /]

But of course the base is going to be happy. The more worrisome thing is that, unlike Showalter, others might find it appealing too. That is, like Axios writers, they’ll see the ten items as either positives or net neutrals. Here’s another chart looking at the same list from the loosey-goosey, not-very-political working class or lower-middle class voter’s view.

[table id=4 /]

To reiterate, I think Showalter is shocked by the reach of Bernie’s proposals. I’m not sure non-conservative Americans will be. When the Democrat candidates stand on the stage and talk about open borders and paying for illegal health care, ordinary Americans get queasy. When these same candidates promise to take away all pain and worry, they may start to line up with their hands held out.

Back in 2016, I put together a blog with some sustained attacks on Bernie’s policies. I recommend checking it out now. It’s an effort to remind people that Bernie’s policies, nice though they sound, invariably pave the way to despair and death.

Image credit: Bernie Sanders by DonkeyHotey.

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Bookworm Beat 4/10/19 — the flyover country edition

This discursive Bookworm Beat wanders from American black culture, to evil Leftists, to the wonders of Wal-Mart versus the horrors of socialized medicine.

Everything Leftists hate about America. I’ve been spending some time of late in small town America — in Eastern Tennessee to be specific. Frankly, I can see why coastal blue staters hate this part of America. There are so many things here that give offense: good suburban infrastructure, happy people, friendly interactions between the races, staggeringly beautiful nature with lots of open space, Wal-Marts, lawns that homeowners tend every weekend, and lots of pro-Trump and pro-Second Amendment bumper stickers on cars. This kind of well-managed, all-American environment is enough to give any Leftist chronic heartburn and a desire to destroy.

Speaking of those lawns, even though today is not a weekend day, I worked with a friend to get rid of ivy that had overtaken a corner of his property.

Ivy looks so pretty, doesn’t it? It’s not. There’s nothing pretty about it. It’s like Kudzu’s younger brother.

I filled seven big black garbage bags with the stuff and only cleared out 2/3 of it. I am exhausted. I also feel pretty darn self-righteous, though, which helps offset some of the fatigue.

But enough about living the good life in flyover country America. Let me get down to the brass tacks of today’s stories.

For American blacks, the problem isn’t race, it’s culture; more specifically, welfare culture. I’m going to assume that all of you saw Candace Owen’s testimony before a Democrat-run House Committee anxious to find a white nationalism problem where none exists. Owens was obviously nervous, but she was also rocking and rolling, talking about pathologies within the African American community that have nothing to do with white nationalism.

No wonder that the utterly vile Ted Lieu tried to smear Owens as a Hitler lover while the brain dead (Go)Nadler wrongly chastised her for calling Lieu stupid. The Democrats should be deeply embarrassed that these two moronic, immoral people represent them.

Shame, though, isn’t part of a Democrat lexicon unless the Democrat is trying to shame someone else. In fact, what the Leftist media did to try to offset the damage that Owens imposed on the Leftist brand was to repeat Lieu’s smear that a black woman is a Hitler lover. Even worse, those Democrats I follow on Facebook, rather than asking, as Owens did, “How dumb do you think we are?” gleefully passed on those same offensive and nonsensical smears.

A friend of mine keeps saying, “I don’t see any way that we’re going to avoid a Second Civil War.” I always come back at him saying, “We’re already in the Second Civil War. There just haven’t been any shots fired; only hats attacked.” (One of the more insane attacks involved a white woman attacking a Hispanic woman for being a racist because the Hispanic woman were a MAGA hat. As (Go)Nadler demonstrated, white Leftists aren’t even pretending to use their brains anymore.)

What I want to address here briefly is Candace’s point about self-inflicted pathologies within the black community. She’s right, of course, as I’ve blogged here before.

I’ll just add two things. First, while those pathologies were present in black communities through the early 1960s thanks to systemic racial discrimination in the form of slavery, Jim Crow in the South, and open racism in the North, the reality is that by the early 1960s, blacks were making huge social and economic gains by following the universal rules for success in a free market economy: education, job, marriage, children, in that order.

What brought all this to a screeching halt was Johnson’s “Great Society,” which was intended, as Johnson himself admitted to a friend, to keep “n*****s voting for Democratic for 200 years.”  (Some say this quotation is apocryphal, but it’s certainly held up to reality for almost 60 years.) Suddenly, education, jobs, and marriages went out the window. All that remained was children: half of which have been aborted and, of those not aborted, over of 70% of whom have been raised in poverty-stricken homes with single mothers getting some form of welfare.

This ongoing African-American tragedy has nothing to do with skin color and nothing to do with America’s history of either slavery or Jim Crow. Instead, it has everything to do with culture — a culture brought down thanks to what was effectively a pact with the Devil, with the Devil in this case being a welfare state that made education, men, work, and nuclear families redundant and, indeed, offensive. No wonder that, as blacks are finally recognizing the soul-stealing agreement the Left foisted on them, the Democrats are trying to distract them by calling a black woman . . . Hitler.

Looked at in this way, the reparations that all of the Democrat party candidate for president insist must be imposed on a generation of Americans who had nothing to do with slavery is just a reaffirmation of the original welfare contract with the Devil. Reparations won’t make things better. Instead, they will buy another 60 years of Democrat votes built on the ruined bodies and souls of American blacks.

The second thing I’ll add is a point that Scott Adams made, and he’s the first I’ve heard make it: Regarding reparations, he says that someone is going to ask, if we’re giving reparations, by what standard should we measure black lives in America, at least economically? Do we measure them against all whites? Inner city whites? Appalachian whites? Vietnamese who came here 40 years ago with nothing and now are middle class?

Or — and this is the kicker — do we ask how these blacks would be doing if they hadn’t been brought to America in the first place? The answer, of course, is not well. No matter how badly blacks are doing in America, they’re doing worse in Africa.

I’ll offer two links to support that last statement. The first is Kim du Toit’s post saying Let Africa Sink. The second is Keith Richburg’s masterpiece, Out of America : A Black Man Confronts Africa, in which he explains how a stint in Africa while working for the Washington Post made him grateful that his long-ago ancestors had suffered the horrors of being transported to and enslaved in America.

Some of today’s most storied Democrats are either very stupid or very evil. When it comes to the openly anti-Semitic, anti-American Ilhan Omar, I’m inclined to go with the latter choice, although I won’t deny her a strong dollop of the former. I don’t think she’s the brightest bulb on the block, but she has down pat the rap of victimhood, nicely wrapped around her adherence to sharia.

Anyway, the Democrat Omar tale today is a story told in three tweets.

Tweet 1 came when Dan Crenshaw heard how Omar described 9/11:

Tweet 2 is Omar’s response, which does not address the substance of Rep. Crenshaw’s tweet. Instead, she immediately heads straight to victimhood. No surprise there, because it’s worked so well for her up until now:

Tweet 3 explains why I said “up until now.” Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, won’t let her get away with her victimhood ploy. No doesn’t grovel. Instead, he just calls her out on her mindless victimhood calumnies:

I like the cut of Rep. Crenshaw’s jib.

Be sure to whip this out when a Leftist praises socialized medicine. One of my conservative Facebook friend is begging everyone to spread this link far and wide. I’m doing my best right here:

The fraying edges of universal health care : Britain’s version of ‘Medicare for All,’ delivers rationing and even blindness

If you’re wondering what Democrats have in mind when they tout “Medicare For All,” look no further than England. There are more reports of the U.K.’s National Health System’s collapse, this time featuring horror stories of rationing care for the elderly. Doctors are now sounding alarms bells that seniors with cataracts are going blind as they wait for surgical approval.

The Guardian reported, “Patients who are losing their sight are being forced to wait for months before having eye cataracts removed because of NHS cost-cutting. … The NHShas imposed restrictions on patients’ access to cataract surgery in more than half of England. … The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) condemned the rationing as shocking. It warned that not treating people with cloudy vision risks them falling and breaking bones, thus costing the NHS more.”

Last year, The New York Times reported some people in England were waiting for 12 hours to be seen in emergency rooms.

There’s more in the article, much, much more. Once again, let me spell it out: Europe’s post-WWII fling with socialism, or at least its decision to socialize its welfare services, worked for one reason and one reason only: America paid for it. For 70 years, we absorbed most of Europe’s military costs. We worked so that they got free cradle to grave care.

In the unwinding of the world since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Europe’s had to pay for its own socialized welfare system, and it’s had to do that at the same time that its citizens decided once and for all that having children is time-consuming, exhausting, and expensive, so why bother? Without American money and without a rising class of young people to foot the bill for old people’s care . . . older Europeans are in deep doo-doo.

Remember: this is what the Democrats want for you.

The free market is always the best answer. Turn your eyes away from Europe and look at the 1 gig flash drive you got for free at a trade show or a craft fair. When those things first came on the market around the year 2000, you paid several hundred dollars for a 512 MB flash drive. Capitalism drove prices down. People finding needs and filling them, and building better mousetraps is the best way to deliver the greatest amount and quality of services and products to the largest number of people.

Don’t believe me? Go to Wal-Mart. If you’re a Lefty, stop sneering at Wal-Mart’s shoppers and start looking at the dazzling array of products, all at affordable prices. Maybe Wal-Mart shoppers aren’t dressed as expensively as the Kardashians (although most look a darn sight classier), but at Wal-Mart, these shoppers have something akin to the same buying power as the Kardashians do when they’re wasting their money on weird clothes sold on Paris catwalks.

My brain function feels as if it’s entangled with ivy. I’d better stop. Your comments are always welcome.

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