Penn Jillette on the Election

Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) wrote a commentary for CNN on the upcoming election — from his Libertarian point of view:

Barack Obama is way smarter than Bush — so way, way smarter than me. Obama is way more charismatic than me. He did his big speech for about 80,000 people; I’ll do my show tonight in Vegas for about 1,000 people. He’s more ambitious than I; he’s going to be the next president of the United States, and I couldn’t even get to week three of “Dancing with the Stars.”

But I don’t think our next president being a great leader is a good thing.

We need someone stupid enough to understand that the president of the United States can’t solve many problems without taking away freedom and therefore shouldn’t try. The only reason John McCain scares me a little less is because I think he’s a little less likely to win. They both promise a government that will watch over us, and I don’t like that.

The choice shouldn’t be which lesser of two evils should have the enormous power of our modern presidents. The question should be, who would do less as president? Who would leave us alone?

If we could find a lazier, less charismatic, stupider person than me to be president, I’d be all for it. But, it’s not going to be easy; stupider than me is rare breed.

So remember, the only way to waste your vote is to vote!

While it may be nice if the government imposed on our lives less, many of our problems can be fixed only through government intervention.

If John McCain and Sarah Palin win the election, you can bet they’ll be trying to take over decisions you ought to be making on your own. Barack Obama wouldn’t want that.

Not voting at all? That would be idiotic. There’s too much at stake to sit back and let the Republicans take over once again.

  • WetMogwai

    Barack Obama wouldn’t want to try to take over decisions you ought to be mon your own? Only if you define decisions you ought to make on your own differently than I do. Socialized medicine i an example of government taking away choice. Farm subsidies are government bribing farmers to grow or not grow what the government wants.

    I prefer Obama over McCain because he is more likely to side with the people over large corporations, but I have no illusions that he would advance the cause of liberty at all. Getting elected today is all about how much government will do or give to the people, not about leaving people alone to make their own decisions.

  • mikespeir

    If we could find a lazier, less charismatic, stupider person than me to be president, I’d be all for it.

    All right! My hat’s in the ring.

  • cipher

    Penn is a bit of a tool.

  • Gabriel

    Actually, I have been hoping for several years now that the fundamentalist evangelical hate mongers in America would grow so disappointed in their failure to turn America into a Christian Theocracy that they would return to their former state of disengagment with the secular world and stop voting.

  • http://t3knomanser.livejournal.com t3knomanser

    I think representative government is a crock. Government in general isn’t terribly good. I’m not advocating anarchy.

    What we need is a new system. Something that uses an entirely different decision making model and arrangement for society. It would need to be distributed, robust, and non-coercive, with a rule based decision making system that generally leaves humans out of the decision making process (ie. the “government” should be able to make the right decision and implement it through the citizens, without the citizens having a say in the decisionmaking process). Scalability is a big factor, and I think that’s the biggest flaw in our current system: it doesn’t scale well.

  • http://thesciencepundit.blogspot.com The Science Pundit

    Penn really annoys me sometimes.

  • Rob

    Barack Obama wouldn’t want that.

    Wow, famous last words.

    I’m not saying McCain is a better choice (he’s not), but that’s just about the most naïve thing I’ve seen on this blog.

  • http://t3knomanser.livejournal.com t3knomanser

    Actually, I’ve gotta say, Hemant, that this is the first time my vote may actually matter in an election; I moved from True Blue NY to Purple PA this year.

    I don’t want McCain to win. I’m not terribly jazzed about Obama either. While I’ll probably give into my hate and vote Obama, I’m increasingly tempted to vote for some wacky third party instead. Not the Libertarians or Greens; too mainstream. Maybe the Communists or Anarchists, if they have anyone on the ballot in my state.

    The more Democrats try to push Obama, the less I want to vote for him. It reminds me that I don’t really like the Democrats. I mean, I really don’t like the Republicans. But I don’t like the Democrats either.

  • Gullwatcher

    Socialized medicine i an example of government taking away choice.

    There speaks someone who has bought into big insurance’s scare tactics about “socialized medicine”. Even the name they have given it is meant to tap into American’s fears. Most of what people hear in this country are horror stories that have as much validity as anecdotal evidence usually does (ie, none).

    Go out an do some research about how it really works in, say, Canada for example. What you will find is that most people who live under systems like Canada or the UK are perfectly happy with it, and for those who are not, they can purchase medical services for themselves privately.

    Nobody’s choice is taken away by these systems.

    On the contrary, it creates choice. How many people are tied to jobs they hate by the necessity of keeping their insurance? Get rid of that fear and that necessity, and new businesses would spring up by the thousands, started by those people becoming entrepreneurs. Universal medical coverage may well create the biggest economic boon this country has ever seen.

  • Aethertrekker

    There are a few intelligent reasons not to vote. One is that both sides of the aisle want to interfere with our lives. McCain and the social conservatives want to push religion into the public sphere, enforce biblical mandates against most kinds of sexuality, etc. Obama and the socialists want to tax us heavily and spend it on doctors they choose for us.

    Another reason is that in choosing the lesser of two undesirable candidates, I would still be choosing someone I view as evil. Both candidates want to expand the size and scope of government at my expense and enforce their views of morality on the rest of us. Joe Biden in particular is a well known soldier in the war on drug choice.

    A third reason is that since it isn’t easy to figure out who will do the most damage to the country, why not just protest against both of them? McCain will likely get into more wars besides the one in Iraq and cause untold suffering, but no one really knows what kind of foreign policy decisions Obama would make. He has made a lot of belligerent talk, but aside from that, we have few indicators as to what he will do.

    Both candidates have talked about creating a National Service Corp, somewhat like the peace corp but with the budget of the US Army. I don’t want to pay for that at all, but I don’t get a choice here. I do want to make it clear that I don’t choose either Obama or McCain. I’m not in favor of their policies, and I hope that more of the country agrees next election.

    P.S. I’m a recently deconverted atheist/freethinker, and I really enjoy this website!

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  • http://AgnosticOracle.livejournal.com AgnosticOracle

    We need someone stupid enough to understand that the president of the United States can’t solve many problems without taking away freedom and therefore shouldn’t try.

    I think that was the hurricane Katrina plan. How did that work out again?

    Personally I kind of like the interstate highway system, the subway, the space program, social security, and the internet.

  • Polly

    What we need is a new system.

    May I suggest the Magic 8-ball as a proposed improvement to our current system of governance?
    No one can rely on it to further their interests. It’s completely class, race, and gender neutral. It’s easy to operate and decisions are arrived at in mere seconds. It’s not susceptible to bribes or special interest groups, it doesn’t care about reelection, and it fits in a small sack.

    Plus, it can’t possibly be any more stupid or vile than the bozos that have been running things for the past 30 years.

  • http://wavespace.info/ Guy Mac

    So Penn thinks that he is way more stupid than George W. Bush. I guess that explains why he’s “not sure” about global warming.

  • flynn

    Penn is a smart guy, but has a blind faith spot when it comes to politics.

    His believe in the invisible hand isn’t less ridiculous than believe in a deity and his CATO institute propaganda spread thinly veiled in Bullsh*t isn’t much better than creationist’s methods.

  • bd

    While I disagree with the Libertarian point of view in general, I do wish that third-party candidates had better representation in the US. That said, this is NOT the year to try it. T3knomancer, et al, I understand your desire for a different kind of candidate. I’m a socialist, myself. But do you honestly think that throwing your vote away on a third party candidate (and it IS throwing it away until we have a system that isn’t “winner take all”) is going to help? No, it’s going to help the Republicans, who rely on the complacency of socially-conscious voters to get elected. If McCain is president (or worse, Palin succeeds him), you can bet your ass that any non-mainstream candidates or ideals that you support will have NO chance of surviving, whereas Obama has shown sympathy towards progressive causes (queer rights, separation of church and state, etc.), even if he can’t endorse them directly. If we can get this country back to the center of the political spectrum by electing Obama, then there’s a much better chance that we’ll get more third-party candidates in the game.

  • llewelly

    Is this satire?
    Or has Penn, tired of advocating lung cancer denialism and global warming denialism, moved on to advocating the wrecking crew theory of government?

  • http://t3knomanser.livejournal.com t3knomanser

    @bd: I don’t have any interest in getting this country “back to center” on the political spectrum. I want to destroy the political spectrum. I want to fragment society and destroy our system of government.

    As painlessly as possible, of course. Violent revolutions don’t really work out well in the end. Ideally, this would be brought about by creating a shadow government that operates without interactions with the primary government; at a point where the shadow government can overtake major functions of society, it could just simply supplant the current system and nobody would need to be the wiser.

    I don’t know exactly how to bring this about, but it’s high time we stopped working within a system that is ideologically corrupt. Voting is an act of obedience to a social organization that is the enemy of freedom.

    Also: socialism is a legacy of industrial society and is as outmoded as capitalism in the modern context. Like representative government, our current economic philosophies need to be abandoned as well.

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  • Aj

    Jillette is an extreme libertarian, he doesn’t believe the government should tax him for roads, energy, education, or NASA. To him Obama would be taking as much freedom as McCain. I think Jillette is probably in the tax bracket that’s going to be hit harder by Obama than McCain, the one with few people but lots of money. I haven’t met many poor libertarians.

    While libertarians may say the opposite, I don’t think they really believe services will be better delivered by the market. That’s just propaganda to fool people. They just don’t believe the services can be delivered by the government, so want freedom from the government instead.

    Jillette’s stance on things like national health care and global warming has less to do with evidence and truth, and more to do with his want of freedom. Either way his preference is for the government to do nothing, so it’s conveniant for him to say national health care doesn’t work, or global warming isn’t real.

    If there wasn’t evidence for global warming, then I wouldn’t want my government spending loads on it, but if there is I would. What can I say? I’m a socialist, but I like competitive markets also. I believe the market doesn’t solve all problems and that unregulated business forms monopolies and cartels. That if education was a business instead of being educated, children would be indoctrinated into dogmas from the highest bidder.

  • bd

    @t3knomanser: Okay, kid. You have fun reinventing the whole damn political system into one you can’t seem to explain, operating according to economic principles that you have yet to invent. Also, a way to implement it that isn’t underhandedly fascistic, as your oh-so-conspiratorial “shadow government” sounds to be. Then we’ll talk. No, seriously. Come up with a well-outlined economic political system and a reasonable plan of action for bringing it about, and I’ll consider it with an open mind. Until then, you’re all talk, and those of us who are concerned for social welfare will be creating ACTUAL change through activist lobbying and grassroots organizing.

  • ubi dubius

    What I would like to see in elections is the possibility of a negative vote. Each voter could cast one vote, either for 1 candidate or against 1 candidate. In a 2 person race, it makes only a psychological difference. In a 3 or more person race, it could give 3rd party and independent candidates a chance.

    For example, a libertarian voter is faced with the choice of a libertarian candidate and two major party candidates. The voter thinks the republican would be a safer choice than the democrat. Traditionally, the voter could vote for his favorite candidate and not influence the outcome of the election or vote for his #2 choice. With negative voting, he could instead vote against his least favorite, helping the #2 choice win, but still making a statement for his first love, the libertarian candidate. If others cast against the republican, the libertarian actually has a chance.

    The result here is similar to instant runoff elections. Studies of instant runoff elections show that increased number of choices (picking 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices) confuses voters. The negative voting is simpler. It also provides a psychological advantage in possibly warning politicians that they are really not doing well. “Senator A just won reelection with -100 votes against candidate B who had -900.” Do you think the challengers are coming out in force next time?

    I think the results would be very interesting.

  • Mark

    If we could find a lazier, less charismatic, stupider person than me to be president, I’d be all for it

    Can we assume that Jillette is a big fan of GWB? I kind of hope so, because if he’s saying that he wants someone even stupider – now that I find truly frightening.

    It’s also interesting that he seems to be equating stupidity with libertarianism, even though he is one.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    I love Penn.

    however I disagree with Hemant re:

    While it may be nice if the government imposed on our lives less, many of our problems can be fixed only through government intervention.

    As a Conservative, I believe that many of our problems are because of government. I would prefer that the government stay out of nearly every aspect of daily life. Providing for the common defense and “general welfare” (a broad term that is open to interpretation…) is quite enough, thank you very much.

    That is one of the fundamental differences between a Conservative and a Liberal. A Conservative, in general, does not look to the government for solutions to problems. In my opinion, there are no true Conservatives (the way I define the term) running for office. McCain is, I suppose, the closest approximation, and will (begrudgingly) get my vote.

    NB: I don’t equate Republican with Conservative. Most GOP’ers today (Bush, McCain, Huckabee, etc) are not Conservatives in my book. The party that most closely represents true conservative values is, imho, the Libertarian party.

    And there’s my two cents. I know you were all dying to know… :-)

    ATL-Apostate

  • David D.G.

    Aethertrekker wrote:

    A third reason is that since it isn’t easy to figure out who will do the most damage to the country, why not just protest against both of them?

    Aethertrekker, that’s a valid strategem, but opting out of the voting process altogether won’t be seen as a “protest”; to the vote counters, it’s completely indistinguishable from simple absence — or, indeed, from apathy.

    The only way to make a protest is to actually cast a vote, but cast it for your favorite candidate (or at least the one you think comes closest to representing your views). Or, heck, even vote for a write-in candidate to indicate your contempt for the system. But if you just don’t even show up at the polls, your input is not counted AT ALL.

    Writing to your senators and your congressman about reforming the electoral process might not be a bad idea either; it may not help, but it’s the only other option within the existing system that you’ve got — and unless you are advocating an actual revolution, working within the system is all we have.

    ~David D.G.

  • http://thehappyhuman.wordpress.com John

    t3knomanser:

    a rule based decision making system that generally leaves humans out of the decision making process

    How do you make a decision without humans?

    You’re either proposing a total logical contradiction, or you’re not really explaining yourself very well.

  • http://ghostsofminnesota.blogspot.com Ghost of Minnesota

    Penn is an awesome entertainer and an important voice in the skeptical/pro-science community. I love the guy.

    But when it comes to politics, he’s a dumbass.

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    @Aj- You’ve met a “poor” libertarian now :) I’m a poor college junior with a few student loans.

    Although I’m not as extreme as the libertarianism you describe, I am obviously in favor in as little government intervention as possible. For instance, instead of a Dept. of Education, why not run schools locally? It’s more efficient, but can still be paid through tax dollars.

    Certain things the government provides seem to be okay to me- as long as everyone has equal access. Roads are an example of this, universal health care is not. (Why should people with money, or the middle class, be paying for the pauper’s health care? They can donate money, but it should be optional- not mandatory through taxes. This also goes for medicare and welfare.) Failing that, give tax credits. Tax credits are a very important tool that fits perfectly in the libertarian philosophy. Want to attend a private school? Tax credit. (If tax credits were added to this whole socialized medicine deal, it might change it up a bit.)

    Anyway, the name “universal health care” is the euphemism (this is in response to someone else’s post). “Socialized medicine” is not the bad phrase here. Socialism isn’t an inherently evil concept, people just think it is. It’s simply calling a spade, a spade.

    Oh, and I don’t really think that socialists believe it’s okay to take money from people with money and give it to people with less money ;) (Note the sarcasm, please.)

    What do I mean? Don’t tell me what I believe. :)

    I have no illusions. This isn’t about government ineffectiveness, it is about the Constitution. (Although that isn’t to say that government is effective- sometimes they are, most of the time they aren’t.)

    Someone said that elections are now about how the government is going to help you- instead of how the government is going to be smaller. That says it all.

  • Cathy

    About the socialized medicine and freedom. Where is the freedom in someone dying from a preventable or treatable disease because they are too poor? Where is the freedom of people with disabilities that no insurance company will cover because it’s a preexisting condition? Where is the freedom of a person who has insurance but whose insurance refuses to pay and the court battles run on so long that they die before they get treated? Where is the freedom of a parent who must decide between taking their child to the doctor or putting food on the table? Basic medical care is nessecary for the freedom of the poor and the disabled. Imagine not having the freedom to see, to walk, to live without constant pain, or even to live at all because of income, other social status, or corporate greed. How could that ever be freedom?

  • Gullwatcher

    @Aethertrekker

    There are a few intelligent reasons not to vote

    Leave the “a” out of that, and I agree.

    why not just protest against both of them?

    An interesting approach to protest, but a protest that is indistinguishable from apathy is ineffective. If you aren’t part of the process, then you have no right to gripe about what the government does.

    If you want to protest, then actually protest. Don’t just sit there on some purported moral high ground and pretend that a lack of action is a protest.

    Obama and the socialists want to tax us heavily and spend it on doctors they choose for us

    Well, it’s good to know what kind of lies and propaganda the right is spreading this week. I especially like the “Obama and the socialists” touch – it really punches up that right wing fear factor. Unless you have a factual and unbiased source for this accusation that they are going to “choose our doctors” for us, one that shows that all details of the future national health plan have already been worked out? I strongly doubt that you do, but if so, please post it.

  • Kate

    Thanks for posting about this.

    When I heard Penn rant about this at TAM 6 I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor.

    He is way off base here. His opinions on the environment are similarly frightening.

  • Gullwatcher

    Cathy, I completely agree. We are where we are because medicine has gone from being a calling and a profession to an obscenely profitable business, and that needs to be changed.

    That said, calling it “socialized medicine” makes it even more of an uphill battle. That phrase has a stigma and carries a lot of inaccurate baggage, and gives the right wing just that much more ammunition to shoot it down with.

    Call it a national health plan, or something, anything else that doesn’t have the word “socialized” in it – because that’s not what it will be, and it scares people. There has to be a way to make affordable health care available to everyone, but if we let the right wing damn it with the term “socialized”, we will never get a chance to create a fair system.

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    @Cathy- Where is the freedom in forcing working families to pay for the health care of another?

    Universal health care is socialized medicine. There are no illusions here. “Universal health care” is people paying for other people’s health care. This is socialism.

  • dave

    “There speaks someone who has bought into big insurance’s scare tactics about “socialized medicine”. ”

    Not at all. As cathy has seconded, this is simply an accurate description of said system.

    That being said, i don’t know a single person who has actually researched the issue who truly prefers a socialist system. Certianly, an accurate assessment of the healthcare of, say, england ( multi-month waiting periods for an MRI,if you’re going blind, they treat one eye, etc ) makes the US system look good.

    “That said, calling it “socialized medicine” makes it even more of an uphill battle. ”

    It makes your position look weak if you have to call your program something other than what it is to try to get it through.

  • Miko
    Socialized medicine i an example of government taking away choice.

    There speaks someone who has bought into big insurance’s scare tactics about “socialized medicine”

    No, whether you think socialized medicine is good or bad, it definitely is taking away a choice you previously had. Without socialized medicine, you had the choice to not have any sort of health care. With it, you have to pay for it even if you don’t want any sort of medical attention. It’s not about scare tactics: it’s about certain people defending their right to make really, really bad decisions.

  • William

    Every day the private sector delivers BILLIONS in high quality goods and services, often without anyone even noticing. The only time you do notice is when a mistake is made, and then there is some other business to turn to when customer support fails you. When was the last time you stood in line for the DMV, or was in a disaster zone, or got a jury summons, or dealt with the VA, or the TSA, (I could go on and on)? And we want these same people in charge of our health care?!?!? There is no accountabitity and no competition to ensure that government ensures a good product or service. In what world do you guys live in where the government does things well? Is our system perfect? No, but the evidence speaks for itself: we are better served by a free market. That is Penn’s ultimate message. He makes his living being a blunt and blustery entertainer, so you kinda have to wade past the BS (pun intended). I challenge you to show me how the government has really helped us to improve the quality of our lives. Seriously, change my mind.

  • Tom

    Penn should run for office.

    Health care is not a right.

    This post is more harmful to this site’s community than helpful.

    Read Ayn Rand.

  • Aj

    BurntSushi,

    Although I’m not as extreme as the libertarianism you describe, I am obviously in favor in as little government intervention as possible. For instance, instead of a Dept. of Education, why not run schools locally? It’s more efficient, but can still be paid through tax dollars.

    That’s not smaller government, that’s devolution of power to local government.

    Certain things the government provides seem to be okay to me- as long as everyone has equal access. Roads are an example of this, universal health care is not. (Why should people with money, or the middle class, be paying for the pauper’s health care? They can donate money, but it should be optional- not mandatory through taxes. This also goes for medicare and welfare.)

    I don’t understand how roads are an example of equal access but healthcare is not.

    Failing that, give tax credits. Tax credits are a very important tool that fits perfectly in the libertarian philosophy. Want to attend a private school? Tax credit. (If tax credits were added to this whole socialized medicine deal, it might change it up a bit.)

    Libertarians would be opposed to government running the system. Socialists wouldn’t like it because there would be no redistribution of wealth. Sounds more like policy from a party that serves the wealthy, not interested in social justice, or liberty.

    Anyway, the name “universal health care” is the euphemism (this is in response to someone else’s post). e usual order.

    “Healthcare for all” isn’t a euphemism. Try publicly-funded healthcare. I don’t hear socialists use the verb “socialized”, it’s a propaganda slogan, and it’s not just medicine, it’s healthcare.

  • Gullwatcher

    For pete’s sake, will you guys get your heads out of the right wing propaganda machine’s ass and just listen? A national health care plan is about PAYING for health care and making it afforable, not about changing the health care delivery system.

    So, dave, BurntSushi, Miko, and William – are you going to refuse Medicare when you hit 65, since it’s one of those immoral socialized systems? Yeah, sure – I won’t be holding my breath for that…

    @dave

    Not at all. As cathy has seconded, this is simply an accurate description of said system.

    Really? We don’t have any kind of health care plan. How do you have an accurate description of something that doesn’t exist? Sounds like religion to me, you’re just making something up and pretending it’s true.

    That being said, i don’t know a single person who has actually researched the issue who truly prefers a socialist system.

    Of course not – because you are redefining it to be what it isn’t. A national health plan like Canada’s is NOT a socialist system. And many, who have thoroughly researched it, DO prefer the Canadian system. It’s affordable and fair, and the horror stories you hear are right wing propaganda.

    For an accurate, non-hysterical account of what the Canadian system is really like, see here.

    It makes your position look weak if you have to call your program something other than what it is to try to get it through.

    Already answered – I did state that one of the major reasons we shouldn’t call it that is that that isn’t an accurate description of the kind of national health plan we want. How does refusing an inaccurate label weaken the position?

    @BurntSushi

    Where is the freedom in forcing working families to pay for the health care of another?

    Universal health care is socialized medicine. There are no illusions here. “Universal health care” is people paying for other people’s health care.

    That last bit, about paying for other people’s health care? That what all insurance is, be it health, fire, or auto – paying for coverage (your money is then paid out to other people for their claims) in the hope that we won’t need it. Do you advocate getting rid of all insurance? I’m pretty sure you don’t, so what’s your beef with making it easily available and affordable? For-profit companies aren’t going to do that on their own, or they would have done it by now, the only hope is for the government to make it available. Is there a way you can redefine that kind of a national health plan to somehow be “socialized medicine”? I’m sure you will try.

    @Miko

    Without socialized medicine, you had the choice to not have any sort of health care. With it, you have to pay for it even if you don’t want any sort of medical attention.

    Actually, we already have this problem, in an ineffective and costly way. Hospitals can’t refuse to treat patients, so the feds make up the deficit for unpaid bills. That, plus Medicaid, means that the govenment already pays for the poorest, but since they are much sicker when they finally get treatment, it costs much more. A national health plan would just reduce the costs for all of us.

    It’s not about scare tactics: it’s about certain people defending their right to make really, really bad decisions.

    Which bad decision would that be – being unable to get affordable private insurance or developing MS or Alzheimers? Funny, I don’t think of any of those as a choice….

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    @Aj-

    That’s not smaller government, that’s devolution of power to local government.

    It’s smaller government in that it costs less, and education is more directly run by citizens and not by government mandates and regulations.

    I don’t understand how roads are an example of equal access but healthcare is not.

    Everyone can use roads equally. Roads are not given preference to anyone of different fiscal classes. Socialized health care does- it gives advantage to those in lower fiscal classes off the backs of people in higher fiscal classes.

    Libertarians would be opposed to government running the system. Socialists wouldn’t like it because there would be no redistribution of wealth. Sounds more like policy from a party that serves the wealthy, not interested in social justice, or liberty.

    You forget my disposition- I am not “wealthy” by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I have but a few hundred dollars to my name. Tax credits are a perfect example of social justice, because it gives monetary exemption to people who choose to pay more for private school. They shouldn’t have to pay for public education if they aren’t going to use it.

    “Healthcare for all” isn’t a euphemism. Try publicly-funded healthcare.

    Fine that works too. So does “socialized” health care. I repeat- public-funded health care is having people pay for others’ health care. This is socialism. This is “public-funded”. It is also universal health care, yes, but that title doesn’t lend any credence to how the program is instituted, and is thus misleading. Nobody is going to argue against the idea of health care for all, but there will be plenty of arguments of how we get there.

    I don’t hear socialists use the verb “socialized”, it’s a propaganda slogan, and it’s not just medicine, it’s healthcare.

    Fine… Socialized health care. It is a propaganda slogan in the essence that people think socialism is inherently evil (which it isn’t). But that doesn’t change the fact that it is socialized health care.

    @Gullwatcher-

    So, dave, BurntSushi, Miko, and William – are you going to refuse Medicare when you hit 65, since it’s one of those immoral socialized systems? Yeah, sure – I won’t be holding my breath for that…

    I don’t know. I will hope not. That’s a long time from now. Ideally, it won’t be around then.

    That last bit, about paying for other people’s health care? That what all insurance is, be it health, fire, or auto – paying for coverage (your money is then paid out to other people for their claims) in the hope that we won’t need it. Do you advocate getting rid of all insurance? I’m pretty sure you don’t, so what’s your beef with making it easily available and affordable? For-profit companies aren’t going to do that on their own, or they would have done it by now, the only hope is for the government to make it available. Is there a way you can redefine that kind of a national health plan to somehow be “socialized medicine”? I’m sure you will try.

    Insurance is issued by private companies. Nobody is obligated to have insurance. (I know there are laws to the contrary, but I obviously disagree with them.) That’s the key point. You keep talking about the bottom line- “making health care affordable.” LOL. I’m not against that. Talk about how you get there. I’m against making health care affordable at the expense of non-optional taxes paving the way- funded not only by Fortune 500 CEO’s, but working families as well.

    Universal health care requires people with money to pay for the health care of those that don’t have money. This is socialism.

    Imagine I point a gun at your head and demand all of your money. I tell you that I am going to use it all to feed children in Africa. Am I right to do this?

    (Yes, this is a valid comparison. If you don’t pay your taxes, you can consider yourself screwed.)

  • Aethertrekker

    I won’t vote for someone who is advocating high taxes and more government control of health care and the economy, but I still want to send a strong message to the Republicans that fronting horrible candidates like McCain will lose them elections.

    Elections are usually won or lost by how motivated the base to vote for the candidate, so I think that changing one’s voter registration to Independent or Libertarian might send a louder message to the Republican party than a mere vote would.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    I’m for less government, but based on some of the reports about McCain being Bush’s 3rd term, I’d say if he gets in, government will expand even more. I seriously doubt he’s interested in doing anything other than “business as usual” and adding to our mess of what we currently have.

    Obama will add to government as well, but from his positions, a good portion of what he’s adding will help people, not take them down.

    As for people spewing the blanket statement that “Obama will raise your taxes”, read the details before misinforming everyone. Unless everyone saying that makes more than $250k a year.

    I’ve always enjoyed most things Penn has put out… he seems to have placed a lot of thought on the subjects he speaks about.

  • William

    My point is we won’t have a choice, the government will run it poorly, and we will pay through the nose in taxes for this glorious healthcare system. Bad all around. You still didn’t answer my question- do you really want the same folks who responded to hurricane Katrina running your healthcare?

  • Aj

    BurntSushi,

    It’s smaller government in that it costs less, and education is more directly run by citizens and not by government mandates and regulations.

    I’m pretty sure libertarianism isn’t about cost efficiency, that’s not what they mean by smaller government. The libertarian stance would be no government run education. I don’t know why local government is more efficient and costs less. It could be the case that centralized government would allow for smaller government, similar to an economy of scale.

    Everyone can use roads equally. Roads are not given preference to anyone of different fiscal classes. Socialized health care does- it gives advantage to those in lower fiscal classes off the backs of people in higher fiscal classes.

    You have successfully repeated your previous statement in longer form.

    Tax credits are a perfect example of social justice, because it gives monetary exemption to people who choose to pay more for private school. They shouldn’t have to pay for public education if they aren’t going to use it.

    I don’t see a point in having a public education system at all.

    Fine… Socialized health care. It is a propaganda slogan…

    Thank you. You don’t say socialized education system, or socialized roads. No, it’s the contested area of healthcare…

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    I’m pretty sure libertarianism isn’t about cost efficiency, that’s not what they mean by smaller government. The libertarian stance would be no government run education. I don’t know why local government is more efficient and costs less. It could be the case that centralized government would allow for smaller government, similar to an economy of scale.

    Smaller government leads to cost efficiency. It is more efficient because it tends to each schools more individual needs, rather than trying to accommodate federal mandates. Centralized government “allowing” small government means that centralized government still has the power.

    You have successfully repeated your previous statement in longer form.

    Yes… To explain that socialized health care is preferential to the poor and roads are preferential to nobody.

    I don’t see a point in having a public education system at all.

    Yes, this is something I grapple with myself. It’s easy to brand new programs not yet instantiated as socialized, but removing the mask from programs that have existed for more than a century- it’s more difficult. This same exploration can be applied to the Postal Service.

    But I do agree. Search no further than great minds like Washington, Franklin, or Lincoln and you’ll find they were barely schooled, flunked out, or taught themselves, respectively.

    A first step is getting rid of the Department of Education.

    Thank you. You don’t say socialized education system, or socialized roads. No, it’s the contested area of healthcare…

    Bah. Getting too hung up on terminology. Yes our education system is socialized and bloated, but I do not believe our roads are. They are equally used by all. Education and socialized health care are not.

    By the way, I say “socialized health care” and not “socialized education” because we are talking about a system that is desired, not already in place. If I were to simply say “universal health care” or just “health care” I would find it misleading (universal health care doesn’t say much except the gleeful idea of “health care for all”). When I say education, I can be reasonably safe that people know what I’m talking about.

    When it comes down to it, I personally don’t care what you call it. I’m not interested in debasing ideas based on what we call them. If you think I say “socialized” as to negatively and unfairly connotate the idea, than I apologize- but I am simply calling it what I believe it to be. Yes it is also universal health care, but socialized health care more aptly describes what it is.

    The only real problem here are the negative connotations that everyone has against words like “fascism”, “communism”, and “socialism”. That’s all.

    Please don’t mis-quote me either, that’s irresponsible.

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    Forgot to add:

    I am not against universal health care in the pedantic usage of the term. I don’t think anybody really is against it- otherwise I would question their humanity.

    But I am against socialized health care.

    That’s why there are two different terms. That’s why people opposing this universal health care system use the term “socialized medicine”- not only because it is socialized, but also, because to say you’re against “health care for all” would seem quite crass. This is the euphemistic nature behind the phrase “universal health care”…

    It’s the path to universal health care people are arguing against…

  • http://odgie.wordpress.com odgie

    If John McCain and Sarah Palin win the election, you can bet they’ll be trying to take over decisions you ought to be making on your own. Barack Obama wouldn’t want that.

    How’s the kool-aid over there? Talk about blind faith! All political parties want to take away choices that we should be making for ourselves, the only difference is the choices themselves.

  • Gullwatcher

    @BurntSushi

    Everyone can use roads equally. Roads are not given preference to anyone of different fiscal classes.

    I can’t afford a car. Spending tax money on roads definitely gives preferential treatment to those that can afford cars and gas, and they make far more use of them than I. It is a perfectly legitimate comparison to healthcare.

    Insurance is issued by private companies. Nobody is obligated to have insurance.

    You are completely wrong on this one, and I’m not talking about legal requirements for auto insurance. The truth is that medical insurance is a catch-22. Once insurance became widespread, market forces ceased to operate on the costs of medical care. Instead of having to keep costs down to what people could afford, medical providers could charge five times what people could afford, because most people had insurance that would pay for 80% of the care and they only had to pay 20%. The result was that costs skyrocketed beyond what anyone who wasn’t wealthy could pay, making insurance a necessity. As long as insurance exists, that’s not going to change, and insurance isn’t going to go away. Making it universal would fix that.

    So yes, the market forces of medical insurance have created a necessity for medical insurance. Anyone not extremely wealthy is obligated to have insurance if they want healthcare. It’s just not affordable otherwise. What’s worse, it’s getting to the point where even the insurance is not affordable.

    Universal health care requires people with money to pay for the health care of those that don’t have money. This is socialism.

    Again, how does this differ from requiring me to pay for roads when I don’t have a car?

    It’s not socialism, it’s a risk pool. It doesn’t mean you pay for someone else’s healthcare, it means everybody, including you, has access. That’s not socialism, it’s civilization.

    Imagine I point a gun at your head and demand all of your money. I tell you that I am going to use it all to feed children in Africa. Am I right to do this?

    Taxes are not theft, they are the price of living in a modern civilized country, and frankly, we have a very light tax burden compared to most places. FYI, you can opt out of taxes, just go live live in a hut in the middle of the woods, off the grid, and the IRS won’t bother you there. Strangely, most people don’t want to leave the comforts of civilization, they just want to bitch and moan about paying the taxes that make them possible.

    Let me throw one back at you – it’s ten years from now, and your kid fell out a window. You just lost your insurance when you lost your job and haven’t been able to find a company to provide private coverage yet, and the hospital says so sorry, we can’t treat your kid without a $40,000 cash deposit up front, before we start treatment, because that’s what we think it’s going to cost. Are you going to say, well, that’s fair to everybody, watch your kid die before you can get the money, and then congratulate yourself on living where your tax dollars aren’t wasted on other people?

  • Rob

    Can we assume that Jillette is a big fan of GWB?

    Clearly you don’t understand what he’s saying.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    ubi dubius Says:
    …negative vote. Each voter could cast one vote, either for 1 candidate or against 1 candidate.

    That’s an intriguing idea. It indeed may help to draw attention to third-party candidates. It also might mean the main parties will just nominate very bland, safe candidates. But I agree that some change is needed in our electoral process. For example, I’m not a fan of the electoral college (winner take all).

  • Aj

    BurntSushi,

    Smaller government leads to cost efficiency. It is more efficient because it tends to each schools more individual needs, rather than trying to accommodate federal mandates.

    It’s not smaller government in the libertarian sense. Again, scaling and centralizing can lead to cost efficiency in business, and it could for schools too.

    To explain that socialized health care is preferential to the poor and roads are preferential to nobody.

    Because the poor are sick? Who is more likely to own cars? Where do roads get built?

    But I do agree. Search no further than great minds like Washington, Franklin, or Lincoln and you’ll find they were barely schooled, flunked out, or taught themselves, respectively.

    I have no problem saying that to be an intelligent, knowledgable, skilled, and successful individual you don’t require a formal education. I don’t accept what you’re implying, the education system does educate people who wouldn’t have been otherwise.

    It’s the path to universal health care people are arguing against…

    In no libertarian system would there be health care for everyone. Everyone would have equal right to purchase it, but in a capitalist society there would always be those without wealth.

  • cipher

    t3knomanser,

    There is a form of government that meets some of you requirements – proportional representation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation). Most of the European countries implement some form of it, and, as I often say here – they do just about everything better than we do.

    Of course, there’s still the human element. I don’t see any way around that. Perhaps Commander Data isn’t doing anything?

    I also agree with those who are advocating “socialized” medicine. PBS (Frontline, I think) did a program about it a few months ago. It works extremely well in other countries. The only people I ever hear complaining about it are rich people who aren’t being bumped up to “first class”.

  • dave

    “For pete’s sake, will you guys get your heads out of the right wing propaganda machine’s ass and just listen? ”

    Listen, gullwatcher, people have been posting reasons they don’t want socalist healthcare. *You’re* the one who hasn’t posted an argument, just soundbites.

    Accusing your opponents of being “dupes” over and over isn’t an argument.

    “Really? We don’t have any kind of health care plan. How do you have an accurate description of something that doesn’t exist?”

    You might want to check the news. There is an election going on, and the candidates have been making proposals. Praying for guidance isn’t going to work here. ;)

    Again, you keep trying to dispute the fact that you are proposing a socialist system, while not deigning to explain why forcing everyone to pay for a system they may or may not like, forcing people to accept whatever care the government sees fit to give them for their own money, and ot givign doctors latitude to choose whatever care the patiwnt and doctor like, is is not socalist.

    If you want to have a discussion, you have to actually talk about points and facts, not just label your opponent.

  • dave

    “Once insurance became widespread, market forces ceased to operate on the costs of medical care.”

    Economists are going to laugh at you for saying this. We all need food, but grocery stores don’t charge a thousand dollars per egg.

    Furthermore, one of the big socalist complaints has been companies refusing pay bills, shortchanging doctors, etc.

    “It’s not socialism, it’s a risk pool. It doesn’t mean you pay for someone else’s healthcare, it means everybody, including you, has access. That’s not socialism, it’s civilization.”

    If i pay taxes for healthcare, unless you guarantee i can only touch those dollars, yes, it means i am paying for someone else’s health care.

    Now, of course, i do that now with my current health insurance. Difference is, i can shop around for a good plan and doctors, i can keep myself healthy and get discounts and avoid co-pays,
    etc. If your socalist system gets into place, i lose those options, and the people who voted for patriot 2, FISA, and to fund the iraq war get to give me what they want. No thanks!

  • http://jcape.ignore-your.tv/ James Cape

    dave: You’re focusing on single bell-ringer sentences and completely ignoring the meat of his arguments which, while poorly stated, is still ultimately rooted in concepts of supply/demand.

    What he’s saying is that because insurance companies account for 85% of the market for health care, their willingness to pay accounts for much of the price of health care. They have much deeper pockets than individuals given their business model, and much more ability to bargain down the price, so widespread use of health insurance has the net effect of driving the price of health care up.

    Which means that the 15% without insurance must pay even more than they had to without insurance. Eventually they simply can’t pay, which leads to debt delinquency and attending criminal problems (like the practice of giving fake names/SSNs so you aren’t saddled with that 50k debt).

  • False Prophet

    @Gullwatcher:

    Go out an do some research about how it really works in, say, Canada for example. What you will find is that most people who live under systems like Canada or the UK are perfectly happy with it, and for those who are not, they can purchase medical services for themselves privately.

    I don’t know about the UK, but here in Ontario, you do not have the choice to purchase better medical services (except in a rare few areas that public health care hasn’t caught up to, or services outside basic health care like cosmetic surgery or “alternative” medicine). There was a high-profile case in Quebec a year or two ago where a man fought for the right to buy better health care services.

    As it stands now, if you want better medical services, you have to go to the United States. Some Canadian politicians have been criticized for doing just that instead of waiting months to see a specialist, or get an organ donation, or an MRI.

    Also, most unionized employers or those hiring professionals provide a drug plan, yes. But it’s hardly universal. And there are things that OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) has taken away over the years, like dental exams and eye exams.

    Also, if you go to the emergency room, you could be waiting hours just to see a nurse-practitioner.

    Canada’s health care system is good in that it provides for the poor and working class, and as such while poverty is a problem here, it’s not such a crippling, self-esteem sapping epidemic that leads to high crime rates and crushing desperation. But without the availability of higher-tier care for those with the means, it means the rich will go abroad to seek better medical treatment (instead of spending their money here) and the middle class end up paying more for services (because of the nature of income tax) but not receiving better care.

    Some European countries, I believe, recognize this, and provide a basic level of health care for all residents but allow higher-income individuals to access better treatment.

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    @Gullwatcher-

    I can’t afford a car. Spending tax money on roads definitely gives preferential treatment to those that can afford cars and gas, and they make far more use of them than I. It is a perfectly legitimate comparison to healthcare.

    Wrong. You don’t need a car to use the roads. Get it now?

    You are completely wrong on this one, and I’m not talking about legal requirements for auto insurance. The truth is that medical insurance is a catch-22. Once insurance became widespread, market forces ceased to operate on the costs of medical care. Instead of having to keep costs down to what people could afford, medical providers could charge five times what people could afford, because most people had insurance that would pay for 80% of the care and they only had to pay 20%. The result was that costs skyrocketed beyond what anyone who wasn’t wealthy could pay, making insurance a necessity. As long as insurance exists, that’s not going to change, and insurance isn’t going to go away. Making it universal would fix that.

    So yes, the market forces of medical insurance have created a necessity for medical insurance. Anyone not extremely wealthy is obligated to have insurance if they want healthcare. It’s just not affordable otherwise. What’s worse, it’s getting to the point where even the insurance is not affordable.

    That’s another problem entirely, and I see no reason why this problem lends to the conclusion that government has to fix it.

    It’s not socialism, it’s a risk pool. It doesn’t mean you pay for someone else’s healthcare, it means everybody, including you, has access. That’s not socialism, it’s civilization.

    Wrong. It does mean you pay for someone else’s health care, because those who can’t afford it receive aide from the government- which is paid via taxes.

    Taxes are not theft, they are the price of living in a modern civilized country, and frankly, we have a very light tax burden compared to most places. FYI, you can opt out of taxes, just go live live in a hut in the middle of the woods, off the grid, and the IRS won’t bother you there. Strangely, most people don’t want to leave the comforts of civilization, they just want to bitch and moan about paying the taxes that make them possible.

    Twisting my argument… I’m not against taxes. Taxes are necessary. My comparison is to specifically highlight that socialism, when it comes down to it, is forced charity.

    Let me throw one back at you – it’s ten years from now, and your kid fell out a window. You just lost your insurance when you lost your job and haven’t been able to find a company to provide private coverage yet, and the hospital says so sorry, we can’t treat your kid without a $40,000 cash deposit up front, before we start treatment, because that’s what we think it’s going to cost. Are you going to say, well, that’s fair to everybody, watch your kid die before you can get the money, and then congratulate yourself on living where your tax dollars aren’t wasted on other people?

    I would plead my case to a charity, ask friends, or pull a John Q. :)

    @Aj-

    It’s not smaller government in the libertarian sense. Again, scaling and centralizing can lead to cost efficiency in business, and it could for schools too.

    De-centralization is small government. Taking power and giving it to the states and municipalities.

    “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

    That is small government. Education is an example of this.

    Because the poor are sick? Who is more likely to own cars? Where do roads get built?

    You do not need to own a car to use the roads.

    I don’t accept what you’re implying, the education system does educate people who wouldn’t have been otherwise.

    You know this, how? Look back in the history of this country before compulsory education. Compulsory education isn’t necessary to create an educated population.

    In no libertarian system would there be health care for everyone. Everyone would have equal right to purchase it, but in a capitalist society there would always be those without wealth.

    Like I said, I’m not against the idea of health care for all, that’s the key- it’s the path to it. I don’t know how else to re-phrase that.

    We humans have unlimited wants and desires, but there are limited resources. This is a cruel fact of nature. This fact means that some die so that others may live. If you want to turn that fact into a class struggle, then so be it.

  • Aj

    BurntSushi,

    De-centralization is small government.

    In a completely different sense than the smaller government that libertarians advocate. Small not because it’s less government, but small because of the areas it governs are small.

    You do not need to own a car to use the roads.

    Just one of many examples of where roads are not used equally.

    You know this, how? Look back in the history of this country before compulsory education. Compulsory education isn’t necessary to create an educated population.

    Without compulsory education places are not just uneducated, many people cannot read or write. I don’t know about the history of your country, but today, if the state doesn’t educate, then there’s going to be an awful lot of poor kids not learning a thing.

    Like I said, I’m not against the idea of health care for all, that’s the key- it’s the path to it. I don’t know how else to re-phrase that.

    We humans have unlimited wants and desires, but there are limited resources. This is a cruel fact of nature. This fact means that some die so that others may live. If you want to turn that fact into a class struggle, then so be it.

    You’re contradicting yourself or have decided to change the definition of words like “all” to mean “some”.

  • infopractical

    While it may be nice if the government imposed on our lives less, many of our problems can be fixed only through government intervention.

    If you’re just going to start with a warrantless claim, why post at all?

  • Gullwatcher

    @James Cape

    That’s not what I’m saying, although I can see how you would interpret it like that. So let me expand on it: Joe Lunchbox can afford to pay about 50 dollars for a doctor visit, and most people are in the same range. So the doctors either charge about $50 for a visit or have no patients. Then along comes insurance, which pays 80% of what the doctor charges. Suddenly, the doctor can charge $250 per visit without losing patients, since the insurance company will pay most of it and Joe still only has to pay $50. His neighbor, Fred, can’t get insurance, so now that the doctor is charging $250, he can’t afford to go at all. That’s what I meant by market forces ceasing to operate – there is no longer the control of the seller having to keep his prices down to what the customer can afford.

  • Gullwatcher

    @dave

    Listen, gullwatcher, people have been posting reasons they don’t want socalist healthcare. *You’re* the one who hasn’t posted an argument, just soundbites.

    Wow, you clearly don’t understand the concept of reason and argument since you whiz past mine without even seeing them and offer none of your own. All you can do is label any possible program as socialism and therefore automatically evil – if that’s not a sound bite, I don’t know what is.

    Again, you keep trying to dispute the fact that you are proposing a socialist system, while not deigning to explain why forcing everyone to pay for a system they may or may not like, forcing people to accept whatever care the government sees fit to give them for their own money, and ot givign doctors latitude to choose whatever care the patiwnt and doctor like, is is not socalist.

    Classic straw man – I’ve already rebutted that that is even the issue or what’s at stake. Possibly it’s a reading comprehension problem on your end?

    Economists are going to laugh at you for saying this. We all need food, but grocery stores don’t charge a thousand dollars per egg.

    Really, there’s food insurance now? Because unless there is, and it’s so common that it falsely inflates prices, that’s not a valid comparison.

    If i pay taxes for healthcare, unless you guarantee i can only touch those dollars, yes, it means i am paying for someone else’s health care.
    Now, of course, i do that now with my current health insurance. Difference is, i can shop around for a good plan and doctors, i can keep myself healthy and get discounts and avoid co-pays,etc.

    It’s interesting how the libertarian whiners always assume it’s them paying for other people’s health care, when it’s just as likely to be the opposite.

    You are living in a fantasy world if you think you are in complete control of your health. Wake up and smell reality – Jim Fixx is dead, and Keith Richards is still alive. Live as healthy as you want, it’s the luck of the draw whether any of the thousands of diseases that can’t be prevented with healthy living comes your way, and you end up getting far more out of the system than you paid in.

    @BurntSushi

    Wrong. You don’t need a car to use the roads.

    Let me make this clear, in the words of one syllable that seem to be necessary here: I do not have any type of wheeled vehicle (sorry, that’s two syllables) that uses a road. I’ll get arrested if I go on an interstate highway without one. Again, how is that fair?

    The other shibboleth that gets trotted out constantly is that “healthcare isn’t a right”. Well, neither are roads, or fire departments for that matter. Not every policy that leads to a better place to live and a better society is a right, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t provide them.

    That’s another problem entirely, and I see no reason why this problem lends to the conclusion that government has to fix it.

    It needs fixed, and I don’t see anyone else fixing it. If a government doesn’t protect individuals from greedy and powerful corporations screwing up people’s lives, then it’s not doing its job.

    I’m not against taxes. Taxes are necessary

    Then what’s wrong with taxes for health care? You still haven’t given a reason why health care is wrong and roads (or fire departments, or police) are ok. You just keep whining that it’s “socialism” without showing that it is in any way different from other services.

    And you know what? Don’t bother -it’s not really the point. You can call it socialism, you can call it forced charity, you can call it Aunt Martha for all I care, and it doesn’t really matter. It’s necessary, it’s fair, it will be good for society and this country, and it’s coming. Get used to it.

    I am so getting increasingly sick of whiny pathetic paranoid libertarians and conservatives who insist they shouldn’t be responsible for anyone but themselves. If the government spending $100 of your money on someone else’s sick kid is the worst thing that ever happens to you, then you are damned lucky.

    If you don’t want to be part of a fair and socially responsible society, go live in a cave. Just don’t pretend that you can live in a society without benefiting constantly from other people’s contributions, even if you don’t feel any call to do your part.

    You don’t need us? We don’t need you.

  • http://chronos-tachyon.net/ Chronos

    Wow. Someone needs to send Mr. Jillette the link to Unskilled and Unaware of It.

    Bush is already treading on the territory of being blind to his own faults. Someone stupider than Bush would probably feel even more confident in their ability to make big, sweeping changes without any forethought (e.g. No Child Left Behind). A President ought to be someone smart enough to understand their own limitations. The ideal President is one who can ask other people “Will my idea work?”, and then accept an answer of “No”.

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    Sorry for the late response, I was wallowing in sadness over Tom Brady’s recent injury.

    @Aj-

    Just one of many examples of where roads are not used equally.

    That’s up to the person. The roads do not benefit any specific financial class. Even people without any money use the roads to walk on, the bus, trolley’s, bicycles, etc. Equal access.

    Without compulsory education places are not just uneducated, many people cannot read or write. I don’t know about the history of your country, but today, if the state doesn’t educate, then there’s going to be an awful lot of poor kids not learning a thing.

    Now you’re using a correlation to try and prove something. The United States, before compulsory education, was one of the more educated society’s on the planet. What does this prove? That “compulsory education” isn’t required to educate.

    You’re contradicting yourself or have decided to change the definition of words like “all” to mean “some”.

    No. I said the idea of “health care for all” is something I am not intrinsically against. I just recognize that at this juncture in time, it is not possible to attain. Unlimited wants and needs with limited resources (this is the basis of economics) translates into some dying while others live.

    @Gullwatcher-

    Let me make this clear, in the words of one syllable that seem to be necessary here: I do not have any type of wheeled vehicle (sorry, that’s two syllables) that uses a road. I’ll get arrested if I go on an interstate highway without one. Again, how is that fair?

    Stop thinking so narrowly. I said, “you do not need a car to use the roads”- you then went on to say you don’t own a car. What are you trying to show? Roads can be used equally by all no matter their financial status- for walking, cycling, bus rides, trolleys, taxi’s, limos, etc. You do not need to drive a car yourself to use the roads.

    The other shibboleth that gets trotted out constantly is that “healthcare isn’t a right”. Well, neither are roads, or fire departments for that matter. Not every policy that leads to a better place to live and a better society is a right, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t provide them.

    Do it. Just don’t advantage those with a less amount of money. Fire departments and roads do not do this. (You’ll find this difficult to do, however, because the whole point of “health care for all” is providing money to those who cannot afford it- otherwise they would have it and there wouldn’t be a “problem”.) The point of roads or the fire department isn’t to exist because there are people who can’t afford those things- it’s equal access.

    It needs fixed, and I don’t see anyone else fixing it. If a government doesn’t protect individuals from greedy and powerful corporations screwing up people’s lives, then it’s not doing its job.

    Go read the Wealth of Nations. It might be wise to concentrate on the problem, insurance companies, instead of putting a band-aide on the whole thing and giving handouts to those who can’t afford the insurance.

    Then what’s wrong with taxes for health care? You still haven’t given a reason why health care is wrong and roads (or fire departments, or police) are ok. You just keep whining that it’s “socialism” without showing that it is in any way different from other services.

    I’m not whining about anything. I have numerous times shown how roads and fire departments are different than “health care for all”. The whole principle behind health care is giving money to those who can’t afford it. This is socialism. I’m not whining about socialism, I am simply showing that the common idea behind “health care for all” is in fact, socialism.

    It’s necessary, it’s fair, it will be good for society and this country, and it’s coming. Get used to it.

    LOL. It’s not fair. There is a purpose in calling it “forced charity” because “forced charity” isn’t fair… What don’t you understand about that?

    I am so getting increasingly sick of whiny pathetic paranoid libertarians and conservatives who insist they shouldn’t be responsible for anyone but themselves. If the government spending $100 of your money on someone else’s sick kid is the worst thing that ever happens to you, then you are damned lucky.

    Yeah… because I said that… I’m really paranoid. I’m simply arguing against the principle of health care for all under our Constitution. I’m not sure why you cannot continue a discussion with equanimity.

    If you don’t want to be part of a fair and socially responsible society, go live in a cave. Just don’t pretend that you can live in a society without benefiting constantly from other people’s contributions, even if you don’t feel any call to do your part.

    Congratulations. You have completely and irrevocably misunderstood everything about what I’ve been saying and the concept of libertarianism.

    I don’t pretend anything.

    You don’t need us? We don’t need you.

    Cool. Are you ready to join an adult conversation now?

    There is nothing wrong with charity. In fact, I donate whenever I can, and whenever there’s a blood drive going on at my school, I make every effort to attend. I encourage charity. It’s part of being human. I’m in college, and I have but a few hundred dollars to my name, but I do still try and contribute. Do not take me for a crass old man who doesn’t want anyone touching his money.

    No. What I support is the Constitution. It guarantees our right to be free. That includes choosing not to contribute to charity. I support that right.

    “Health care for all”, under the current idea, goes against that freedom. Health care for all isn’t about giving everyone equal access to medicine, it’s about helping those who cannot afford it. That’s fantastic. The problem? Don’t force people to help. This rules out using public money to finance such an idea.

    I live in Massachusetts, and even though I oppose the new health care system implemented, I still happily pay my taxes. I speak out against the program, but I’m never going to complain about having to actually pay my taxes. I still subscribe to the notion that we live in a representative democracy, and thus, must respect the wishes of the majority. I will however, continue to speak out against things I disagree with.

    Your disturbing characterization troubles me, and I somehow doubt you’ll be able to carry on this conversation with equanimity. If you want to give it another go, be by guest. But please, if you continue with broad generalizations and sweeping insults to how I live and think, then consider your rebuke to fall on deaf ears. I expect the same courtesy I’ve extended to you to be extended to me. I think that’s reasonable, no?

  • Aj

    BurntSushi,

    That’s up to the person. The roads do not benefit any specific financial class. Even people without any money use the roads to walk on, the bus, trolley’s, bicycles, etc. Equal access.

    We can agree that there is equal access but don’t tell me that the poor can walk, cycle, or take buses on roads while having the same benefit as the rich. What nonsense, if the road system was made for people who use their legs, bicycles, or buses, it would look very different. It doesn’t take a brilliant mind to imagine how roads could and in reality do benefit specific groups depending on how they are built.

    This doesn’t address the absence of an explanation of your repeated claim that a publicly funded health service is different to roads in this regard. The ones that I know of are equal access.

    Now you’re using a correlation to try and prove something. The United States, before compulsory education, was one of the more educated society’s on the planet. What does this prove? That “compulsory education” isn’t required to educate.

    a) I didn’t state a correlation, I’m pretty sure that’s called a prediction. Free and compulsory education does stop child labour, that is one of the purposes for its creation in many countries including the USA.

    b) No one said that compulsory education was required to educate or that the USA couldn’t be one of the most educated countries in the world without it.

    c) Is it ironic that you have used a correlation to “prove” your point? That the USA was one of the most educated without compuslory education doesn’t not prove your point at all. It’s merely a correlation.

    No. I said the idea of “health care for all” is something I am not intrinsically against. I just recognize that at this juncture in time, it is not possible to attain. Unlimited wants and needs with limited resources (this is the basis of economics) translates into some dying while others live.

    There are plenty of examples of health care, a service, that is provided to all. You have decided to use the phrase in a convoluted and unconventional way, to deliberately mislead.

    Capitalism does not guarantee the wealth that is required to access a private healthcare service. In what type of libertarian utopia do you suggest that there would ever be universal health care? As the phrase is often used, a health care service provided to all.

    You’re frequently being far too greedy, and straying from the sensible, rational, libertarian arguments about markets and government inability to deliver.

  • Gullwatcher

    @BurntSushi

    Roads can be used equally by all no matter their financial status- for walking, cycling, bus rides, trolleys, taxi’s, limos, etc. You do not need to drive a car yourself to use the roads.

    No, they are not of equal use. I live in a place where all the basics are within walking distance. All I personally need is a narrow path for walking or bicycling. But I have to pay taxes for expensive paved roads that I don’t need and can’t use for the sake of wealthier people who have cars. Again, how is this fair?

    Health care for all isn’t about giving everyone equal access to medicine

    Wrong again. That is exactly what it is about. Just like roads, just like fire departments, just like the post office.

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    @Aj-

    This doesn’t address the absence of an explanation of your repeated claim that a publicly funded health service is different to roads in this regard. The ones that I know of are equal access.

    This it the last time I’ll say it. The common idea behind universal health care benefits people who cannot afford it and takes away from people in higher financial classes. This is not the same for roads. Roads benefit all.

    Health care here in the US is equal access. However, not everyone can afford it. It depends on what your definition of “equal access” is. Either way, your solution to obtaining “equal access” is to throw more money at those who cannot afford it- thus giving them the money to obtain “equal access.” This isn’t solving the problem, but is like trying to put a band-aide on a bullet wound.

    I didn’t state a correlation, I’m pretty sure that’s called a prediction. Free and compulsory education does stop child labour, that is one of the purposes for its creation in many countries including the USA.

    I didn’t see it as a prediction. You said: “Without compulsory education places are not just uneducated, many people cannot read or write”- I then provided a counter-example: This country before compulsory education. That is not a correlation- it is a counter-example to the supposition that without compulsory education, “places are not just uneducated, many people cannot read or write.” A correlation suggests a trend, which is what you said. Mine was not a correlation because it was one instance in time, and I was making no generalizations. Simply that people can be educated without compulsory education.

    Capitalism does not guarantee the wealth that is required to access a private healthcare service. In what type of libertarian utopia do you suggest that there would ever be universal health care? As the phrase is often used, a health care service provided to all.

    Utopia? Hmmm… When did a utopia come into this? You are misunderstanding me. I’m merely stating that I’m not against the intrinsic idea of “health care for all” on its own merit- disregarding any political or economic philosophy. I don’t deny, that in a utopia, everyone would have equal access to health care. Unfortunately, a utopia is either impossible to attain or far beyond our life time.

    And you’re right about capitalism and any other economic system. We operate under limited resources.

    You’re frequently being far too greedy, and straying from the sensible, rational, libertarian arguments about markets and government inability to deliver.

    Why should I speak out against things only because I believe the government can’t deliver? Why would I then trust the government to do anything? I don’t take on the philosophy that the government is intrinsically bad at all things. I take on the philosophy that in most cases, private markets can do better because of competition, and public finances shouldn’t be used for charity.
    @Gullwatcher-

    No, they are not of equal use. I live in a place where all the basics are within walking distance. All I personally need is a narrow path for walking or bicycling. But I have to pay taxes for expensive paved roads that I don’t need and can’t use for the sake of wealthier people who have cars. Again, how is this fair?

    Now you’re being pedantic. Is your place of residence on a private street or a public street? You never walk on steets? You never take buses, taxis, or friend’s vehicles to other locations? Do you want me to honestly believe that you never use the roads- at all? Do you have visitors? Do you receive packages in the mail? Roads are a service that benefits all, even if you don’t walk on them.

    If you want to continue being pedantic, then perhaps there is a tax credit for people who never use the roads? :)

    Wrong again. That is exactly what it is about. Just like roads, just like fire departments, just like the post office.

    Prove it. I’ve said it enough times. Universal health care means people in higher financial classes are paying for the health care of people who cannot afford it.

    Everyone has equal access to health care. Some just cannot afford it. This is the problem that is being remedied by “universal health care.” It is strictly a program designed to help people who cannot afford it. That is what it’s about.

    As an additional note, Aj and Gullwatcher, I’d like to see some justification behind why you think universal health care is moral, given that you must take money from those who have it, and give it to those who don’t. (You both seem to be avoiding this very basic fact of universal health care.) Please remember that those who “have money” also fall under the currently struggling middle class. Please spare the “to help our fellow human”- that’s all well and good, and I agree with you, but I want you to justify doing it through public funds. Justify forced charity.

  • Aj

    BurntSushi,

    This it the last time I’ll say it. The common idea behind universal health care benefits people who cannot afford it and takes away from people in higher financial classes. This is not the same for roads. Roads benefit all.

    You’ve just stated the same false claim. I’ll assume you can’t explain it.

    I didn’t see it as a prediction. You said: “Without compulsory education places are not just uneducated, many people cannot read or write”

    Well that’s an understandable mistake, I’ll try to be clearer in future.

    That is not a correlation- it is a counter-example to the supposition that without compulsory education.

    It’s a correlation, as a counter example to what you mistakenly considered a correlation.

    A correlation suggests a trend, which is what you said.

    That’s not what it means, which might be why you’re confused.

    I don’t deny, that in a utopia, everyone would have equal access to health care. Unfortunately, a utopia is either impossible to attain or far beyond our life time.

    In my countries people have equal access to a health care service. A utopia is not required for that. Universal health care means just that, it never meant any different.

  • Aj

    In many* countries people…

  • http://metroblog.blogspot.com Metro

    Anyone who would vote the McAncient/Nutcase ticket is, to use the words of Hunter S. Thompson referring to Nader, “A worthless Judas goat with no moral compass.”

    And the same should be said about anyone who doesn’t vote at all.

    Libertarians, in my experience, are mostly conservatives with a single-issue fixation. They’ll vote a party ticket happily as long as it panders to their particular one-string fiddle, then complain like hell about everything else.

    But such are far to be preferred than the idiot who proudly tells one “I don’t/didn’t vote.”

    If you don’t vote, why not trade places with someone from Iraq, or North Korea, etc? You’ll be just as miserable, but focused, and they’ll be much happier.

  • http://www.burntsushi.net BurntSushi

    @Aj-

    You can keep saying my explanation is false, but that doesn’t make it so- I’ll assume you’re just trying to convince yourself? Show me why it’s false. I’ve explained the difference between roads and health care, and all you can say it that “it’s wrong”. That doesn’t fly. Justify your statements.

    A correlation is the association or relationship between variables. Your two variables were “compulsory education” and the “population being educated”. A relationship between two variables suggests a trend. You have since claimed that you merely made a prediction, but it quite seemed like a statement of fact to me.

    I never said anything about a utopia. I never said a utopia was required for universal health care. You’re the one who brought it into the discussion.

    Since you did not answer the question I posed to you above, I will restate:

    As an additional note, Aj and Gullwatcher, I’d like to see some justification behind why you think universal health care is moral, given that you must take money from those who have it, and give it to those who don’t. (You both seem to be avoiding this very basic fact of universal health care.) Please remember that those who “have money” also fall under the currently struggling middle class. Please spare the “to help our fellow human”- that’s all well and good, and I agree with you, but I want you to justify doing it through public funds. Justify forced charity.

    If you can’t be bothered to justify your positions, then please don’t continue this line of discussion.


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